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

Monday, September 21, 2020

Watch of the Damned: Creation of the Humanoids (1962)




Watched:  09/18/2020
Format:  Watch Party
Viewing:  First (and last!)
Decade:  1960's
Director:  Wesley Barry


...R.O.T.O.R.

...Santa with Muscles

...Monster a Go-Go...  


Sure, we watch a lot of not-great movies, but some feel as if they exist to test your very sanity.  Some movies are so insanely bad, so weirdly made and uncomfortable to watch - made and released with what appears to be utter sincerity on the part of the filmmakers - sincerity that serves no one and seems like a hallucination more than a delusion...  

These films join our personal canon of Movies of the Damned.  

We've had a wild ride this summer as we've enjoyed our Friday night Amazon Watch Parties, but Jenifer found an amazing entry this week with Creation of the Humanoids (1962).  

It's the movie that dares to ask:  but what if a movie was 96% exposition?  

and

What if everyone just stood on their marks with a minimum of motion for the runtime of a film?

In some ways, I give it credit.  It does nothing but propose a few sci-fi premises and then builds on those premises, asking questions no one asked and providing a sea of answers that no one cares about, only to ask more questions.  And it does it over and over and over for what I am pretty sure was a full calendar year, but you will find to be a neat 75 minute or so runtime.  

It's a post-nuclear-holocaust future and man is barely hanging in there despite shiny outfits, women with rocket bras, nifty architecture and the help of our robot friends.  

People seem to be on their way out, as robots seem to be figuring out self-replication.  There's a herd of guys running around yelling MAGA dressing in shiny Confederate uniforms and harassing robots.  They have a cute clubhouse and everything.  Meanwhile, Robots are, in fact, secretly rising up to replace humans.  

All of this is told, not shown, in lengthy, lengthy speeches which would make a high school forensics teacher proud.  

The make-up on the humanoids/ robots is weirdly excellent - the work of Jack "Universal Monsters" Pierce himself, apparently slumming by 1962.  

I can't do this movie justice.  I hate it so much I like it.  It's mind-bogglingly inept, except that... the cinematography, sets, and make-up all work fine.  It's just that there's only 4 sets, and long, long scenes that will not end containing nothing but nonsense sci-fi talk that can and should have been SHOWN.  Just when you think this might be an allegory for something - NO.  We move right on past that and it's right back to a very concrete story about the concrete problems of robots.  It's like the mad ramblings of the worst nerd in your class who gets why robots are interesting, but not at all how a story works.  And was given money to make a movie.  

I... I'm worn out just thinking about it.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Cyborg Watch: Running Delilah (1993)



Watched:  08/16/2020
Format:  DVD
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1990's
Director:  Richard Franklin

So, I was scanning the sale items on the Kino Lorber page and was like "Kim Cattrall in a spy movie?" so I read the description and was like "Kim Cattrall as a CYBORG in a spy movie?"  And promptly hit "buy".*

I think this was intended to be a pilot for a very 1990's TV show, probably in syndication.  What's weird about it is that all the pieces are there for what could have been a serviceable stand-alone movie.  In 1993, stars Kim Cattrall and Billy Zane weren't huge stars, but I knew who they were.  The director, Richard Franklin, had handled a couple of mid to low-cost films I'd similarly seen - FX/2 and Cloak and Dagger.   This came out in the wake of La Femme Nikita and multiple RoboCop films.  Instead, it's a reminder of what telefilm and a lot of television looked at during a certain window, and that sci-fi was not always well-served by this sort of production.

Cattrall plays Delilah, an undercover agent for a US law-enforcement agency (I never caught who), , collecting evidence against a Greek arms dealer (who seems to really want to see her eat Greek food for some reason).  Her handler, who is "running" her, is played by Billy Zane.  And the two spend about 7x more time talking about the fact they aren't going to bonetown than they do the case at hand.

Delilah is found out and the baddies take a flying attempt at killing her with lots of bullets.  Zane retrieves the almost-dead agent, and because he loves her (but phrases it as wanting to go to bonetown, because 90's), does as you do and brings her to a French cybernetics guy who happens to work in his building.  There's a bit where she, of course, believes she's a monster.  Remarkably, she gets over it really fast when she finds out she's now the Bionic Woman and can do all kinds of things within budget.  This is one chipper cyborg!

Monday, August 10, 2020

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Amazon Watch Party this Friday: Cherry 2000

betting that is not the shirt or physique we see in the film


Day:  08/07/2020
Time:  8:30 Central/ 6:30 Pacific
Amazon Watch Party Link HERE

Jamie has been on about this movie for the near-26 years I've been with her.  So we're watching it, because I did see it was a kid, believing it would have some boobs.  It doesn't.  And that's mostly all I remember:  Premium cable sadness.

Anyway, get ready for some 1980's post-apocalyptic nonsense starring Melanie Griffith, who never had those shoulders in the poster. Nor do those shoulders make any sense in relation to the hips of same Melanie Griffith in that poster.

We're blaming Jamie for this one.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Don't Judge Me Watch: Making Mr. Right (1987)




Watched:  08/02/2020
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  Unknown.  At least second.
Decade:  late 80's
Director:  Susan Seidelman


I had only vague memories of Making Mr. Right (1987), a movie I watched on cable as a kid.  And this is the part where I talk about women and their appearance and probably get in trouble.  But I essentially had two memories of Making Mr. Right, aside from very, very broad strokes of the plot of a woman getting mixed up with a scientist and the robot who looks just like him and the robot/doctor is John Malkovich in a role you'll be like "what? why?"

Thursday, December 26, 2019

RiffTrax Watch: ROTOR (1987)



Watched:  12/24/2019
Format:  Rifftrax
Viewing:  God.  Too many.
Decade:  1980's

For longtime readers of the League of Melbotis and Signal Watch blogs, you will know that the 1987 sci-fi opus, R.O.T.O.R., holds a special place in my heart.  I first stumbled across the movie on late-night basic cable, and every few years I revisit the film, and, like any fine piece of art, find new things to appreciate and enjoy.

This Christmas Eve, Doug and I chose to punish ourselves by re-watching this movie, but this viewing was enhanced with the power of RiffTrax, some of the same fine fellows who you may know from their work on Mystery Science Theater 3000.  And, I am, of course delighted to have the help as I'm watching the movie.

Look, I love a movie that leads to more questions than answers as the thing plugs along, and that's ROTOR in a nutshell.  The movie is a phenomenal collection of odd-ball movie cliches, dialog tics, generic Texas racism, inevitable dashes of pretension, unexplored but tedious romance, and 1980's non-union talent.  The plotting/ pacing is wild, and an amazingly inept filmmaking on a budget.  That the movie was finished seems like an act of sheer will and a sort of bright-eyed Hollywood dream backed by nothing but wantin'-to-put-on-a-show that can make for some of the brightest spots in movie-dom.

RoboCop managed to spawn a *lot* of bad knock-offs.  It's not actually clear this was one of them as both films came out in 1987.  But who knows?  There was just something magical in the air of Dallas, where both were shot!, that produced futuristic policing cyborg movies, I guess.






Sunday, November 10, 2019

Linda and Arnie Watch: Terminator - Dark Fate



Watched:  11/09/2019
Format:  Alamo Slaughter Lane
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's

Look, I'm on the record going to the mat for the first two Terminator movies.  And way, way less so for T3 and whatever the Christian Bale one was called.  And I never saw Genisys.  I did like the TV show, The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Rutger Hauer Passes Through The Tannhäuser Gate



I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. 
All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. 
Time to die.

This one hit us all hard and never let up.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Outstanding Watch: RoboVampire (1988)



Watched:  06/07/2019
Format:  Amazon Prime (also on YouTube)
Viewing: First but certainly not the last
Decade:  1980's

So, a couple of weeks back JAL DM'd me and deeply recommended a small film from an overseas production company, and as a patron of independent and international cinema, I leaped at the opportunity to use a free Friday evening to finally watch RoboVampire (1988).

Friday, April 19, 2019

PODCAST! "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" (1991) w/ SimonUK and Ryan



For prior blog post on this screening, click here.

SimonUK and Ryan delve into the 1991 sci-fi actioner and talk about the impact of the film on culture, on action film, and maybe ourselves. We also discuss the awesomeness of Linda Hamilton, CGI in 1991, violence then and now and a whole lot more.




Music:

Terminator 2: Judgment Day Theme - Brad Fiedel, T2 OST
You Could Be Mine - Guns N' Roses, T2 OST



SimonUK Cinema Series





Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Cyborg Watch: Terminator 2 - Judgment Day (1991)



Watched:  03/31/2019
Format:  Alamo Ritz
Viewing:  oh, god... who knows?
Decade:  the 1990's, buddy

I saw Terminator 2: Judgment Day opening weekend in the theater with my girlfriend at the time, who, upon seeing a Terminator endoskeleton crush a human skull turned to me and said "that's a REAL man" (she was kidding), thereby hitting the nail on the head, in her own way, for what this movie was going to be on so many levels.  Despite its fame as a CGI pioneer and predictor of Marvel's weirdly death & bloodless ultraviolence, there's an actual story about mothers and sons and overcoming juvenile distrust of your parents once their flaws are exposed, and how a cyborg learns to laugh and love.  Indeed, the Judgment Day may be the friends we made along the way.

Also, so many gasoline-fueled fires making just huge, puffy blossoms of red and orange with lots of loud ka-booms.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Sci-Fi Watch: Blade Runner 2049 (2017)



Prior Blade Runner posts:
January 9, 2016 - film watch
September 16, 2016 - novel
January 6, 2008 - DITMTLOD



SOME SPOILERS BELOW:

Like a lot of people of my generation, Blade Runner is one of my favorite films.  To expect objectivity regarding the film at this point is a difficult request as I cannot separate the film's actual merits from the impact it had upon me when I first watched the film circa 1988 and deepening appreciation over time.

In a recent comment, Fantomenos asked what the last band was that I related to on a deeply personal level, where I felt they were speaking straight to me (I dodged the question), and I think movies operate much the same way.  I will simply never feel quite the same way about a movie now as I did in high school.  Whatever openness I had to experience during that period of development is a maze of decades of other movies, cynicism and life experience. 

At this point, I've watched Blade Runner dozens of times.  I know the beats, the characters, the dialog.  And so do you, most likely.  I can talk about things explicit and implicit to the film's story, talk about the production of the movie and tell you about seeing a Spinner and Rachael's dress in Seattle.  I'm aware it's likely part of how I became interested in cinema noir, film design, and remains the high water mark for movies about AI, in my opinion.

If Star Wars had created a totally immersive universe through design, sound, music, character and themes - a fairy tale universe in which I would have been happy to jump into, Blade Runner provided a similar experience with a dystopia in which everything seemed to fall out of the current culture, in which I could draw a line from our current lives to how we might reach this world of constant rain, stratified social classes, surreal landscapes of mega-structures and ubiquitous advertising (some of it beautiful). And, no, despite the Rachaels, I would not want to live in the world of Blade Runner.  The world of this movie is the world of the end of humanity.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Star Wars Watch: Rogue One - a Star Wars Story (2016)



When those of us who grew up with the original Star Wars trilogy thought of what might happen in the long-awaited prequels, I strongly suspect most of us expected something a bit more like Rogue One (2016).   We'd only received glimpses of the pre-Luke Skywalker past, embedded in the story we'd heard about the Clone Wars, an Anakin Skywalker who was supposed to be some sort of edgy fighter pilot who becomes a Jedi...  I was expecting three movies that took place against the backdrop of The Clone Wars, which always sounded pretty rough, at least in my head.

I'd also observe - Much as the superhero comics we read grew up with us, I think maybe I was expecting a Star Wars that acknowledged the conflict from which Episode IV sprang and maybe cut a little deeper - maybe had a bit of a rough and tumble edge that Ewok-laden finales may have foregone.

So, I think it's true that the content and execution of the three Prequel films surprised a lot of us.

Rogue One, the second of these films directed by the generation that grew up on them, expands upon what we know, creating far less continuity difficulty than Lucas introduced in the Prequels, brings back familiar sights and sounds, while filling in gaps and giving us all new adventures and characters.  In this, I think you can say it succeeds with a solid A-, B+ (I spotted an issue or two, and my pal Matt brought one up I thought actually a pretty salient point).

That's not to say Rogue One hits all the right notes or was exactly what I was expecting (it wasn't).   It's interesting to see Disney seeking to expand upon the seemingly vast universe Star Wars always promised, but which we could only visit in 150 minute increments.  Here, they risk tonal differences, deliver only bits of familiar characters and try something a little uncomfortable, and, for the most part, they succeed.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Okay. Time to talk a bit about "Westworld" - A non-definitive discussion.



Note:  I'm going to talk about HBO's 2016 series, Westworld, as a whole.  If you're avoiding spoilers, this is not the place for you.  

There's a great deal to like about the 10 episodes of HBO's sci-fi series, Westworld.  It's been interesting to find out how many people haven't seen the original Westworld film by Michael Crichton - a name which is pobably just an echo to Millennials but which was a hosuehold name through the 1990's.  I'll cop to having not seen (or don't remember seeing) Futureworld (1976) or the TV series Beyond Westworld (1980).

I am sure the original 1973 film felt like futureshock at the time, or maybe sci-fi silliness to many.  The first time I watched it back before high school, which would have been the late 1980's, 70's hair-stylings aside, it seemed to work very well as a thriller, even if it didn't seem to run deep with the complexities of Blade Runner or other AI films.  Well into the 1980's, our relationship with technology and computers wasn't as everyday as it's become, and fiction treated computers a bit like the genie's lamp right up through the late 1990's.

What the movie does that still holds up is create an adult theme park that is both impossible, yet seems like something that people would be up for whether we want to admit it or not if the wild success of Las Vegas is any indication.  It's a world of sex and violence with only the most minor of repercussions as one fulfills fantasies and indulges whims in a familiar place, but one separated enough from our own day-to-day that you'd lose your bearings.  And steeped in the inherent violence of the filmic west, it's a world in which you'd be more likely to shoot first and question later.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

RiffTrax Watch: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964)



Thursday night Jamie and I met up with SimonUK for a Fathom Events screening of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964).  Way, way back in 2012 I watched the movie on BluRay to review the film for Texas Public Radio, and so I see no real need to write the film up again.  I'm actually weirdly proud of that review and I don't have much to add.

The screening was actually a RiffTrax performance from 2013, rebroadcast as part of a double-bill with a whole bunch of holiday shorts - originally broadcast in 2009.   And as much as I like RiffTrax at home, it can be pretty fun in a theater with lots of other folks, too.


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Signal Watch Reads: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Philip K. Dick, 1968, audiobook)



The last time I read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, I was about 15 and had a fairly hard time keeping up with a narrative that wasn't an easily digestible Isaac Asimov plot and which didn't work with a Bradbury-esque flow to carry me over the rough patches.  I didn't know anything about Philip K. Dick other than that he was the name of the guy who wrote the book upon which they'd based Blade Runner, at the time one my new favorite movies (and, of course, still a favorite).  But, I had heard the novel and movie were different.

I really don't know why I decided it was time to read the book again other than that, like most books I read 25+ years ago, my memories of the details were fuzzy.  I mostly remembered feeling that - as screwed as the Rick Deckard of the film had been, the Deckard of DADoES? was in a far more precarious state.  I recalled a "fake" police station, Roy Batty seemed less a threat, and the world of the novel existed in a state of decay that went well beyond even the night-time drizzling menace of the film.

It's not that I had a hard time understanding the story from an A to B to C to D perspective, but Dick's books always seem to be doing what science-fiction can do intensely well, and that's act as allegory for some more universal story or truth or as a thought experiment to explore those ideas.  I'm sure I got it in that "I read what was on the page" sort of way, but there was no way for me to really relate.  Add in my trouble reconciling the differences between the book and movie and expecting the themes and plot to better dovetail, and it was a recipe for forgetting a lot of what was interesting or special about the book as repeated Blade Runner viewings had quashed a lot of what I might have remembered.

Upon a re-read, I'd argue you need to see the two narratives as separate and attempting different stories with different meaning.  There are certainly resonant thematic issues, but in making many of the changes Ridley Scott and Co. went with, Blade Runner is far more a product of expectations of films (no matter which cut we're discussing), of roles within films, and the limited running time of a movie and what can be in that story.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Robo-Watch: Westworld (1973)



It had been some time since I'd watched the 1973 sci-fi classic, Westworld.  I'd rented it with Jason some time back in the late 80's, and I think we both really liked it (but, if memory serves, he'd seen it before).    I've only seen it again once in college somewhere along the line, enjoyed it, but not watched it again anytime in the last 16 years at least.  I've tried to watch the sequel, Futureworld, but just couldn't watch the 1976 film.  Something about the pacing lost me the one time I tried to give it a whirl.

It seems HBO is launching a TV series also titled Westworld which will greatly expand on the ideas presented in the movie.  It's got an all-star cast and looks to be the sort of thing I find interesting in science fiction.*  I'll be checking it out, certainly, and have high hopes.  Anyway, it got me fired up to review the original film once again.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Sci-Fi Watch: Ex Machina (2015)



So, I think Randy has asked me no less than 3200 times if I'd seen Ex Machina (2015) yet.  Really I have no idea why this movie made him think of me in particular.  And I say that without the usual first paragraph snark.  I guess because I like robots.  He'll have to show up in the comments and explain his reasoning.

I finally decided to check out the movie, mostly to see Oscar Isaac in something where he wasn't Llewyn Davis or a space fighter pilot, and, yes, he's every bit as good here as you may have heard, and we're nowhere close to seeing everything he can do.  I'm really hoping the scripts come his way that can make the most of him and not let him turn into some weird Al Pacino-like parody of a self of him we've not yet seen ossified.

If I hadn't rushed out to see the movie, it was one of those times I looked at a trailer, identified a few plot points and filled in the rest, and was okay with whether or not I'd ever see the film. "Female Automoton Is Objectified, Gets Angry, is Metaphor?" was what I pulled out of the ads I'd seen.  And, truthfully, the movie itself was, more or less exactly what I expected it to be, plot-wise and narratively, but - and I want to be very clear on this - because I think my meaning was misconstrued with the Revenant write-up - if you were going to make that movie, this was as good as that particular movie was going to get.  That's not a knock, that's a "this is where I am as a movie-goer who has absorbed a lot of stories in 40 years on this spinning rock."

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Future-Noir Watch: Blade Runner (1982)


I'm now old enough that the dates casually thrown around in the sci-fi of my youth are starting to show up on my wall-calendar at work.  Already we've passed the dates of Back to The Future 2, and - as was impossible to avoid online yesterday - the inception date of Roy Batty, the antagonist (I refuse to call him a villain) of the famed Ridley Scott sci-fi noir android movie, Blade Runner (1982).   While January 8th, 2016 is a few years prior to the events of the movie, it's also impossible not to note that in 1982, the idea that we'd have off-world colonies for the wealthy and healthy looking to get away from this back-water rock of a planet didn't seem that far-off.  Or that genetic engineering would advance to a degree that we'd be on a Nexus 6 version of artificial life-forms.

We do have some pretty good videogame systems, Google can find stuff for your computer and we can take pictures with our pocket computers, so I'm calling it a wash, technology-wise.

I was about thirteen the first time I saw Blade Runner.  I was aware of the movie prior to this time, and, rightfully so, it was considered a bit adult for me to check out and I self-selected against renting it until then.  Frankly, I wasn't expecting much, more of a Tom Selleck in Runaway or even a RoboCop sort of "we've sorta dressed up the present, put weird ties on people and called it the future" sort of movie.  And there's nothing wrong with that, but, much like Star Wars, part of what makes the thing greater than the sum of its parts is the fully immersive experience.  From retro-fitted buildings to flying cars sensibly limited to police prowlers, to overpopulated streets, class-based fashion and architecture, and the monolithic structures - the soaring hubris of progress and wealth.  All of it alien, all of it recognizable.  That was the work of the artists working on movies in this era, the Syd Meads, David Snyder, Lawrence Paull, Michael Kaplan and just countless others.

And don't forget that score by Vangelis.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Happy Birthday, Roy Batty



The internet tells me that, according to the movie Blade Runner, today is Roy Batty's incept date.


Happy birthday, Roy.  You gave 13-year-old me a lot to think about when it came to my mortality.