Matrix Reloaded

May 21, 2006

Movie Review By: SFAM

Year: 2003

Directed by: Andy & Larry Wachowski

Written by: Andy & Larry Wachowski

IMDB Reference

Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Very High

Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: High

Key Cast Members:

  • Neo: Keanu Reeves
  • Morpheus: Laurence Fishburne
  • Trinity: Carrie-Anne Moss
  • Agent Smith: Hugo Weaving
  • Rating: 9 out of 10


    Matrix Reloaded screen capture

     

    Overview: Matrix Reloaded, one of the most anticipated movies of 2003 provides a very interesting follow-up to one of the best, most influential movies in cyberpunk and all of Sci-Fi. Many have knocked this (and Revolutions more) for being a significant step down from the original movie, and to an extent they are in that the “newness” of the idea has worn off. But truly, it would be absurd to expect the Wachowskis to not use the universe they have already painstakingly created. In this sense, the sequels HAVE to provide a different sensation. In this sense, Reloaded does not disappoint. We get great performances by the Matrix leads, along with a number of truly terrific supporting roles. For this review, I’ll try to concentrate my comments more on the Sci-Fi aspects of the movies versus the religious narrative, as this also covered wonderfully elsewhere. I’ve also tried to use less well known screencaps on the first page of this review. To see some of the more popular Reloaded screencaps, go to page 2 of this review. Also, this review goes in line with my more in-depth assessment of the trilogy from a SciFi perspective:

     

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    No “The Matrix Sucks/No It’s Great – You Just Don’t Understand!” Debates: Just a fair warning – if youre expecting Matrix sequel bashing, I’m afraid you’ve come to the wrong site. There are numerous places to read such banter if you’re interested. I absolutely love the sequels for a variety of reasons (some of which I explain below), but I really don’t mind in the least if you hate the sequels. Yet, for this movie, I’d really like the comments on this entry to be more related to the movie itself versus whether or not you hate the sequels. Believe me when I tell you I’ve participated in many more hours of discussion on this topic than I ever care to, and absolutely will not get into this in the comments section of this review. If you MUST engage in the “Matrix Sequels Suck/No – They’re Great, You Just Don’t Understand!” debate, please use this thread in the Meatspace.

     

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    The Story: I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that about 99.9% of you reading this review have already seen Reloaded, so I won’t spend much time on an overview of the story unless its specifically requested. In brief, Matrix Reloaded is the sequel to the Matrix, and is the second of three movies in the trilogy. In Reloaded, six months have past since the end of the Matrix, during which time, Morpheus, Neo and Trinity have been busting hump freeing massive numbers of battery people. In Reloaded, we get to see Zion, a return of Mr. Smith, and eventually, a fuller understanding of the nature of the Matrix and the Prophecy of the One.

     

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    The Supporting Characters: One of the real strong points of Reloaded is the cool character additions. The best ones are of course the Merovingian (played magnificently by Lambert Wilson) and Persephone, played by the ultra-sexy Monica Bellucci in a totally hot see-through dress. When they are onscreen, both absolutely steal the scenes. Almost as terrific is the Architect (Helmut Bakaitis) and the blasé evil ghost twins (Adrian and Neil Rayment – who actually are twins) – they have to be up there as some of the best henchmen ever to grace the screen. Seraph (Collin Chou), Councilor Hamann (Anthony Zerbe), Link (Harold Perrineau), the Keymaker (Randall Duk Kim), and Niobe (Jada Pinkett Smith) all really add to the movie as well.

     

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    The Action: Reloaded is filled to the brim with awesome action scenes. In addition to some wonderful Woo-ping Yuen choreographed fights, we get one of the best highway chase scenes ever put on film. The Trinity motorcycle part in particular is just awesome. Truly though, serious credit has to go here to Keanu Reeves’ preparation and training for this film. By all accounts he was an absolute machine in terms of preparation. It really shows on screen. His wire work and martial arts scenes are just terrific (And no, I’m not comparing him to those in Hong Kong who’ve spent an entire career doing this stuff). The CG for the most part is absolutely top notch.

     

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    The Visuals: Matrix Reloaded has a lot more diversity in its visuals than the Matrix provided us. We have a few experimental shots like the graphic novel scene of Neo flying with the Moon behind him – and lots of yellows and greens. For yellows, we get rave scenes, explosions, and fights in a yellow weapons room. Greens, of course, still dominate the majority of the scenes – like the first movie, they are omnipresent in most low-light scenes. All in all, the visuals are incredibly diverse and interesting.

     

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    The Pacing: Matrix Reloaded starts off with a bang (literally) before getting into the story. We get a mixture of plot discussions, action sequences and philosophical breaks. But Reloaded is as a whole is definitely of a different style pacing than most movies. It and its sequel more closely resemble the approach taken in Oshii’s Ghost in the Shell, where there are philosophical and thematic discussions that are then played out in the action sequences. The ending clearly comes off as a cliff-hanger, which is to be expected considering this is the middle of a trilogy.

     

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    The Architect Conversation: The Architect conversation provides some of the best dialogue of the entire trilogy. This is a philosophical break, a plot buster, and more importantly, the major turning point in the trilogy. The Architect and his minions serve as the ultimate representation of a negative feedback (negating change from an initial goal state) control system. His whole purpose in life is to ensure a steady supply of power (electricity) to the Machine City. As the power is created off the electricity in humans, the Architect must develop a plato cave-like virtual reality simulation that provides humans with a believable reality. The Architect reveals the details of the control system that has kept the machines satiated with electricity for the past 600+ years. In this we find that the prophecy of the One is merely one more layer of control to maintain the status quo to handle the problems arising from freewill (more on this below). Unfortunately, something (or someone) has thrown a monkey wrench into his carefully laid plans. Neo has fallen in love, and in so doing, creates a personal connection with a human that is potentially larger than his overall connection with humanity.

     

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    Freewill: Matrix Reloaded spends a good bit of the philosophical breaks discussing the impact of freewill on actions, decision making and on control systems. The Merovingian assets that without the “why,” freewill is merely a facade by those in power that is placed on the powerless. The architect who created the Matrix based on mathematical equations. While he has accounted for almost all anomalies, he had to develop a special periodic subroutine to address the issue of freewill. Because a very small subset of the population would reject the Matrix programming, there needed to be a way of handling this. His approach involves the creation of an external holding bin called “Zion,” which which he would let fill up with the problem battery people, and then every hundred years or so would clean out the holding bin and start again. Simultaneasly, Morpheus, who is unaware of this freewill control subroutine, sees the prophecy of the One as a deterministic journey – one which both reduces the power of freewill while supposedly saving Zion.

     

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    Positive Feedback Out of Control: From a cybernetic standpoint, Positive feedback, or the deviation from an initial goal state, plays a huge role in both reloaded and revolutions. In fact, both movies constitute an emergence and interplay among dueling feedback systems. The architect has created a negative feedback system that has been in force for at least 600 years. Yet now, the perturbations to the negative feedback control system are systemic – in fact, they constitute an initial kick in an entirely new direction. The study of cybernetics tells us that negative feedback systems are destroyed – often never to be repaired to their original state – if the upper or lower threshold values in the are exceeded. For instance, if the body temperature in a human exceeds 106 degrees Fahrenheit, the human will die. In the futuristic dystopia of the Matrix, this is the strategy the Oracle takes. The rationale is that unless the architect’s control system is rendered moot, the “ebony and ivory, living in perfect harmony” future (with machines and humans) the Oracle desires cannot occur.

     

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    Elements of the positive feedback system, represented in totally by the Oracle and the causality she creates, include both a modification of Neo’s operant conditions and an intrusion into Mr. Smith’s deletion. Neo’s love for Trinity changes the outcome of the Architect’s freewill subroutine – instead of having only one real choice (saving humanity), Neo has a new choice – save trinity now and spend 24 hours trying to rescue Zion and humanity or continue with the control system which will wipe out Zion. Additionally, Mr. Smith has been transformed into a virus. When Neo destroys him in the first movie, Mr. Smith did not disappear – instead (as we find out in Revolutions), the Oracle intervenes and creates the new, viral Smith. While there is no resolution to this in reloaded, the context is set for the resolution in Revolutions.

     

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    I Believe…: I believe this phrase (“I believe”) is used twenty times or more in Reloaded. There are times it fits perfectly, whereas others it seems to interfere with the dialogue. The scene where Commander Lock is discussing strategy with the Council is the most egregious example of this. Versus “I believe we need every ship…” it would have been far more realistic had he used a simple “We need every ship if we are even to have a chance…” The problem of course is the whole issue of whether or not the Commander and Council believe in the Prophecy of the One. As impending doom draws nearer, the tendency to place faith in supernatural explanations for salvation becomes too great to resist.

     

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    The Bottom Line: The Matrix Reloaded is a terrific follow-up to one of the most influential movies ever. The Wachowski brothers have provided a movie where the action is terrific, the characters are memorable, and the narrative is complex and interesting. Lawrence Fishbourne as Morpheus in particular shines here, which is great, in that is role is significantly diminished in Revolutions. While Reloaded suffers somewhat from being the middle movie in a trilogy, I think it handles this well. The ending provides us with a cliffhanger, which, at the time of release, sparked IMENSE numbers of interesting theories and ideas. I’m guessing most of you have watched Reloaded, so I feel strange giving a plug to watch it. All I can say is I love it.

     

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    Fifth Element

    April 27, 2006

    Movie Review By: SFAM

    Year: 1997

    Directed by: Luc Besson

    Written by: Luc Besson & Robert Mark Kamen

    IMDB Reference

    Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: High

    Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Low

    Key Cast Members:

  • Korben Dallas: Bruce Willis
  • Leeloo: Milla Jovovich
  • Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg: Gary Oldman
  • Father Vito Cornelius: Ian Holm
  • Ruby Rhod: Chris Tucker
  • Rating: 8 out of 10


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    Overview: Some movies are just absolute absurd fun – so fun that you end up watching it endlessly. The Fifth Element is that way for me, and is a movie I’ve seen around 20 times or so. The tone of the movie is too light-hearted to be considered a real cyberpunk movie, but like Tank Girl, we can consider this a cyberpunk comedy. The characters are all a hoot, and the movie never takes itself seriously – in fact it’s almost always over the top. Many of the cyberpunk themes still exist in Fifth Element, although, again, they are enacted in a light-hearted way. It’s the visuals that really bring Fifth Element into the cyberpunk subgenre.

     

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    The Story: 217 years into the future, ultimate evil is again coming to destroy the earth. Ultimate evil takes the form of an absolutely massive malevolent ball of blackness that is on a course to destroy earth. Every attack the Federated Territories try only makes it larger. It turns out that a group of priests has been keeping the ancient technology necessary to destroy ultimate evil – four stones representing the 4 elements, which surround a fifth element. In this case, the fifth element is s beautiful girl (Milla Jovovich), reconstructed from the remains of a small DNA sample.

     

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    “Leeloo Dallas, Multi Pass”

     

    Korben Dallas (Bruce Willis) is a down and out highly decorated former military commando, now turned failing cabbie, who has a beautiful girl named Leeloo (Jovovich) fall into her cab – literally! The authorities are after her, as it turns out she has escaped those who recreated her. She can’t speak English yet she figures a way to ask for help. After she asks, Korben Dallas takes her to the priest, Father Vito Cornelius, who recognizes her as the Fifth Element, and promptly kicks Korben out.

     

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    From there, things get crazy. The military approaches Korben for a secret mission to retrieve the stones necessary to stop ultimate evil. The stones are hidden with a famous Diva who is performing at the famous floating hotel, Floston Paradise. At the same time, Zorg, an evil corporate CEO (Gary Oldman) has hired a group of Mangalores (evil, ugly aliens) to retrieve the stones. Simultaneously, Father Vito Cornelius and Leeloo also find a way get to Floston Paradise to retrieve the stones. Things get even weirder when the famous radio host, Ruby Rhod (Chris Tucker), an outrageous guy with a penis-head hairdo hosts the Floston Paradise experience with Korben as his guest!

     

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    The Acting: All the main characters in the Fifth Element are quirky and memorable. Bruce Willis really works as a former hero, now on his last leg. Jovovich is beautiful and otherworldly. Tucker is a riot! This movie really got him known (Rush Hour made him famous though). And Gary Oldman as Zorg is flat out awesome as a completely crazed power-hungry evil doer with a quirky sense of style and salesmanship. Truly, Besson did a great job in casting this.

     

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    The Visuals: The Fifth Element totally rocks in the cool futuristic visuals department. The colors include dark yellows with neon blues for the backgrounds, saturated blue scenes and orange clothes for the leads. But its the city-scapes, reminiscent of Lang’s Metropolis that are especially memorable. They flat out nail a far out vision of the future. Additionally, we have airports with 30 foot tall trash heaps due to a garbage worker strike, fully automated, ultra-processed McDonalds, deaf rock stars

     

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    The Editing: The editing in the Fifth Element is just terrific. The splicing of the various story strands, as crazy as they are, flow wonderfully. In discussing the missing stones, the simultaneous, intermixed dialogue between Leeloo and Father Cornelius and Zorg with the Mangalores are just one terrific example of this; the Diva opera singling intermixed with Leeloo’s fighting is another. With the amount of stuff going on here, this could have ended up a disaster. Sylvie Landra, who also edited Leon – the Professional, deserves heaps of praise for this.

     

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    The Fifth Element Cyberpunked Future: Dropping the crazed fantasy aspects of the stones and ultimate evil, The Fifth Element gives us a pretty dire view of the future. Cities are built high to escape the constant layer of smog that coats the surface; corporations are all-powerful; governments are impotent; fashion statements have gone seriously awry; cockroaches are used as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems – but at least we still get cheap Chinese food! Plus robots now do all our menial work!

     

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    The Bottom Line: No, the Fifth Element is not intended to be taken seriously. Still, this movie is just far more enjoyable than it has any right to be. The action and romance are fun, the characters are unforgettable, the story is entertaining, the music is great, and the visuals are marvelous! The Fifth Element has been in my regular heavy watching rotation since it came out. Give this a watch if you’re looking for a witty futuristic cyberpunk action-comedy flick.

     

    Go to Page 2: More Fifth Element Screencaps–>>

     

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    RoboCop 2

    March 25, 2006

    Movie Review By: SFAM

    Year: 1990

    Directed by: Irvin Kershner

    Written by: Frank Miller & Walon Green (screenplay), Michael Miner & Edward Neumeier (characters)

    IMDB Reference

    Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Medium

    Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Low

    Key Cast Members:

  • Robocop: Peter Weller
  • Rating: 4 out of 10


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    Overview: Oh how the mighty have fallen. In Robocop, we get a violent, satirical look at a future with an interesting story, complete with cyborg musings and incredible visuals. In Robocop 2, we get a tripe, over-the-top monstrosity that devolves into a Godzilla versus King Kong movie. Where Robocop provided a biting commentary on the state of corporate influence and advertising, Robocop 2 settles for a simplistically evil, nonsensical, corporate stooges who are far more interested in screwing society than they are making long term profit. Put simply, Robocop 2 is a mess when compared to its original.

     

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    The Story: In Robocop 2, the OCP Corporation is bent on nefariously taking over ownership of the city so that it can squeeze every dollar out of the populace (which, interestingly, is already poor). As part of their plan, OCP tacitly supports the distribution of a new addictive drug called “Nuke.” With the cops on strike and the evil drug lord Cain distributing the drug and destroying the populace, only Robocop is there to protect Detroit from complete anarchy. But even Robocop is removed when a new scheming corporate businesswoman at OCP will do anything to get to the top, including screwing the CEO, ruining Robocop and replacing him with the Nuke drug lord, Cain. I could to into more details, but truly, the plot sucks too much to bother.

     

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    Robocop Stripped: “Christ, he’s been stripped,” is the line the policeman delivers upon seeing Robocop as a heap of parts. I couldn’t agree more. The plot points in Robocop 2 are idiotic at best. OK, so the bad guy and his 12 year-old kid beat Robocop. Of course, the logical thing to do is to drop him off, living parts and all at police HQ, right? And of course it makes sense for a Lawyer to control the Robocop project, even though there aren’t any legal issues involved. And just as logical is the corporation that gambles its entire viability on a psycho-maniac dead drug addict to be its corporate face and protector of the public, while destroying its investment in Robocop by programming him with silly parables (Gee, any reason they didn’t just re-assign Robocop to the military?). In topping this silliness, at least we know that Robocop, human brain and all, is able to easily withstand a drop from the top of a skyscraper. Interestingly, Robocop 2 tells us that the most expensive part of running a city is the police department, not the building of an ENTIRE NEW DOWNTOWN, which, we are told, will instantly pay for itself because its population will be paying for an addictive drug! I could go on, but clearly, the plot isn’t supposed to make sense. One wonders what the original script looked like as its pretty clear that Frank Miller’s script was modified significantly.

     

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    You can tell why OCP wants to steal Detriot to make money of the populace.
    Detriot’s citizens are all millionaires!

     

    The Bottom Line: While most of the key characters return (Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Dan O’Herlihy, Felton Perry), they are joined by a cast that includes a parodied lunatic for a mayor (Willard Pugh), a kid for a bad guy (always the touch of death), and shallow scheming, horrible acting corporate bitch (Belinda Bauer). The interesting questions from the first movie are again posed, but this time in a sophomoric, absurd fashion – so much so that they divorce any interest in the potential answers. The FX, including the stop-motion animation are still decent enough to keep the movie from being a total waste, but just barely. If Robocop was intended as a total goof (meaning the actors realized this), it would have worked better. Instead, we get a story that qualifies as a parody while the actors seem to think they’re making a credible remake. The result is less than stellar.

     

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    Robocop

    March 23, 2006

    Movie Review By: SFAM

    Year: 1987

    Directed by: Paul Verhoeven

    Written by: Edward Neumeier & Michael Miner

    IMDB Reference

    Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: High

    Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Very High

    Key Cast Members:

  • Officer Alex J. Murphy/RoboCop: Peter Weller
  • Officer Anne Lewis: Nancy Allen
  • Dick Jones: Ronny Cox
  • Bob Morton: Miguel Ferrer
  • Clarence Boddicker (Crime Lord): Kurtwood Smith
  • Rating: 9 out of 10


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    Overview: One of the truly unique movies in the cyberpunk genre, Robocop seems to be slowly receding from our conscious. No longer (in the US) is it carried at places like Best Buy. This is truly a shame because Robocop offers us one of the best instances of near-future cyborgs on film, and in the process, raises some pretty interesting questions. One top of this, Robocop offers some really fun satire along with an in-your-face realistic violence tone throughout that only adds to its mood.

     

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    The Story: In a very near-future setting, general law and order has broken down. In the crime-ridden city of Detroit, Omni Consumer Products (OCP) has taken over the public safety duties. To cut costs, they have decided to explore options for automating the police force. One option supported by Dick Jones (Ronny Cox) the number 2 guy at OCP, involves the development of a fully automated mobile weapon system called “ED 209.” While ED 209 is an absolute badass, it screws up in the final demo and ends up peppering one of OCP’s employees in the process.

     

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    Enter up and coming executive, Bob Morton (Miguel Ferrer). Bob takes ED 209’s demise as an opportunity to convince the CEO to give the Robocop project a try. This involves taking a “just-dead” cop, and embedding the key parts of his body (brain, lungs, heart, etc.) into a robotic body that interfaces and “controls” the mental processes through controlling prime directives. Detective Murphy (played wonderfully by Peter Weller), who has just died in a gruesome death at the hands of Detroit’s crime lord (Kurtwood Smith) becomes the new “volunteer.” His memory is erased, his limbs are removed, and then becomes OCP’s corporate property as their latest innovation.

     

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    Murphy is transformed into a fully encased crime fighting machine. Robocop is released on the streets to start kicking ass. Unfortunately, Dick Jones doesn’t take his defeat gracefully, and begins to cause trouble both for Robocop’s creator, Bob Morton, and finally for Robocop. It turns out that OCP’s plan for managing detroit’s crime situation isn’t all above board, as there appears to be some linkage between OCP and Detroit’s crime lord. Robocop’s troubles get even worse as he begins to remember who he was in a past life.

     

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    The Satire: Verhoeven is known for having an off-beat sense of satire. In a technique later used for Total Recall and Starship Troopers, Robocop does this primarily through its news reports and commercials. These, along with the corporate greed thematics transforms Robocop into a social commentary on the 80s excesses. The Commoditization of society permeates every aspect of human life in Robocop. Corporations are inherently evil and humanity is a cheap sales pitch. Like Starship Troopers, you’ll continually catch yourself smiling at the commercials and news reports, as Verhoeven really has a talent for this type of satire.

     

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    The Violence: Fair warning – Robocop is an extremely violent movie – so much so that upon its initial release, they had to cut two seconds of violence to prevent from receiving an “X” rating. Nothing is held back here, as Verhoeven continually strives for hyper-realism. We see limbs getting blown off, blood spattered faces and walls, and in-your-face gore of all varieties from beginning to end. However, the violence doesn’t stick out as a sore thumb – instead it serves to give the near-future city a nourish realism feel. In short, it works within the context of the narrative and surrounding visuals.

     

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    The FX and Set Designs: While Verhoeven gives us a somewhat futuristic city, he seems to err on the side of looking “normal.” We see this most clearly in the Ford Taurus police cars (which were brought in after everyone agreed the futuristic police car designs looked too tacky to be considered). However, the set designs are all wonderfully constructed, and all seem work well with one-another. The ED 209 looks terrific, and the stop-motion animation for it generally works. Robocop’s exterior design does look hoaky at first, but you eventually get used to it. On the other hand, Robocop without his helmet looks flat-out awesome.

     

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    The Cyborg Questions: Robocop/Murphy give us a rich set of questions to ponder relating to cyborgs, the integration of programming with human minds, and in determining ownership after death.

    • Cyborg and Humanity: As Murphy begins to realize who he was, and worse, what he’s become, the question asked is what degree of Murphy’s humanity remains? Murphy’s partner, Anne Lewis (played by Nancy Allen) serves to surface these concerns, as she still thinks that Murphy is inside somewhere. Yet, every aspect of humanity has been taken away from Robocop – he doesn’t have a home, but instead returns to a borg-like podchair at night to regenerate. Even if Robocop eventually considers himself human in some sense, it’s no longer clear what that even means. At best, Robocop is part of that strange category we call “post-human.”
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    • Man-machine interface – Robocop Style: Robocop gives us an interesting look at human brain-matter that has been fully integrated into a cybernetic body. Even more interesting though is the notion that external programming could limit the functioning of the human brain from controlling its new cyborg casing. If we think about it, this isn’t as far fetched as it may initially look: similar to how firewalls block “targeted” information from either entering or exiting a network, Robocop’s programming ensures the human mind adheres to the prime directives. But while the prevention part seems possible, the “directive” nature of the rules seems dubious, as does the erasing of his memory. These perhaps, are far harder to do without destroying the “cop experience” they so desired by picking Murphy in the first place.
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    • Dixie Flatline Construct Concerns: Similar to the Dixie Flatline Construct in Neuromancer, for all intents and purposes, Murphy is dead prior to being transformed into Robocop. At best we can consider him a zombie as his brain matter was re-animated after death. But like Dixie Flatline, he can think and perform sensemaking. Also like Dixie Flatline, he is limited by programming constraints. However, unlike Dixie Flatline, Robocop can still “feel.” So the question is this – if we develop the capability to re-animate someone’s consciousness after death, do they have the same basic human rights as they did when they were alive? Or are they the property of the corporation who revived them? Even weirder, could corpse’s estate executor (or spouse, for that matter) “sell” the corpse’s consciousness to a third party? If this is so, could your conscious be sold after the fact to pay off unpaid debts? Truly, the questions are mind-boggling!

     

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    The Bottom Line: Robocop has to be considered one of the essential films of the cyberpunk genre. Some of the action scenes could have been better choreographed (a lot of the bad-guy deaths had the worthless storm trooper feel to them), but truly, the quibbles with this film are minor. Unlike the sequels, which largely come across as pathetic attempts to cash in on the original’s success, Robocop takes itself seriously from beginning to end. Because of this, it really does rise to something special. Even though Best Buy no longer considers Robocop worthy of carrying, don’t let this fool you – assuming you can stand the violence, Robocop deserves to be watched.

     

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    Judge Dredd

    March 10, 2006

    Year: 1995

    Directed by: Danny Cannon

    Written by: John Wagner et al. (6 people in total)

    IMDB Reference

    Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Medium

    Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Low

    Key Cast Members:

  • Judge Dredd: Sylvester Stallone
  • Rico: Armand Assante
  • Judge Hershey: Diane Lane
  • Herman Ferguson: Rob Schneider
  • Judge Griffin: Jürgen Prochnow
  • Chief Justice Fargo: Max von Sydow
  • Rating: 4 out of 10


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    Overview: The inspiration for Judge Dredd is based off of a comicbook hero, which Hollywood determined needed to be brought to the big screen. Vice working to recreate the comic (apparently the beginning actually does this pretty well), most of the movie is completely derivative. Judge Dredd is a terrific example of an overblown Hollywood, trying to feed us a pile of crap, all dressed up with a super-hero action star and glitzy FX. The story sucks, the acting sucks, and the overall look is cheesy, but at least the FX and deaths are well done. This only barely qualifies as cyberpunk due to the setting which are made up of Blade Runner and Robocop ripoffs.

     

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    Judge Dredd takes place in a twenty-second century dystopia, where anarchy reigns supreme. Now, only the fabled “Judges” keep the peace. Judges are the ultimate authorities – they have the ultimate power in determining someone’s innocence or guilt. Here’s the big surprise that Judge Dredd enlightens us to – “power corrupts.” Stallone is the lone “good guy” who holds to the “Law” at all costs. Unfortunately, he is framed by his evil friend, Rico, a judge he previously sent up the river. Now with Judge Dredd out of the way, Rico has full reign to inflict insane terror over “Mega-City One” (and WOW, what an imaginative name for a cyberpunk city!). I could go through the rest of the plot, but I’m guessing you can probably figure it out – here’s the highlights – escapes with help of sidekicks, kicks ass, uncovers plot, beats more ass, and you can guess the ending.

     

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    The Bottom Line: The pacing and tone of Judge Dredd just never seem to click. Sometimes it tries to be serious, yet others it faints to a faux-lite side. Unlike the masterful Save the Green Planet, which is able to blend comedy, horror, Sci-Fi, drama and action with aplumb, Judge Dredd fails in its attempt to be multi-tonal. The FX are very expensive, but you only can enjoy them if you ignore the endless stream of plot holes Judge Dredd presents. On paper, the supporting cast (Diane Lane, Armand Assante, Rob Schneider, Jürgen Prochnow, Max von Sydow) should be terrific (aside for Rob Schneider, of course), but most seem to have a hard time taking their roles seriously. If you haven’t seen Judge Dredd, you might be able to make it through life without doing so. If you have, and think this is one of the greatest movies ever made (as some reviews on Amazon and IMDB indicate), I’m afraid our conversation is at an end. Still, if you realize up front that all you’re getting is a trashy nonsensical story, with a tough Stallone kicking ass in cool ways, you might enjoy it.

     

    ~See movies similar to this one~

    This post has been filed under Dystopic Future Movies, 4 Star Movies, Cyberpunk movies from 1990 – 1999 by SFAM.
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