“The Iron Giant: Signature Edition” on IMDB
Sci-Fi/Thriller, 108 Minutes, 2015
In 1999, untried director Brad Bird [IMDB] convinced Warner Bros. to give him $70 million to create a period sci-fi animated feature based on Ted Hughes 1968 novel The Iron Man. Due to some bizarre circumstances he was given significant control over the production and was able to follow his vision. He made the movie that he wanted to make. It was amazing.
Not all explorations of A.I. need to be long, bladder-testing epics (I’m looking at you, misters Spielberg and Kubrick). Sometimes all you need is a few minutes. The following five shorts are all less than 10 minutes long, yet each deftly explores major themes of artificial intelligence and would give any feature film a run for its money.
“Automata” on IMDB
Sci-Fi/Thriller, 109 Minutes, 2014
Despite it seemingly being tailor-fit to my taste, this completely failed to register on my radar when it was released. It was only when I started researching movies to include in this Month of A.I. that I discovered it.
A.I. has provided filmmakers with a wonderful tool to explore the human condition. We can guiltlessly examine the absolute best and worst aspects of ourselves in a safe and approachable way. The reflective interaction between man and machine has produced some of the most iconic moments ever set to film.
Then there are other times. Times where A.I. is introduced and your only reasonable reaction has to be “What the fuck?” Here are two of those times.
“Terminator: Genisys” on IMDB
Science-Fiction/Action, 126 Minutes, 2015
Getting 1984’s The Terminator [IMDB] made was a struggle for sophomore writer/director James Cameron [IMDB]. It was finally completed on a modest budget after collecting a small herd of backers. It was a massively unexpected success. Cameron followed it in 1991 with Terminator 2: Judgement Day [IMDB]. Enjoying a budget over 15 times higher than its predecessor this was a lavish, complex production that pushed the limits of filmmaking.
The 80’s was a great time for A.I. in film. We had reached a point, technologically, where the idea of smart machines seemed more inevitable than fantastical. Crucially, filmmakers could also assume their audiences were computer literate enough to understand more advanced concepts. Just as importantly, they knew that the audience wasn’t too savvy. A flurry of technobabble could make ridiculous claims sound reasonable and in the 80’s we got a lot of technobabble.
“Heartbeeps” on IMDB
Comedy/Sci-Fi, 78 Minutes, 1981
I continue my month of A.I. with one of the absolute strangest movies in the genre. This movie is bizarre on a multiplicity of levels. It was Audy Kaufman’s [IMDB] first (and only) leading role in a film. Its budget was nearly double that of its contemporary, Escape From New York [IMDB]. Stan Winston [IMDB] did the effects! John Williams [IMDB] did the score! This was going to be a huge film!
“Chappie” on IMDB
Action/Sci-Fi, 120 Minutes, 2015
I start off my month of A.I. with one of the movies I was most looking forward to. Neill Blomkamp [IMDB] , despite having a name that sounds like an expensive sex act, has brought us some of the best, most thought provoking science fiction of the past decade. That said, he’s not the most subtle, or even the most original, writer. District 9 [IMDB] was an incisive, if blunt, commentary on the inherent disaster of institutionalized inequality. Elysium’s [IMDB] Haves-versus-Have-Nots theme was even less elegant, but effectively timeless regardless.
Like many others we recently enjoyed the painful, bleeding hell that is the first day of school. We watched two grumpy teenagers
shamble off to another year of learning. This year my son is starting Advanced Placement Computer Programming, just like I did in high school.
“POV” on IMDB
Horror, 84 Minutes, 2015, Official Web Site
[This review was completed at the request of the filmmaker. No other consideration was given.]
This is a no-budget experimental horror film from writer/director Richard Anthony Dunford [IMDB]. The story is told in real-time and wholly from the visual point of view of the main character. (more…)