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Entries in Logan's Run (3)


4 Movies That Introduced Artificial Intelligence (As An Afterthought)

Michael C here to celebrate some of cinema's lesser known machine life.

Artificial Intelligence is such a rich idea, if it is introduced into a film more often than not it is going to be the centerpiece of the story, as is the case with titles ranging from 2001 to Blade Runner to Her. Even when it is not the main attraction, like with the droids from Star Wars or the synthetics of the Alien movies, those films still have to take the care to craft a world in which these robots make sense.

That said, there are those rare films that introduce A.I. into the storyline seemingly at random. “Oh yeah, forgot to mention. There are sentient machines in this world.” To introduce such a big concept in such an offhand manner is always jarring, and can often be unintentionally hilarious. 

Jor-El Hologram in Man of Steel (2013)
By the time the Superman finds the last recording of his deceased father late in Man of Steel, the audience is primed for some variation on the scene from the original Superman where hologram Brando boots up to impart some prerecorded wisdom to his son. Instead we essentially get Russell Crowe’s Jor-El brought back from the dead. He can respond to new information and run around the ship opening doors for Lois Lane. Hologram Jor-el even has an emotional confrontation with Zod about things that happened after Zod murdered him. The idea that this is even possible is frankly way more interesting than the giant space jackhammer the audience is supposed to care about at that point during the climax.

Sico in Rocky IV (1985)
So the fourth film in the Rocky franchise is plugging away, hitting all the typical, roided out, 80’s sports movie beats, when out of the blue Rocky gives Uncle Paulie SICO, a fully intelligent robot butler, as a Christmas gift. Paulie and the bot proceed to develop a wacky odd couple relationship, at least until things go next level bonkers and Paulie reprograms the robot to be female (which for some reason dumb old Paulie is capable of doing). The Rocky films weren’t exactly bastions of realism by the fourth entry but it is difficult to put into words just how bizarre it is to have this A.I. subplot dropped into the middle of a boxing movie. It is the equivalent of the next Fast and the Furious sequel having an appearance by The Great Gazoo who floats next Ludacris during chase scenes dispensing wise cracks.

Alsatia Zevo in Toys (1992)
Unlike the total randomness of Rocky IV’s subplot, everything in Barry Levinson’s Toys should prepare the audience for the appearance of a humanoid robot. After all, Toys is little more than two hours of elaborate gizmos. Yet it is still so very weird when it’s revealed that (20 year old spoiler warning) Joan Cusack’s character was a robot the whole time, built by Robin Williams’ toy maker father as companion for his oddball son. Like the rest of Toys, the twist is designed to be sweet and charming but lands squarely on unsettling. It’s a combination of the way the twist doesn’t add up and the movie’s bizarre foreshadowing that Alsatia is not quite human (She enjoys mayonnaise sandwiches…just like a robot would?)

Box in Logan’s Run (1976)
Around the 2/3 mark of the dystopian thriller Logan’s Run, Michael York and Jenny Agutter are trying to escape through an ice tunnel to the mythical “sanctuary” when they encounter Box, a giant tin foil robot who speaks with the warm tones of Babe narrator Roscoe Lee Brown and who looks like he was designed for the original Star Trek show after it had blown the whole budget on tribbles. At first it seems like Box is going to be like all the other soulless computer programs in the movie, but he is different, describing himself as “More than machine or man. More than a fusion of the two.” Not only is Box a conscious being but it quickly becomes clear that he has been down in that ice cave alone waaaay too long and has lost his little robot mind. For five minutes our heroes listen to Box ramble like a street corner prophet, making grandiose nonsense declarations (“The deep grottos whisper my name. Box…BOX…BOOOOOX!”) going on and on about plankton, and finally attempt to murder them while cackling like a loon. Nothing in Logan’s Run is explained with too much depth but the Box interlude is especially nutty - nothing about it makes a lick of sense or even attempts to - but damned if it isn’t one of the most memorable scenes in the film, random or not.


Do you have any other "favorite" examples?


In the Link Room

A very quick roundup to begin a Netflixy day (Daredevil anyone). Speaking of... Hi, Sissy!

Sissy Spacek photographed by Christian McDonald

Interview Todd Field (In the Bedroom) interviews Sissy Spacek on Bloodline etc...
NPR talks to Brad Bird on Tomorrowland. And yes, he is finally working on Incredibles 2 (very early writing stages) for which we will eschew our normal eye rolls at animated sequel news and instead cheer wildly.
Tracking Board Logans Run remake still a slight possibility. This time with female lead?
i09 posits that Practical Magic w/ Bullock & Kidman as witch sisters is a perfect movie 
Antagony & Ecstasy film criticism for a good cause: Tim takes on the daunting task of reviewing Vertigo aka "the greatest movie ever made" as part of his cancer charity drive -- he's raised over $2000 already!
Vanity Fair on Ryan Gosling as a director
Pajiba says "eff it... reboot everything" including Cybill. Hee!
Pajiba should you grow a Mad Men moustache? A handy guide 

Today's Watch ICYMI
It gives a whole new meaning to "instant watch"




My New Plaid Pants "13 Whores of Halloween" a fun countdown of film characters: "Jules" from Cabin in the Woods, "Lucy" from Bram Stoker's Dracula and 11 more!
Star Ledger movies as political propaganda: Won't Back Down, 2016: Obama's America, and more
Pajiba a shirtless link roundup. Why haven't I thought of this? On a content related note: I hadn't heard that Ryan Gosling has left Nicolas Winding Refn's Logan's Run remake. Sad face. But I guess Ryan Gosling, who is 31 going on 32, would already be dead by Logan's Run standards! 
Hollywood Elsewhere on John Goodman's Oscar campaign problem for Flight.


After Elton cute and thorough interview with the star of Gayby out actor Matthew Wilkas
The Incredible Suit meets James Bond Daniel Craig in posh hotel as Skyfall takes London by storm 
Fashion It So funny newish tumblr on the costumes in Star Trek: The New Generation. Love how randomly specific the interwebs can be
In Contention looks at all the contenders in the Best Animated Feature race 
/Film gets excited by one random comment from the difficult brilliant genius Paul Thomas Anderson about Chris Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy  
Movie|Line wonders if Idris Elba will win the James Bond role in the future. But why are we talking about this? I want Daniel Craig to keep on running, shooting, fighting, travelling, stripping, and bedding those Bond girls. Don't you?
Cinema Blend any rate, Daniel Craig's possibly final two Bond pictures MIGHT have linked stories, a la Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace