Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Junesploitation 2019 Day 25: Robots!

It's machine vs. man in the ultimate battle for the future!

33 comments:

  1. 'WHY CAN'T YOU JUST F***ING END?!?!' ROBOTIC YIN-YANG!

    ROBOT CARNIVAL (1987, 90 min.) on Amazon Prime
    for the first time.

    A mainstay of Saturday mornings on Sci-Fi Channel in the early 1990's, this nine-story anthology aspires to be the "Fantasia" of Japanese anime mecha. The same reason "Robot Carnival" falls short of its lofty goal is also its biggest strength: each segment (including the opening/closing linking segments that look an awful lot like last year's "Mortal Engines" movie) is vastly different from the others, resulting in a very uneven viewing experience. There is a reason I haven't rewatched "Robot Carnival" in 25 years. Then, like just a few hours ago, I struggled to stay awake and keep my interest after "Cloud" (the one that looks like sketches of a tiny robot walking through the clouds) tests the very limits of my cinephile patience. All but two of the segments are silent movies, giving this anthology an arthouse vibe that's a jarring juxtaposition with the exploding cities and mech suits moving kinetically around the screen.

    For what it's worth, "Star Light Angel" (look for cameos by "Akira" characters in the amusement park crowds) and "Presence" are my favorite segments. I hate "Cloud" with a burning passion, and the remaining six I can take or leave. Before the home video boom anime properties on cable TV were slim to none, which made "Robot Carnival" and a few other titles ("Dominion Tank Police," "Galaxy Express 999," "8 Man After," "Project A-Ko," etc.) early anime influencers. Time has not been kind to "Robot Carnival," though. Seeing it again reminded me how much I wanted this 90 min. feature to end by the hour mark... then and now.


    Steven Spielberg's A.I. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (2001, 146 min.) on Netflix Instant.

    As a fan of Stanley Kubrick's work I can understand Spielberg's desire to complete the decades-long project (an ambitious adaptation of Brian Aldiss' short story) that his idol passed on to him. And for certain portions of "A.I." (the first 40 minutes of calm-beneath-troubled-surface domesticity, Gigolo Joe seducing a shy client in a hotel room, etc.) the clear influence of Kubrick's ideas of cold clash between logic and human foil are carrying the narrative past a few sketchy spots (the whole stupid Flesh Fair bit). You can even sense the mild Spielberg cinematic sensitivity toughening up, shaping up the backbone of "Minority Report" and "War of the Worlds '05" before your very eyes.

    Unfortunately Stanley Kubrick passed away four years prior (the jerk! :'( ), so everything we're looking at it's filtered through Steven's sensibilities. Even when he attempts to emulate the master's coldness (classic and old-school music to underline an isolated emotion, color-drained palette, juxtaposition between innocent boy toy and pleasure-giving sex bot, etc.), Spielberg can't help but call Robin Williams to be the voice of 3D Dr. Know (WTF?!) or use "Battlestar Galactica"-inspired Dayglow Cylons as robot hunting muscle. And as much as Haley Joel Osment carries "A.I." on his then-tiny shoulders, even he can't make me overlook that THIS MOVIE NEVER ENDS! More than even "LOTR: Return of the King," there are 40 minutes left before the first of many endings just keep happening over and over again. I should feel my heart being tugged at the end, but not even Teddy's clumsy CG walk can make me warm-up to the last act slavishly giving David a happy ending the character doesn't earn as much as it falls on his lap. And can someone explain to me why eating spinach turns David into mush but going underwater doesn't short-circuit him completely? Worth seeing for ILM's CG work and Stan Winston's effects standing the test of time better than the movie itself, IMO.

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  2. All y'all better be watching Robot Jox!

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  3. WALLACE AND GROMIT: THE WRONG TROUSERS (1993) – Thirty minutes of stop-motion animation brilliance. Facing some financial difficulties, Wallace is compelled to take a lodger. A mysterious penguin answers the ad and finds an interesting use for the robotic dog walker Wallace has just bought for Gromit’s birthday. The expressiveness of the Gromit character always amazes me.

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  4. Shocking Dark (1989)

    Part Aliens, part Terminator, all entertaining. I had a blast watching this. The creatures look awesome, sort of Cthulhu-esque in some ways. I guess the creatures are some kind of living robots or some such bio-digital jazz.
    A solid little ripoff flick.
    There is some truly great dialog on display here.
    Who the he'll would be "surprised" that an Italian would be on a team going into Venice!?
    "Sarah!!"
    "Eeeeeeeeee!"
    "Sarah!!"
    "Eeeeeeeeee!"
    "Sarah!!"
    "Eeeeeeeeee!"
    "Sarah!!"
    "Eeeeeeeeee!"

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  5. "Turbo Kid" 2015, Dirs. Fran├žois Simard, Anouk Whissell, Yoann-Karl Whissel.

    The only Apple device you'll ever need.

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    Replies
    1. I'm typing my response on a Samsung ;)


      Eyes Nose Genitals

      I have Patrick to thank for introducing me to this beautiful film

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    2. Eyes throat genitals

      Damn.

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    3. I also have PB to thank for introducing me to this absolute joy of a movie - love it so much.

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    4. Turbo Kid is wonderful, plus it's one of my favorite soundtracks ever. And yes, I too know the movie only because P-Bromz championed it so much.

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  6. Assassin (1986, dir. Sandor Stern)

    A CIA-built robot designed for infiltration and assassination gows AWOL, and two ex-agents are sent after it.

    As you'd expect from an 80's tv movie, the high-concept logline is pretty far from the finished product. The robot is just a guy, minimizing the need for any kind of robot effects, the cast isn't exactly packed with a-listers (it stars Robert Conrad, Karen Austin and the guy who gave Indy his fedora in Last Crusade), and the plot's a lot of dialogue and very little action.

    Fun fact: Assassin was released on video in West Germany with the title Special Terminator CIA.

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  7. Eliminators (1986)

    A fine mix of robots, jungle adventure, prehistoric cavemen, kung fu masters, river boat chases, and everything else a growing boy needs. I'm really shocked that this one doesn't get mentioned more just because of how fun it is.

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  8. The Robot vs. The Aztec Mummy (1958)

    Even for the time, this movie is boring and silly. The "robot" looks like shit and so does the Mummy. At least it's short.

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  9. Who? (1974)

    While it was not quite what I expected, this was a really solid movie. Joseph Bova is an American scientist very badly injured in a car accident in East Germany who is rebuilt as a robot (he does get to keep an arm, and that’s something I suppose). I guess technically he’s a cyborg, but that’s just splitting metallic hairs. Elliott Gould is an FBI agent tasked with discerning just how much of the robot is man and how much is machine.

    It’s a bit slow and the design of the robot never looks like anything more than a dude covered in silver spray-paint and scattered machine parts but the material is engaging and seems genuinely concerned with figuring out what it is that makes us truly human. It’s all very straight-faced and Gould is, as always, a strong lead. It’s difficult to take it as seriously as the cast does, but the questions raised are interesting enough to keep your attention all the way through.

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  10. Stealth (2005)

    Sometimes only the stupidest movie will do. I don't think it's just Biel. Im getting strong anti-vaxx vibes from almost the entire cast and crew.

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  11. Robocop: Crash and Burn (2001)

    Part of the Prime Directives series.
    Much better than I expected it to be. It's damn sure better than Robocop 3. Definitely feels like TV, though Robocop does look great.

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  12. I Love Maria (Roboforce) (1988) Dir. David Chung

    Batshit, insanely fun/goofy and violent Hong Kong film! The special effects are great, there's a ton of action and a good amount of gore. If the description seems vague, it's because I watched it in Chinese so I can barely tell you what the plot and story line is. What I can tell you is that within the first 2 minutes a robot robs
    a bank, kills some people and a dude gets shot in the head. The last 20 minutes is crazy.

    You can get the DVD for a cool $200 on Amazon though I don't think it's subbed either. My second favorite watch of this month! Who knew?!

    If anyone knows this film or where to get an English subtitled version, I'd love to know. Maybe I didn't look hard enough.

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  13. Deadly Friend (1986)

    This movie is just okay, until the third act when it becomes completely bonkers! I love the dream sequences. And the basketball scene alone is worth watching this. Not to mention the sheer What-the-fuckery of the ending. It's not too tier Craven, but it deserves a watch.

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  14. KAMEN RIDER X SUPER SENTAI X SPACE SHERIFF SUPER HERO TAISEN Z (2013)
    A whole bunch of characters from various Japanese kids’ sci-fi TV shows team up for their version of the Avengers/Thanos thing. I think I’ve got them all straight: The insect guys are Kamen Riders, all the Power Rangers are really Super Sentai, and the Iron-Man-meets-Tron guys are Space Sheriffs. Then there’s this other fish-looking guy who fights with dual fire sticks. I have no idea what franchise he’s from, but I liked him. Okay, I’m not the target audience, but this movie had tons of crazy action and a short but eye-popping giant robot fight at the end, so it’s all good.

    Bonus #Godzillasploitation: GODZILLA, MOTHRA AND KING GHIDORAH: ALL-OUT MONSTERS ATTACK (2001)
    I guess somebody at Toho went back and watched the first movie, because this one digs deep in World War II talk and the monsters/nukes metaphor. The slightly more serious tone works, and once again they come up with a lot of great bits for the big fight at the end. Old-school fans probably dislike CGI King Ghidorah, but I liked seeing him show a little more personality.

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  15. Deadly Friend (1986)

    Like Dan, I agree the movie is okay. But for an okay movie there is weridly a lot to unpack, but this is a Wes Craven movie, and a even a lower tier and a movie that was taken away, it's still really interesting in what he was trying to do. It's an odd beast, and nothing show cases this more than the closing credits, Bebebeeeee.

    I did really like the stuff with the kids hanging out. Though what was with the weird 80s rule of who ever passed your new house first was now your best friend?

    Though watching it, especially the first 30 minutes, I couldn't help think of Book of Henry, with the super smart kid trying to save the girl next door (and still Craven did it better), and a Buffy epiode 'You Were Made for Me', where some dude builds a robot girlfriend. I don't know if this means I'm a little dead inside with no orginality and cannot contextualise movies without other pop culture, or Deadly Friend had some serious cultural impact.

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  16. Child's Play (2019)

    Just got back from this and I think the audience I watched it with might deserve more credit for how much fun I had than the movie itself, though it was thoroughly OKAY. Had zero problems with the changes to the premise - I liked Mark Hamill's approach and could even find something to like about the initially jarring look of Chucky, but there was just something missing that kept it from hitting the next-level - maybe the lack of a kick-ass 80s Mom?

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  17. Godzilla Against MechaGodzilla (2002)

    Really enjoyable. Especially keeping in mind my bitter feelings against the American Godzilla movies. This movie actually focuses on Godzilla battling his robot nemesis, while keeping the useless human character interactions to a perfunctory minimum. Highly recommended.

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  19. Short Circuit (1986)

    Alright, check this out. There's this robot. I'm listening. He gets electrocuted then boom...he's alive. And he's hilarious. We'll do it under two conditions. First, you must reunite Steve Guttenberg and G.W. Bailey. Absolutely. Second, I want Fisher Stevens to play an Indian scientist from Pittsburgh. Perfect.

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  20. Chappie (2015)

    I feel bad for Chappie, the movie and the robot. It's not perfect. Are you perfect? What am I saying? Of course you are. Look at you! Anyway, Chappie is great, from a certain point of view. Alex Guiness said that. Old Ben wouldn't lie to us. I might be a robot. How can you tell? What if we are just really advanced? Dude.

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  21. The Vindicator (1986)

    Oh my God. Who are you? The Vindicator! Who are vindicating? Myself! What did you do? Well, technically, I didn't do anything wrong so I don't need to be vindicated. I didn't really think the name through. Look, I've already made Tshirts and mugs and stuff so I'm just going to keep it.

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  22. Bumblebee (2018)

    I have a firm belief that Hailee Steinfeld is good at everything. I call her the millenial Chuck Norris. Her and the 80s nostalgia has left me unable to think rationally about the sixth Transformers movie. I thought it was better than the other five. I don't recall any throats being ripped out or a robot getting slowly bisected in the other films. There might be but I can't be forced to remember.

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  23. Short Circuit 2 (1988)

    Look, we can't get Sheedy or Guttenberg. But we still got Stevens! How do we get him to Ben? We ship him in a box. What? Yeah, it'll be great. He's there to, ya know, help quicken the production of small replicas of himself. Hey, I didn't write it. I found this script in the garbage. Don't worry! Johnny 5 will win them over with his charisma. I believe they achieved that goal. I still am, and shall remain, charmed by this robot and this silly movie. I don't seem to care that it makes no sense.

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  24. WEST WORLD (1973):

    Early '70s sci-fi! It's slow! It's stodgy! It's boring!

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  25. Robot Holocaust (1986, dir. Tim Kinkaid)

    You guys know I love some real garbage, but this has to be one of the worst movies I've ever seen.

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