My friend txt critic sent me this note yesterday:
Any interest in coming with me to tues midnight Transformers 2 on IMAX? Only drawbacks:After I recovered from the LOL'ing following #3, I said no. No way am I giving $20 to Michael Bay. I assume Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen will beat Up to steal that #2 box office hit of the year position and I weep for the (safely assumed) qualitative drop in that switcheroo. I don't understand the Transformers phenom. A lot of movies are good at blowing shit up and some of them actually have narrative and visual coherency to go with the pretty fireballs and lovely dust clouds. Why not line up for those? And as I bitched when the first Transformers picture rolled around, the only reason I ever enjoyed the robots in disguise was watching them transform out of their disguises. If I want liquid metal, I'm totally just watching Terminator 2: Judgment Day. When anything can become anything with high speed morphing, the joy is lost. There's no reveal to stun you with the hot joy of brilliantly designed internal architecture... "That came from that. OHMYGOD it did!"
1. It's $20
2. We'd have to get there early
3. It's Transformers 2
Plus, apart from Megan Fox, I can't tell the robots apart.
10 Favorite Movie Robots
(not always in disguise)
(not always in disguise)
I went with mostly the android'ish since I like people better than things. Strangely, I couldn't think of any cool animal robots from the movie (apart from the reliably creepy mechnical spider device that filmmakers from Michael Crichton to Steven Spielberg are fond of) but I'm sure they exist. The only ones that came to mind were incredibly stupid... like that mechanical owl in Clash of the Titans (1981). I only pray that the remake is sensible enough to ditch the owls. At least any owls that require batteries.
Honorable Mention: The Buffy Bot
I always want to include Buffy the Vampire Slayer in every list. But it's a tv show damnit. Buffy always confuses me because it's better than much cinema. The Buffy Bot was another reminder, as if we needed one, that Sarah Michelle Gellar was shamefully robbed of Emmy nominations for 7 (give or take) years. My god, she could barely get arrested at the Globes. Only one nomination there? and that was right at the start.
10 Herbie the Love Bug
That's a robot, right? Artificial intelligence, moving parts, etcetera. Or is he magical like Frosty the Snowman? Either way he survived Monte Carlo, a failed spinoff tv series, continual underestimation of his gifts, injuries, numerous drivers and Lindsay Lohan. Plus, he's totally cute and wins extra points for nostalgia since they (literally) don't make them like they used to. Volkswagen Beetle RIP (1938-2003)
If you had asked me as a kid "what is your favorite sound?" I probably would have started beeping like R2-D2 but after the childhood apocalypse that was Star Wars: Episode I, all things Star Wars have since been downgraded. Hence, #09.
08 HAL 9000 & Gertie
HAL (voiced by Douglas Rain) is of course super smooth and insinuatingly creepy but I wanted to include Gertie (voiced by Kevin Spacey) for memorably riffing on the collective memory of HAL in the new movie Moon, reviewed here in case you have finally had the chance to see it.
07 Gigolo Joe & Pris
Mmmm, pleasure models. It helps that one of them looks like Jude Law and the other has the endless legs and Amazonian kink of primo Daryl Hannah. I still think there's a classic sci-fi film waiting to be made that's ABOUT a pleasure model rather than expecting them to vivify the sidelines like they do in A.I. Artifial Intelligence and Blade Runner. But who would finance erotic sci-fi these days? Eroticism is a no no. Think of all the trouble Robert Rodriguez had trying to remake Barbarella.
06 Ash & Bishop
Because they elevate Alien and Aliens... not that either film particularly needs the elevation being spectacular in dozens of other ways as well. Please note that I didn't include "Call" from Alien Ressurection as I still have no idea how that fell so flat. I mean other than that the role was played by Noni in that phase of her career when she suddenly seemed entirely lost. That said, Alien 4 gets a bad rap but it's hard to argue with Sigourney Weaver's slightly twisted star turn as "Ripley 8". Even after four films she never once phoned it in.
05 The Iron Giant
I really need to watch this animated gem again. I've seen it but once and every time I have thought about since (many many times) I whisper "Superman" in my brain and, voila, instant lump in throat.
I think I gave him short shift in my Judgment Day retrospective. I love everything about him from his mean, lean and naked entrance to Robert Patrick's otoplasty-free ears to the way he chases the heroes with cheetah speed (yikes) to the way that the only barely expressed "emotions" are negative ones: annoyance, dishonesty, condescencion, anger.
03 Roy Batty
If only some new sci-fi picture would ever be as good as Blade Runner. I guess that only happens once every quarter century or so. Hey, it's been 27 years! Hurry up cinema. [More on Batty]
02 WALL•E & EVE
I know I'm supposed to be moving on to Up... but really. How will Pixar ever top WALL•E ? Too much loveliness, creativity, control and exquisite characterizations for one animated film. Plus, EVE rocks.
01 False Maria
I'm giving Brigitte Helms immortal rendition of The Maschinenmensch the top spot not just because I've seen Metropolis more than any other silent film (it's not my all time favorite silent: get in line behind The Passion of Joan of Arc and Pandora's Box, Fritz) but because you can still feel Maria reverberating in pop culture. Or at least I can. But maybe that's because I ♥ Madonna too much? Plus Maria's dance sequence is all kinds of "!!!" including the most gloriously overstated reaction shots of lust the cinema ever came up with: lip licking, eyebrow acrobatics, arm grabbing... it's all win.
Which robot things excite you or are you strictly flesh and blood oriented?