Cyborg

March 7, 2006

Year: 1989

Directed by: Albert Pyun

Written by: Kitty Chalmers

IMDB Reference

Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Low

Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Low

Key Cast Members:

  • Gibson Rickenbacker: Jean-Claude Van Damme
  • Nady Simmons: Deborah Richter
  • Fender Tremolo: Vincent Klyn
  • Pearl Prophet: Dayle Haddon
  • Rating: 4 out of 10


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    Overview: OK, so you have Jean-Claude Van Damme – a guy that can’t show any emotions other than staring intensely or screaming anger – but at least he’s an awesome fighter. So all you have to do is provide a simple, semi-coherent story that allows the guy to show his two emotions and then spend the rest of the movie kicking ass. Simple, right? Unfortunately, Pyun’s Cyborg fails miserably in the story department. From beginning to end, the rationale for key events are completely non-sensical, which leaves us a steaming pile of crap with pretty good fight scenes.

     

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    The Story: In a bizarre dystopic future that has ultimate anarchy next to people apparently trying to build little houses on the prairie, a modern version of the plague has devastated an already crippled society. But a cure has been found. And for some reason, these people in one location need to get the cure from another location before it can be used. So…the answer to make this happen is to take one of their hot chick key engineers named Pearl Prophet(played by Dayle Hadden) and TURN HER INTO A CYBORG!!! Why the fuck do they turn her into a cyborg in order to play courier, you ask? Does this make her impervious to attacks? No…in fact, she’s completely worthless as far as combat is concerned. In fact, absolutely NO reason is given for this transformation. We are left to assume that somehow, hard drives only work in the future if they are embedded in people’s bodies (there is a focus on her cybernetic eyes, so perhaps they want us to believe that optical cameras only work in the future if embedded in cyborg eyes). Nor do we find out why the cure will be lost if this cyborg chick dies (gee – if this is a Johnny Mnemonic type thing, can’t they just upload it in chick #2?). In any event, her guardian is killed by the “flesh pirates” and now she needs another body guard. It just turns out that Jean-Claude Van Damme, hero extraordinaire’s one happy family moment was crushed by the flesh pirates, so he’s more than happy to go to the rescue. And for some reason, he’s taken a straggler, Deborah Richter, for the ride.

     

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    The rest of the movie is a tracking/confrontation movie where Van Damme tracks down Vincent Klyn, leader of the flesh pirates and engages them in fight after fight. Not surprisingly, Van Damme initially gets his ass beat a few times before we get to the predictable ending. In keeping with the whole incoherence theme, in one scene Van Damme is crucified on a ship’s mast (with nails through the hands – the whole bit), but is fully healed by the next evening’s final showdown. Even worse, we find out from Pearl Prophet, the cyborg chick, that her homies back at the fort can kill the pirates anyways, so we are left wondering why Van Damme even bothers.

     

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    The Bottom Line: The whole goal of the movie was to get Van Damme going at it with buff surfer Vincent Klyn. Why they even bothered to add a cyborg to this is beyond me, as it simply doesn’t fit with the story. Who knows, maybe this was the only thing they had available in their limited FX bag. Well, cool, why not spend the 20 minutes it takes to actually write a rationale for the cyborg’s inclusion? In short, this film was never going to be great, but with a little amount of coherence, it could have been decent. I do give one star extra for the fight scenes, which gives Cyborg 4 stars.

     

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    This post has been filed under Dystopic Future Movies, Man-machine Interface, 4 Star Movies, B Cyberpunk Cinema, Cyberpunk movies from 1980-1989 by SFAM.

    Matrix

    February 26, 2006

    Year: 1999

    Directed by: Andy & Larry Wachowski

    Written by: Andy & Larry Wachowski

    IMDB Reference

    Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Very High

    Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Very High

    Key Cast Members:

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


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    Definitely my favorite opening sequence of all time. Just a great great start to a movie!

     

    Overview: The Matrix is one of my all-time favorite movies, so I’m just not going to attempt to come off as unbiased about it. Additionally, I’m guessing that pretty much everyone who’s coming to this site has seen it – probably numerous times, so I’m guessing a plot description isn’t of much value here. In short, my conundrum with the review is this – what should I say about this movie that will in any way add value to the reader? Answer: Not much. Instead I have decided to keep the bulk of my comments for various essays on the Matrix Trilogy.

     

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    Matrix Influences: The Matrix influenced movies in general and society as a whole. With respect to movies, we see numerous influences, including:

    • Special Effects: Bullet time and a myriad of other FX are now standard practice in movies and commercials
    • Synonymous with “Cool”: Movies that have a “matrix-like” feel are advertised all the time. We know what this means – it means they aspire to be ultra-sleek, ultra-cool and the “in” thing.
    • Fight Sequences: By hiring Hong Kong Martial Arts master Yuen Wo-Ping to coordinate the fights, the Matrix raised the bar on mainstream American movie fight sequences
    • Matrix Source Code: The Matrix source code, taken in part from Ghost in the Shell, is everywhere now, and is instantly recognized, as is its meaning
    • Hot Chicks in Black Shiny Stuff Kicking Butt: Trinity’s influence has massively upped the anty on action chicks in movies. While Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman in Batman Returns re-initiated this trend, Carrie Anne Moss’ Trinity has made this outfit almost mandatory for female action heroines.
    • The use of philosophy in movies: The Matrix seems to have broken the barrier to discussing philosphy in movies. Lets hope this idea lives on.
    • Fashion: From Sunglasses, to overcoats to cyberpunkwear, the Matrix has changed the way people dress.
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      The Bottom Line: The Matrix is already one of the most influential in science fiction, and is truly one of the cornerstone cyberpunk movies in existence. We get it all here: terrific action, awesome cyberpunk concepts, incredible cyberpunk visuals, cool philosophical discussions, an absolutely awesome soundtrack (although DoomAng3l disagrees with this – see his comment below) and innovative FX. On top of this, all the leads were terrific. Reeves makes a perfect Neo, and Moss, Fishburne and Weaving give career-defining performances. Look below for move screencaps on page 2, and additional essays on the Matrix.

       

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      Matrix Essays

      • The Matrix Trilogy: A Man-Machine Interface Perspective: This essay explores the Matrix Trilogy specifically from a scifi perspective – the purpose of which is to show how Neo’s journey is really a sequel to Motoko’s transformation at the end of Ghost in the Shell. Developed throughout the trilogy, Neo becomes a fully merged entity comprised of a sentient program with a human.

       

      Page 2: More Screencaps–>>

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    This post has been filed under Dystopic Future Movies, Hot Cyberchicks Kicking Butt, Awesome Cyberpunk Themes, Memory Modification, Man-machine Interface, 10 Star Movies, Hacker Movies, VR Movies, Awesome Cyberpunk Visuals, Cyberpunk movies from 1990 – 1999 by SFAM.

    Total Recall

    February 21, 2006

    Year: 1990

    Directed by: Paul Verhoeven

    Written by: Philip K. Dick (story), Ronald Shusett, Dan O’Bannon et al.

    IMDB Reference

    Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: High

    Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: High

    Key Cast Members:

  • Douglas Quaid/Hauser: Arnold Schwarzenegger
  • Melina: Rachel Ticotin
  • Lori: Sharon Stone
  • Richter: Michael Ironside
  • George/Kuato: Marshall Bell
  • Rating: 7 out of 10


    Screencap

    We can remember it for you wholesale!

     

    Overview: Total Recall is one of the better known cyberpunk movies from the late 80s to early 90s. This is cyberpunk all the way with intense memory modification, a dystopic future, and malformed humans of all styles. The visuals are sometimes cheesy, but always pretty fun, and include various shots like a 3-breasted woman, exploding heads, bulging eyes, and this guy below. This is one of Arnold’s better roles, although the story does tend to rely on a continual stream of head-jerking mind fucks.

     

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    Taken from Philip K. Dick’s story, “We Can Remember it for You Wholesale,” Total Recall stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as an everyday man, Douglas Quaid, who craves something different in his life. He keeps on having realistic dreams about Mars and decides to visit Mars virtually. He goes to “the Recall Corporation” to get some memories manufactured and installed – ones that are exciting, and speak of Mars, espionage and slutty, athletic women!

     

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    Unfortunately, things go very wrong. In the process of getting his new memories installed, he wakes up to find that things are not as they seem – in fact he doesn’t know if he woke up at all, or if whether he’s still experiencing a memory impact at the Total Recall Corporation. Things get weirder and weirder, and involve a trip to Mars, and sleazy corporate plots.

     

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    Total Recall gets Arnold to truly stretch his emotion capabilities, as we get to see him act in ways he really hasn’t done elsewhere. The rest of the cast isn’t exceptional, but puts in serviceable performances. Rachel Ticotin (the slutty athletic chick), Sharon Stone (Douglas’s wife, or maybe not), Ronny Cox (the evil corporate dude) and Michael Ironside (The evil right hand guy) all provide us with memorable characters.

     

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    The Bottom Line: All in all, Total Recall is not the greatest movie ever, and has some significant science issues and plot holes, but it’s a truly fun ride with lots of replay potential. It does the memory modification thing very well, and while you get your head jerked around a bit, overall, the plot works.

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    This post has been filed under Dystopic Future Movies, Memory Modification, 7 Star Movies, Awesome Cyberpunk Visuals, Alien Movies, VR Movies, Cyberpunk movies from 1990 – 1999 by SFAM.

    One Point O {Paranoia 1.0}

    February 2, 2006

    Year: 2004

    Directed by: Jeff Renfroe & Marteinn Thorsson

    Written by: Jeff Renfroe & Marteinn Thorsson

    IMDB Reference

    Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Medium

    Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Very High

    Key Cast Members:

    • Simon J.: Jeremy Sisto
    • Derrick: Udo Kier
    • Howard: Lance Henriksen
    • Trish: Deborah Kara Unger
    • The Neighbour: Bruce Payne

    Rating: 9 out of 10


    Screencap

    There are good people and there are bad people and they’re on their way,
    and they want you, Simon…
    The bad people can save you, but they won’t…
    The good people want to save you but they can’t…

    Overview: Every now and then I run across an absolutely extraordinary cyberpunk film, largely forgotten or ignored by the film going masses. More often than not, this film is foreign and never had a decent release in the US (where I’m from). One Point O (called Paranoia 1.0 in the US) is European a film that meets these criteria. Truly, you’ll be hard pressed to come close to finding an immersive film as One Point O. When you consider this was reportedly shot and produced on a budget of 1.7 Million, you begin to understand the enormity of what was accomplished here.  No, you don’t get cool explosions or guns, or fancy CG effects, but you do get an absolutely awesome near-future dystopic story with a biting commentary on advertising and software development, all wrapped up in an extremely immersive, slow paced film.  Everything is subordinated to the mood here, which is emphasized by the color choices and simple score. Unfortunately, I will need to be pretty vague in this review, as the ending definitely has a Sixth Sense type feel to it.

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    One Point O is about a computer programmer named  Simon who works at home in a truly dingy, run down apartment building in a very shabby part of the city. He comes home to find a package waiting inside his apartment, and gets worried as nobody should be able to get inside. He opens the package, only to find that it was an empty box. This happens again and again, each time making Simon more and more paranoid. One top of this, he is late in delivering his the code he’s been working on to his customer. It appears as if his code has become infected with a virus, and worse, he really has a craving for milk!

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    Every character in One Point O is quirky and memorable. Udo Kier (Ralfi from Johnny Mnemonic), one of my favorite role actors, plays an eccentric robotics hobbyist who has a nanotechnology-enabled couch that changes colors and cleans itself at the click of a button, and creates a sentient talking head in his spare time (this talking head named Alex has a penchant for making very prescient phone calls). Bruce Payne (Passenger 57, Hellborn) plays a neighbor VR game maker who creates S&M VR porn experiences by acting out the scenes with various partners. Deborah Kara Unger (Fear X) plays a cancer nurse in search of fleeting humanity wherever she can find it. Lance Henriksen (Bishop in Aliens) plays a strange, zen-like repairman who always seems to know what’s going on. Finally, Emil Hostina places a voyeuristic landlord who loves to eat meat. But its Jeremy Sisto who steals the camera – he’s simply terrific playing a normal guy overtaken by extremely weird events.

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    The Visuals: Like many cyberpunk movies, One Point O is dominated by a single color scheme – in this case we get a spectrum, from a yellow to pale orange to reddish-brown, with an occasional pale green as a highlight. Pretty much the whole movie (with the exception of the white convenience store which represents the corporation) takes place in those colors. Further accenting the dystopic quality is the continually run-down feel of the place. The apartment building is continually falling apart, as is virtually everything else except for the local drug store. While its clear that advanced technologies are the norm in this world, the people in One Point O have clearly been marginalized. They play with patchwork toys and out of date technology.

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    The cinematography is consistently interesting in One Point O, with many using floor shots with expansive backgrounds.  However, in some cases, they probably go a bit over-board on the camera angles, such as the use of the close-up phone shot of old, which actually took attention away from the story telling.  But again, this is a minor gripe, especially when we include the editing, which for the most part, is also outstanding.  But in watching the deleted scenes, I do agree with the director’s commentary that a few shots probably should have been included, most notably the throw-up scene.

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    The Message: While I can’t go into the actual plot for fear of ruining the experience, I will say that One Point O has perhaps the most biting commentary on advertising and software development you will find anywhere. There is no question who is evil in this movie, even if they are rarely seen. Renfroe and Thorsson take to extremes and then crystallize problems they see in today’s world that form the basis for the story in One Point O. But they don’t state it in an in-your-face way – far to the contrary in fact. The story itself hammers home the message in the starkest manner possible.

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    The Bottom Line: As long as you’re not looking for action or sleak visuals, but instead are looking for original cyberpunk themes done wonderfully well on a shoestring budget, One Point O is for you. One Point O is definitely a movie I would LOVE to talk about in detail but I cannot for fear of spoiling the terrific ending (maybe creating a spoiler thread in the meatspace would be the way to discuss it). The pacing has a slightly repetitive feel to it, but only because the movie progresses in a spiral pattern – the same basic pattern of events happen each pass, but events spin further and further out of control each time around.  But again – go buy this movie (you’ll want to watch it more than once) – you won’t be disappointed.

     

    Every character in One Point O is quirky and memorable. Udo Kier (Ralfi from Johnny Mnemonic), one of my favorite role actors, plays an eccentric robotics hobbyist who has a nanotechnology-enabled couch that changes colors and cleans itself at the click of a button, and creates a sentient talking head in his spare time (this talking head named Alex has a penchant for making very prescient phone calls). Bruce Payne (Passenger 57, Hellborn) plays a neighbor VR game maker who creates S&M VR porn experiences by acting out the scenes with various partners. Deborah Kara Unger (Fear X) plays a cancer nurse in search of fleeting humanity wherever she can find it. Lance Henriksen (Bishop in Aliens) plays a strange, zen-like repairman who always seems to know what’s going on. Finally, Emil Hostina places a voyeuristic landlord who loves to eat meat. But its Jeremy Sisto who steals the camera – he’s simply terrific playing a normal guy overtaken by extremely weird events. 

    The Visuals: Like many cyberpunk movies, One Point O is dominated by a single color scheme – in this case we get a spectrum, from a yellow to pale orange to reddish-brown, with an occasional pale green as a highlight. Pretty much the whole movie (with the exception of the white convenience store which represents the corporation) takes place in those colors. Further accenting the dystopic quality is the continually run-down feel of the place. The apartment building is continually falling apart, as is virtually everything else except for the local drug store. While its clear that advanced technologies are the norm in this world, the people in One Point O have clearly been marginalized. They play with patchwork toys and out of date technology.

    The cinematography is consistently interesting in One Point O, with many using floor shots with expansive backgrounds.&nbsp; However, in some cases, they probably go a bit over-board on the camera angles, such as the use of the close-up phone shot of old, which actually took attention away from the story telling.&nbsp; But again, this is a minor gripe, especially when we include the editing, which for the most part, is also outstanding.&nbsp; But in watching the deleted scenes, I do agree with the director’s commentary that a few shots probably should have been included, most notably the throw-up scene.&nbsp; </p>

    The Message: While I can’t go into the actual plot for fear of ruining the experience, I will say that One Point O has perhaps the most biting commentary on advertising and software development you will find anywhere. There is no question who is evil in this movie, even if they are rarely seen. Renfroe and Thorsson take to extremes and then crystallize problems they see in today’s world that form the basis for the story in One Point O. But they don’t state it in an in-your-face way – far to the contrary in fact. The story itself hammers home the message in the starkest manner possible.<p>&nbsp;</p>

    The Bottom Line: As long as you’re not looking for action or sleak visuals, but instead are looking for original cyberpunk themes done wonderfully well on a shoestring budget, One Point O is for you. One Point O is definitely a movie I would LOVE to talk about in detail but I cannot for fear of spoiling the terrific ending (maybe creating a spoiler thread in the meatspace would be the way to discuss it). The pacing has a slightly repetitive feel to it, but only because the movie progresses in a spiral pattern – the same basic pattern of events happen each pass, but events spin further and further out of control each time around.&nbsp; But again – go buy this movie (you’ll want to watch it more than once) – you won’t be disappointed.
    <p>&nbsp;</p>cyberpunk movie review paranoia

    This post has been filed under Dystopic Future Movies, Awesome Cyberpunk Themes, Man-machine Interface, 9 Star Movies, Good low-budget movies, Cyberpunk movies from 2000 – 2009 by SFAM.

    Nemesis

    February 1, 2006

    Year: 1993

    Directed by: Albert Pyun

    Written by: Rebecca Charles

    IMDB Reference

    Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Medium

    Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Medium

    Key Cast Members:

    • Alex: Olivier Gruner
    • Farnsworth: Tim Thomerson
    • Angie-Liv: Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa
    Rating: 5 out of 10

     


    DVD Cover

    ~86.5% is still human~

     

    Overview: Surprise surprise – another movie with Gruner playing a cyborg – this time by Martial Arts cyborg master, Albert Pyun. Like Gruner’s performance in Automatic (1994), Nemesis is also a decent “B” cyberpunk flick. In Nemesis, Gruner does his Robocop impersonation while trying to fight bad guys in the year 2027. In a well done style over substance movie, we get a nice underground war between cyborgs and humans. Throw in a good bit of Escape from New York and Blade Runner knock-off visuals and you have yourself an evening of trashy fun! Again, nothing new here, but the action is actually done well enough that you might want to give it a watch if you’re hankerin for mindless but fun Robocop knockoffs.

     

    This post has been filed under Dystopic Future Movies, Man-machine Interface, 5 Star Rated Movies, B Cyberpunk Cinema, Cyberpunk movies from 1990 – 1999 by SFAM.