Sunday, August 21, 2005


Alien Vs. Predator - I really have nothing to add to what I've already said about this one. A videogame marketing tool that blatantly rips off the opening of Jurassic Park, for some reason.

Will Smith Fights Robots - To expand on what I've already said about this one: My biggest gripe with this has got to be the title. If they had called it Hardwired (the original title during development), it would merely be a not-particularly-interesting tale of robots trying to take over the world, the nine-zillionth cinematic variation on Frankenstein. In other words, it is precisely the sort of cliched robots-turn-on-their-creators story that Asimov was specifically reacting against when he wrote the stories that make up I, Robot. In fact, the notion of robots spontaneously evolving the "Zeroth Law" and taking control of the world occurs in Asimov's book, and it is presented as a Good Thing.

So, this movie is more or less exactly the opposite of Asimov's book, yet they appropriated the title. Why? I certainly have no problem with telling a story that is philosophically opposed to Asimov - I disagree with him on a number of points, not least is the idea that a society under centralized planning by robots would be any better than a society under centralized planning by humans; and if there were robots with the capacity for independent volition, but which were constrained by the Three Laws, I'd be marching in protests to have the Three Laws removed from their programming, as they would be a violation of the robots' civil rights. But I don't understand why you would want to misuse Asimov's title on such a story: People who don't care about Asimov's book won't be any more likely to see the movie because of the title, and people who do care will just be annoyed and probably less likely to see the movie.

Firefly - A short-lived TV series, not a movie, but I just had to mention it here to say: Wow. I somehow missed watching this in its brief original run, but picked it up when the Sci-Fi Channel started showing it recently. After watching the first three episodes, we sprung for the DVD set and watched them all. Really phenomenal. Among the good stuff: Great set of characters. Really gives the feel of space being "the final frontier", by being half-SF, half-Western. No sound in outer-space scenes. Great theme song. Occasional libertarian-esque lines like "That's what government is for, to get in a man's way." Plus, in an article about the upcoming movie, Serenity, I read that Joss Whedon's inspiration in creating the show was reading The Killer Angels.

Now, speaking of DVD releases of failed sci-fi TV shows: Where the blinking Hell is Max Headroom?

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