Friday, September 10, 2010

To Live Like The Hu-Man -- Part 1

I went back and forth as to which movie would get today's Liveblog treatment. I had narrowed it down to Dragonfly and The Love Guru before deciding on the former. It was when I went to look for Dragonfly on Netflix that I found another gem on their Instant List. It's a movie based on an award winning Isaac Asimov story. If you ever saw the godawful I, Robot or any adaptation of Nightfall, you know that Asimov stories, which don't really lend themselves to film, are always made by people who seem to have utter contempt for the source material. The short story was a wonderful and sensitive portrait of a robot that spent its existence trying to know what it was to be human. This means the movie will probably have that same robot trying to destroy all life on Earth. With that in mind, let's all watch me watch Bicentennial Man.

0:01:20 -- Opening credits look like an acid trip set to Danny Elfman music (turns out it wasn't Elfman, just someone who apparently thinks Elfman is awesome enough to imitate). When I saw the words "A Chris Columbus Film" it became a bad acid trip. It's just awesome that one of the most mediocre and overrated directors in the history of cinema is going to try his hand at Asimov. Yes, the first two Harry Potter films were all right but that was because J.K. Rowling had control and made him do it her way. Here, he has free reign. Also, Robin Williams is playing the robot Andrew Martin. This means the robot will split his time between being overly sentimental and suddenly demanding that people unzip his pants and shake hands with Mr. Tallywhacker. Oh well, only 130 minutes to go.

0:10:00 -- The movie's length is keeping me from commenting on every little thing so here's what I've been building up to during the first ten minutes: JESUS H. FUCKING CHRIST ON AN H. FUCKING POPSICLE STICK! Sam Neill heads up the Martin family in a time that the movie describes as "The not too distant future." This 1999 movie's future vision foresaw highly advanced robots but not electric cars or cell phones. Still, that happens. What I don't think would happen is that human-like robots would be complete morons when they arrived at your home. If you didn't recognize the voice, you'd know the robot, Andrew, was played by Robin Williams because he tells a series of lame jokes like Robin Williams does in most of his movies including a scene where he's being taught by Richard Martin (Sam Neill), the family patriarch, on how and when to say good night. Basically, Andrew knows everything he needs to know until the writers decide it's convenient if he doesn't know it. In the book, Andrew had to learn to socialize with humans but he wasn't a dumbass who didn't know what it meant when you said, "Good night."

0:30:00 -- You know how you can tell when the movie's director is an egotistical jackhole? When he or she changes little details for no other reason than to put their own brand on a project and call it completely their own. This is why Asimov's U.S. Robots and Mechanical Men is now NorthAm Robots and why Andrew's ID number, NRD-113, has been changed by Chris Columbus to NRD-114. They've retained his relationship with the child whom Andrew called Little Miss, a relationship that remained special to Andrew throughout his 200 year existence. Anyway, at this moment, Richard Martin has come to appreciate Andrew as special after he carves a figurine to replace one he broke. This eventually leads to him treating Andrew more like a person, an action that led him to try explaining human reproduction. This scene...did not go well. I'm pretty sure it was meant to be funny. It wasn't

0:40:00 -- Many years have passed. Little Miss is now a young woman and Andrew has become so skilled at artistic endeavors that he makes a small living off them so he and Richard go to the family lawyer to open his own bank account. I know I'm supposed to be on the side of the progressively human Andrew but this sounds a lot like that point in those movies where animals play sports and someone ends up saying, "There's no rule that says a zebra can't play football."

0:45:00 -- Little Miss has just told Andrew that her boyfriend has proposed but that she'd rather be with her unnamed friend who is obviously Andrew. I'm sure real people will want to fuck their robots someday. Part of me looks forward to this as it will keep pervs busy and make for some awesome Jerry Springer episodes. Also, Little Miss is being played by Embeth Davidtz who was about 35 at the time even though she's playing a college age girl. The result of this is that she looks like she's been held back at school for about 15 years and she also looks significantly older than her older sister. And no, this shit where Little Miss has a robot fetish did not happen in the book.

1:00:00 -- Twelve years have past. Andrew tells Richard he wants to be free. Richard is a dick about this for about two minutes before giving him his freedom and then he's a dick by kicking Andrew out. Andrew then built a house of his own on the beach. This made me think, "Who the hell sold a robot some prime beachfront property?" Either the owner sold it or that owner is going to as pissed as you would be if you were looking around your property and noticed that some asshole had built a house there. Also, something missing from Andrew's along with colloquial English is the concept of high tide. I swear that house is maybe 20 feet from the water. I just hope Andrew doesn't rust.

And it's best to stop here. This is getting long and I'm only halfway through this big old slice of lame. Come back next week as I finish watching Bicentennial Man. I, for one, am curious to see if Isaac Asimov rises from his grave to erase this movie from the world.

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