RoboCop, Big Bad Business

RoboCop is a classic of sci-fi corporate/criminal warfare. With a greater plot and cluster of subplots to direct the audience’s attention, the odds are you’ll have a lot to catch up with if you miss a part. Mixing stop-motion, spiffy makeup and badass outfits, RoboCop is as much about the flash and flair of the cybernetic age as it is about the complex sequence of events that lead up to the death of the a member of Omni Consumer Products.

Dick Jones presents to the chairman of OCP a new line of mechanical law enforcers, the ED-209. During its exhibition, it murders an executive attempting to perform a disarming procedure. Thus, Bob Morton steps in and offers up RoboCop, the revolutionary cyborg police officer. Since nobody is quite willing to sacrifice their body for the sake of this project, Bob turns to the Detroit police. He keeps tabs on high-risk operations, eventually nabbing Alex Murphy as his candidate.

Murphy has a bad run when trying to take down notorious crime lord Clarence Boddicker at an abandoned warehouse, and is shot to death. Bob’s crew claims the corpse and builds it into RoboCop! Crime gradually begins to taper off with this big guy on duty. Only, despite his memory wipe, he’s starting to flash back to his past, little by little.

RoboCopOff on the side, Bob makes some unpleasant remarks about Dick, which earns him an assassination by none other than Clarence himself. Apparently, Dick is in deep with several crime families, and he’s looking to lead the company after the old CEO dies. Ruling with an iron fist, likely enough. Unfortunately for Dick, Murphy’s memories lead RoboCop back to Clarence, which could expose the entire operation.

When RoboCop tries to reveal the video he recorded that documented Clarence’s admission of working with Dick, the secret fourth protocol disables him. Dick then activates ED-209 in an attempt to destroy RoboCop, which fails miserably. But with this protocol in place, how can RoboCop arrest the man who set all the loopholes in place?

That about covers the almost non-spoiler synopsis, anyway. As for the quality of the actors, props, effects… It’s about on-par with what you’d expect from a late 80’s sci-fi movie. Stop-motion, borderline silly lines from the robo-cop, criminals with enough spunk to do stand-up comedy. You get the concept. In this particular movie, however, these things blend and flow; no sudden stops to realize how stupid something is. It’s a classic for a reason, kay?

RoboCopThe final bit of commentary I have for RoboCop is: Doin’ it right. If you don’t know how to go about making a cyborg, do it in as vague a way as possible. That way people can’t say you did it wrong. How clever, says this observer.

For those who are more aware of corporate and political matters, James Berardinelli’s review is the one for you. He describes the movie as a “biting satire of big business practices.” Looking back after having viewed RoboCop again, I certainly do agree. But that hardly matters, since I’m about as aware of business crap as I am of how Mark Wahlberg keeps getting acting jobs. Non sequitur zing! Here’s the link, before I get too distracted:

The Terminator: He’ll Be Back… In the Sequels

The TerminatorWatch out, people, we got a classic on our hands! And how. Y’know, there’s a certain satisfying irony in reviewing old movies versus new movies. With new movies, I’d usually remain either neutral or negative about the special effects, blaming the focus on such as the reason for the degraded plot or half-assed characters. In old movies, the effects are rarely more complicated than some low-resolution on-screen lightning or puppets that look nothing like the actor they’re meant to represent. Or even stop-motion animation! It’s really quite marvelous, I do declare. The irony is in the fact that I like and notice the crappy effects more than I do the newer, fancier ones. Why? I couldn’t say.

The plot of this movie, dear readers, is a perfect example of why you don’t play with time. Paradoxes arise, the impossible is pointed out, and everyone scratches their head and shouts plot hole. In this particular case, Sarah Connor is to give birth to John Connor, who leads the human resistance to victory against the machines in the future when robots try to wipe out the human race. Future John Connor sends back Kyle Reese, his father (and Sarah’s short-term lover), in hopes of protecting Sarah. You know, because if Sarah and Kyle don’t get freaky, John will have never been born and will never have led the human resistance to victory.

The TerminatorBut of course, if Kyle is from the future, so how the heck did he originally hook up with Sarah in the first place? How could John have initially sent Kyle back if he was never born? If Kyle had no idea he was John Connor’s father and was his age at the time of the resistance? Technically, that would be entirely impossible. The movie acts as though the initial events are irrelevant to the overall timeloop, which sort of leaves the audience… you know, scratching their heads and shouting plot hole.

Point being, the whole movie is about Sarah and Kyle falling in love, running away from Arnold Schwarzenegger, and getting John made so the sequels could happen. I mean, that’s really all it is.

It starts off as Sarah Connor finding out that someone’s been killing all the Sarah Connors in the phonebook for whatever reason, warning her that she’s bound to be next. Kyle manages to get to her first before AHNOLD riddles her with bullets, and the sappy dramatic future-past romance story blossoms and blooms and… Yeah. And Terminator followed them every step of the way. The thing that made the Terminator so scary was that he just kept on coming back no matter how many times he got exploded or smashed. Good thrills indeed.

The TerminatorNow, for lack of anything more relevant and important to talk about, I shall speak on the amazing old-fashioned special effects that I love so very much! And the other movie goofs that just make Terminator so great. First off, obvious stunt doubles. If you’re not caught up in the action, you’ll realize that every time Kyle or Termie take a punch, it’s really not them. Heh. And let’s not forget that puppet of Termie as he cuts his eye out. It’s like, whoa, maybe that could be Arnold if he actually was a robot and looked extra effeminate.

I don’t think I need to ramble on any further to further prove just how old this movie is. Check IMDB for all the goofs; good for a laugh. On the whole, though, Terminator is a pretty good movie. As a standalone, it’s rather lacking and lame, but because it’s the first of many Terminator sequels and spin-offs, it earns a 50% bonus on its quality score. It’s definitely not just me thinking that older movies are better just because they’re the originals. Fortunately for you, goldie oldies are always turned DVD, so you can pick Terminator up at Rasputin’s, Netflix it, Amazon, whatever. It’s probably dirty cheap, so go get it.

Minority Report: Just Cruisin’

Minority ReportThat’s right, folks! Welcome to the future, and the future is Tom Cruise. First time I saw this movie, I was mainly paying attention to Mr. Cruise and his overdramatic performance. The guy takes himself a little too seriously, and I think even that statement’s a little modest. But hey, every once in a while his tone and the movie’s hit it off in perfect harmony. This is one of those cases.

Pre-Crime is a futuristic organization that works with with three very special individuals called the Pre-Cogs, who can see murders long before they happen. Pre-Crime uses the images produced by these future-seers to apprehend criminals before the incident actually occurs. It’s an incredibly effective system, and as such, it’s placed under investigation for flaws.

John Anderton works for Pre-Crime. He lost his son at a public pool, his wife left him, and because of all this he has taken to using a drug called Clarity. Despite all this, he’s a good cop. That is, until the system declares that he will kill a man named Leo Crow in less than 36 hours. Anterton has no idea who this Leo Crow is, let alone why he would kill him. All the same, John is hunted by his police friends, and by the federal investigator Danny Witmer.

Minority ReportOn his run, Anderton encounters one of the makers of Pre-Crime, who discloses that minority reports for alternative possible futures exist within the Pre-Cogs who make the predictions. So now, he has to run back to Pre-Crime and retrieve the female of the three Pre-Cogs, Agatha, in order to find a way to extract the minority report from her. Of course, in order to even get close to Pre-Crime without being eyescan identified, he has to have his eyes plucked out and replaced.

Skipping a bit, he manages to get her, and he quickly discovers that no, he does not have a minority report. He does, however, pick up the trail of a greater conspiracy hiding behind the mask of the honorable Pre-Crime organization. Soon, John discovers that the other creator of Pre-Crime, Lamar Burgess, his old friend, used his own system to get away with murdering Anne Lively. He manages to use Anderton’s lost son and Leo Crow to cover his tracks… But no spoilers here as to whether he gets away or not.

Anne was the mother of Agatha, and a Neuroin addict. Her daughter was born with brain damage, a common issue with children born of those addicted to Neuroin, though she was saved by Lamar’s original partner, then used by Lamar as the foundation of Pre-Crime. When Anne Lively came clean and tried to reclaim her child, Lamar made sure that she wouldn’t meddle with his system.

Minority ReportThat’s all of the plot I’m giving you, but that’s all you really need. For a Tom Cruise movie, this sci-fi conspiracy thriller really manages to hold your attention without making you say, “Really…?” Well, at least not as often as you would in War of the Worlds or Valkyrie. Quality effects, good characters, intriguing plot, and you have a win.

A word of warning, though. There is a considerable amount of corny-mushiness contained. It might get a little overbearingly obnoxious at some points because of the aforementioned dramatic tone, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll kill the entertainment value entirely. It might make you roll your eyes, but you’ll be pretty content with the conclusion, I think.

Rec: Angry Spanish Zombies

RecThis is a Spanish shockumentary that’s a step above “so bad it’s good,” which means it’s just good. But since it’s a horror movie, and so many horror movies are bad, a good horror movie is like finding that elusive needle in the mountain of a haystack. So it’s great because it’s good because others are good because they’re bad. Get it? Good.

Angela Vidal is a reporter doing a TV series called While You Sleep, with her cameraman, Pablo. This night’s episode is about the lives of firemen and the duties they perform for their communities. Angela goes around, interviewing people, talking about outfits, recreation, so on so forth, until finally an alarm goes off. Showtime. The call is about an old woman who locked herself in her apartment, after having screaming fits. Whoa. The firemen arrive on the scene, along with the police, and they go in to investigate. For the record, nobody likes the fact that Angela and Pablo are filming the entire time. Not yet, at least.

When they finally get into the lady’s room, they find her bloody and crazed. Whoa nelly, what could that mean? When she tackles one of the policemen and takes a chunk out of his neck with her teeth, that question is sort of answered. Hence the title of this review. As soon as they get the wounded policeman out of the room and into the lobby of the apartment complex, they discover that the government has cordoned off the building and declared a BCN emergency state. Biological, Chemical, Nuclear, by the way. People start freaking out. Someone falls down the stairwell and goes splat. The health serviceman comes in and tries to take blood samples, but winds up being bitten. Aside from that, it’s a lot of mindless chatter, zombie punching, and several failed escape attempts.

RecSince the spoilers don’t really make much of a difference in a movie like this, I’ll go ahead and ruin everything for you. You won’t mind. Once upon a time, there was a girl called the “Demon of Medeiros,” who was supposedly possessed by a demon and was very violent and angry. This girl infected a dog named Max, who bit a girl named Jennifer. Jennifer’s mother took Max to the vet, and went home to her apartment with Jennifer. You already know where this is going. The Angry Spanish Zombie virus spread like… well, spread like a plague. Of zombies. That makes people angry. And… Spanish?

Anyways, a man from the Vatican sealed the Medeiros girl in the penthouse apartment, and during their final escape attempt, Angela and Pablo accidentally free her. Whoops. The good news is, that’s about the end of the movie, and both of them look to be dead, so goody-goody gumdrops. Set up for a sequel? You bet! Don’t watch it.

RecSo, let’s get one of them “overall, this movie” paragraphs in here to mash this whole review together. Rec was a good movie, but its only vice was that it didn’t explain anything until the very end, which hardly seems an appropriate point to explain the anger virus. And the fact that it adds religious connotations to the existence of the virus sort of takes away from the thrill of it all, if you know what I mean. It’s like saying, “I’ll tell you how this virus works, son. It spreads through saliva, has a long incubation period for children and a long one for adults, it causes extreme aggression and violence, an- What’s this? Where did it come from? Demon magic.”

… Yeah. Best to rent this movie before you consider spending money on it. I said it was good, but that was because I’m in the 50% that really doesn’t try to hate certain kinds of movies on general principle. When I say certain movies, I specifically mean bad-good horror movies. Yes, it’s a shockumentary, but it’s worth your time. Watch it, enjoy it. Turn off the subtitles and pretend everyone’s arguing about where the pudding cups are hidden.

Changeling: Fact Over Fiction

ChangelingNormally, I don’t care too much for Angelina Jolie. Most of the time, I don’t care too much about historical movies. Almost never do I find myself enjoying a “based off a true story” movie. Changeling? The ultimate exception, and I’ll tell you why. It’s all the emotion packed in there. Love and loss, fear, justice, desire for power and control, frustration; it’s more emotionally dynamic than a soap opera. Well, I’ve heard they can be rather emotional. I don’t watch them. They come off as rather boring and petty. But I digress.

The Hollywood interpretation of the story of Christine and Walter Collins was, to my great surprise, not far from the real events. Minimal Hollywood polishing! I know it’s not directly related to the quality of the movie, but the idea of a movie portraying events exactly as they are is unheard of. It deserved mention and a bit of respect, I believe.

ChangelingThis sad, desolate, yet hopeful little tale takes place in the 1920’s, revolving around the aforementioned mother and child, Christine and Walter Collins. One day after staying late at work, Christine comes home to find her son gone. Her neighbors are clueless, and the police are about as concerned as a dead guy. They give her twenty four hours before they start searching, but manage to find him in five months.

Mr. J.J. Jones gladly returns the boy to her, only to discover that, uh oh, it’s the wrong kid. But he’s in the big league, working for the (painfully corrupt) LAPD, and he’s not looking to be embarrassed. Following her denial of the kid being her son and her agreement to take him home on a trial basis, things really start to escalate.

After witnessing that “Walter” was circumcised, something that her son was not, and discovering that the imposter is three inches shorter, she approached Jones again. Jones was less than receptive to her troubles. His “help” this time around is offering to send a doctor over to review “Walter’s” condition. Under Jones’s orders, the doc explains that the drifter “Walter” was found with may have circumcised him for whatever reason, and that the trauma from the whole incident may have caused his spine to shrink. Hahah. No really. That’s what they said. Amazing what you could get away with back then.

ChangelingThe battle between Christine Collins and the LAPD rages on, while a seemingly unrelated deportation operation lands a detective headfirst into one of the most brutal crimes in the history of Las Angeles. The mystery of Walter’s disappearance begins to grow clearer and clearer as the detective pieces together one related event after another. … That was… kind of like reading the back of the DVD box of a mystery thriller. But don’t worry, it’s related. I can’t really say more, considering it’s sort of plot-essential and most definitely a spoiler.

You can’t go wrong with Changeling, really. It’s a lovely bit of nostalgic cinematic gold, offering satisfaction at the dissolution of the lies of the LAPD. As a movie with a gloomy tone, the end provides a powerful feel-good sense brought about by justice. And the smaller feel-good bit for wise-asses who realize the irony in the justice being brought to the justice system. You can ignore that last bit if you want. My final statement about this somber movie is that it is definitely worth seeing. Might be unpleasant due to the drawn-out injustice against Christine Collins, but worth it in the end. Go see it, get mad, get happy. Freak out. It’s awesome.