November 16, 2008

Westworld (Not cyberpunk, but a proto-cyberpunk influence)

Movie Review By: Mr. Roboto

Year: 1973

Directed by: Michael Crichton

Written by: Michael Crichton

IMDB Reference

Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Low

Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Low

Key Cast Members:

  • Peter Martin: Richard Benjamin
  • John Blane: James Brolin
  • The Gunslinger: Yul Brynner
  • Rating: 2 out of 10

    Westworld Opening

    Feeling burned out from net surfing? Has the grind of cyberpunk turned you cortex to pudding? BOY HAVE WE GOT A VACATION FOR YOU! Come on down to Delos Amusement Park and play with our robots that have been programmed with your safety and enjoyment in mind. NOTHING CAN PUSSIB… POBABAB… POSSIBLY GO WORNG!

    With Michael Crichton’s death earlier this month (04-Nov-2008), I’d thought I’d review one of his most classic movies because of its influence on cyberpunk. Though mostly known for his books-turned-movies like Jurassic Park and The Andromeda Strain and the television series ER, he has also written and directed several movies including Looker and Runaway.

    Westworld primarily focuses on the theme of technology run amok, and very little… if anything… on the rest. Crichton’s theme-park-gone-fubar plot would be repeated in Jurassic Park, while the idea of robots gone berserk would appear a decade later in a low-budget piece featuring a then unknown Austrian muscle man, and in some other cyberpunk flicks since.

    Murphy’s law in action. Delos Amusement Park is a near-futuristic adult playground divided into three areas corresponding to different time periods in world history; RomanWorld, MedievalWorld, and the titular WestWorld (briefly refered to as WesternWorld during an orientation video.

    John Blaine (Brolin) is returning to WestWorld and brings his friend, Peter Martin, along to experience the six-shooting action where a Yul Brynner robot gunslinger is the main attraction. Things go smoothly… for a while. In the underground control centers, the park technicians notice that robot “malfunctions” are becoming more severe, until a guest is killed in MedievalWorld. Then they realize that even in a place where nothing can possibly go wrong, everything can go wrong.

    The Three Laws revisited. While cyberpunk themes are lacking, there is a definite play on Asimov’s Three Laws at work. The First Law (protect humans) is obvious with The Gunslinger, who must always lose the duels he starts. The guns also enforce The First Law with sensors that disable firing when it senses it is pointed at a human.

    The Second Law (obey humans) is seen in WestWorld’s whorehouses and MedievalWorld’s slave girls, who are programmed to comply with sexual advances of the guests. When a MedievalWorld slave girl rejects such a request, the technicians begin to suspect that things are about to take a turn for the worst.

    The Third Law (protect self) is a bit harder to detect. The robots are programmed to put up a fight and will defend themselves… to a certain degree, but will always allow themselves to be beaten by the guests (again, The Gunslinger).

    Gunslinger Upgrades

    The Gunslinger gets a facelift… and some new optics.

    OK, so why not cyberpunk? Other than being released before Bruce Bethke invented the word, what other factors keep Westworld from being a true cyberpunk movie? For one thing, we don’t see much of the world outside the park other than the opening minutes in the hovercraft lounge, so we don’t know what state the world is in. Then again, if average-looking schmoes (for the 70’s anyway) like Blaine and Martin can afford a grand a day to play with robots, the world can’t be in that bad of shape.

    Perhaps the biggest reason why the “not cyberpunk” tag is the biggest weakness in the movie: The question of “Why did the robots go screw-loose?” is never answered. Bad software? Hardware flaw? “Outside” influences? If the question had been answered in this movie, it could have been a true cyberpunk movie… at least, its star rating would have been higher.

    The Gunslinger pursues Martin

    A moment in cinematic history: This chase scene is the first use of computer generated images (CGI) in a movie. Primitive by today’s standards, but groundbreaking for 1973.

    Conclusion. Ever since its release in theaters, Westworld has been a major influence… if not in cyberpunk then certainly in media in general. Influential enough for a sequel (Futureworld), a series, (Beyond Westworld), and now a remake currently in production.

    Just because it’s not cyberpunk, don’t let that stop you from adding this sweet slab of 70’s sci-fi to your collection. It fits with Crichton’s cyberpunk works.

    This post has been filed under 2 Star Movies, Proto-Cyberpunk Media, Android Movies, Cyberpunk movies from before 1980, It's Not Cyberpunk! Mkay?, Movie by Mr. Roboto.

    June 18, 2007

    Exterminator City

    Movie Review By: SFAM

    Year: 2005

    Directed by: Clive Cohen

    Written by: Clive Cohen

    IMDB Reference

    Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Low

    Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Low

    Rating: 2 out of 10


    Exterminator City Screencap


    Overview: So you’re really into big breasted chicks getting gored by robots, ey? If this is the variety of fetish porn you’ve been hankerin for, then Exterminator City is probably an automatic buy decision. One word of caution - you aren’t really getting robots, you’re getting a cheaper version of the old Muppet’s skit, Pigs in Space-style robot puppets. Basically you get shiny plastic robot heads (are these supposed to be metal?) with movable jaws, mounted on dressed clothing racks. A real person wearing gloves is shemping the hand movements, while the lower jaw goes up and down to mimic talking (robots MUST have working jaws, right - I mean who would believe that robots would have speakers embedded in them!). Outside of this small, select market segment of geeks lusting after robot puppets bloodily whacking big breasted chicks off-camera, Exterminator City will probably get a hearty “WTF” from everyone else.


    Exterminator City Screencap

    In the one intentionally funny moment of the film, Julie Strain dies by being bludgeoned with an Oscar statue (which occurs off-camera of course, as I don’t think any of these girls even knew they were in this flick until after it was released).


    The Story: In the near future (2027), the population is solely comprised of deranged robot puppets and big-breasted chicks who can’t stop rubbing themselves. Worse, these chicks don’t seem to be able to keep clothes on. Robot puppets handle all the work in society, while the bare-breasted chicks hang around their apartments waiting to get randomly gored in some bloody, off-camera moment. While this doesn’t seem like all that successful a society on the face of it, we can only wonder what happened in the previous 20 years that led to this!

    Exterminator City Screencap

    Unfortunately, the poor pesticide robot puppet has nightmares about hell. His response to the rubber demons? He treats them like big breasted chicks and chops them up!


    Enter our star - the deranged robot exterminator puppet. For his day job, he’s supposed to be killing the large rubber cockroaches that keep frequenting the bare-breasted chicks’ apartments, but due to a eeeevil after-market robot parts salesman, now he looks at these chicks as bad girls who need his special services. But this is no ordinary deranged robot exterminator puppet. He’s also a master hacker and top micro-electronics expert - he can create his own robot bugs that break into bare-breasted chick apartments! Better yet, he can instantaneously rip out a wall in the exact size of his human-sized robot puppet body, but can also shrink small enough to sneak through the small air ducts that permeate every big-breasted chick abode.

    Exterminator City Screencap

    Exterminator City Dialogue Moment:
    Police Detective Robot Puppet: “I knew this girl.”
    Mad Psychologist Robot Puppet: “You did?”
    Police Detective Robot Puppet: “I put her away on three counts of drug violations.”
    Mad Psychologist Robot Puppet: “I’d say she’s cured.”

    Meanwhile, a bumbling police detective robot puppet is on the case. He may seem useless but he’s sure he’ll catch the bad guy. What’s his strategy for success? He hangs out with a mad psychologist robot puppet (who used to have the pest control robot puppet as a patient) and discusses each gruesome murder after it takes place. Usually they like to mount the most recent dead, bloody and now skinned big-breasted chick on a poll between them (see above) so they can discuss the specifics of her death.


    Exterminator City Screencap

    This is the “Blade Runner” police HQ. Yes, in fact it does look like a cardboard box with squares cut out, covered with overlapping strips of spray-painted construction paper. But at least the light stays on, and the zippy things, which are supposed to be the police car, wiz by fast enough that you never get a good look at them.


    The Pacing: The pacing in Exterminator City mimics standard porno movie. There is a brief, incoherent beginning scene, followed by a series of action shots that are broken up by brief, incoherent interludes. In this case, robot/bare big-breasted chick slasher porn comprises the action shots. The ending resolution ending scene bookends the front in that its also an incoherent moment that nobody cares about. Between each slasher porn sequence, he interlude shots in Exterminator City always start off with a fast light-car zipping past the cardboard building above followed by an inane puppet dialogue moment. Most often, the dialogue moment involves ridiculous conversations (or sword fights) between the detective robot puppet and the mad psychologist robot puppet, but sometimes we get a “hell” fantasy from the mind of our anti-hero pest control robot puppet. I’m guessing Cohen was trying for a “Space Ghost Coast-to-Coast” type feel for the interludes, but this is just a guess (he failed).


    Exterminator City Screencap

    You can tell this scene is still early in the movie because the chick is hawt, can scream well and eventually takes off her top. Later on we get semi-ugly chicks, chicks that can’t scream or worse, ones that won’t disrobe!


    Where Did the Big Breasted Chick Footage Come From?: While I know nothing about the making of this movie, I’d bet money that director Clive Cohen has never met any of these chicks. Far more likely, I’m guessing that Clive contracted with some cheesy modeling agency that had pre-made clips of all their “actresses” in a horror-scream type setting. In NONE of the 20+ bare-breasted chick killing scenes do we get any sense that they have a clue what’s going on. Basically, each of them are in some kind of current-day house setting (working out, taking a shower, watching TV, etc.). After a few seconds of relaxation, they look toward the camera and start screaming. The scene then cuts to the deranged robot puppet axing, chopping, chainsawing or bludgeoning through fake skin of some kind. Julie Strain is the only one given more than 40 seconds screen time (she gets like 3-4 minutes). What’s truly funny about this approach is how bad these chicks really are - not only in acting, which is expected, but in screaming. Some are truly horrid.


    Exterminator City Screencap

    Robots need keyboards to hack into the police database!


    Exterminator City Dialogue Moment:
    Police Detective Robot Puppet: “He ain’t coming back here no more”
    “What makes you so sure?”
    Police Detective Robot Puppet:”He had a trace on our trace. He knew we were watching him.”
    “So he won’t hack the system again?”
    Police Detective Robot Puppet: “He don’t have to. He downloaded all files on route to the kill.”
    “So no stopping him now?”
    Police Detective Robot Puppet: “You must be sooo proud.”
    “No detective. I am not.”
    Police Detective Robot Puppet: “I’ll get him”
    “How can you know that?”
    Police Detective Robot Puppet: “That’s my job, bitch.”


    Exterminator City Screencap

    And then a random plastic sword fight breaks out between the police detective and the mad psychologist. Why you ask? Um, don’t ask why…Incidentally, in the close-ups of both puppets, they each have those crossed swords behind them (apparently the walls move quickly to keep the crossed swords in the shot). I think this is to help the viewer recognize that they are having a sword fight.


    The Bottom Line: Often when watching a truly horrid flick, you find yourself wondering, “What did this director really want to accomplish?” In this case, its pretty clear - Cohen wanted to make robot slasher porn. Unfortunately he didn’t have a budget, so he settled for robot puppet slasher porn that occurs off-screen. As bad as this “movie” is, I must say that a good number of the big-breasted chicks look really good. And I suppose there’s something to be said for having massive quantities of big breasted chicks to make up for the monstrosity that is this movie. I honestly doubt that anyone besides Cohen actually worked this thing.

    But give Cohen some credit: like any good porn movie he knows to keep the better action shots near the beginning, as most will tire of the movie long before the ending comes. As we get to the last third of the movie, the women are either uglier, really awful screamers or won’t take off their clothes. For this organization philosophy, I’m giving Cohen an extra star in my rating (which brings my review to a grand total of 2 stars!). Unfortunately, this approach also means that near the end, we’re stuck with a higher dose horrid dialogue between the detective and psychologist, along with the occasional rubber hell monster. Bottom line, if you do have a hankerin for big bare-breasted robot puppet slasher porn and need to see this, don’t feel guilty in turning it off just after the halfway point.

    This post has been filed under Horror, 2 Star Movies, B Cyberpunk Cinema, Android Movies, Cyberpunk movies from 2000 - 2009 by SFAM.

    April 8, 2006

    Bronx Executioner

    Movie Review By: SFAM

    Year: 1989

    Directed by: Vanio Amici

    Written by: Vanio Amici & Piero Regnoli

    IMDB Reference

    Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Very Low

    Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Low

    Key Cast Members:

  • James: Gabriele Gori
  • Rating: 2 out of 10



    Overview: Bronx Executioner is yet another example of a movie where they spent more on the completely unrelated cover art than they did the entire production. Truly, looking at that, and in reading the cool description, you’d think this is might be a pretty decent low-budget cyberpunk flick. Here’s the description:


    Android gangs battle humans and Robotic Replicants in the New York City of the near future. The sector sheriff must join forces with a gigantic, yet unpredictable Replicant in order to save the city…


    Now, for what you actually get:

    • Absolutely NO replicant or robot visuals
    • NO dystopic New York. This was clearly filmed in the Italian equivalent of the outskirts of Los Angeles. The terrain is dry, and boring - no dystopic city here folks.
    • a truly horrid Master-student sheriff coming of age story, that in the end is completely pointless
    • Robots that supposedly have no emotion but still enjoy raping humans. I guess their parts work.
    • a low quality body builder who can’t act to save his life who tells us he’s a robot replicant (we have to believe him as NONE of the replicants look like anything but humans)
    • Lots and lots and lots of low quality gun fights between biker looking dudes (but we’re told half of them are robots). Road Warriors this isn’t!


    The Bottom Line: The story pretty much sums this movie up: It’s about a body builder replicant who falls in love with a human (even though he doesn’t have the capability to fall in love) who gets raped by really mean replicants, so the body builder replicant asks the junior cop to help him get even with the meanie replicants. Sound stupid? Bingo! It’s pretty bad. And unfortunately, it’s not so bad that it’s good. The gratuitous breast shots just can’t save this turkey. It’s just bad, K?


    ~See movies similar to this one~

    This post has been filed under 2 Star Movies, B Cyberpunk Cinema, Android Movies, Cyberpunk movies from 1980-1989 by SFAM.

    February 18, 2006

    American Cyborg: Steel Warrior

    Year: 1992

    Directed by: Boaz Davidson

    Written by: Bill Crounse & Boaz Davidson

    IMDB Reference

    Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Low

    Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Very Low

    Key Cast Members:

  • Austin: Joe Lara
  • Mary: Nicole Hansen
  • Cyborg: John Ryan
  • Rating: 2 out of 10

    DVD Cover


    Overview: Based on Metatron’s thread in the Meatspace, I decided to review this. Some movies are so bad they’re actually good in a funny kind of way. Others are just truly bad with absolutely no redeeming qualities whatsoever, and are painful to get through. American Cyborg: Steel Warrior is one of those kinds of movies. This film is the epitome of horrid, cheap derivative. There isn’t an original idea anywhere in sight, nor is there even a whiff of good craftsmanship, decent acting, decent cinematography, set designs, etc.

    American Cyborg: Steel Warrior takes place in a shabby dystopic future where evil assassin cyborgs reign supreme. Humanity’s hopes rest with a genetically engineered Fetus that supposedly has what it takes to beat the evil cyborgs, and now, for unstated reasons, its mother (played horribly by Nicole Hansen) is carrying it around in a bag to get it to Europe, which is apparently the safe place. She is protected by a mysterious dude (horribly portrayed by Joe Lara) who, SHOCKINGLY turns out to be a good cyborg. All the while, they are pursued by a truly bad Terminator knock-off shabbily played by John Ryan. Terminator gets the bulk of the rip-offs here, but there’s a good bit of Robocop and Cyborg thrown in as well (you KNOW it’s a bad movie if its imitating Cyborg!).

    The Bottom Line: Truly, there’s nothing redeeming here. Perhaps the only amusing thing is that American Cyborg is so predictable that you can literally guess pretty much every scene before it occurs. In short: This is not the cyberpunk movie you’re looking for…move along…

    ~See movies similar to this one~

    Tags: cyberpunk movie review AmericanCyborg

    This post has been filed under 2 Star Movies, B Cyberpunk Cinema, Android Movies, Cyberpunk movies from 1990 - 1999 by SFAM.

    January 25, 2006

    Veronica 2030 - {NOT Cyberpunk}

    Year: 1999

    Directed by: Gary Graver

    Written by: C. Courtney Joyner & Earl Kenton (Teleplay)

    IMDB Reference

    Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Very Low

    Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Very Low

    Rating: 2 out of 10

    DVD cover


    Overview: Every now and then, soft core porn “as cyberpunk” provides a hilarious gem like Terminatrix. Then you find things like this. Yes, the cover looks cyberpunk-like, but no, none of that here. Just to be clear, if you wonder why I even bother reviewing shit like this, I made this site with the idea that ALL cyberpunk movies (or those that claim to be) will be reviewed (except hard core porn). Even pieces of crap like these ones (when the writer is credited with a “teleplay” you KNOW you should be worried!).

    Their entire cyberpunk budget consisted of a blinking red Christmas tree rope light thing sitting on a table that you can buy for $7.49 at your local drug store. Well, that’s not completely true - there was also a piece of aluminum foil they used to wrap the chick’s midsection with. And anyways, I’m guessing that this was filmed right after Christmas, and someone brought the Christmas light from home.

    So you wanna know the plot? Here it is: Some time way into the future (I’m gonna guess the year 2030), when sexual cravings have all diminished, in a feverish attempt to save the planet’s libido, a group of three scientists (two guys, one girl) develop a perfect and semi-hawt android (well, they seem to think she’s dynamite!). So while the other two scientists go to bed, the last one ends up accidentally waking up the android chick, has sex with her, and then, by accidentally typing something into the keyboard, accidentally sends her back in time! Even though they hadn’t invented a time machine! Cool, ey! Upon being sent back into the slipstream of time (our time of course) the hawt android chick surprisingly ends up in a down-and-out fetish lingerie studio in need of a hot model to compete with the mean lingerie studio down the street! She decides this is the perfect place to learn about love. From there, lots of cheesy soft core porn sex ensues, along with an occasional fetish lingerie show. No more plot talk needed.

    So why a completely convoluted plot? So they could immediately leave the futuristic setting (consisting of the Christmas light on a table, the aluminum foil covering, and oh, a hot chick scientist with glasses in a white lab coat) to go for cheaper surroundings of course! Like the director’s living room! OK, well, maybe its not that bad, but we’re not talking high class here. Suffice to say, the only other thing you need to know about the plot is that

    The Bottom Line: If you’re looking for your every day bouncing bimbo blondes with surgically enhanced breasts having soft-core porn sex while wearing fetish fishnet stockings and black PVC lingerie, this is your movie. The T&A rating is high, with your regular standard Skinemax standards in play. Now, as a movie this only really merits one star (if that), but I gave it an additional one because there were a few really nice fetish lingerie dancing scenes. But, um, no cyberpunk here (I think I need to add “non-existent” to my cyberpunk visuals rating). This is false advertising at its worst. Time travel and andriods? Yeah, right.


    ~See movies similar to this one~

    Tags: non-cyberpunk movie review 2030

    This post has been filed under 2 Star Movies, It's Not Cyberpunk! Mkay? by SFAM.

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