Showing posts with label robots. Show all posts
Showing posts with label robots. Show all posts

Saturday, May 25, 2013

I finally watch: I, Robot (2004)

As a kid, I read some Isaac Asimov, but not a lot.  Robot Dreams, the Robot Novels (Caves of Steel, etc..).  About eight years ago I read one Foundation novel hopelessly out of synch with what I was supposed to be doing and read Prelude to Foundation, you know, before Foundation, which was apparently not correct as it came out much after the original books - but did include a favorite character of mine (spoiler).

But like things do when you're 13, the robot stories stuck with me.  I believed in the infallibility of the Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics.  I barely even remember the stories from I, Robot anymore, but I read it three times before I finished high school.  Still remember knocking a huge chunk of it out while sitting on my folks' front porch one sunny day.

But I knew Will Smith was nowhere to be found in any of the short stories that make up the anthology of I, Robot.



The movie of I, Robot was released in 2004, and marked a very conscious decision for me not to pay to see something that I knew I would find disappointing.  I didn't remember the book well even 9 years ago, but I was pretty sure none of the stories contained within starred The Fresh Prince.


  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.
In some ways, the movie is a new story based in the world of Asimov's US Robotics and with robot psychologist Dr. Susan Calvin, a recurring character in the stories of I, Robot, who appears in multiple stories at different points in the character's fictional lifetime.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Trailer for "Pacific Rim" - summer 2013

This is a movie by a big name director who decided to make a movie about giant robots fighting kaiju.

I don't know how I'm not supposed to see this movie.



Yes, it looks ridiculous, but it's a summer movie, y'all.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Signal Watch Watches: The Rock-afire Explosion (2008)

My experience working at Chuck E. Cheese Pizza is fairly well documented, and so I am unsurprised that I might have a pre-disposition for an interest in the backstory and current state of part of the weird world of Pizza Parlors that double as Robot Music Shows.

The 2008 documentary, The Rock-afire Explosion (available on Netflix Streaming) seeks to uncover, really, one man's ongoing love of the robot band that made his childhood magical and the engineer who created the Rock-afire animatronic band and performances that made the Showbiz Pizza chain possible.

Honestly, it's maybe a little messed up.

see the face of your Mayan Apocalypse and behold your DOOM

I cannot begin to guess the original intentions of the filmmakers as they set out to begin interviewing private Rock-afire Explosion band owner Chris Thrash (I imagine they thought just getting Thrash and his band was plenty for a short film), but the final product is a mostly-feature-length, warm-hearted look at a man and his quirky dream.  One assumes that through Thrash the filmmakers got in touch with Aaron Fechter, the creator of the band, and an interesting guy himself.

Flechter seems a bit one part Willy Wonka/ one part Ahab, a guy who struck it big with an idea when he was very young, and who built a company that he very much cared about.  The failure of the overall Showbiz Pizza company and the fate that shook out for the animatronics group he owned is still very clearly present for the man, and there's something a bit tragic about the guy when you see what he's kept from the old days (and it certainly makes you wonder about his business acumen).

Saturday, December 3, 2011

SW Advent Calendar December 3


Yes, they come from a planet of living machines, but their artificial hearts are no less warmed by the joy of the season.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Why CN's "Sym-Bionic Titan" is the best Space Fantasy/ Sci-Fi/ Giant Robot/ High School show on TV



Those of us in the know watched Samurai Jack, by the great Genndy Tartatovsky. His new show is Sym-Bionic Titan, and it is awesome.

That's Flock of Seagulls' "Space Age Love Song" playing while a giant robot fights a mega-monster from space. And, yeah, that's a girl who just unwittingly fell in love with a robot.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Watching Bad Movies: A Visit with The Dug

Anyone who followed LoM knows that we're going to watch a lot of bad movies around here, and we're going to talk about them. In fact, my taste for the abso-awesome was called upon during my hiatus (a bit like Col. Trautmann pulling Rambo in for one last mission), by our own pal, Ransom, over at Chronological Snobbery. We were asked to watch "Birdemic" in its second public screening at Austin's own Alamo Drafthouse.

The review is here, but the experience itself... in my quietest hours, it haunts me still.

This week, however, League HQ was graced with a visit from Jamie's brother, The Dug, who is sort of the Santor of Irrationally Bad Film, gleefully doling out serving after serving of the terrible.

There are, of course, different kinds of terrible.

I should preface the discussion by mentioning that I watched all three movies with the benefit of RiffTrax, and recommend you do the same.

Please stop touching my robots

Terminator: Salvation is the kind of movie that, on paper, had everything going for it, but somehow didn't gel. One can guess that a bloated budget, a director of fading notoriety, a difficult star, a pre-packaged star, re-writes so obvious that the movie feels like three movies crammed into one, a heaping-helping of pandering to the audience while simultaneously demonstrating no small amount of disdain for the intelligence of the audience...

Terminator: Salvation isn't outright unwatchable, but its a trainwreck of good intention and ineptitude.

Look, McG is just NOT a good director. Also, his name is McG. As a producer, your first clue that you should fire yourself from a movie is that you've hired a grown man who wants to be billed as "McG". And then you should maybe IMDB him to see the laundry list of poppy, dumb junk he made before Terminator.

I know Christian Bale had his famous rant during the making of this film, but watching the movie, you have to wonder if he didn't know exactly how bad this was going to be...

The bitter irony, of course, is that around the time of the movie's release, Fox was running "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" which had an infinitely better understanding of what made the first two movies work, logically drew its storylines from the premise of those movies, and featured not just Summer Glau, but Lena Headey. And they managed to make David Silver cool. Which is, like, science fiction unto itself.

I hate..! I hate..!

Twilight: New Moon is the second installment in the Twilight series, which I've ranted upon previously.

This type of film is bad, not because people weren't all doing their jobs (well, I sort of question Kristen Stewart, but...), but because its part of a media-franchise bigger than any one part, and to deviate from the script would enrage the built in audience. In short, the source material isn't very good. Wildly and inexplicably popular, but so is "High School Musical".

In this second installment of Twilight, we're asked to watch the increasingly annoying Bella Swan alternately sulk and lash out because she's been dumped by her stalker boyfriend. She then becomes "just friends" with a Native America/ werewolf played by the persistently-baffled-looking Lautner.

By adding Jacob (our werewolf) to the mix, and drawing out the emotional anguish surrounding creep-o-zoid Edward (our vampire), the film imparts the message that the right thing to do when a young lady is dumped is find a guy who would actually like to date you (and is even hunky and nice and junk), string him along, but then duck and weave at the last minute as you cross continents to get back with the guy who, all things being equal, will absolutely demonstrate the same awful behavior again (in this case, wanting to kill you and drain you of all of your blood), and leaving the guy who wasn't too likely to kill you scratching his head. The fact that officially branded "neurotic/ unforgivably erratic behavior" is made into our hero's quest for "New Moon" should only fulfill many a young man's worst suspicions about what dating will be like their freshman year of college.

For a movie about werewolves and vampires, an amazing amount utterly fails to happen (or entertain) as we focus on the wretched Bella Swan. However, we are told some interesting stuff is happening off-camera; we just don't get to see it. However, we do learn more lessons, via werewolves, that women should really learn to just step back when their boyfriends "wolf out". And if they get hurt (permanent-like), its kinda their own fault.

Slow clap, Twilight franchise.

"Useless filler" does not do this deadly dull stretch of movie justice. You could literally cut the middle 50 minutes of the film, and you'd still get where this "plot" must have been heading in order to get to whatever the @#$% is going to happen in the 3rd installment.

Oh, hi movie!

But, of course, all of this pales in comparison to Tommy Wiseau's now notorious indie darling, The Room.

To say what is wrong with the movie is missing the point of The Room. What one must assume to be the intended goal of writer, director, producer, and star, Tommy Wiseau (possibly his real name) in making "The Room" is, in actuality, absolutely no longer the point of the object smart-alecks have been lining up to watch at hip indie cinemas for, and what my reading of the internets tells me has become an odd phenomenon of audience interaction, participation, and general mayhem.

Where Nguyen's "Birdemic" is a case-study in technical incompetence, Wiseau's "The Room" seems to have most of its technical ducks in a row, but reads not unlike the booze-soaked ramblings of a colleague who just figured out his girlfriend was cheating on him. With huge helpings of "I have never really thought about how a scene works in plays, TV or movies" thrown in. Also, someone thought lots of gratuitous "love scenes" would really sell the heck out of this thing.

To talk too much about "The Room" with those who've not seen it is unfair. I can only recommend you schedule your own viewing, with booze and Rifftrax in hand.

All things must come to an end...

For good or ill, the self-inflicted pain of bad movies has to end sometime. This afternoon The Dug and K took flight back to The Left Coast. Once again, its been a pleasure having him here to ensure that my life does not go by without the glory of the finest in American Cinema.