Movie Review By: Mr. Roboto

Year: 2013-2014

Executive Producers: J. H. Wyman, J. J. Abrams, Bryan Burk

Created by: J. H. Wyman

Produced by: Frequency Films, Bad Robot, Warner Brothers Television

IMDB Reference

Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: High

Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: High

Key Cast Members:

  • Detective John Kennex: Karl Urban
  • DRN-0167, aka “Dorian”: Michael Ealy
  • Detective Valerie Stah: Minka Kelly
  • Rudy Lom: Mackenzie Crook
  • Detective Richard Paul:Michael Irby
  • Captain Sandra Maldonado: Lili Taylor
  • Rating: 8 out of 10

    Almost Human (Dorian re-awakens)

    Once in a great while a TV show comes along that wake you up. And when it’s a cyberpunk show…

    Overview: Almost missed out on Almost Human, Fox TV’s latest attempt at a cyberpunk/sci-fi show. Really didn’t know about this until mid-Febuary, and then it was almost too late. Mostly because of a similar sounding show on SyFy called Being Human which was more supernatural than sci-fi. Now I need to catch up with the reruns, or try video on demand (even if I have to purchase), or wait until the DVD, or maybe Pirate Bay… only as a last resort (Amazon already has season one for download). But based on what I have seen from the pilot and season finale, this may be one that’s going to stay for a while… but it has some serious past history to overcome, more later.

    At first glance, Almost Human sounds like your typical police-buddy drama with a cyberpunk twist. That might be true, but there’s more to it. Check this:

     

    The Story: The year 2048 sees rapid advances in science and technology; Too rapid for legal and government systems to control. The crime rate has jumped 400%, fueled by organized crime groups quick to exploit the lag. The most successful organization is the Insyndicate group. Desperate to combat these groups, police departments implement a new strategy: Pair human officers with an MX series advanced combat android.

    Detective John Kennex (Urban) leads a raid on an Insyndicate warehouse, only to have his team wiped out in an ambush. Refusing to leave a critically injured partner, he is abandoned by his MX android. While trying to evacuate the scene with his partner, an explosive device goes off, amputating Kennex’s leg and killing his partner.

    Two years later, Kennex is left with a prosthetic leg, damaged memories, psychological problems, and a girlfriend who abandoned him (possibly joining Insyndicate). While seeing an unlicensed “recollectionist” (a doctor who helps people recover lost memories), Kennex is called back to duty when Insyndicate robs an armored transport carrying synthetic, programmable DNA. Unhappy with his MX android partner wanting to report his behavior, and still stinging from the last one abandoning him, Kennex decides to gently “dismiss” his partner:

    Almost Human (GTFO)

    GTFO!

    With no more MX androids available, Kennex is assigned an older android: DRN-0167 (Ealy) who prefers to be called “Dorian”. DRN androids were programmed to have human emotions, but many became “unstable” and were decommissioned and replaced with the highly-logical MX series. Dorian had been “offline” for three years before being reawakened to be Kennex’s partner. Despite their differences, they will need to work together to bring down Insyndicate and stop a mole in the police ranks.

     

    Almost Human (Pilot screencap)

    Any similarities between Almost Human and Blade Runner is somewhat intended.

    The Lighter Side of Cyberpunk? If the above screenshot looks too similar to Blade Runner, that was intended. Creator J.H. Wyman claimed that he “deliberately wanted to create a ‘hopeful’ interpretation of the future” as opposed to the darker visions of cyberpunk we’re accustomed to. Surprisingly, this doesn’t seem to detract from the overall cyberpunk-ness of the series, especially since it’s really about Kennex and Dorian, and their growing “ro-bromance” (The leading term for this budding human-android relationship). Such buddy-ships are often keys to a good cop film or series, and Almost Human takes it to a new level with the emerging android technology. Like any relationship, there are bound to be good times, there are bound to be bad times,…

    “I apologize for scanning your balls.”

    … and there are bound to be times that will totally rustle your jimmes.

     

    History Never Repeats… We Hope. Sounds like Almost Human has what it takes to be a hit series. Unfortunately, the ratings says no and now it looks like the program’s only chance of being renewed is for a bunch of other Fox shows to crap out (Hey, it worked for Family Guy). The problem isn’t due to the show itself; It’s actually quite good… at least it’s better than CBS’s less-than-watchable Intelligence. But the show does have three major strikes against it:

    First strike: Fox itself. The network’s track record with cyberpunk shows has been quite underwhelming. Remember early efforts like Harsh Realm and VR.5? VR.5 did last long enough to see a season… or series… finale; Harsh Realm wasn’t so lucky. More recent shows Dark Angel and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles saw a second season, though some say Connor lasted one season too long. It seems that sci-fi shows I like last only two seasons before they pull the plug. I’m expecting Almost Human to follow suit.

    Strike two: The human-android-cop-buddy concept isn’t exactly original. It’s been tried before… several times, with none lasting beyond season one. Search IMDB for the shows Mann and Machine, Future Cop, Holmes and Yo-Yo, and Total Recall 2070. The syndicated Total Recall 2070 fared the best, lasting 22 episodes before having its plug pulled, but ultimately none lasted beyond season one. I put the blame on the screwball Holmes and Yo-Yo (#33 in TV Guide’s 50 Worst TV Shows of All Time) for poisoning the interest of the human-android-buddy-cops concept. There is humor in Almost Human, but it’s more of a dry, almost British sort laced with dark sarcasm (example: see GIF above).

    Then again, the concept of robots/androids living and working among humans remains a touchy subject to most outside of Japan. Even now, that concept still generates friction amongst the meaty who still have visions of Skynet and robot takeovers burned into their BIOSs. Even with today’s advances, Almost Human may still give some cause for alarm with “robots intent on removing humanity and taking over the world, starting by taking over human jobs.”

    Regardless of why the prior shows failed, Almost Human hopefully learned from their mistakes.

    Strike three: Have you seen what’s on US TV schedules lately? Shoehorned between the reality (lack of) talent shows, the American airwaves are virtually choking on “procedural dramas.” Not that the format is new or unpopular, but it seems that such shows have been on the air since the original Law and Order debuted in 1990, and shows no sign of abating anytime soon. This glut is one reason why I haven’t been watching TV lately. The last thing we need… or I need… is yet another CSI-NCIS-SVU-SUV-DDT-TNT-ACDC-KMFDM-NRBQ-R2D2-C3P0-TMZ-DMZ-DVD-VCR-DVR-USB-ISA-SCSI-SATA-IDE-KKK-XXX-RSVP-LOL-ROFLMAO-ZOMG-WTF-BBQ clogging the networks. Then again, they don’t have futuristic technologies and sarcastic androids, so that may be an advantage.

     

    Conclusion: No word yet on on the fate of Almost Human which may or may not be good news. Hopefully FOX will renew, but it looks more likely that it will be picked up on cable. Hope you have been watching, or at least recording to watch. This is one show that needs to be watched, especially by cyberpunk fans. Only once in a great while does a show come along that has such cyberpunk goodness. Do watch this show, by any means necessary. Then pester FOX until they renew it. And if FOX doesn’t renew…

    Almost Human (GTFO)

    GTFO!

    … Then pester the cable networks to pick it up.

    This post has been filed under TV Episodes, Cyberpunk movies from 2010 - 2019, Made for TV, Dystopic Future Movies, 8 Star Movies, Android Movies by Mr. Roboto.

    October 28, 2013

    The Incredible Bionic Man

    Movie Review By: Mr. Roboto

    Year: 2013

    Directed by: Tom Coveney

    Source: Smithsonian Channel

    Rating: 9 out of 10

    Men of TIBM

    “Gentlemen, we can build him. We have the technology. We have the capability to build the world’s first bionic man.”

    Overview: Ever wondered how close we are to making a real artificial, cybernetic life form? A robotic android (”Roboid” as I would prefer to call them) like Lt. Cmdr. Data?

    No?

    Well, a couple of guys thought it would make for an incredible thought experiment… and, they went through with it earlier this year. Richard Walker (the bearded dude) and Professor Alexander Seifalian got together, along with Bertolt Meyer (psychology professor with an artificial arm and hand) as the model, and the most advanced bionic/cybernetic prosthetics and implants available and built TIBM (my name for him). The result… not bad for a first attempt, but it does have a long way to go to be Data. It does show, however, that we’ve come a long way from peg-legs and hook-hands (deal with it, pirates!). You can watch the video online at the Smithsonian Channel’s site or on YouTube.

     

    Some assembly required.

    TIBM parts laid out.

    Batteries not included.

    So what is needed to build your own TIBM? Well, you need a body-frame to install everything on, otherwise things fall apart very rapidly. Next, some limbs would help. Prosthetic arms and legs have been around for some time, but today’s computer technology practically makes them indistinguishable from the real thing, provided you wear long-sleeve shirts and full-length pants. Next, a skull made from a synthetic, bone-like material to house your cyberbrain… once that’s been made. A microphone for ears, special glasses for eyes, a latex “skin” face… so far TIBM is shaping up real good.

    What about inside, where it counts? Another synthetic material has been developed that can be made into any shape, but for now it serves as artificial blood vessels. That should work with the artificial heart and nano-particle “blood” being used. They have an artificial kidney that uses real kidney cells, and a prototype pancreas. The Internet-based chatbot serves as the brain, albeit a primitive and imperfect brain.

    So TIBM is looking more human, but what about moving like a human? Piece of cake for the hands and arms, but as for walking, the legs themselves don’t do it alone. That’s where a motorized, exoskeleton comes in for walking. Baby steps at this point.

    TIBM (attempting) walking

    You… put… one… foot… in… front… of.. the… oth… ther… and… soon… ah, screw it.

     

    Better, Stronger, Faster… Cheaper. TIBM represents the advance of technology, inspired by The Six Million Dollar Man. If you want to compare price tags, TIBM costs only ONE million, so for one Steve Austin you can have a half-dozen TIBMs. One problem is that TIBM won’t have nuclear power sources of Austin.

    The lack of nuclear power is but a minor nuisance, compared to other problems of TIBM. For one thing, some of the implants use Bluetooth, an unsecure wireless protocol leaving them open to hacking. Its walking ability needs much work still. TIBM is also incomplete, missing vital organs like the brain, liver, and digestive tract.

    Ethical considerations were also brought up briefly; While the devices were made for people (like soldiers) who lost limbs or organs in accidents, some may try to “upgrade” themselves without a real medical need. Then there’s concern that TIBM may be the prototype of a new race that may supplant or destroy humanity.

    Bertolt Meyer encounters the completed TIBM

    Bertolt Meyer takes a trip to the Uncanny Valley as he meets the completed TIBM, complete with his face, for the first time.

     

    Conclusion. We’ve certainly come a long way from peg-legs and Jarvick artificial hearts, but there is still some development to go yet before we can make fully functional androids. Even now, or as shown near the end of the show as Dr. Meyer tries a new prosthetic, developments and breakthroughs keep us moving closer to that day. And when that day does arrive… will humanity be ready? If TIBM’s fumble with a pint at the end is any indication, humans still have plenty of time to be prepared.

    This post has been filed under Rise of the Robots, Documentary, News as Cyberpunk by Mr. Roboto.

    August 6, 2012

    Thieves

    Movie Review By: Mr. Roboto

    Year: 2012 (maybe August)

    Directed & Written by: J.G. Barnes

    Zenisphere Chanel on YouTube

    Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: High

    Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Low

    Key Cast Members:

  • Jason Arthur: Sheldon Simmons
  • Agent Janice Monroe: Kelly Kirstein
  • Extractor: Didrik Davis
  • Anna VanDerhoff: Lauren Kole
  • Rating: 8 out of 10

    Overview: Ever see a short movie and wished it could be made feature-length? OK, 9 made that jump in 09. Now, a new short has similar designs. Thieves made its debut in film-festivals in July, claiming audience choice at the Mitten Movie Project with a nomination for short of the year, and is now available for online viewing (like above).

     

    The Story: America has created a new prototype energy cell that is now powering New Detroit. To protect both the cell and the city, an agency known only as “Butterfly” is formed to foster patriotism and stability, and to “recruit uniquely skilled people” to make it all possible. However, a terrorist organization has taken the prototype cell and plan to dismantle it. While the world waits for Armageddon, Butterfly has captured a high-value terrorist and plan to “recruit” him.

    simmons.jpg

    Sheldon Simmons: Remember his name. I got a feeling his name will be called at some future Oscar ceremony.

    A Piece of a Larger Puzzle. Fourteen minutes hardly makes for a feature, so this short may make you feel like you’re missing a lot. THAT was intended:

    From the beginning, Thieves was conceived as an excerpt from a much larger saga of feature films. As such, Thieves is not a self-contained piece. It’s made quite clear from its opening moments to its closing frame that there is most certainly a hell of a lot more going on before and after the events showcased in the short film.

    Of course, there is the danger that if Thieves does become feature length it may become another Snakes on A Plane. But as long as the Zenisphere crew keeps true to their vision (and creative control of the project), that danger should be minimal.

     

    Conclusion: If you haven’t heard of Thieves before, be ready to hear more of it in the future. Zenisphere has made a slam-dunk short that’s going to leave you wanting more. Already gathering high praise from indie film bloggers, Thieves is set to garner even bigger accolades (like ours), and possibly become the next Blade Runner, or at least The Matrix.

    This post has been filed under Amateur Film Production, Cyberpunk movies from 2010 - 2019, Internet Short, Dystopic Future Movies, Good low-budget movies, 8 Star Movies, Movie by Mr. Roboto.

    February 14, 2012

    Welt am Draht (World on a Wire)

    Movie Review By: Mr. Roboto

    Year: 1973

    Directed by: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

    Written by: Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Fritz Müller-Scherz, and Daniel F. Galouye (based on his novel “Simulacron-3″)

    IMDB Reference

    Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Low

    Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: High

    Key Cast Members:

  • Fred Stiller: Klaus Löwitsch
  • Professor Henry Vollmer: Adrian Hoven
  • Günther Lause: Ivan Desny
  • Herbert Siskins: Karl Heinz Vosgerau
  • Eva Vollmer: Mascha Rabben
  • Gloria Fromm: Barbara Valentin
  • Franz Hahn: Wolfgang Schenck
  • Fritz Walfang: Günter Lamprecht
  • Rating: 9 out of 10

    Going Downstairs (Welt am Draht)

    In Welt am Draht (World on a Wire), going into a simulation is referred to as “going downstairs” while coming out is “going upstairs.”

    Overview: You think you might have seen every VR-based movie, or know what to expect after watching The Matrix or Lawnmower Man for the thousandth time. Then someone points you to some rare foreign TV miniseries, and suddenly… WHOA! The Matrix doesn’t seem so original anymore, at least in terms of concept.

    Transmit ACK signal to “virtual reality 91″ for mentioning this one (just needed some time to research and download). World on a Wire is a two-part TV movie originally called Welt am Draht when it first premiered in West Germany. Since then, other VR movies short and long have come and gone. While still available via file-sharing and torrent, a recently restored version has been appearing at film festivals world wide and a Blu-Ray version is set to drop this month.

    The Story: At The Institute for Kybernetik und Zukunftsforschung (Institute for Cybernetics and Future Sciences), or IKZ, Professor Henry Vollmer has created a simulated world containing some 8,000 “identity units”; Virtual humans not knowing that they are living in a simulation, except for the “contact unit” named Einstein who is needed to keep the simulation running. Vollmer tries to tell security chief Lause about a discovery regarding the simulation that he wants to keep secret “Because it would mean the end of this world.” Vollmer dies shortly after and Stiller takes over as the project’s technical director. At a party, Lause wants to tell Stiller what Vollmer had told him, but while Stiller is momentarily distracted Lause vanishes, and every one else suddenly has no memory of him, including Lause’s niece, Eva Vollmer. When one of the identity units tries to commit suicide it is deleted, prompting Stiller to “enter” the simulation to contact Einstein to find out why the unit tried to kill itself. When they meet again, Einstein is in Walfang’s body where he explains how he wants to be human… and how “reality” as Stiller knows it isn’t.

     

    German Engineering. So the Simulacron computer system isn’t exactly 21st centruy, bleeding edge technology. This is a 1970’s era movie after all. So there’s no fancy gun-fu shootouts with CGI enhanced slow-motion effects, rotoscoped armor to guard against laser-edged Frisbees, or pixelated sex between Unix GUI daemons.

    But Welt am Draht isn’t about fancy high tech special effects. It’s about one man’s reaction when he discovers the truth about reality… his reality, as he perceives it. We watch Stiller’s struggle to keep his sanity in a world that seems to be designed for the purpose of destroying him. A Kafkaesque nightmare encoded in silicon, and his attempt to escape it. And if he does escape, has he really escaped… or just entered a new level of the nightmare?

    Vollmer’s Death

    What we see now is like a dim image in a mirror. Then we shall see face to face.

    Mirror’s edge. The main effect of the movie, especially in part one, is a shot of an image in a mirror or similar reflective surface. This gives an extra disorienting feeling as we ponder if reality really is reality, and how do they manage to get all those mirror-shots without the film crew appearing in the reflections. Low tech, highly effective.

    But unless you can speak German well enough, you might miss some of the mirror-shots while trying to read the subtitles. That’s the only thing keeping this from being a perfect 10. Then again, subtitles probably would be better than dubbing that comes out as “all your wiener schnitzel are belong to us.”

    Interface Terminal (Welt am Draht)

    Is it live? Or is it simulated?

    Conclusion: From the country that gave the world cruise and ballistic missiles, Fahrvergnügen, and Kraftwerk, Germany shows that they can come up with some inventive… and scary… technology. Welt am Draht is one of those rare pre-cyberpunk cyberpunk movies that needs to be seen to be believed. Especially when more recent films have aped the idea of VR with high-end graphic trickery, this one is enough proof that high-end does not mean high-quality.

    This post has been filed under AI (no body), Made for TV, Proto-Cyberpunk Media, Man-machine Interface, 9 Star Movies, Surreal Cyberpunk Movies, VR Movies, Cyberpunk movies from before 1980 by Mr. Roboto.

    April 24, 2011

    Rust Valley

    Movie Review By: Mr. Roboto

    Year: 2011

    Directed by: Andrew Bond & John Whoriskey

    Written by: Ryan Dolton

    Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: High

    Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Moderate

    Key Cast Members:

  • James Donner: Mike Orie
  • Ora: Nadine Avola
  • Rating: 7 out of 10

    Rust Valley - 35mm short. from RDolton on Vimeo.

    Overview: Our forum member Burnt Lombard brought this net short to my attention earlier this week. Actually, I had a bookmark to it on Vimeo for a while, but that version is now password locked. More recently, I seen the trailer for it on Kovac’s screener of UCF: Abstract Messiah. Now that I’ve invested the 17.5 minutes to watch, I got to give Lombard his creds for getting me to watch. Imagine, if you will, a little of what a live-action System Shock movie could be like…

     

    The Story: ASEMS pilot James Donner has spent the past 1000+ days (3 years) in space and is now on his way home for some hard-earned R-and-R. Then he gets a call from some corporate dick:

    Donner gets a call.

    “We’ve been out of contact with the Valley Isis colony for eight months now. We just received a distress signal and…”


    So much for vay-kay. Against his better judgement, Donner boards the colony when he hears a female survivor, Ora, over his radio.

    Ora

    I’d rescue that for a dollar!


    When Donner finds Ora, that when he has to make a choice…

     

    But, is it cyberpunk? Rust Valley has been tagged as cyberpunk on Vimeo, and it does make its case well. We have the ASEMS corp, though the full extent of their power and influence wasn’t revealed. There’s a bit of man-machine fusion (won’t say where due to spoiler possibility). But it’s the visuals that makes the short cyberpunk. Let’s just say that there’s a reason why it’s called RUST Valley.

    Onboard Valley Isis

     

    The audience is now deaf. Being an amateur production, and shot on 35mm film, some technical glitches are expected. But when you have to turn up the volume to hear the monitor voices, you might want to consider amplifying the microphones for the monitor actors.

    UPDATE: Burnt Lombard has uploaded the official video on Vimeo, with improved audio. It’s a bit different in other ways as well, but with the improved audio I’ve decided to upgrade its rating to 7.

     

    Conclusion: While not the most polished production, this short still manages to make for good cyberpunk viewing. And for a bonus, there’s an alternate ending that was supposed to be the original ending. This could make for a good feature… just pray that it doesn’t become the next Snakes On A Plane.

    This post has been filed under Cyberpunk movies from 2010 - 2019, Amateur Film Production, Internet Short, AI (no body) by Mr. Roboto.

    April 14, 2011

    UCF: Abstract Messiah

    Movie Review By: Mr. Roboto

    Year: 2011

    Directed by: Laszlo Kovacs

    Written by: Laszlo Kovacs

    ** No IMDB Data Available **

    Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Moderate

    Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: High

    Key Cast Members:

  • Sue: Lisa Dee
  • Jazz: Andrew Hookway
  • Marshall Pax: Bryan Patrick Stoyle
  • Professor Michael Vanguard: Michael O’Hear
  • Enoch Crom: Timothy Dugan
  • Voros Farkash, Fallen Soldier, & Luddite Militia Member: Laszlo Kovacs
  • Rating: 6 out of 10

    Overview: Our resident Cecil B. DeMille, Lazlo Kovacs, and his pals at Key Pixel have brought us the follow-up to the short underground fave UCF: Toronto Cybercide. The second chapter, Abstract Messiah, continues the story of Toronto’s rebuilding struggles as a new enemy come to the forefront determined to stop the cyborgs.

    Kovacs said that the movie was about 98% complete and wanted to send a screener to preview. From what I’ve seen, it looks fairly ready for prime-time. Like many low-budget films, there are some issues to deal with, but they’re easy to overlook as long as you’re not expecting Blade Runner-quality fare.

    duct-tape.jpg

    Duct tape is just a good as a band-aid.

    The Story: Pax is called back to Toronto to retrieve the body of his former partner, and gets to meet up with his UCF mentor, a history professor. The professor is reported as kidnapped when he misses an appointment. Pax and company are called in to investigate when a member of the Luddites is considered the prime suspect. The investigation leads the UCF team to a prison for cyborgs where the Luddites plan to use the inmates in their ultimate plan; To use retrieve the nanotechnology in Pax’s deceased partner.

     

    The game. A recurring theme is the chess game; Specifically, how the action is equivalent to moves and counter-moves on a chess board.

    If that’s true then Equilibrium’s gun-fu scenes should be considered hands of Texas Hold-Em.

    Seriously, every action movie would like to be compared to chess; That all the gun-play and violence has some intellectual reason and not just eye candy. For Abstract Messiah, they take the comparison to a new level starting with a real chess match between Pax and his Foundation mentor.

    UCF Chess Game

    “While you were watching us learn, we were watching you teach.”


    Such back and forth banter isn’t uncommon in action movies, as each side tries to impart their vision to the other. But when the two are bitter rivals, diametrical opposites of each other, that’s when the chess game quickly becomes an NBA-style trash talk fest, right before everyone STFU and lets their guns speak for them. Fortunately, Abstract Messiah doesn’t get to the trash-talk even though Crom does come off as the right-wingnut zealot type (nicely played). In fact, I keep getting this feeling that this movie is just one minor move in a much larger game.

     

    Knuckle dusted. If there was a major problem with Abstract Messiah, it was the fight scenes. The fisticuffs weren’t all that convincing, but when a limited budget limits the use of professional stunt people you just have to use what you got and keep them safe for a possible part three.

    Luddite Leader Enoch Crom

    “The Luddites refuse to be slaves to the cybernetic machines, and I refuse to continue being a slave to the machinations of the Foundation.”

    Conclusion: Since the original UCF short was released back in ‘06 there was a call for more of the Luddites. This should satisfy them for a good 80 minutes as the Luddites are now front and center.

    Everyone should consider getting Abstract Messiah even if just to support indie movie makers like Key Pixel. Even with amateurish production on a shoe-string budget they still manage to make a movie that’s more watchable than what some major distributors with trillion-dollar purses have been cranking out lately.

    One has to wonder what UCF 3 would be like, especially if they get a larger budget. Dare to dream… until Kovacs sends a PM saying he has a screener ready to preview.

    This post has been filed under Amateur Film Production, Cyberpunk movies from 2010 - 2019, Cyberpunk Review Exclusive, Upcoming Movies, Dystopic Future Movies, 6 Star Movies, Man-machine Interface, Good low-budget movies by Mr. Roboto.

    March 16, 2011

    RoboGeisha

    Movie Review By: Mr. Roboto

    Year: 2009

    Directed by: Noboru Iguchi

    Written by: Noboru Iguchi

    IMDB Reference

    Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Low

    Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: High

    Key Cast Members:

  • Yoshie Kasuga: Aya Kiguchi
  • Kikue Kasuga: Hitomi Hasebe
  • Hikaru Kageno: Takumi Saitô
  • Onna Tengu 1: Asami
  • Onna Tengu 2: Cay Izumi
  • Rating: 6 out of 10


    Ass-Katanas ready! (RoboGeisha)

    Official FAQ for RoboGeisha: It’s from Japan.
    That is all.

    Overview: Just when you thought Japanese cyberpunk couldn’t possibly get any stranger (or bloodier), evil genius Noboru Iguchi (Tokyo Gore Police) ups the ante… and bloodshed… with RoboGeisha.

    Actually most of the bloodshed is in the unrated version; It was added via CGI for the DVD releases since Iguchi was asked to tone down the violence. But that still doesn’t degrade the overall weirdness, even with a sibling-rivalry storyline the would have worked better as standard-issue melodrama.

     

    The Story: Yoshie (Aya Kiguchi) is a geisha’s attendant with dreams of becoming one herself. Her older sister, Kikue (Hitomi Hasebe), is the geisha who takes delight in keeping Yoshie’s dream unrealized. When the president of Kageno Steel Manufacturing discovers Yoshie’s hidden rage and fighting skills he wants to recruit her to join the Hidden Geishas, an army of cyberneticaly enhanced female assassins being trained to kill “corrupt” Japanese officials so the company can create its ideal world. But when Yoshie is given an assignment to kill a group of people whose family members have been kidnapped to become the Hidden Geishas, she soon discovers the company’s plans to destroy Japan.

    As if trying to save Japan wasn’t hard enough, Yoshie is always trying to earn Kikue’s respect since she wasn’t getting any while trying to be a geisha. Yoshie does give Kikue a taste of her own medicine when she was chosen for the Hidden Geishas, until Kikue showed a predilection for killing. The two sisters compete as each wants to destroy the other, even though they show respect and love for each other as the company pushes its agenda forward.

     

    1000 Ways to Die… Give or Take. When dealing with cyborgs and androids, you know someone is going to die. The main question is how? Iguchi manages to come up with some innovative ways…

    Tengu Milk Attack (RoboGeisha)

    USELESS FACT: About 70% of Japanese adults are lactose intolerant.

    Shitting Shurikens (RoboGeisha)

    When you see it, you’ll shit… shurikens?

    Fired shrimp attack! (RoboGeisha)

    “The fried shrimp! They do NOTHING! I STILL CAN’T UNSEE!!!

     

    Too much blood? Iguchi was asked to tone down the violence for RoboGeisha. He did for the theatrical release, but added it back for the DVDs. An interesting strategy, saving time on re-shoots and money on cleanups, but end result doesn’t really add much… other than blood (check this page that shows the comparison between theatrical and home releases). Even so, what was left in still looks cheesy, and even inappropriate at times, like when the giant shiro robot was stomping through town and stops to smash a couple of buildings that bleed.

    buttbleed.jpg

    Can someone get this poor girl a fresh tampon?

    To compare to some other Japanese cyberpunk films, the violence in Tetsuo was more social commentary, while Tokyo Gore Police went for shock value. RoboGeisha’s violence tends to be more cartoonish, like Tom and Jerry with more splatter. Combine that with ass-katanas, lactating demon-cyborgs, and enough blood-cheese to rival Wisconsin and you’ll be ROFLMAO Zedong going ZOMGWTFKMFDMBBQ. That or you’ll just ask yourself…

    young-will-smith1.jpg

     

    Conclusion: So far, Japan’s track record for TFWO cyberpunk fare remains intact. RoboGeisha may be the best place to start for those who can’t stomach the more brutal stuff. Definitely shows that cyberpunk can have a sense of humor… a dark, disturbing, sick, twisted sense of humor…


    Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Japan in the wake of the Sendai earthquake and tsunami and the Fukushima I nuclear plant accidents.

    This post has been filed under Man-machine Interface, Hot Cyberchicks Kicking Butt, 6 Star Movies, Japanese Cyberpunk, Android Movies, Cyberpunk movies from 2000 - 2009 by Mr. Roboto.

    Movie Review By: Mr. Roboto

    Year: 2009

    Directed by: Aleksa Gajic, Nebojsa Andric, Stevan Djordjevic

    Written by: Aleksa Gajic

    IMDB Reference

    Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: High

    Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: High

    Key Cast Members:

  • Edit (voice): Sanda Knezevic
  • Bojan (voice): Nikola Djuricko
  • Broni (voice): Marija Karan
  • Profesor Dorijevic (voice): Vlasta Velisavljevic
  • Edi (voice): Nebojsa Glogovac
  • Rating: 10 out of 10


    opening-scene.jpg

    Overview: Not often that a good cyberpunk movie comes down the wires. Lately, the better ones have been coming out of Japan’s anime studios. Technotise could be the latest-and-greatest to come from the land of the rising sun… only it came from Serbia, not Japan, although the anime influence can be seen. While not enough to make those famed anime studios nervous… yet… it already has a live-action remake under development.

    A sequel based on the comic (readable here, if you understand Serbian), Technotise looks into a bit of the the life of a college girl as she faces a struggle in Belgrade 2074 that could kill her.

     

    The Story: Edit Stefanović is a psychology major in a Belgrade college. Like most students, Edit has had her successes and failures but mostly failures. Now her professor has given her an ultimatum:

    professor.jpg

    “Pass or GTFO.”

    After burying her robotic pet, and a fight with her mother, Edit decides to get a memory chip implant to help her pass the exam. She is also an intern at TDR, a research company that’s been working on a formula that connects all the energies in the world, aka “A direct line to God.” This “formula” can be used to predict the future, but any computer that calculates it becomes sentient before it shuts down. Abel Mustafov discovered the formula before becoming autistic, and when Edit sees a “graph” of the formula, her chip becomes alive and starts wiring itself into her body, making her act weird (like eating large amounts of iron). Now TDR wants Edit and the chip for their future-telling computers, while Edit wants what the chip did to her undone.

    edits-wiring.jpg

     

    Algorithm Absurd. This phrase is used a couple of times to describe what happens to the computers that calculates the formula. Algorithm - like a computer program; A series of finite steps to generate an output from input. Absurd, the ludicrous, insane, irrational. The phrase is simply another way of saying: “That does not compute.” Apparently the computers see the formula like a digital existential crisis, one that says machines are not alive. But Edit’s chip doesn’t suffer the same fate, probably because of their connection to each other, or maybe because of Edit’s study of psychology she was able to “understand” the graph in a way that computers couldn’t so she acted as a “buffer” and the chip was able to process her output.

     

    The next GITS? Like GITS, Technotise uses a variety of animation styles to produce some high quality movie fare. 2D, 3D, vector, and realistic static drawings come together for some of the best eye-candy. But without a good storyline, all you can get from eye-candy is diabetes. Fortunately, Technotise has the storyline to back up the visuals. About the only problem is the language is entirely Serbian with English subtitles so you might miss out on some of the vids.

    technotise.jpg

    “I have nothing against plastic but sometimes you have to make out with some real meat.”

    Conclusion: With the themes of the search for “God” via science and our continued interconnection of human and machine, we have some excellent cyberpunk fare to even anime fans happy for the next decade or so. This is one animated movie that can go byte-by-byte with GITS. Just get the DVD and see what I mean…

    This post has been filed under AI (no body), Awesome Cyberpunk Themes, Memory Modification, Man-machine Interface, 10 Star Movies, Cyberpunk movies from 2000 - 2009, Android Movies, Awesome Cyberpunk Visuals, Cyberpunk Theme by Mr. Roboto.

    October 30, 2010

    Tokyo Gore Police

    Movie Review By: SSJKamui (Reviewer Forum link)

    Year: 2008

    Directed by: Yoshiro Nishimura

    Written by: Kengo Kaji, Sayako Nakoshi and Yoshihiro Nishimura

    IMDB Reference

    Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: High

    Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Medium

    Key Cast Members:

  • Ruka: Eihi Shiina
  • Keyman: Itsuji Itao
  • Tokyo Police Chief: Yukihide Benny
  • Barabara-Man: Jiji Bû
  • Bar Independent Diner: Ikuko Sawada
  • Dog Girl : Cay Izumi
  • Rating: 5 out of 10

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    Looking for a good scare this Halloween? Tokyo Gore Police may have what you’re looking for. Be warned: The visuals may be more… “intense” than what most would go for. Let’s say this shit makes your “Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” and “Saw” franchises look like Disney productions.

    Overview: Tokyo Gore Police is a “Japanese Cyberpunk” splatter movie created by the producers of “The Machine Girl”. The movie is a remake of the independent movie “Anatomia Extinction”. Currently, a prequel short for the movie is in production.

     

    Plot: In the future, the privatized police, under control of the “Tokyo Police Corporation” has developed an extremely brutal, merciless law and order type way of action.
    The whole society developed into a sadistic, pervert society with an obsession of violence.

    Ruka is the daughter of a policeman who was assassinated in a very brutal way before the police was privatized. Because Ruka saw the assassination of her father, she was traumatized and developed self harming behavior. After the death of her father, she was adopted and raised by the chief officer of the Police Corporation.

    Later, an outbreak of a virus causes the infected people to mutate into bizarre monsters. The virus was created by a mad scientist to take revenge on the death of his father by the police. Later, it’s revealed that the father of the mad scientist is actually the murderer of Ruka’s father and the reason for the assassination was actually a conspiracy within the police, where the chief officer of the new Police Corporation has got a key role.

    After most mutants were killed by Ruka, the police start a Purge like action where also seemingly randomly civilians get hunted. Among the murdered civilians is also a close friend of Ruka. Because of this and the involvement of her foster father in the assassination of her biological father, Ruka gets mad and starts mutating, too. She fights the policemen and then encounters her foster father. Her father, who started mutating, too and using injections of the virus to get more powerfull starts fighting against his foster daughter.

    The story of the film is full of sick moments and extremely brutal scenes. For example, a mutant is a prostitute who eats her customers. There is also a huge amount of psycho-sexual horror, like in the works of H.R.Giger and most other “Japanese Cyberpunk movies”, but some scenes are more funny than scary.

    tokyo-gore-police02.jpg

    “Vagina dentata” much?

    The movie has got a huge amount of black humorous moments. For example, like in the Robocop movies, in the movie, there are certain fake commercial scenes advertising very sick things or speaking funny warnings. For example, knifes for self cutting are advertised in an extremely sick way and there is a television warning that committing Hara-kiri will result in your death. The chief officer of the police also has got a kind of “Cyborg Dog” who looks like a BDSM Costume.

    The depiction of the police in the movie is also the clichéd “ultra violent law and order” policemen type which often appear in Cyberpunk works. The most famous ones are Robocop and Judge Dredd.
    I agree with the Review on DVD Times.com , the film definitely reminds on Blade Runner, but it mostly lacks the brilliant atmosphere of Blade Runner. Only the driving scene through the streets of Tokyo and the Bar Scene catch a similar, brilliant atmosphere.

    The opening scene, where at first, all is peacefull, but suddenly, Rukas father is killed in a very brutal way was one of the best depictions of the concept of “the Real” by the psychologist Jacques Lacan, a kind of traumatic, unexplainable event suddenly appearing which is threatening the function of the mind, I have ever seen.

    tgp02.png

    Speaking of unexplainable events suddenly appearing which is threatening the function of the mind…

    On most parts, the movie is extremely entertaining, but I don’t understand these “police purge” scenes near the end of the movie and to me, these scenes doesn’t really make sense. The story of the movie isn’t very intellectual, but it’s a good satire on the actions of these populist law and order politicians. The story is also more complex than these Japanese Cyberpunk movies starring Dr.Joseph Mengele like Mad Scientists performing cruel experiments.

     

    Conclusion: Tokyo Gore Police is a truly sick brutal movie like most Japanese cyberpunk films. The story is also not very original and is mostly extremely thin. Nevertheless, it’s still an entertaining satire which can’t be taken seriously. Like all “Japanese Cyberpunk movies”, if you have got problems with violence, you won’t like this movie. Most of the horror scenes aren’t as scary as the horror scenes of the movies Yu On and The Ring, although these movies are less brutal.

    This post has been filed under Horror, From our Reviewer Forums, 5 Star Rated Movies, Japanese Cyberpunk, Surreal Cyberpunk Movies, Cyberpunk movies from 2000 - 2009 by Mr. Roboto.

    September 22, 2010

    Batman Beyond

    Review By: Intel (Reviewer forum)

    Year: Jan 10, 1999 - Dec 18, 2001

    Produced By: WB Television Network and DC Comics

    IMDB Reference

    Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Very High

    Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: High

    Key Cast Members:

  • Batman/Terry McGiness: Will Friedle
  • Bruce Wayne: Kevin Conroy
  • Max Gibson: Cree Summer
  • Dana Tan: Lauren Tom
  • Rating: 9 out of 10

    Another gem from the forums. I actually watched the series when it first came out on TV. Never really thought of it to be cyberpunk, but Intel not only believes it to be, but also thought it to be very good as well, and responders agree with him. I’m going to see if I can acquire the series, so let’s see what intel Intel has…

    List of some cyberpunk themes:

  • Distopic future
  • Megacorporations
  • Man-machine interface
  • AI
  • Genetic engineering
  • Hackers
  • Etc…
  • Story: 20 years after the last batman episode, Batman now has an advanced exoskeleton-type suit, but is suffering from age. While fighting a group of kidnappers, he has a heart attack and is forced to use a gun to fend of the criminals. He then give up his batman identity and the story jumps ahead 20 more years to year 2039.

    1f7ec550.jpg

    Bruce knows he can’t be the Batman forever. Sooner or later, he needs to pass the torch… and the suit.

    Now we shift over to Terry McGinnis, an athletic 16-year-old high school student and ex-troublemaker with a sense of justice. In the pilot episode, Terry saves a fellow passenger on a commuter rail from a member of the Jokerz gang, and then takes on an entire gang of Jokerz to defend his girlfriend, resulting in a high-speed motorcycle chase. The chase ends on the grounds of Wayne Manor, where Terry runs into the elderly Bruce Wayne. Bruce and Terry fend off the Jokerz together, but the fight causes Wayne’s heart condition to act up. Terry helps Bruce back to the manor and, while staying there, he discovers the entrance to the Batcave. Chased out by Bruce, Terry comes home to discover that his father had been murdered by the vengeful Jokerz, and later returns to “borrow” the Batsuit to avenge the death of his father. As crime and corruption are beginning once again to rear their ugly heads in Gotham, Bruce ultimately allows Terry to assume the mantle of Batman.

    Overview: We now find gotham to be a huge, sprawling metropolis of skyscrapers, metro-rails, and hover-cars. the wealthy live in the penthouses and crime a poor are left to the ancient alleyways. criminals are now high-tech assasins, genetically-engineered low lifes, CEO’s of megacorporations, and even a few rampant AI.

    Background image from legionsofgotham.org

    Click the pic to visit LegionsofGotham.org to see more Batman Beyond background images like this one.

    Visuals: the show is full of grungy buildings, neon signs, and power cables. It also has an interesting mix of japanese and english written on many of the signs. The hover cars and metro rails add a nice touch to the scenes. The show usually takes place at night, adding to the mood, and shows lots of scenes of batman soaring through the skyline with his new flight capabilities.

    Conclusion: It is by far one of the darkest shows to ever run on a daytime children’s cartoon channel,

    batman_beyond33.jpg

    “Dark” might be an understatement…

    and had surprisingly complex themes for its young viewers. If you’ve never heard of it, just watch the opening video here to see what I mean:

     

    Postscript from Mr. Roboto. A couple of things to watch for while watching this series. First off, some of the old enemies reappear in some form, either as “aged” forms or as “trophies” Bruce keeps.

    03.jpg

    Mr. Freeze shows he’s ahead of his time. [rimshot.wav]

    Second, there’s a season two episode called “Project: Zeta” which lead to a spin-off series, The Zeta Project. It’s about a killer robot who chooses not to kill and runs away with a girl who teaches it how to be human. This series I have got to acquire to review… unless I see it in our reviewer forum first…

    This post has been filed under From our Reviewer Forums, TV Episodes, Awesome Cyberpunk Themes, Awesome Cyberpunk Visuals by Mr. Roboto.
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