Monday, June 22, 2015

Junesploitation Day 22: Robots!

Trapped between unnatural love and inhuman desire!

67 comments:

  1. Jonathan Mostow's TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES (2003, 109 min.) on Blu-ray.

    This 13 year-old flick (wow!) marks the last time a movie studio willingly maxed out its Platinum Card limit to make a Schwarzenegger action vehicle. "T3" always amazes me by how much I think I like it while I'm watching it, only for the Brad Fiedel theme at the end to make me go 'Oh, no, it's not that good at all.' The amount of unfunny jokes ('You remind me of my mother') and callbacks (Earl Boen's unnecessary cameo) is rather high and annoying. It's a reasonably fun and entertaining flick for its first two thirds, though, and that construction rig chase belongs in the franchise's Hall of Fame exhibit. I also like that most of the action takes place during bright daylight hours, giving "T3" a different look from the Cameron prequels (not necessarily by choice).

    Somehow the producers found an even less charismatic and morose actor than Edward Furlong (Nick Stahl) to further emasculate John Connor, but at least they gave him a decent-enough "girlfriend" (a pre-"Homeland" Claire Danes) to compensate. The bland leads and generic look of the pre-takeover Skynet robots may explain why, despite limited acting range between them, Kristanna Loken and Arnold are the most appealing actors in "T3". I like their non-smile deadpan robot faces. Props too for a robot-versus-robot summer action movie that has the balls to end the way "T3" does. It's good enough to forgive it for messing "T2's" perfect ending... NOT!

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  2. The iron giant (1999)

    Brad Birds sweet masterpiece is one of only a handful of animation films I really like and watch frequently. And the Vin Diesel voiced robot always reminds me of Gort from the original "The day the earth stood still".
    This movie still drives me to tears, so to me one of the best robots ever.

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    1. Haven't seen Iron Giant in years. It's a really underrated movie. I think largely because the pixer computer aminmation trend was really taking off it got over looked. Although it's a beautiful looking movie to me.

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  3. I saw "Eliminators" in the theater as a kid and thought it was the coolest movie ever! haha

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    1. I never heard of this movie, but looking up the credits on IMDB, it makes me curious because on the one hand the writing duo has lots of suspicious credits, on the other hand, they also wrote my beloved "The Rocketeer".
      Maybe I should check this out.

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    2. Stay tuned later today for more on this one.

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    3. I can't recall if I saw Eliminators before or after Star Trek: TNG debuted, but it was on VHS, and I do remember liking it.

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  4. Robocop (1987)

    My excuse for never having seeing this before, is as a kid that the sequels were only ever on tv, which I didn't like. At times I felt I was watching a surreal masterpiece. The heightened tone, the cuts to commercials, the insane violence. There is nothing else to say other than I have never noticed but Peter Weller has a rather pretty mouth.

    Runaway (1984)

    Tom Selleck, a police officer and robotics expert (after a couple of night classes), is on the hunt evil robotics entrepreneur Gene Simmons who is manipulating futuristic household robots to kill people. Written and directed by Michael Crichton it is stiffer than a starched collar. Tom Selleck is reliably Tom Selleck, Gene Simmons only has one facial expression - but a really funny run, Kirstie Alley talks in exclamation points, and the score is something I like to call one man with a keyboard.

    Even with all this there were touches I liked. I like Tom Selleck and his moustache - he is good at his job, and there are a couple of sweet moments between him and his new partner. I liked how they used technology in the film and the fact that a form of tablets were being used. Because of the stiffness I don't think the final act works compltely but I kinda liked the concept. I didn't know I wanted to watch this, but I am glade I did.

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  5. Unless you guys can come up with some good suggestions for me I'm gonna watch I. robot or Wild Wild West. I'm on a Will Smith kick right now.

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  6. Demon Seed (1977)

    Junesploitation seems to be the perfect time to watch this again.

    Based on a novel by Dean Koontz, this is a strangely compelling movie about a computer/robot gone wild, trying to inseminate a woman and producing an offspring.

    Nearly a one woman show for star Julie Christie, I always ask myself, how director Donald Cammell got the studio MGM to put money into this special project.

    The film has an interesting concept, fine performances and an intriguing optical/technical aspect regarding the look of the robot.
    Although the movie looks clearly dated, the story is strong enough to overcome that.
    I wouldn´t mind if someone would try to do a modern update on this.

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    1. I almost went with this one over "T3" for my Robots! pick. Ultimately I went with Arnie's movie because I've already picked a flick for 80's Horror! that's close to "Demon Seed" in spirit. Junesploitation: forcing film fans to make hard choices since 2013.

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  7. The Machine Girl (2008, dir. Noboru Iguchi) (First Time Viewing): This movie is all about extreme and over the top violence as a girl with a detachable gun arm gets revenge on those that took her arm. Think Rolling Thunder but with literal geysers of blood. I don’t have a whole lot to say about this, it kinda felt like a Troma movie in as far is it is a low-budget gore fest played for laughs. It was entertaining enough.. light recommendation here.

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  8. Deadly Friend (1986)

    Paulie's sex robot strikes again! Originally conceived as a PG macabre romance, studio interference turned this robotic Frankenstein story into a goddamn mess. A young science whiz puts the brain of Paulie's sex robot into his dead girlfriend (proto-Buffy Kristy Swanson) who goes on to wreak havoc around the neighborhood.

    For the first 45 minutes or so it's actually pretty involving, but as soon as O.G. Buffy bites the dust it goes waaaaaaaaay off the rails. The studio insisted that writer Bruce Joel Rubin & director Wes Craven add a bunch of gore and thoroughly nonsensical "scary" set pieces and you can tell their hearts aren't in it. Ironically, the gore is all anyone remembers about this one, particularly an infamous scene in which a character is decapitated by a basketball. I'd genuinely love to see what Rubin & Craven originally envisioned, but alas they've all but disowned it. Too bad.

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  9. Hardware (1990)

    Sigh. I feel like I'm on a small run of disappointing movie choices lately. Hardware is another example of a good idea executed poorly. The movie takes place in a dystopian future. Dylan McDermott, an ex space marine comes by the head of what turns out to be a busted military robot. He gives the head to his girlfriend who uses scrap metal for art. Over the course of the night, the head comes online and uses various pieces of metal to build itself a body. It then goes on to wreck havoc on humans.

    While that sounds like a decent premise, it's takes half the movies runtime for any interesting robot stuff to happen. The first half is a slow, boring, slog to get through (though it does contain one of the grossest peeping toms I've seen in movies). This movie takes itself way too seriously, trying, but failing to hit on themes of government control.

    Just read the synopsis of this on IMDB. It's much more interesting than the actual movie.

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  10. Starcrash (1978)

    Star Warsploitation?

    A blatant ripoff from the first shot to the last, Starcrash never limits itself to stealing simply from Star Wars or Jason and the Argonauts. If there are original elements in the film it's hard to find anything good to say about them. There's no way to evaluate this as a movie in any traditional sense: the dialogue is laughable, the performances are flat, the plot is contrived in every imaginable way, there's no narrative throughline, etc. The only thing coherent about it is how completely and utterly ridiculous the whole thing is. If you're in the right mood (i.e. irretrievably intoxicated) you might be able to get something out of it, but personally I had trouble even enjoying it as goofy garbage.

    The bad guy's spaceship is a hand that can clench into a fist, though, so I guess it has that going for it.

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    1. You might be the first person I've ever read a review from of this movie without mentioning Caroline Munro. Inexcusable :)

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    2. I have a signed VHS of Maniac and a photo with the lovely Caroline X

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    3. Haha sorry. This is what happens when I watch movies in the morning. Sometimes I get grouchy and don't do actors their due diligence.

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    4. There's giving actors their due diligence... and then there's Caroline Munro...

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    5. And next to the great Caroline Munro, there are lots of other B-movie legends like Robert Tessier, Joe Spinell, David Hasselhoff and Marjoe "The minister" Gortner, as bad as always. But even the presence of Christopher Plummer and a fine score by John Barry didn´t make this any better.
      I watched this one last year right after "Battle beyond the stars", which was clearly the wrong order.

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  11. Jason X (2001)

    What? I know what you are thinking. "A Jason movie on Robots day?"
    Damn right Jason on Robots day!

    Jason X has robots.
    There's the badass android Kay-Em 14, who outguns, outmatches, and outright kicks Jason's ass.
    There are the medical Nano-Bots who rebuild damaged tissue (and provide upgrades when the tissue has been blow away with space machine guns).
    And there is Uber-Jason, who for all intents and purposes is Jason mixed with Robocop.

    This is the Jason movie I have probably watched the most of them all. It's not art, but it is extremely entertaining. It's so crazy that it's awesome.

    It is written and directed as a love letter to Jason Voorhees, the Friday the 13th franchise, and 80's sci-fi.

    So put on your chrome hockey mask, grab your machete, and fill the sink with liquid nitrogen... It's time for Jason in space!

    (Also, I just wanted an excuse to watch this again)

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  12. D.A.R.Y.L. (1985)

    Well after the fun high of Troll 2 it appears logic dictates that things cant always be fun and that's this movie for sure. D.A.R.Y.L. stands for data analyzing robot youth lifeform. His robot powers include stunt driving, playng baseball pretty good (but nothing a human couldn't do) and hacking into an ATM. The big problem with this movie is its very boring and monotone with many scenes that seem to just drag on and on. Also if anyone feels they need their Michael McKean fix I would stick with his recent work on Better Call Saul or hell even Short Circuit 2 if your looking for a better robot movie cause this family friendly pic just doesn't do it.

    8 Word Review (In Preparation for SMM)

    "Daryl, a hooker is a prostitute, mystery solved"

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  13. Death Machine (1994) [122 min "director's cut" on Youtube] - first viewing

    Similar in premise to Hardware (1990), which I have yet to see; if Nik Robinson's comments above are any indication, the distinction here is that this movie walks the not-so-fine line between serious sci-fi/thriller and self-aware cyber-romp before doubling down on both. Brad Dourif hams it up to the stratosphere as he’s wont to do and plays off of main heroine Ely Pouget (who apparently gets more character development here than in the heavily cut 97 min version) rather well. Everyone else doesn’t fare as well, and the gimmickry of naming the main cast after genre directors doesn’t help matters (there’s a John Carpenter and a Sam Raimi here, for crying out loud). The first couple robot attacks are effective and well-staged then become more unconvincing and tiresome in the later half. Light recommendation to see what first-time-genre-filmmaker-with-something-to-prove Stephen Norrington could accomplish on a miniscule budget. Otherwise don't bother.

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  14. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

    In order to get the taste of D.A.R.Y.L. out of my mouth I decided to throw this one onto get me back in a good place and prep for the hopefully surprising Terminator Genisys. Save for a few iffy blue screen shots this film hasn't aged a day. The action is super clear, Arnold is at his best, and there are awesome pits of fire. I will say this I really hope the music score for the next movie is closer in tone to this one but sadly I doubt it. On an unrelated note theres a great episode of Regular Show called "Benson gets a suit" which has one of the best T2 jokes I've ever seen.

    8 Word Review (In Preparation for SMM)

    "Yet another Hot Shots: Part Deux reference understood"

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  15. Chopping Mall 1986

    Originally called Killbots but no one came to see it then a janitor said how about Chopping Mall, they charge an arm and a leg! Boom....
    Directed by Jim Wynorski with the Lovely Barbara Crampton and a electrifying Cameo by That guy Dick Miller, it feels like Dawn of the Dead crossed with Robocop, 3 out of control Robots on a killing spree in a Shopping Mall, that's really all you need to know, a fun movie with a crappy Dvd transfer, hopefully a Bluray is on the horizon, there have been talks, it could be happening,
    Jim always says he won't do ask anyone to do a stunt he won't do himself, so he tested the Airbag jump and broke his rib, he kept it quiet through all the filming
    "Thank you, Have a nice day"

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  16. Hardware (1990)

    I don't think Richard Stanley's Dr. Moreau would have been much better.

    What the fuck? Weird...super boring the first half. I almost fell asleep a couple of times. A couple of robot things happen and then it goes a little nuts. It doesn't go nuts enough. I think it's supposed to be an artsy robot movie but I don't care. Stacey Travis gets naked so that's a thing. Whatever...

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  17. Metropolis (1927) - Full restored version

    On the one hand, this is a justly celebrated classic, which has some fantastic special effects that still hold up (especially the “creation scene” of robot-Maria). On the other hand, at times the film seems almost at war with itself. The first half uses memorable imagery and set design to show that the workers struggle in a virtual hell, while the spoiled rich live easy lives up above. While this would seem to be setting up a classic revolution story, the actual resolution reaffirms the original class structure – and leaves the main villain in power! I have to wonder if Fritz Lang was concerned about allegations of communism, given the crazy political scene in Germany at that time. In any event, the movie is still well worth seeing.

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    1. As an aside, this movie relates to the original series Star Trek episode "The Cloud Minders." Like Metropolis, this episode shows a brutally unfair separation between the workers toiling in mines and the rich living in the clouds. And like Metropolis, this class structure remains in place by episode end. What the hell, Kirk?

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  18. SATURN 3 (1980)

    From a time when your low-budget killer robot movie could star the likes of Kirk Douglas, Farrah Fawcett, and Harvey Keitel, with a screenplay by Martin Amis no less. At a remote space station, Keitel’s character hooks his brain up to the robot (never a good idea in a movie) and they both go crazy. The movie is not as smart as it thinks it is, wanting to comment on relationships, sex, drug use, or the environment, when all we really want is space robot carnage. The ‘bot isn’t very intimidating, either. Looks like you could just walk up and push it over.

    Accompanying short film: THE SIMPSONS: TRILOGY OF ERROR. “Linguo, dead?” “Linguo IS dead.”

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  19. Chappie (2015)
    I knew the reviews were terrible, but I held out hope on this one. Neill Bloomkamp, dystopia, and Die Antwoord? My number one, guilty pleasure music? Maybe my love of Yolandi would make this work for me somehow. But nope. Beyond the CG, this one's a total disappointment. There's not even any new tracks from the band. Sigh.

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    1. Even if the movie isn´t even worthy for that, I have to describe my reaction using a Roger Ebert quote:
      "I hated this movie. Hated hated hated hated hated this movie. Hated it. Hated every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting moment of it."

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  20. Automatic (1995) Dir. John Murlowski ("Santa With Muscles")

    This movie opens with a brutal home invasion of a family being machine gunned to death - which is actually an infomerical for owning a robot that could save your life. The "Robgen J Series" a.k.a "Automatics" seem great at first, then one of the latest models kills a high up executive he witnesses committing an attempted rape so the president of Robgen (named Goddard Marx ?!) hires a hit on the robot to cover it up. The "J-269" isn't haven't it and starts kickin' ass while protecting the girl and working their way floor by floor to getting out of the building.

    These are the type of DTV or made for SyFy channel movies that took themselves seriously before they started pumping out stuff to be tongue-in-cheek. It's dead-on 1995. Not the best but I dug it.

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  21. THE WORLD'S END (2013)
    They say repeatedly that they're not robots (I know, they're not slaves), but fuck that, they're robots.

    This is one of my favorite movies of the last decade. After the first viewing in the theater, I knew it was my favorite of the Cornetto trilogy.

    It gets better with every watch. It has real characters and emotions, as well as fight scenes that put some full-on action movies to shame.

    It's a classic.

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    1. Brilliant choice Albert! JP and I agree that it's a classic: http://projectedacrossthepond.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/the-golden-mile-worlds-end-2013.html?m=1

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    2. I read that when you guys first posted it and it is great! I'll have no problem reading it again, though -- everybody should!

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    3. I think it's my favorite of the trilogy too. Oh but Hot Fuzz.....

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  22. Robot Jox (1989) - First viewing
    Pacific Rim (2013) - First viewing

    How's that for a double feature? Two movies with massive robots controlled by humans inside going at it, in Robot Jox against each other and in Pacific Rim against huge monsters from another dimension.

    I really let my 10 year old self loose and enjoyed the hell out of both of these movies. Ridonculous action and no plot in sight. That's how I like my robot movies.

    The mathematician in Pacific Rim was the most annoying comic relief character I've seen in a while though.

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    1. F**king Robot Jox!!!! I saw it for the first time when I was 12. It blew my tiny mind! I still have so much love for that movie.

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  23. Westworld (1973)

    Michael Crichton hates amusement parks and so do I.

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    1. I also hate amusement parks but I really like movies taking place there, especially when they are as creepy as this one and have a fantastic Yul Brunner stonefacing his way through the film.
      And I think I would have liked the once proposed remake of Westworld starring Arnie.

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  24. Westworld (1973): Well I liked this one! Thought is was cool in the way the film challenged the masculine ideal in films as it had different layers of doing this. Robo Yul is awesome too!

    Android (1982): This had an unsettling tone to it, so despite not thinking it was very good quality in terms of performances, lighting, sets, ect but it had an eerie vibe that kept me interested.

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    1. Yay, fellow Westworld watcher!

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    2. In the space of a couple of days of not knowing Crichton had directed anything to watching Runaway, and then to reading that he has a decent number of movies under his belt. I will have to try and seek out Westworld sounds interesting.

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    3. I watched it on UK Amazon Prime if that helps! I think you saying that Lindsay majes me aware I need to see more.

      High five Nicole for good life decision points!

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    4. If I remember rightly it had the best trailer ever

      "Where nothing can go wrong, go wrong. Go wrong. Go wrong......."

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    5. I took a trip to Westworld last night too. I really dug it.

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  25. Evangelion 1.11: You Are (Not) Alone (Kazuya Tsurumaki, Masayuki & Hideaki Anno, 2007)

    A friend told me I should watch this for Robots Day! because, as it weirdly happens, within the context of the series this movie actually takes place today: June 22nd, 2015. Like Back to the Future 2, so much time has passed since the creation of the show that we are now living in the future it portrayed (though, thankfully, sans giant death machines constantly trying to tunnel into our underground fortress).

    I don't think I've seen enough mech anime to truly get what Evangelion is going for. Everything feels excessive, but I can't put my finger on what that excess is trying to say. I can sense it's there for a reason. Excess teen angst, excess shameless melodrama, excess embarrassing high school situations, excess destruction of property, excess leering panty shots and unintentional groping, excess expository scenes, excess countdowns until something happens (at one point someone starts counting down from thirty and we hear her say every single number). It's all A LOT to take in, but if any of it is intended as a satire of anime audiences or as a commentary on genre tropes that part went over my head. What it left me was a little exhausted and vaguely bored.

    I may keep going, because I've heard great things about End of Evangelion, but I can't say I'm super excited.

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  26. ROBOCOP (1987)
    Unrated director's cut on Blu.

    The added footage is clearly lesser quality but it's still nice to see. As nice as it can be, I guess, seeing as how it's fairly gnarly.

    Still a hellacious flick after all these years.

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  28. It's weird to not be able to follow a movie you saw 8 times by the time you were twelve. Total complete mess. Still kinda fun and a great looking sorta iconic villain.

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    1. Which movie?

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    2. Oh shit. Sorry. Cyborg. #sleepdeprivation

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  29. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005)

    Because depressed Alan Rickman robot is the best. This is one of those movies that I really didn't like when I first saw it, but gave it another chance, and now I like it a little more each time I see it. I'm at the point where if I catch it on TV, I will sit and watch it.

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  30. Automata (2014)

    I feel it goes without saying to say this about a sci fi film, but this feels really influenced by Blade Runner. There are definitely things to like about this film, and plenty of interesting ideas. The practical robot effects are marvelous to behold and I am in awe of the film makers for them. The robots are so brilliantly real I found them quite eerie. Unfortunately, the film doesn't quite know how to put together a compelling story and suffers from dull, weak dialogue and characterization. What the film has to say is quite on the nose, but its such a meaningless, existential message that I can't understand why anyone cared enough to say it. I like Antonio Banderoles but the film never quite got me to care about him. Still, it is always a treat to watch Robert Forrester and I enjoyed Dylan McDermott's weird and over-the-top performance.

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    1. I was really with this movie until it got to the desert.

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  31. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

    Winner of the oddly specific Golden Globe for "Best Film Promoting International Understanding," The Day the Earth Stood Still is a great film. Super entertaining, funny, thoughtful, and heartfelt, and I was especially impressed having only ever seen the 2008 version before. I think that this movie could absolutely have a good remake (or sequel about them revisiting after the world is still violent and at war and trying to reason with us again, but this time we have advanced technology and social media and stuff. It would have more of an impact if they shut off the electricity and everyone's phones shut off and other stuff. Just an idea...) as long as it's not directed by Scott Derrickson and starring Keanu Reeves.

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  32. Westworld (1973) (first time viewing)

    Another cautionary PSA about why we shouldn't trust ro-buts. I was always curious about this one as a kid every time I passed it in the video rental aisles. Not sure why I never actually rented it. I'm glad I finally got to it. I really liked this one. Yul Brynner as a robot was great. It was fun watching Brolin and Benjamin get into the whole western scene. The look of utter shock and confusion on Brolin's face when it all goes south. Check this one out.

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  33. Robot Jox (1989, dir. Stuart Gordon)

    I'm so happy this is out on Blu-ray. It's a movie I like way more now than I did when I saw it during it's very brief theatrical fun back in 1989. I still think Gary Graham is a completely unlikable hero, but I love how colorful and goofy Stuart Gordon makes everything. The movie makes me very happy.

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  34. Exterminator City (2005, dir. Clive Cohen)

    What? A robot skull with a church(?) glued to its forehead becomes a serial killer. He used to be an exterminator, so every time he sees a bug, he throws a knife at it. He goes on a killing spree while being hunted by two wise-cracking robot detectives. He kills a ton of porn stars, a cat, a dog, a tiger, at least two demons, and a talking mounted boar's head. The robots are all puppets and never in the same shots as the people. I really think this whole movie may have been made by one guy. NSFW trailer.

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  35. I. Robot 2004

    I like what I. robot does in trying to be a murder mystery. Though it doesn't quite work the idea is cool. What does not work is the action. Most of the action sequences are pretty boring. Will Smith is the only saving grace for the action scenes. The simplistic design of the robots is cool also. It makes you feel as though you can buy them right of the shelf like a doll. On the flip side being as though the movie is pretty CG heavy it takes away from the metallic feel of the robots. Also there is a small Shia Labeouf problem in this movie. I only recommend this movie to Will Smith fans.

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  36. The Iron Giant (1999)

    Wow...not really an exploitation film but I am so so glad I finally took the opportunity to watch it. Beautifully drawn and designed with the kind of animation we're not likely to see again in the Disney Pixar age.
    From the moment the story begins, set in 1957 against the backdrop of the space race, nuclear arms competition and cold war fear, this is more than merely a kids film. It is a genuinely poignant and effecting story about friendship and humanity that doesn't resort to grandstanding or big musical numbers to get its point across, focusing instead on story and the beautiful beautiful animation. Vin Diesel has never been more appropriately cast than as the monosyllabic voice of the Iron Giant and he'll probably never be involved in a better movie. Loved it.

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