Friday, January 27, 2012


Machine intelligence, it's creeping up on us.
Look at the big deal they made out of Deep Blue back in the day, and then what a leap ahead  Watson is compared to that.
And with each quantum jump, you get the same dope-voiced media cries of "oh no! Thkynet! Thkynet!! Derp!".

No Luddite am I. I say bring it the fuck ON!

So, here are, not all, but, a nice slab-sized chunk of the good part of the cake, of cinema's look forward to our silicon grandchildren birthed of the mind.
The positive, the negative, and the cheesey.


The film-

The first robot period, the first A.I. robot, the first laser scan, the first neural transfer into a robot, and, the robot is scanned into human form, so, the first android to boot.
All in the character of Maria/Hel.
Course, these technologies aren't called any of those things, but...if it walks and quacks...
What would you call it?

Plot wise?
Dehumanization of the labor force, workers revolutions, treacherous industrialists, seems a bit "blah", to us now, but remember, these mundane things were dystopian sci-fi to people of 1927!

This film heavily visually inspired Blade Runner.

And, the look of C-3PO in Star Wars.
I mean, shamelessly, Ralph McQuarrie admits he did a direct lift as a starting point.

Also, similar themes were explored 9 years later in Charlie Chaplin's "Modern Times".
Minus the robot, and plus a malfunctioning feeding machine.

The history-

Also, the lost footage of this was finally found, and a restored DVD of the whole film released at last.

Forbidden Planet

The film/history-

Well, DUH! Robbie!

Still a damned classy looking robot.
You could plunk him down in a movie today, and he'd be impressive.

Anyway, see here.

The Invisible Boy

The film-

Robbie again!

This....could work as a sequel/prequel to "Forbidden Planet", and they really do heavily hint it that way.

Set in present day (1957 at the time), where Robbie is found dismantled in the garage of a now (presumed) dead scientist, who's left behind some pretty clear evidence that he had a time machine, and acquired Robbie in the future.

So, it's not much of  a leap to suppose he was brought back to Earth after FP, where he met the scientist.

So anyway, a super computer (called simply "the Super Computer") is built based on studying Robbie's innards (shades of T2 there) and the computer goes bad, and becomes, essentially, the first Skynet.

It's first order of business, hypnotizing, and sleep-learning the son of the scientist who constructed it, Timmie, to track down, and reconstruct Robbie, and bring him (Robbie) to him (Super Computer).

This is done, and Super Computer plugs into Robbie, turns him bad, and fiddles with his chest-replicator in such a way as to augment his atomic structure, and make him invincible.

Then, bad-Robbie makes an invisibility potion for the lad, to further exploit him somehow in SC's machinations, hence the title.

Eventually, SC is defeated, Timmie is restored to visibility, and Robbie is restored to goodness, and all is well.
But not before Robbie tussles with the Army for a bit to demonstrate his upgrades.

Neat little flick.

The history-


2001: A Space Odyssey

The film-

HAL, baby.

Um, nothing I can add, everything in the whole wide world has been said about this.

Buy the DVD.

The history-

I have the DVD.

2010: The Year We Make Contact

The film-

Eh....if you ask me, 2001 didn't need a sequel. least they reboot HAL.

Some stuff about the USA and Russia working together, which was taboo stuff in Reagan's America.
Something about Jupiter turning into a star.

It's a bit fuzzy.

I do know they kinda laid bare the stuff in 2001 that was left vague, and for the audience to figure out for themselves.
Yeah, I really don't like that.
It's like they took 2001, and stuck training wheels on for the slow kids.
Nosir, I don't like it.

Well, interesting film in its own right, but again, as a

The history-


Colossus: The Forbin Project

The film-

The real grandaddy of Skynet.

Oh, sure, "Super Computer", was the first evil A.I. in a box, but, Colossus has internet access, so, you've got that creepy  "tentacles around the world", "eyes everywhere", and access to the nukes paranoia thing going on.

The history-

Haha, they played this way back on TNT's "Monstervision".
I miss Monstervision.
I also miss "100% Weird".

TCM plays this sometimes too.

Course, TCM is what TNT used to be.
Damned fragmenting channels....
It's like TV tectonics.


The film-

No two ways about it, Yul Brynner was the original Terminator.

Plug Yul into Colossus, you've got "Terminator", as a flick.

Arnold was supposed to star in a remake of this in the 90's.
Eh...a bit too on the nose, doncha think?
It'd've just been an alternate T3 with cowboy hats.

Anyway, here, the mayhem is caused by an emergent computer virus.
The first time the idea was used in SF, I think.
I'm sure it was well known in early programmer circles, but, this is the first occurrence in a film that I know of.

Anyway, as you probably know, this was written by Michael Crichton, of Jurassic Park fame.
Eh....he was a mixed bag....let's leave it at that...

The history-


I really oughtta buy this.


The film-

The sequel to "Westworld",'s both awful, and fascinating at the same time...

The script, and acting, are bland, clunky, stilted shit....BUT...the science ideas jump out and bite you on the ass.

On display as an effect, is the first 3-D laser scan of a human face.
Yeah! In fucking 1976!
Oh, it's clunky, and rubbery looking, and you just know it took a reel-to-reel supercomputer running red hot to render it, when today, a laptop can run that shit,'s spooky to see seemingly out of time.

Also, I gotta believe it inspired Crichton's "Looker", who's whole plot revolved around scanning models.
And that film is creepily prescient about the way society is going now.
But...there's no A.I. in that one, so...

We also get as SF concepts, holographic VR, neural interface VR, and other goodies that would become SF staples.

And, of course, there's the robots, they're back.

So, as a piece of storytelling art, piece of shit, as a "World's Fair", set to celluloid, fuckin' kick-ass.

The history-

I love you, TCM.

Demon Seed

The film-

Here, the Skynet-ish computer (Proteus) doesn't give a fuck about taking over the world so much, as busting out of his box, by making a living body.

He accomplishes this, by seizing control of the automated household of the wife of one of the chief scientists who constructed him, and holding her hostage, and devising a way to knock her up with his engineered clone baby imprinted with his intellect.

The film and the book have different endings.
The flick, he succeeds, the book, he doesn't.

Written by Dean R. Koontz, he seems to have intended this as a cross between luddite-ism, and a parody of misogyny, which he seems to find inherent to males.
How do I know this?
He said so in the intro of the latest re-issue.

Well, his awful politics/religion aside, this is a good thriller.

Think gender-reversed "Misery", with a robot.

The history-

The film on TNT ages ago, the first re-issue of the book back in the late 90's, the new intro of the latest re-issue read at the grocery store 3 years ago in horrified bewilderment.


The film-

Generation X's "Dr. Strangelove".

You'd be hard pressed to find an Xer who in their deepest heart of hearts, doesn't dimly suspect, that this movie stopped the Cold War.

The history-


Electric Dreams

The film-

A dude (somehow) buys...the most magical PC I've seen to this fucking day, but in the 80's, gives it control of his house, tries to download...the whole world, it goes crazy, he spills wine on it, shorts it out, and then it boots back up with a spark of consciousness, that grows into an intelligence.

This A.I.-by-accident falls in love with the (literal) girl next door who the guy is also making a play for, and it becomes a love triangle between the guy, girl, and computer.

The story is saccharine, and corny, but, I remember it fondly from my childhood for the computer graphic effects, and the ideas of what home computers would someday be able to do.

Right this minute, our PCs can do just about all of them.

Music editing, music visualization plugins, video editing, photo editing, video capture, photo capture off a video, the whole shmeal.

I just wish I knew what magic computer store Miles shopped at back then.

I also remember it for the synth-riffic MTV-ready soundtrack.
In fact, this thing is really constructed like a collage of music videos stitched together.
So, it's the first "MTV movie".

The history-

So, part of my make-believe play back then had a steadily running story thread of having a computer like Edgar.
Back then, he was C.H.I.P.S., but then, he made his way into the comics as Omneron (See Harry Hembock).
And now, I've got this thing *gestures at the screen*.
So, full circle.

Anyway, here's a couple 80's-tacular songs...

Yeah, you're watching that on a computer.
A clip of a movie, about a computer, that used to be sci-fi, on your computer.
Do ya ever stop to marvel at that?
I do all the time.

Max Headroom: 
20 Minutes Into The Future

The film-

The first film that could be called "cyberpunk", that I'm aware of.

So, Edison Carter (played by Matt Frewer) investigates some dirty dealings by some Orwellian TV Execs, and ends up chased around by hired street goons, crashes his motorcycle, is presumed dead, and in an attempt to replace him, they have an amoral computer wiz kid scan his brain to replace him on-air with an A.I. facsimile, but the simulation is glitchy, and becomes Max Headroom (also Frewer).

Course, it turns out Edison survived, and he and Max co-exist.

Meanwhile, Max ends up in the hands of punker video pirates who patch him in to their pirate broadcast, and he becomes an instant celebrity that crashes the ratings of the evil network, and ruins their dirty double dealings.

Aaanyhoo, this whole thing is really a subversive sendup of the state of television, as is the character of Max himself.
With his plastic hair and teeth, and herky-jerky personality, he's clearly a rip on the plastic people that were already hosting news, and especially entertainment news shows.

Of course, the info-tainment atmosphere of news has only gotten worse in the past 20-something years, so Max becomes more and more timely as this shit goes on.

Max would love Fox News.
And he'd take to Youtube like a fish to water.

The history-


This isn't (readily) available on DVD.
Such is the pity.


The film-

So, with Max, it was a human mind in a computer, this one, it's a computer mind in a human.

So, the government makes a test tube conceived kid with a micro-computer brain wi-fi'ed to a room of super computers.
So that, normal human life experience will program this A.I. better than any programmer could, and then grow up into some kind of super-soldier.

I love how they skim over that the creation of this kid involves performing a brain-abortion...

And...come to think of it, DARYL is what Proteus-baby might have grown into...

Anyway, the kid busts out, stumbles into and becomes part of a normal suburban family, and then hi-jinks ensue when the evil government traces him down.

The history-


Flight of the Navigator

The film-

So, here, the A.I. is extraterrestrial, and the heart of a spaceship.

All right, the ship abducts this kid, pumps his head full of star charts to test his brain capacity, but, his brain "leaks", and he forgets the experience of being on the ship, and then it drops him off where it picked him up, but time-dilated 20 years into the future.

BUT, the ship gets its own systems scrambled by some power lines, and needs the star charts in the kid back, so, re-abducts him, scans him, and the ship gets some of the kid's personality blended in too, and turns into...Pee-Wee Herman.

All of this to set up the kid and Pee-Wee-Ship going on adventures.

Eh, cute flick.
Liked it as a kid.
Now, probably not as much.

The history-


Short Circuit

The film-

So, the government...geez, Hollywood hated the military in the 80's....makes adorable killer robots, and one of them is struck by lightning, and becomes conscious (much like Edgar, and the wine) and (like DARYL) busts loose, meets normal people, and hi-jinks ensue.

In the sequel, more hi-jinks.
But lamer.

Fisher Stevens's "Indian guy", is just some straight up racism.
We thought this shit was cute.
We were stupid.

These haven't aged well. least there's Ally Sheedy in the first one.
If you had a crush on her from "The Breakfast Club", hey, here you go, more of her....
...getting ogled by a robot, but hey....least it didn't go the "Demon Seed", direction....

Although...that might have actually been funny...
Come on, let me write the remake, Hollywood.

The history-


Circuitry Man/Circuitry Man II

The film-

So...Circuitry Man is what I like to imagine DARYL grows up into...after the nuclear apocalypse.

A psychotic homicidal electricity/input addict.

The history-

B-movie cheese off of scrambled Cinemax.

Bicentennial Man

The film-

A "ripoff", of Data's character arc on TNG, but Data was a ripoff of Asimov in the first place.

Anyway, here, it gets taken all the way to robots evolving into humans.

Making the point, we're already robots.
So, all this blending of human and really just machine and other machine.
Which, totally lets in Max Headroom.

The history-

Basic cable somewhere.

I, Robot

The film-

Asimov minus the heady stuff so....not Asimov so much....

Pretty to look at though....

There is an evil computer in this, for sure.

The history-

Basic cable.


The film-

The government makes a super-plane with an A.I. pilot.

So, wait, DARYL piloted a jet at one point, so, he was a computer, piloting a kid, piloting a jet.
So, by transitive property, he was a computer piloting a jet.

Why fuck around with performing disturbing brain-abortions on test tube babies?
Just fucking make the smart jet!

Why is the military so fuckin' stupid in movies?
Aren't there advisers or something?
Do they get pissed?
What goes on?

Anyway, the banter between the pilot guy, and the computer in this reminded me an awful lot of "Flight of the Navigator".
It's "Flight..", for grownups.
Grownups that like to see shit blow up.

The history-

Basic cable just today.
Jogged my memory that his even existed.'s some reruns....

Star Wars

The film/history-

See here.

The Droids totally count.

Star Trek The Motion Picture

The film/history-

See here.

V'Ger, of course.
And, the Ilia probe.

Star Trek: The TNG Films

The films/history-

See here.



The film/history-

See here.


The film/history-

See here.

The Master Control Program (MCP) natch.

Terminator Quadrilogy

The film/history-

See here.

Skynet, duh.

Superman III

The film/history-

See here.

The Richard Pryor computer...say, it never got a name, did it?

In an earlier draft, it was supposed to be Brainiac.
Well, you can kinda pretend it was a first evolution....

Weird Science

The film/history-

See here.

Be neat to know how her solidified materialization works...

The Transformers

The film/history-

See here.

An entire race of extraterrestrial A.I. lifeforms.
Hey, maybe they upgraded V'Ger....


The film/history-

See here.


The film/history-

See here.

Aaaand, that's those.
Like I said, not a complete list,'s a pretty good chunk, if I do say so myself.

Up next....Out of this World!


hyla2 said...

Aw, Max Headroom. What happened to ya, buddy?

It's not like Matt Frewer's good for much else. Gitcher ass back under that plastic coif and make wit da glitch, bitch!

hyla2 said...


I remember, as a kid, I used to have one of those stretchy suspenders-material belts with black and yellow warning striping, and a magnetic clasp buckle with a sticker of Max Headroom on it where the image moved when you tilted it.


Paladin said...

Watched "50/50" the other night and was pleasantly surprised to see Matt Frewer in it, playing a cancer patient. With his thin, gaunt face, he seems to excel at playing cancer victims (this, Watchmen).

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