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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 09 October 2017 at 7:55am | IP Logged | 1 post reply

But, really, those undertones are mostly invented. The "moral ambiguity" comes along when we start thinking of A.I. as more than it is. At bottom, it's really just another in a long line of "killer robot" stories.

***

The one thing I will say, bearing in mind I saw it for the first time yesterday, is that maybe the special effects/set design contributed to it being perceived as more than a "standard popcorn movie".

I have seen a lot of killer robot films. A video store I used in the 80s practically had wall-to-wall (direct-to-video) films that had jumped on the killer robot bandwagon. And they were popcorn movies.

If not for the set design, music and special effects, plus critics' views on it being art, would BLADE RUNNER have become known as art? Or would it have just been perceived as one of many killer robot films?

Not saying I have the answers (I'm not qualified to answer them), just throwing it out there.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 09 October 2017 at 9:54am | IP Logged | 2 post reply

If not for the set design, music and special effects, plus critics' views on it being art, would BLADE RUNNER have become known as art? Or would it have just been perceived as one of many killer robot films?
+++++++

It's not really a killer robot film, though. The reason "androids" wasn't a term used in the film is because it would bring up certain associations in the audience like all of those "androids" in pop culture who look human on the surface, but are full of metal and wires, under the skin. On paper, it sounds like a standard killer robot plot (cop tracks down rogue androids), but the Replicants are genetically-engineered, artificial human beings with no mechanical parts. Human beings with enhanced physical and mental capabilities, an inability to reproduce, accelerated growth, and shortened lifespans. The ones seen in the film are killers, yes, but that's only because A) They don't want to be slaves. B) They just want normal human lifespans.


That's where the moral ambiguity of it comes in. The primary "killer robot" of the story is a slave-child who does what he does because he just wants to live. He goes searching for his "father", frustratedly kills that father when he's told that he can't get what he wants, teaches the nominal hero of the story to appreciate his own life, then dies. This is not standard popcorn-movie fare. The "villain" becomes a sympathetic and tragic character, and is "more human than human" in certain ways when compared with the "hero".

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John Byrne
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Posted: 09 October 2017 at 4:30pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

I did not for one moment find Roy Batty "sympathetic". None of the others, either. Why? Because they're not just "killer robots", they are SADISTIC killer robots. Batty's victims SUFFER. Just because he "wants to live"?

Nuh-uh. Ain't buyin' it.

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John Byrne
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Posted: 09 October 2017 at 4:35pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

HIGHLANDER (1986)

The effects have not aged well -- especial those Monster from the Id clones at the end -- but the whole thing still holds my attention.

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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 09 October 2017 at 4:50pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

That reminds me, HIGHLANDER is another film that I wish had begun and ended with one movie. Like ROBOCOP, THE TERMINATOR and PLANET OF THE APES, what came after was an example of the law of diminishing returns.

Edited by Robbie Parry on 09 October 2017 at 4:55pm
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John Byrne
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Posted: 09 October 2017 at 4:56pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

The attempt to continue HIGHLANDER skidded so far off the rails it was beyond belief. Especially since people from the first were involved.

$$$ I guess!!

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Peter Martin
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Posted: 09 October 2017 at 7:54pm | IP Logged | 7 post reply

Highlander is one of those films -- part of a long list -- that absolutely should NOT have had a sequel. That the sequels struggled so horribly to find a way to continue the story shows how complete the first film's story was. Not a perfect film, but a perfectly complete story at least.

And flipping back to Blade Runner: I am not great fan of the film, and I do agree that the replicants are not really sympathetic, barring that amazing, poetic ending with Rutger Hauer's little soliloquy in the rain. But really, it's a volte-face that doesn't connect with what we have been shown in the rest of the movie.

This is one (of the many reasons) that I prefer the source novel. The novel explores the idea of the fine line between android and humans and comes down unequivocally in favour of the humans because the androids, as depicted skilfully and horribly as they pick the legs from a spider on a life-barren Earth, have zero empathy. It's the whole driving theme at the heart of the book and the film totally and utterly misses it.   


Edited by Peter Martin on 09 October 2017 at 7:54pm
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 09 October 2017 at 8:05pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

I did not for one moment find Roy Batty "sympathetic". None of the others, either. Why? Because they're not just "killer robots", they are SADISTIC killer robots. Batty's victims SUFFER. Just because he "wants to live"?
Nuh-uh. Ain't buyin' it.
+++++++++++

Here's the thing, though: Batty basically has adult-level capabilities and intelligence, but the emotional experience of a child. Rutger Hauer's performance intentionally veers from cold intellect and genuine menace to childlike vulnerability and moodiness. The character is basically like putting a kid's brain in Superman's body.

Intellectually, he understands that he's done "questionable" things, but his emotional inexperience causes him to continually "act out", so to speak. He looks to be in genuine pain and conflict when he kills Tyrell, and then staggers after Sebastian. A moment cut from the film even had him sobbing, "Mom?" to the security monitor's feminine computer voice after he'd gotten back into the elevator after the murders.

I don't condone his actions, but I do find him a tragic character, since he is, yes, a slave who just wants to live. I think his actions come down to desperation and pain more than actual sadism. That's where the moral ambiguity comes in. Batty does terrible things, but he's also a victim, himself.

On the flipside, it's hinted at that Deckard had previously quit his job because the killing of Replicants unsettled him, to the point where he was basically an alcoholic, and suffered from the shakes after performing a "retirement". But, despite his reservations, he still shoots a woman in the back. A murderous Replicant, yes, but it's not exactly a case of clear-cut good vs. evil, here. It's these gray areas which help to make the film so compelling, for me.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 09 October 2017 at 8:07pm | IP Logged | 9 post reply

The attempt to continue HIGHLANDER skidded so far off the rails it was beyond belief. Especially since people from the first were involved.
$$$ I guess!!

++++++++++++++

Y'know, by coincidence, HIGHLANDER is currently waiting on my DVR, since I was planning on revisiting it, myself. I'm tempted to re-examine the sequels, too, since I've been on a bit of a "franchise" kick, lately. The first film is definitely a solid done-in-one.

The JAWS films are next on my list, though. I've only ever seen the first one.

Edited by Greg Kirkman on 10 October 2017 at 12:36am
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 09 October 2017 at 8:08pm | IP Logged | 10 post reply

This is one (of the many reasons) that I prefer the source novel. The novel explores the idea of the fine line between android and humans and comes down unequivocally in favour of the humans because the androids, as depicted skilfully and horribly as they pick the legs from a spider on a life-barren Earth, have zero empathy. It's the whole driving theme at the heart of the book and the film totally and utterly misses it.
++++++++++++

This was Phil Dick's primary objection to the script, as well.
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Shaun Barry
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Posted: 09 October 2017 at 8:35pm | IP Logged | 11 post reply


Can I just say:  I'm really looking forward to your thoughts on JAWS 2 and JAWS 3-D, Greg!



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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 09 October 2017 at 9:55pm | IP Logged | 12 post reply

Yeah, this should be interesting. Of course, I'm most excited about revisiting the original. I found it on Blu-Ray for $7, awhile back. The other three have been sitting on my DVR for months. 

Never enough time for all of my viewing and reading projects!
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Bill Collins
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Posted: 10 October 2017 at 12:09am | IP Logged | 13 post reply

Shaun,don`t forget Jaws the Revenge! Even Michael Caine
claims not to have seen it,but he has seen the house it
bought him!
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John Byrne
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Posted: 10 October 2017 at 6:59am | IP Logged | 14 post reply

Here's the thing, though: Batty basically has adult-level capabilities and intelligence, but the emotional experience of a child. Rutger Hauer's performance intentionally veers from cold intellect and genuine menace to childlike vulnerability and moodiness. The character is basically like putting a kid's brain in Superman's body.

I have to disagree. Given the jobs the replicants are called on to perform, it would not be a very good idea to have them functioning at anything less than a top mental capacity. They may be somewhat naive, due to their lack of experience with Earth and its quirks, but children? No. There is no innocence, no wonder. They might have the casual cruelty of children, but it is layered into adult thinking.

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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 10 October 2017 at 9:52am | IP Logged | 15 post reply

I have to disagree. Given the jobs the replicants are called on to perform, it would not be a very good idea to have them functioning at anything less than a top mental capacity. They may be somewhat naive, due to their lack of experience with Earth and its quirks, but children? No. There is no innocence, no wonder. They might have the casual cruelty of children, but it is layered into adult thinking.
+++++++

The specifics of how and why Batty and the others decided to rebel are left unknown, but the film indicates that their false memories were enough to keep them in line until they came to realize their true nature. Bryant says that they (presumably unlike the previous models that Deckard had dealt with) might end up developing their own emotional repsonses, which is why they have the built-in four-year lifespans. They clearly function at an adult level, intellectually, but their emotional range was presumably limited enough by their false memories so that they could be controlled more efficiently. 

We aren't told what sort of memories they were given, or what their behavior was like before they rebelled, but they'd likely have memories which would be intended to keep them in line and limit their emotional responses so that they'd do their war/labor/prostitute jobs properly. Say, for example, memories of being born into slavery, with no awareness of anything else, and no hope for anything else. 

But, once Batty and the others realize exactly what they are (which would be a very psychologically and emotionally destabilizing process, as seen with Rachael and her emotional naivety after Deckard tells her what she is), they rebel, and begin developing their own emotions beyond the range programmed into them by the memory implants. That's where their desire for a real past and real experiences (as evidenced by Leon's fixation on his photographs of Batty and Zhora) comes in.

Hauer's performance comes across to me like a child (albeit a very intelligent and poetic one) who is starting to come into his own, and just wants to live a normal and happy life, but is grappling with the existential dilemma of what he is and how long he has to live. He becomes murderous because A) He was originally programmed and used for combat. B) To literally escape being a slave and travel to Earth. C) Out of a child's emotional frustration at not being able to get what he wants, after he's told that his genetic code can't by altered so as to give him a normal lifespan.


I don't expect to change any minds, here, but these sort of discussions do highlight why people are still talking about this movie, after 35 years!
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John Byrne
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Posted: 10 October 2017 at 12:47pm | IP Logged | 16 post reply

Or...

People are still talking about this movie because bad writing has been fobbed off as "ambiguity" and the awe we all experienced at the truly incredible production design has been slopped over into the rest of the movie.

HonestTrailers

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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 10 October 2017 at 1:26pm | IP Logged | 17 post reply

SUPERMAN RETURNS (2006)

Against my better judgement, I watched this.

Let me see, it copied the real estate plot (in a sense) of the first movie; it's a sequel to SUPERMAN II (retconning III and IV out of existence, I presume); and it has Superman pining for Lois Lane.

No way, in my mind, is Kevin Spacey's Luthor and Gene Hackman's Luthor the same person. Doesn't feel that way. 

If I remember rightly, at the end of SUPERMAN II, Luthor was returned to jail (one TV version shows the Arctic Police picking him up), Superman returned the US flag to the White House, and then promised the president that he'd not let him down again!

Yet he then went off on a five-year trip (looking for Kryptonian survivors). So he lied to the president, right? And to humanity? And because of him not being around to testify against Luthor, Luthor was released from jail.

Superman? More like Irresponsible-Man. Any other incarnation (George Reeves, Christopher Reeve, Mr Byrne's Superman) ***would*** have stuck around to testify. The events of this film totally disregard Superman's promise made at the end of SUPERMAN II.

Why was this film made? Why did they want to link to the Reeve films? Why did they want to have their cake and eat it? Not sure I can get behind a Superman who a) fucked off for five years, leaving no-one to testify against Luthor, and b) pined for Lois Lane despite her being in a new relationship. I presume any sequels that would have been made would have focused on him "winning her back" from Richard White?

If Singer/WB wanted to link back to the Reeve era, it would have made far more sense to set this a few years after SUPERMAN IV. At the end of SUPERMAN IV, Luthor is back in jail (20-year sentence), Superman gives a press conference promising peace in his time, and all is well in the world. That would have been the right time for Superman to go off on a trip.

But setting it after SUPERMAN II makes the Man of Steel a breaker of promises and irresponsible (Luthor getting off because Superman couldn't hang around to testify is making me angry as I type this).


Edited by Robbie Parry on 10 October 2017 at 1:27pm
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Brian Rhodes
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Posted: 10 October 2017 at 2:44pm | IP Logged | 18 post reply

Yes, making RETURNS the direct sequel, essentially, to SUPERMAN II is quite problematic:

When delivering the repaired roof to the White House, Superman says, exactly: "Good Afternoon, Mr. President! Sorry I've been away so long. I won't let you down again!"

Roll credits.

The first frames of RETURNS have the expository text explaining:

"When astronomers discovered the distant remains of his home world, Superman disappeared."


So, right after telling the President he wouldn't ever do so again...he leaves. And did so for FIVE years (and he thought his absence in II was for a long time. Yeesh.)



Edited by Brian Rhodes on 10 October 2017 at 3:33pm
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 10 October 2017 at 3:02pm | IP Logged | 19 post reply

This is why setting it after SUPERMAN IV would have made more sense. Nuclear Man was defeated. Lex Luthor was back in jail. Superman told a press conference the gift of freedom from wars was not his to give. Peace reigned.

At that point, I am sure citizens of earth would have given their blessing for him to disappear. In his time, he'd beaten Lex Luthor, Zod, Ross Webster, Nuclear Man, etc. We can presume he had other adventures, not seen by us (SUPERGIRL mentions him going off to a distant galaxy). 

By the end of IV, he had earned the right for a vacation/break.

But disappearing shortly after making that promise to the president, well had Bryan Singer seen the final moments of SUPERMAN II?
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 10 October 2017 at 6:07pm | IP Logged | 20 post reply

Or...
People are still talking about this movie because bad writing has been fobbed off as "ambiguity" and the awe we all experienced at the truly incredible production design has been slopped over into the rest of the movie.
++++++++++++

To each his own, of course. I have asked myself whether that is indeed the case, from time to time, but can't quite bring myself subscribe to that viewpoint.


At the end of the day, just as every film is made from scratch three times (during the distinctly separate processes of writing, filming, and editing), every movie is also really three movies: The intent of the filmmakers, what's actually up there on the screen, and the highly-subjective interpretation of each person who watches the film.

Or, to put it another way, some will read WAR AND PEACE and come away thinking it's a simple adventure story, while others will read the ingredients on a chewing gum wrapper, and discover the secrets of the universe!
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John Byrne
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Posted: 10 October 2017 at 7:09pm | IP Logged | 21 post reply

There is no way to make sense of SUPERMAN RETURNS. The whole thing is an exercise in out of control fanwank.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 10 October 2017 at 7:53pm | IP Logged | 22 post reply

There is no way to make sense of SUPERMAN RETURNS. The whole thing is an exercise in out of control fanwank.
+++++++++++

...and bleak, dull, bland, creepy, etc....
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Shaun Barry
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Posted: 10 October 2017 at 9:16pm | IP Logged | 23 post reply


(Bill Collins, JAWS: THE REVENGE does not exist, to me.  I tried watching it only once... it's so bad, it's bad!)



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Bill Collins
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Posted: 10 October 2017 at 9:33pm | IP Logged | 24 post reply

I agree!
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James Woodcock
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Posted: 11 October 2017 at 1:45am | IP Logged | 25 post reply

There were plot holes/mistakes/inconsistencies galore in Blade Runner (how many replicants escaped?) but ....

It was something not before seen when it came out. I do wonder how much of that is the reason it is liked, but then, there are lots of other, visually impressive films out there that I do not hold to the same regard as this film.

I don't think the ambiguity is all down to the mistakes and do think it was intentional as it certainly seemed to be talked about at the time (not Deckard, but many other aspects). And while it is a pretty straight forward 'cop hunting killer robots' plot, it is the motivations of the killer robots that elevates it I think. But I do agree with JB. They certainly are sadistic killer robots, but I also agree that the sadism comes from their inability to deal with the emerging emotions they are experiencing.

Not an excuse, but a reason.

And I'm appalled that Dredd is included in the list of clones in the Honest Trailers - Mega City One came first, just not on film.
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