Friday, April 29, 2011

Less Than Zero (1987)

Title: Less Than Zero (1987)

Director: Marek Kanievska

Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Andrew McCarthy, Jami Gertz, James Spader


Less Than Zero (along with films like Some Kind of Wonderful (1987) and St. Elmo’s Fire (1985)) was one of those 80’s movies I never got around to seeing when they were first released because I was too much of a kid when they first came out and most of these movies where directed at a young adult audience, I was not even a teen when Less Than Zero came out and it was a film that was all about sex and drugs, not exactly themes that a 12 year old would be interested in, well at least I wasn’t. But after I reached adult hood, Less Than Zero caught my eye and was always on my ‘to watch list’ because it was based on a book by Bret Easton Ellis, the author behind the novel American Psycho, which also happens to be one of my favorite movies. Bret Easton Ellis also wrote a novel called Rules of Attraction, which also spawned an effective movie in my book. But I had never caught Less Than Zero. Upon watching it, I realized that all these years I had been missing out on a beautifully dark film.

Less Than Zero tells the story of three best friends: Clair (Jami Gertz) Clay (Andrew McCarthy) and Julian (Robert Downey Jr.), three privileged teenagers from wealthy families. After their high school graduation, things look promising. Julian is going to start up his own record label, Clair is interested in modeling career and Clay is interested in pursuing his college studies. As often happens with high school friends, life divides them, and each one goes off in pursuit of their life and their dreams. But when Clay decides to take a break from college and comes back home to revisit his two friends, he finds Julian and Clair sleeping together. This creates a problem because Clair was romantically involved with Clay. At the same time, Clay learns that Julian is knee deep in trouble. He’s not only strongly addicted to cocaine, but he also owes 50,000 dollars to his drug dealer! Will the trio ever go back to the way things were in the good old days? Will Julian ever cut with his drug addiction and regain control of his life? Will Clay forgive them for betraying him?

The film was based on Bret Easton Ellis's novel of the same name.

Less Than Zero is a film about the nightmares and horrors of drug addiction. It is not unlike films like Requiem for a Dream (2000) or Spun (2002) in its negative depiction of drug use. It’s the kind of film that attempts to scare you away from ever trying to use cocaine, and I think it achieves it. I mean, who wants to end up giving oral sex to strangers to pay off their drug debt, raise your hands? I didn’t think so. It is interesting that the film starts off on high school graduation day, with the three friends looking as happy, shinny and hopeful as they will ever be. This stupendously shinny opening sequence shows us three teenagers who have their whole lives looming over the horizon; as does every teenager on their graduation day. On that day we all have our possible futures dangling in front of our imaginations, the ultimate truth of what we will end up being still uncertain. This is exactly what happens with Julian who has plans of becoming a music producer. Will it ever happen? Or will Julian end up snorting his future up his nose? When Clay returns from college, he is confronted with the ugly truth that all those shinny possibilities turned into empty shells of themselves, all because of cocaine. And the film effectively captures the cocaine culture of the 80’s. There is one amazing Christmas party sequence where everyone and their mother is snorting cocaine while watching rows upon rows of television sets and fake snow falling from the ceiling. That whole scene effectively captures ‘generation x’ also referred to as the MTV generation. These were kids with a dark uncertain future in their minds. They saw the rise of cable television, the internet, home computers, and music television. Nothing exemplifies this more then the party scene with walls upon walls of television sets. In a very visually poetic scene, all the television sets are reflecting images of everyone at the party, in some strange way saying “look at yourselves”.

The film benefits from having a cast of excellent young actors. They all give credible performances in my book. Robert Downey Jr. gives a very honest, charismatic and vulnerable performance as Julian, a young man trying to escape from a whole he has dug himself too deeply into. Julian is not a pretty sight. He is living in denial when it comes to matters of how much money he owes, and how low his cocaine addiction has taken him. Truth is his father has kicked him out on to the streets, and even his brother despises him. He has plans to open up a nightclub, yet no one, not his father, nor his uncle will lend him the cash to start it up. Of course they don’t trust him with money; they know he will blow it all away on cocaine. Cocaine has turned him into a nomad, steps away from becoming a bum on the streets. Actually, he sleeps on the streets on more then one occasion in this film. Yet, he seems like an intelligent fellow, who has sadly fallen into a trap. You can’t really bring yourself to hate Julian, I guess the feeling Julian elicits is pity. Enter Clay, Julian’s would be savior. Andrew McCarthy, an actor better known for his 80’s comedies like Weekend at Bernies (1989) and Mannequin (1987), plays the dramatic role of the concerned friend who is having a hard time accepting who his best friends have become. The question immediately arises upon his arrival, are they still best friends? Is the magic still there? Or has everything gone sour? Clay is constantly in battle between leaving his friends behind and continuing with his own life, or helping them out.

But ultimately, this is a story about rich kids who have thrown away the opportunities that they were born with. It shows us that wealthy young people can lead messed up lives just as well as poor kids can. I loved how the film captured that hollow empty life style often times associated with living in Los Angeles. The tag line for the film fits it perfectly “It only looks like the good life” which is exactly what the film shows us. These kids live in big expensive houses, with huge swimming pools and beautiful cars, but are they happy? Are their lives fulfilling? Nope, they live empty, fake lives. Jami Gertz plays a girl who doesn’t know what to do with her life come graduation day, so she decides to go into modeling. She lives in her dad’s house, but he wont even take the time to talk to her on Christmas day. He is to busy screwing his new girlfriend in his bedroom. He does manage to scream “Merry Christmas honey” from behind closed doors. Lots of money, but no love, no caring. Jami Gertz plays the kind of character who lives in denial as well. Her conversations reflect emptiness. For a while, when Clay first shows up, all she does is avoid the things they truly need to talk about, pretending that everything is okay, making small talk, always smiling that nervous laugh that looks like she’s hiding something much darker and sinister behind it.

The beautiful Jami Gertz

The film is a loose adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’s book. Easton Ellis himself wasn’t too happy with this film at first, but he mentions that it has grown on him over the years. Can’t say I blame him for not falling in love with the first time he saw it, many changes where made from book to film. The book was much darker, Clay being the character that suffered the most changes on the transition from book to screen. On the film Clay is the clean cut goody little two shoes who is trying to save Julian, his drug addicted hopeless friend. In the book, Clay was more of an ambiguous character. In the book Clay is a user as well, plus he is bisexual. The studio decided to eliminate both of these angles because they needed a character that audiences could sympathize with and in the book, Clay wasn’t exactly squeaky clean. So they went and changed Clay around to appease teenage Andrew McCarthy fans. How conservative was 20th Century Fox about this films production? Well, here’s an example: The Red Hot Chilli Peppers had an appearance in the film as a band playing in a club, but the studio opted to edit their scenes out because they were “sweaty and shirtless”. Whatever! The film that was shot was far edgier then what ended up on screen. The film was ultimately taken away from its director, denying Marek Kanievska a final cut of it. This is text book behavior for a studio that gets nervous about selling a film with an edgy subject manner. They try to soften things up a bit.

James Spader, the drug dealer of the film

Still, even with all these production woes and script changes, I think that a beautiful film managed to escape into the real world. And in this sense, Less Than Zero is a strange movie. It’s a beautiful looking movie about some very ugly things. It’s deals with issues of drug abuse and empty lifestyles yet the colors are so vibrant, the takes and compositions so beautiful to look at! I would say that this is one of the best films about drug addiction out there, and one of the top films that capture the L.A. experience and all its pitfalls and dangers. Be ready for a film with characters that you probably won’t like very much, selfish characters only looking out for their own personal satisfactions. People who at one time had all the hopes and opportunities in the world, but let it all go for a quick fix.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Your Highness (2010)

Title: Your Highness (2010)

Director: David Gordon Green

Cast: Danny Mc Bride, James Franco, Natalie Portman, Justin Theroux


I had high hopes for Your Highness for various reasons. One of them was that David Gordon Green was directing. Green is a director who’s mainly known for directing indie dramas like George Washington (2000) and Undertow (2004). But in 2008 David Gordon Green decided to break out of his indie drama mold and ventured into big budget commercial comedy territory, the result was Pineapple Express. A film that ended up being a good stoner comedy in my book. So I kept that in mind, also noting the fact that Your Highness was a Pineapple Express re-union of sorts. It had the same director (David Gordon Green) and it reunited James Franco and Danny McBride both of which had worked together on Pineapple Express. So I was feeling confident about this movie. Add to that the fact that it now had Oscar winner Natalie Portman along for the ride and I was sold! And it was a stoner comedy! And it had magic and monsters! And Justin Theroux was playing the bad guy! I mean, this movie had all the makings of an awesome movie! So why did this film end up being such an atrociously unfunny disaster?

The sad part is that Your Highness is Danny McBride’s first attempt at carrying a big budget theatrical release on his shoulders. He is the lead, it’s his movie. He wrote it. Should this film fly or get shot down, all fingers will point to him. That type of thing tends to be a decisive moment in an up and coming actors career. This type of thing can either make or break your future in Hollywood. It reminded me of the time I first saw Ace Ventura in theaters, way back in 1994. That moment was magical; I have never seen an audience laugh so hard in my whole life as a film enthusiast. From then on, I knew Jim Carrey was going to make it big. And he did, it was one of those things where the film was so funny, that you just knew he was going to make it. Sadly, Your Highness was to be Danny McBride’s Ace Ventura. This was to be the film where McBride was going to show the world that he is a funny guy, and that he can continue making us laugh for years to come. Sadly, if I was to judge Danny McBride’s future in films based on Your Highness alone, I would have to say that he is dead on arrival. It’s a sad thing too because Danny McBride is one of those actors that always got second billing in comedies where he was funny enough for people to say “this guy is funny, he should be making his own movies!” Well, he finally got his chance to prove himself to audiences in a film where he is the main star. He’s been given the keys to the kingdom; did he make the best of it? Hell no he didn’t!

The main problem with Your Highness is that it just isn’t funny. I watched it in a theater filled with people who like me, decided to give it a chance, probably expecting McBride to be as funny as he has been in other movies where he wasn’t the main star. At the very least, he should have been as funny as he is in his own show, Eastbound & Down. Unfortunately, this was not the case. I giggled once or twice, but most of the time I was cringing at what I was seeing on screen. I remember the words “this is not funny” popping up in my head on various occasions. McBride and crew seem to think that saying the word fuck every five seconds is a funny thing. It isn’t. Curse words are to be used sparingly, like a bit of salt on your favorite food. If you over do it, you mess things up. Then it just becomes irritating every time you hear it. Maybe on a Gangster movie it would have been okay, cause Im sure gangsters say “motherfucker” every five seconds; but not on a fantasy film. And trust me; you’ll hear the word fuck and all of its derivatives every five seconds in this movie. On top of that, they chose to include these really crude sexual jokes, like having to give a hand job to a wizard so he can help them on their quest, or showing a Minotaur’s erection, I mean, literally, you can see the Minotaur’s erect member. I just typed that. Great. Thank you very much Your Highness.

And here’s the other thing, I love fantasy movies! I love movies about magic, monsters, dragons, swords and all that jazz. I was actually looking forward to seeing warlocks and wizards using their magic powers. I was thinking this was a great opportunity to spoof films like the Lord of the Rings trilogy. And yes, I did enjoy those moments where we have warlocks and witches using all these fantastical magic powers, showcasing some nifty special effects. I enjoyed all the creatures we get to meet in the film, the Cyclops, the Minotaur, The Wizard. You kind of get the feeling that McBride watched Princess Bride (1987), Labyrinth (1986), Legend (1985), Robin Hood Men in Tights (1993), History of the World Part I (1981) and Monty Python’s Holy Grail (1975) and wanted elements from all those films on this one. I have to hand it to the guy, he had his influences in the right place. Unfortunately, he didn’t quite get there. I mean, this was a 60 million dollar big budget production. These guys had all the resources needed to make a decent fantasy film; unfortunately, the result wasn’t a very good one. That’s one thing I always enjoyed about Mel Brook’s films, they were raunchy, and had sexual jokes in them, but they were never super offensive, they knew just how far to take it. Your Highness doesn’t just want to make sex jokes, they want to offend you with them. Shock you with them. Hence the Minotaur’s schlong in the film.

Justin Theroux as the evil wizard Lazaar

And I speak of Mel Brook’s films because he was obviously a major influence on this film. Right down to having Natalie Portman wear a chastity belt. But I think that McBride and Green forgot one very important thing that Mel Brooks got right most of the time. You can spoof a film, but you also have to make a good film within the genre you are spoofing. This didn’t always work for Mel Brooks (just look at Dracula Dead and Loving It) but more often then not, it did work. Take for example Young Frankenstein (1974). It was not only a great (actually genius) spoof of all Frankenstein films; it was also an excellent Frankenstein film on its own right. Same goes for Spaceballs (1987). A great spoof, but also, a good sci-fi film. I guess the big difference between Your Highness and the films I’ve mentioned is that Mel Brook’s spoof’s had good scripts. Hell, Young Frankenstein was nominated for a freaking Oscar for its screenplay! Not the case with the script for Your Highness which was written by McBride himself, who really hasn’t proven himself as much of a writer save for having written the script for The Foot Fist Way (2006). According to David Gordon Green himself, most of the dialog was improvised during shooting; a trick that can work if you are working with a cast of comedic geniuses. I mean Jim Carrey, Mike Myers, Will Ferrell, they’ll work wonders with improvisation. Doesn’t always work with everyone, apparently, it didn’t work with the cast on Your Highness.

Weird thing is, I have seen McBride being funny. He just wasn’t entirely ‘on’ for this film. Now, if Hollywood has taught us anything, it’s that it does not forgive gargantuan multi million dollar failures. You make them loose some moolah instead of making it for them, and it’s adios to you amigo. I hope this won’t be the case with McBride. I think the guy has potential to be one of the greats; he just needs a project that will really go with his personality and style of comedy. Something tells me that a fantasy farce simply wasn’t the way to go with McBride, he seemed to think so. I mean he wrote the damned thing. Sadly, he didn’t even write a good role for himself. He is the lead in the film, yet he isn’t the hero, James Franco is. And speaking of that cast! What the hell. Okay, Franco was obviously there to re-live the good times he had while making Pineapple Express, but Natalie Portman sticks out like a sore thumb in this movie! I guess she was on this production to lighten things up after having made the dark and brooding Black Swan (2010). Plus, they convinced her to show us her ass to sell the movie, sadly, even that old trick failed. This movie cost 60 million dollars and barely made 20 million at the box office! That’s a 40 million dollar loss my friends! That is something that Hollywood won’t easily forgive, I just know it. I’ve seen it happen. But who knows, maybe McBride will do a better film next time, one that fits his style of humor better. Actually, his next film up is called 30 Minutes or Less (2011) and it looks like the kind of project that’s right up his alley. Let’s hope that it will actually be funny. And that it will actually make its money back, if not, I fear we won’t be seeing much of McBride in the near future. Here’s hoping we do!

Rating: 1 ½ out of 5

Monday, April 25, 2011

Caligula (1979)

Title: Caligula (1979)

Director: Tinto Brass

Cast: Malcolm McDowall, Helen Mirren, Peter O Toole, John Gielgud


Caligula is a film whose production was about as excessive as the Romans it depicts in its moving images. The film took four whole years to film, extras had to organize a strike because they weren’t getting paid, veteran actors got angry when they learned that pornographic images were included in the final film, actresses sued the production because their careers where affected, the films costs went above the 17 million dollar mark, writers, producers and directors all fought for the final cut of the film…and then, the film was released, which opened up a whole other can of worms.

Producer/media mogul Bob Guccione (the same guy who founded Penthouse Magazine) wanted to give audiences a film they had never seen before; a film that would change the way motion pictures were made. I guess he mistook nudity for something no one had ever seen before. Still, Guccione was out to shock the hell out of everyone by including as much nudity as you’d find behind the covers of Penthouse magazine and along the way, sprinkle the film with copious amounts of gore and violence. Since it was Penthouse magazine that actually funded Caligula, all the hardcore nudity included in the film shouldn’t surprise anybody. Here was a film produced by a pornographer with millions upon millions to spend! Apparently Guccione was going to make the Gone With the Wind of porn films.

And yes my friends, make no mistake, this film includes explicit sex in its footage. In my book, Caligula is without a doubt, the biggest, most expensive porn film ever made. The production included lavish (albeit campy) sets, numerous wardrobe changes, and extras upon extras committing all sorts of lurid acts on film. I’m pretty sure that if you were to watch this film noting down every sexual act depicted or suggested, you’d end up with a pretty hefty list. It is a film that’s hell bent on depicting characters with no morale whatsoever, they will do whatever amuses them, whatever pleases them, as long as it saves them from boredom. And the nudity? It’s not erotic, it’s not sensual, its depraved, which I’m guessing was the filmmaker’s intent.

Caligula tells the tale of one Gaius Caesar Germanicus a.k.a ‘Caligula’, the most depraved of all emperors to ever get command over Rome, and that’s saying a lot because a lot of Roman Emperor’s were known for going overboard with their despotism and luridness. Caligula ruled for a very short time, yet that time was riddled with atrocity on top of atrocity. You see, Caligula thought himself a God, and so, as God, he had no one to answer to, he could do whatever he wanted to whomever he wanted to do it to and no one could tell him otherwise. Everyone would just approve, clap and bow down to his next command. And this is very well depicted on the film, Caligula and his followers all come of as a bunch of self centered egotists, only looking to satisfy themselves and their immediate pleasures. As rulers, they didn’t seek the benefit of the people, but rather, they looked for new ways to trick the people and take advantage of them. Through out this film, you never meet a decent character. You’ll hate everyone on this film, it is a story of people indulging in every sexual and violent desire known to man, and maybe inventing some new ones. It’s a story about an Emperor’s decent into madness; it’s a film about how power completely corrupted Caligula, transforming him into an Emperor known for his cruelty, his extravagance, and his perversity; an insane tyrant in every sense of the word.

In terms of production, Caligula walks a fine line between looking magnanimous, with huge statues, pillars, stairs, temples, and then doing a complete 360 and looking all campy and fake. Some scenes look impressive; others look like a set on the batman t.v. show. In an effort to titillate the viewer, almost everyone on the film is running around either completely naked or almost naked; 95% of the time these characters are right smack in the middle of having sex. Even in scenes where you wouldn’t expect it, nudity prevails. There are many versions of this film available out there, some without the nudity, others with the nudity, some R-rated others unrated. I saw the 156 minute version, which I think is one of the more complete versions that exist. And things do get pretty hardcore, so much so that it turns the film into the most expensive porn ever made. In this sense it reminded me of the seventies revenge film They Call Her One Eye (1973) a.k.a. Thriller: A Cruel Picture, the only other movie that I can recall including hardcore porn in it. Only Caligula is more persistent with its nude scenes.

Does Hellen Mirren look great as a Roman or what??

Technically speaking, the film is a mess though. I mean, this is a film that has obviously been tinkered to death by its producers. It was a film that was taken from its director, who chose to eliminate his name from the credits. Guccione, the producer, wanted the nudity to be sexier, while Tinto Brass, the director, wanted fat, ugly, deformed, old people, which he shot by the way, but Guccione wanted sexier nudity! So he shot the infamous additional six minutes of explicit sex. Gore Vidal, the writer responsible for the original script the film is based on distanced himself from the project as well. He was afraid to be associated with a project that was so out of control. As you can see my friends, Caligula is a film that distanced itself almost entirely from the writer and director’s original visions! This is probably the reason why some scenes are an incongruent mess. Following the plot of Caligula is not an easy task, most of the dialog is badly dubbed, you can tell this was the reason why many of the scenes chosen for the final cut of the film are scenes that were shot from far away, so they could dub whatever dialog they wanted in a take. Yes ladies and gentlemen, this was one expensive mess of a film.

Malcom McDowell (A Clockwork Orange, If…) was the actor chosen to play Caligula, a risky role to play if you ask me. Just being in this film was a risky move for many of the actors involved, four of which where seasoned veterans like Peter O Toole and John Gielgud. They all claim that they never knew that there were going to be explicit sex scenes included in the final picture. This is a believable claim sense the most explicit scenes (six minutes in total) were filmed much later in the production. McDowell played Caligula like a demented nutcase, drunk with power. To him, life is one big joke, nothing is sacred, except for himself. It was a very demanding role, one that called for him to put himself in many a sexual situation. Now, you know a film has gone to far when during production an actor utters the words “I’m not going to do that!” yet, this is exactly what happened in one scene that called for Caligula to interrupt a couple of newlyweds, right in the middle of their wedding celebration. The scene called for Caligula to rape the virginal wife and then proceed to rape her husband as well. McDowell said he would not film the raping of the husband, so he instead went with fisting him. In my opinion, the scene ended up being even more disturbing.

Upon the films release, the critics went crazy with this one. The depraved time of the Romans had long passed. Now, The Conservative Audiences of our time had taken over, and so people where enraged by this film. It had a limited release, which spelled certain doom for a 17 million dollar production like this one. Still, even with its limited release, and its negative response with certain critics, people lined up to see this circus of freaks. The film barely made its money back, but it didn’t loose money either. Some loved it, most hated it. For example, Roger Ebert wrote in his review for it that a lady next to him said that the film “was the biggest piece of shit” she had ever seen. Ebert himself said the film was “sickening, utterly worthless, shameful thrash” and he walked out of the movie at the two hour mark! But even with the media backlash, the film was perverse enough to get audiences in theaters, I mean, at the time, the films notoriety had grown to legendary proportions! This was the film people were daring each other to go see. Still to this day, the film has this mystique of evil and perversity wrapped around it. I told a friend I was watching Caligula and the reply I got was “pervert!”

I wouldn’t go as far as saying that Caligula is the worst film ever made. I have seen far worse pictures. I see the sleaze factor, yeah, how can you miss it? Caligula and his entourage are a bunch of depraved characters that you could never get to like, and two and a half hours of depravity after depravity can get to be a bit much. But I guess the film does have an educational side. I mean, after all, the film is depicting Caligula and his life of excesses; of course it wasn’t going to be pretty. This was after all the guy who proclaimed himself a living god. This was the guy who had a love affair with his sister! And slept with his horse! Chances are that what went on in the real Roman Empire was far worse then whatever these filmmakers chose to show us in in this film. But at least the film exposes us to those crazy days.  And yes, Caligula is a sleazy film ever step of the way. For example, it's got this really graphic lesbian scene that comes right out of nowhere and apparently has no more purpose then to shock us. But in the end,  Caligula also serves as an example of a film gone overboard and out of control, and it's always fun to watch one of those. The film and its production represents excess as much as the Romans it depicts. If you can take that, plus lots of ugly nudity and gory violence, you should be fine. I mean whats the big deal? It's only a little porn, who hasn't seen that?

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

Caligula (The Unrated Edition)Caligula (Three-Disc Imperial Edition)Thriller - A Cruel Picture

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Angels Poster Gallery

Hey,  for some out there in the world, this is 'Holy Week'! Basically, christians choose this time of year to remember Jesus, and all he did for the world, like dying for our sins and all that. For me it's pretty much the same as every other week cause Im a non believer! But since most people are thinking about Jesus, and Angels and God around this time, well, I thought some of you might enjoy a Poster Gallery that includes posters for films that featured angels on them. The lesson here being co-existense, and respect for others beliefs, not that I suddenly believe in angels! Enjoy!

The Heavenly Kid (1985)

Let Me In (2010)

Angels in the Outfield (1994)

Almost an Angel (1990)

Date with an Angel (1987)

Max Payne (2008)

Angels and Demons (2009)

Legion (2010)

Constantine (2005)

Dogma (1999)

Wings of Desire (1987)

I Married an Angel (1942)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Memorable Movie Robots Part 2

I know my last article on Memorable Movie Robots was a huge hit with you guys, so I offer you the sequel, Memorable Movie Robots Part 2,  just like I promised you guys! There's all sorts of robots on this list! These movies concern themselves with killer robots, sex robots, and robots who just dont want to accept they are robots! They'd rather be humans. Hell, we even got robots made by Greek Gods on this list! So, without further ado, I leave you guys with more Memorable Robots from the movies! Hope you guys and gals like it.

Film: I, Robot (2004)

Robot: Sonny USR

Programming: In the future, robots are widespread and used as servants and various public services. Basically, robots are used for hard labor, for helping out old folks in their home, stuff like that. The robots in this film all follow the Three Laws of Robotics which sort of echo Robocops prime directives. They are: #1 A robot may not injure a human being, #2 A robot must obey orders given by a human, except when these orders conflict with the first law, and finally #3 A robot must protect his own existence, as long as it doesn’t conflict with the first two rules. Problem in this film comes when a robot is unjustly accused of a murder, then suddenly humans start seeing robots as a threat. In comes, Del Spooner (Will Smith) a Chicago police detective to investigate. This one was directed by Alex Proyas (The Crow, Knowing) and is based on a novel by Isaac Asimov.

Robotic Dialog: “Do you think we were all created for a purpose? I’d like to think so”

Film: Millenium (1989)

Robot: Sherman

Programming: Sherman the robot aids a group of time travelers from the future who come to the past to steal the bodies of people who are just about to die in plane crashes. They do this in order to repopulate their future, which is crumbling and decadent; that plus they need healthy humans that can procreate, because in this future, humans have lost the ability to do so.

Robotic Dialog: “This is not the end. This is not the beginning of the end. This is the end of the beginning”

Film: Deadly Friend (1986)

Robot: BB

Programming: BB is a remote controlled robot that occasionally shows signs of artificial intelligence, in other words, sometimes BB acts on his own and comes to his own conclusions about things. At the same time, BB’s creator a boy genius named Paul has befriended a beautiful girl named Samantha. Together, they pull a prank on a cranky old lady who ends up pulling out a shotgun on them and blowing BB away with it! This saddens Paul, who is hellbent on reconstructing BB. Meanwhile, Samantha’s abusive father beats her severely, drops her down a flight of stairs and kills her! It is then that Paul takes the route of Dr. Frankenstein and steals Samantha’s dead body. In an attempt to bring back the girl he loves, Paul unites BB’s artificial intelligence chip with Samantha’s brain. Samantha now lives! Well, sort of anyway. Paul now control’s Samantha’s every move by using the remote control he used to control BB with. Will Samantha’s memories awaken a thirst for revenge?

Film: The Last Starfighter (1985)

Robot: Beta Android Unit

Programming: Alex Rogan is a teenager who’s at a crossroads in life. College? Girlfriend? The Future? All these preoccupations go away when Alex plays his favorite arcade game: The Last Starfighter! What he doesn’t know is that this game was actually made by an alien race from another galaxy. The game is a test, constructed to search for those with the ability to become Starfighters in a battle against the evil Ko-Dan Armada. When Alex sets a new record on the machine, a strange spaceship comes to pick him up and whisk him away to fight the good fight as a Starfighter for the Rylan Star League. But, just so his family won’t miss him, the Rylan’s leave an Android replica that looks and acts exactly like Alex! Well, sort of, because the android has a hard time adapting to life as a human, which lends itself to some of the films funniest moments. For example, when the android has an ear malfunction, he disconnects his head to fix it. And Alex’s little brother Louis wakes up in the middle of the night and sees the headless robot fixing his head which totally freaks him out!

Robotic Dialog: “I said back to sleep Louis or I’m telling mom about your Playboys!”

Film: Terminator Franchise

Robots: T-800, T-1000, T-X

Programming: The terminators have one goal and one goal alone, eliminate the human race. They’ve taken over! The machines have won. They are just so damn many, and so freaking resourceful! They can even travel back in time to kill the leaders of the human resistance! Each film has presented us with different terminators, the classic T-800 who apparently will always look like Arnold Schwarznegger, The T-1000 which is made out of liquid metal, the T-X (or Terminatrix) which is the female terminator, and finally in Terminator Salvation we get all sorts of different Terminators, from super gigantic ones that grab humans with their gigantic claws, to Motorcycle Terminators!

Robotic Dialog: “It’s in your nature to destroy yourselves”

Film: Star Wars Franchise

Robots: R2-D2, C-3PO

Programming: R2-D2 and C-3PO are two of the most iconic robots to ever grace the silver screen. Not only that, these two bosom buddies are an integral part of the whole Star Wars story. But if you ask me, R2 is the real brains of the operation. In the first film, it is R2 who carries Princess Leia’s distress signal and the plans of the Death Star in his memory banks. R2 becomes Luke Skywalker’s personal Astromech, which is the robot that accompanies Luke on his spaceship across the galaxy. R2 fixes the hyper drive on the Millennium Falcon at one point which allows the good guys a quick getaway. R2 even saves everyone’s ass once again by stopping a thrash compactor from crushing all of the good guys! Hell, R2 has been with this crew since the days when he served Anakin Skywalker, before he became Darth Vader! As you can see, R2 is a real freaking hero, and if you ask me C-3PO is just the protocol droid that tags along to translate whatever R-2 has to say. R2 is brave and bold, while C-3PO is always complaining, whinnying and blaming R2 for everything. These two droids, with their very distinctive personalities are a perfect combination; R2 is the crazy guy, while C-3PO plays more of the straight guy to R2’s unpredictable loose cannon.

Robotic Dialog: “We seem to be made to suffer; it’s our lot in life”

Film: Chopping Mall (1986)

Robot: Kill Bot

Programming: The Kill Bots are part of the new state of the art security system at the Park Plaza Mall! They are programmed to patrol and protect the lonely hallways of the Park Plaza Mall once it closes down. But a group of 8 teenagers who decide to stay in the mall after it closes don’t know this. And to their chagrin, this just happens to be the night in which a lightning storm causes the robots to malfunction and become murderous killing machines! Funny part is that when these robots kill, they use the same line Robocop uses when he gets a bad guy: 

Robotic Dialog: “Thank You, have a nice day!”

Film: Runaway (1984)

Robot: Runaways

Programming: Tom Selleck stars as Sgt. Jack R. Ramsay in this flick about a mad scientist named Dr. Charles Luther (Gene Simmons) who has just created a race of killer robots that can thermographically identify a human from another. The little robots look like mechanical tarantulas, but these little buggers can be sent out to kill a specific person. And how do they do this? By injecting acid into their victims veins! After they have killed their target, the little robots explode without leaving any evidence behind. So they are perfect killing machines. The mad doctor has even created smart bullets that can follow peoples heat signatures to kill them! And this mad genius is mass selling his killer robots on the black market! In comes Sgt. Ramsay, a specialist in capturing and eliminating robots that go bad. In this world, malfunctioning robots that have to be retired are known as ‘Runaways’, hence the title of the film. So I guess you could say that in a way, Tom Selleck’s character is kind of like a Blade Runner in this film. The film also stars a very young Kristie Alley in one of her first film roles. Gene Simmons took a break from recording a KISS album (Animalize) to shoot this film.

Film: Hardware

Robot: M.A.R.K. 13

Programming: Hardware is a film about a sculpt artist, named Jill. She’s working on her latest sculpture, but its missing something. Good thing her boyfriend Moe finds the head of a robot while wondering through the dessert. He brings it home to her so she can use it in her sculpture. As it turns out, the robots head is the perfect piece to finish her sculpture. Unfortunately, they do not know that this robots head used to belong to a M.AR.K. 13 robot; a military unit that was discontinued because it malfunctioned. Now, the MARK 13 is reconstructing itself! And its about to get down to doing the one thing it was created to do: kill, kill, kill! Similarities with Blade Runner and The Terminator abound on this one, but that doesnt make it any less enjoyable.

Robotic Dialog: “Machines don’t understand sacrifice…neither do morons”

Film: Robocop 2 (1990)

Robot: Robocop 2

Programming: This robot is meant to replace Robocop, who in turn was replacing model ED-209. Robocop 2 is an attempt to eliminate the emotional side that the original Robocop is constantly at battle with. Robocop is constantly concerned for his ex-wife and his kid, and the memories of who he was when he was human. So how does OCP try to eliminate this emotional side from future police robots? By using the brain of a psychopath known as Cain to run Robocop 2 thats how! According to them, a psychopath isn’t worried about doing what’s right or wrong, so this will help the unit function properly when it comes to kicking ass on the streets. Too bad for them, they are absolutely wrong! The brain they decide to use belongs to Cain, who is not only a major drug dealer, he is also addicted to the new designer drug called NUKE! So now we have a killer robot who needs it's drug fix! Robocop 2 goes on a killing rampage eliminatingg anyone who stands in his way, including cops! By the end of the movie we have Robocop vs. Robocop 2 in one colossal robot vs. robot fight that destroys the streets of Detroit City. In my opinion, this film has some awesome stop motion animation courtesy of Phil Tippet and his crew of stop motion animators. Robocop 2 was written by comic book legend Frank Miller the same writer/comic book artist behind such classics as 300, Sin City and The Dark Knight Returns. His scipt was drastically changed to tone down the violence, yet the movie still ended up being a major bloodbath with an extremely high body count, which is totally cool of course.

Robotic Dialog: “Cain, let’s take this outside!”

Film: Lost In Space (1998)

Robot: Simply known as ‘Robot’

Programming: The robot on the ‘Jupiter 2’ has one major function and that is to maintain the Jupiter 2 during flight and to protect the Robinson family in the interstellar mission. The Robinson family has a mission and it’s to travel to a new planet called Alpha Prime and establish a hypergate there so that other humans might come down and colonize the planet. You see, Planet Earth is in pretty bad conditions, and humans are looking for other planets to colonize and thrive in. Terrorists make an attempt to destroy the Jupiter 2, but all they manage to do is divert its course, as a result, the Robinson family are now ‘Lost in Space’. At one point, the Robot is reprogrammed to try and kill the Robinson family, thankfully, those plans are averted. Robot is close friends with Will Robinson, the youngest of the Robinson family who also happens to be a computer genius. Will reprograms Robot with his own mental patterns, after this Robot actually develops his own personality, even going as far as trying to tell jokes. The Robot in the film was voiced by Dick Tufeld, the same voice actor who did the voice for the robot in the original television show.

Robotic Dialog: “Danger Will Robinson! Danger!”

Film: The Matrix Franchise

Robot: Sentinels

Programming: The Sentinels are a group of human hunting robots who’s only purpose is to hunt down the human resistance. They look like flying octopuses with their many robotic tentacles. The Sentinels have one weakness: an electro magnetic pulse can render them entirely useless!

Robotic Dialog: “Through out human history, we have been dependent on machines to survive. Fate, it seems, is not without its sense of irony”

Film: Cyborg (1989)

Robot: Pearl Prophet

Programming: Pearl Prophet is a cyborg who has vital information stored in her data banks, information that could save humanity from the Plague that is killing it. But before they find the last scientists on earth who can come up with the cure, Pearl must reach their headquarters in Atlanta. And that means traveling across a plague ravaged post apolyptic America, filled with pirates and scumbags who don’t want the world to change. They actually like their post apocalyptic world! Fortunately, Pearl comes across Gibson Rickenbacker (Van Damme) a hired mercenary who must now protect Pearl in her journey. Interesting thing about Cyborg is that it used the sets that were supposed to be used for the sequel to Master of the Universe (1987), a sequel that never came to be.

Robotic Dialog: “Why did you help me?”

Film: Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (2005)

Robot: Marvin The Paranoid Android

Programming: Marvin is a robot on a ship called the ‘Heart of Gold’. He is programmed with a Genuine People Personality (GPP for short) unfortunately; said personality is in constant depression! Marvin is a robot that prides himself in the size of his brain, which is so big that no task he could be given would occupy even the tiniest fraction of his vast intellect. According to Marvin, he is 50,000 times smarter then a human. Planet earth is about to be annihilated in order to make way for a space highway that needs to be built, and Marvin is part of the crew that is trying to stop this from happening. In the film, Marvin the robot was voiced by Alan Rickman, while it was Warwick Davis (Willow, The Leprechaun) who physically played the character in the film.

Robotic Dialog: “Freeze? I’m a robot, not a refrigerator.”

Film: Galaxina (1980)

Robot: Galaxina

Programming: Galaxina is a lifelike voluptuous android assigned to oversee the operations of an intergalactic Space Police Cruiser (called ‘The Infinity’) on a mission to recover the “Blue Star”. Whats the Blue Star? Doesn’t matter! What matters is that the bad guys want it to rule the universe with! The trip to retrieve the Blue Star requires for the crew members to sleep for 37 years in Cryo Sleep! This is more then enough time for Galaxina to reprogram herself so she can have physical contact with Capt Thor, whom she has fallen in love with but cannot come in contact with because she is programmed that way. Every time Thor tries to kiss or touch Galaxina in anyway, he gets zapped! Fortunately, Galaxina manages to reprogram herself! This movie is a parody of Star Wars, Aliens, Barbarella and Star Trek all rolled into one. I’ll be honest, its not the funniest movie ever made, but a fan of the movies it is making fun of should enjoy it somewhat. Galaxina was played by former 1980 Playmate of the Year, Dorothy Stratten. Sadly, Stratten was murdered (out of jealousy) shortly after the film was completed.

Robotic Dialog: “I am better then a woman”

Film: Cherry 2000 (1986)

Robot: Cherry 2000 Pleasure Model

Programming: In the future of Cherry 2000, people can purchase robots that can satisfy their sexual urges. Problem comes when you get used to them and they short circuit on you. That is the problem that Sam faces, his Cherry 2000 model short circuited on him in the middle of sex! Now Sam finds life unbearable! He can’t live without his Cherry! Unfortunately, the one he was using blew a fuse! Now he must hire a bounty hunter named E. Johnson (Melanie Griffith) in order to find a new Cherry 2000, which by the way is a model of sex robot that has been discontinued. So Sam and E. Johnson must travel far and wide through a post apocalyptic wasteland to find the last available Cherry 2000. At the end of the film, will Sam still need a robotic chick to get his rocks off, or will he prefer the affections of a real flesh and blood woman instead?

Film: Spaceballs (1986)

Robot: Mega Maid

Programming: The Spaceballs are trying to steal every bit of fresh air from Planet Druidia, their own planet (Planet Spaceball) is running low on oxygen, and Druidia looks like they got oxygen to spare. But just how do the Spaceballs intend to steal Druidia’s air? They are going to use Mega Maid to do it! You see, the Spaceball’s giant spaceship (called Spaceball One) can transform into a giant Maid, with a vacuum cleaner! In one scene Mega Maid uses it’s giant vacuum cleaner to suck all the air out of Druidia.

Robotic Dialog: “It’s Mega Maid! She’s gone from suck to blow!”

Film: A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)

Robots: David, Gigolo Joe

Programming: This is one of my favorite movies ever, because it plays with this idea of what we believe to be the truth, and what the truth really is. David is the first “mecha” (this films word for android) that has genuine feelings. He cares, cries, feels jealousy. Unfortunately, he has been thrust out into the world, all on his own. Good thing he befriends Gigolo Joe (Jude Law) a sex robot that decides to help David find his way in life. What I loved about this film was that idea of how our creations might out last us. Even when humanity disappears, will our computers keep on running? Will clocks keep on ticking? The depth of this film doesn’t surprise me, it was Kubricks brain child. Yes my friends, A.I. was a film that Kubrick had been wanting to make for years and years! Unfortunately, he never got to make it because he passed away. Thankfully, Steven Spielberg picked up the project and finished it as a cinematic homage to one of the greatest directors that ever walked the face of the earth, Stanley Kubrick.

Robotic Dialog: “They made us too smart, too quick and too many. We are suffering for the mistakes they made because when the end comes, all that will be left is us.”

Film: Clash of the Titans (1981)

Robot: Bubo, the mechanical owl

Programming: This is a character that the makers of the Clash of the Titans remake decided to leave out, not a wise thing to do, after all, Bubo was a gift from Zeus himself. Come to think of it, that’s probably why the Clash of the Titans remake failed, they made fun of Bubo, and that angered the Gods. But in the original 1981 film, Bubo was actually an integral part of the events that occur in the film. He was an aid to Perseus in his adventures. He leads Perseus to the lair of the Stygian witches, the ones with the secret on how to kill the Kraken. In one scene Bubo is the one that rescues Medusa’s head so that the Kraken can be killed! I know what you’re thinking, he is mechanical, and machines (especially robots) did not exist back in the time of the Greek myths. But we need to remember this was a gift from Zeus, and as God of gods, he can create whatever the hell he wants, even flying, talking, robot owls.

Film: D.A.R.Y.L. (1985)

Robot: Daryl (Data Analyzing Robot Youth Life form)

Programming: Same as Johnny 5 from Short Circuit, Daryl is a government experiment meant to be used for military purposes, but, when Daryl’s creator has a changed of heart about his creation, he helps Daryl escape into the real world and this is where the film also becomes similar to Spielberg’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence because Daryl is found and adopted by a real family who ends up thinking he is the perfect son! He is super smart, he excels at baseball, he can multi task like a mad man, and he can even hack into ATM machines! The parents soon discover there is something more to D.A.R.Y.L.! Apparently, the kid can also fly super sonic jets! Similarities with the film Short Circuit are all over the place (right down to the films ending!) but this one came first.

Robotic Dialog: “What is a hooker?”

Film: Eliminators (1986)

Robot: Mandroid

Programming: Mandroid is an android (hey that rhymes!) that was created by two scientist experimenting with time travel. Their purpose is to use Mandroid in their time travel experiments, but when Dr. Reeves (the more evil of the two scientists) decides he wants the Mandroid destroyed, Dr. Takeda (the good natured scientist) decides to help the Mandroid escape by sending him off in the time machine to another location. Unfortunately, Dr. Reeves ends up killing Dr. Takeda. Now Mandroid is out for revenge for the death of his friend, which of course includes killing Dr. Reeves and putting a stop to his plans of world domination. The special effects are cheesy, as is the dialog and even the action. This is one of those 80’s sci-fi films that’s good to watch for a laugh.

Robotic Dialog: “What is this; some kind of comic-book? We got robots, we got cave men, we got Kung-Fu!”

Film: Making Mr. Right (1987)

Robot: Ulysses

Programming: Making Mr. Right has one good thing going for it: it has John Malkovich playing Ulysses the robot! That’s right! In this film, Dr. Jeff Peters (John Malkovich) is a scientist working on creating a robot intended for use in space travel. The robot looks exactly like his creator. Only problem is that the robot has absolutely zero social skills. Fortunately, Frankie Stone is assigned to teach the robot all about human behavior. Problem comes when Frankie falls for the robot, who is anatomically correct in every sense of the word. We get a double dose of Malkovich in this film because Malkovich plays both the scientist who created the Ulysses robots, and the Ulysses robot itself! But don’t go thinking this is a hardcore sci-fi flick, nope, this film focuses more on relationships and male/female behavior. The true highlight of the picture though is watching Malkovich in one of his first film roles ever, and being quite funny at it.

Robotic Dialog: “If I were a human Frankie, it would be simple: I would fall in love with you.”

Film: Star Crash (1978)

Robot: Elle

Programming: Star Crash, same as practically any science fiction film out there has a couple of robots in its cast. First one up is Elle, a robot that aids Stella Star in her adventures across the galaxy in search for the son of The Emperor of the Galaxy (played by Christopher Plummer!) who has gone missing. By the way, the Emperor’s son is played by none other than David Hasselhoff! Elle the robot is supposed to be this films equivalent of C-3PO, only thing Elle has a country accent! And says the stupidest (and therefore funniest lines) in the whole film! How funny are his lines you ask? Try this one on for size: “Look! Amazonian women riding horses! I hope they are friendly!” The funny part being that these ‘amazonian women’ are nowhere near the Amazonian jungle, in fact, they are on an alien planet! Other robots in the film include a giant robot statue that attacks Stella and Elle while on a beach, and two twin robots that have a sword fight with David Hasselhoff. This film is a homage to many sci-fi fantasy films like Barbarella (1968), Jason and the Argonauts (1963) and last but certainly not least: Star Wars.

Robotic Dialog: “I only have logic and emotion circuits. No room for craziness” (Yeah right!)

Robin Williams as Andrew Martin in Bicentennial Man (1999)


Related Posts with Thumbnails