Cyberpunk Review » New Rose Hotel - {It’s NOT Cyberpunk! Mkay?}

January 23, 2006

New Rose Hotel - {It’s NOT Cyberpunk! Mkay?}

Year: 1998

Directed by: Abel Ferrara

Written by: Abel Ferrara, Christ Zois (Gibson’s name removed to protect the innocent)

IMDB Reference

Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Very Low

Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Very Low

Key Cast Members:

  • Fox: Christopher Walken
  • X: Willem Dafoe
  • Sandii: Asia Argento
  • Rating: 1 out of 10

    screen capture


    Overview: It’s not cyberpunk, mkay? No, truly, it’s not!

    • Yes, it was based on a very good cyberpunk short story written by cyberpunk Godfather, William Gibson,
    • Yes, New Rose Hotel is on most every list of cyberpunk movies you can find on the internet, some of which are only 10 movies deep,
    • Yes, this movie seems to be a throwaway mention in about half the cyberstudy reviews of modern cyberpunk movies.

    Please trust me here - I’ve seen (and own) at least 95% of all cyberpunk movies currently in production and a very high percentage of the ones out of print (all that I can find out about and get). New Rose Hotel is NOT cyberpunk. These people are lying to you. I’m betting major bucks that the vast majority of those who have New Rose Hotel mentioned as cyberpunk have never seen it. If they had seen it, New Rose Hotel would not be on their cyberpunk list. Why do I say this?

    • This movie has NO cyberpunk visuals,
    • This movie has NO interesting philosophical message,
    • This movie has NO cyberpunk themes embedded in it, and
    • This movie takes place in modern time, not in a near future.

    On top of its lack of cyberpunknesss, New Rose Hotel as a movie is boring as shit! Ferrara needs an award for taking a high quality cast consisting of Christopher Walken, Willem Dafoe (both of whom I LOVE as actors) and Asia Argento and producing this steaming pile of dung!

    The story: So what’s it about, you ask? Dafoe and Walken try to use a hooker (Argento) to convince a high profile geneticist to defect from one corporation to another. If they do, they pocket major bucks! In short, things go bad after an affair develops between Dafoe and Argento. But the bottom line is nobody watching this cares as the story as the cinematography and the acting are poorly enacted and uninspired. Worse, the last 15 minutes involves replaying of scenes from the first half of the movie. Why? For absolutely NO reason! Believe me when say that I look for meaning in films even when there isn’t really a basis - there was absolutely no reason for the flashbacks.

    Truly, this movie sucks on just about every aspect of movie making one can imagine. But I really don’t berate it for this reason - I intensely hate the fact that everyone has engaged in a cow-like groupthink in continually mentioning this as one of the main cyberpunk movies out. New Rose Hotel is only interesting in that it seems to have turned into a virus meme, infecting as many as possible with the mistaken belief that it’s something worthy of mention. As punishment for New Rose Hotel’s atrocities against good cyberpunk, I’ve dropped it a few stars in my rating (if I was unbiased, I might have given it a 3 out of 10 star rating). So in closing:


    Memo to other movie sites who have this listed as cyberpunk: Admit it, you haven’t seen it. Please remove New Rose Hotel from your cyberpunk movie list.


    Memo to cyberstudies researchers who list this movie as a representative cyberpunk movie: Please remove it. There at minimum 80 movies which would come before New Rose Hotel as far better examples of cyberpunk. If you are looking for specific movies to back up a particular point you are trying to prove, just drop me a line, and I’ll be happy to provide you detailed assistance in selecting more appropriate movies. Just PLEASE stop spreading the belief that this movie is cyberpunk!


    And um, yes, there are MANY other selections due for a rant like this. Escape from New York, anyone?


    ~See movies similar to this one~

    Tags: non-cyberpunk movie review rose hotel

    This post has been filed under 1 Star Movies, It's Not Cyberpunk! Mkay? by SFAM.


    January 23, 2006

    sherry said:

    wow a bad review.. You must really dislike it ….

    SFAM said:

    New Rose Hotel is the kind of movie you look at and angerly say, “Who talked me into watching thiis???”

    July 20, 2007

    P2501 said:

    * This movie has NO cyberpunk visuals - true
    * This movie has NO interesting philosophical message - true
    * This movie has NO cyberpunk themes embedded in it, and - false
    * This movie takes place in modern time, not in a near future - true

    July 24, 2007

    SFAM said:

    Hi P2501, I wish you had elaborated a bit more. I really can’t address what you wrote above. But I will say this - if this movie did not have Gibson’s name on it, NOBODY would even consider calling it cyberpunk. They just wouldn’t. Is it a corporate espionage movie? Sure, but I don’t consider all (or even most) corporate espionage movies to be cyberpunk.

    September 30, 2007

    Ganja Ninja said:

    U are Mad! this is one of the best and most oryginal, interesting movie with fenomenal philosophical message I’ve ever seen!! For me it’s beutifull vision of cyber punk alternative look… I think that we are NOW in a very cyber punk times.Maybe CB its not only about great fx visuals and more about the concept of how people live, what’s important for them, what they do & why.
    And a corporation “problem” is sooo cyberpunk anyway…

    October 1, 2007

    Tired Penguin said:

    I found this movie in my hometown Lisbon, from the Thief’s Fair (the city’s big yard sale), and basically bought it because it said it was cyberpunk on the back cover. I became 4 euros poorer but frankly I liked the damn movie for some reason I cannot discern. The cold atmosphere while I watched it alone at night, and the theme song really sunk into my memories, and it seemed to last an eternity floating away in time, and digesting quietly each scene. Weird, for a movie that’s only 80 minutes long and the third part being just reedited flashbacks, this was the one of the worst films I enjoyed.

    October 2, 2007

    xristos said:

    This movie is definately infused in cyberpunk.
    Your focus into “cyberpunk visuals”, “near future” and “cyberpunk themes”
    leave me worried that you have no clue whatsoever about what cyberpunk
    really is about. The beauty of this movie is the focus on the individuals of
    a technologically corrupt society and their attempt to hustle their way out
    of their problems. This is WHAT CYBERPUNK IS ABOUT.

    October 4, 2007

    Ganja Ninja said:

    EXACTLY! thank You xristos, that Was what I was trying to say, but maybe my english is not so clear ;)

    November 11, 2007

    dr pepper said:

    beverly hills cop is more cyberpunk than this

    February 5, 2008

    scal said:

    You are so right!
    You forgot to mention that this pile of @+#+ß was nominatet in Cannes. I cant imagine why! Btw. I Love the shortstory New Rose Hotel and waited 2 years to see this Movie in Germany ;(

    March 2, 2008

    MACC said:

    I have to agree with the reviewer… this film fails Gibson’s story in almost every single imaginable aspect… the action is dull and slow paced. The actors are good but their perfomances are mediocre. And you can barely feel any type of empathy for the corporate drama that is the basis of the story. It seems Hollywood is destined to screw up perfectly good Gibson stories since now they’re thinking of casting that brat from the new Star Wars (don’t even remember that asshole’s name) on the Neuromancer flick, he must be like, the suckiest actor to ever emerge from the depths of the earth.

    March 6, 2008

    kujo said:

    Actually I still describe “New Rose …” as cyberpunk. Like this: Ok imagine a really cool William Gibson story made into a great cyberpunk movie, then imagine all the parts that didn’t get put in because they had nothing to offer, nothing going on or were simply the between takes extra footage, now imagine all of the footage that was even more worthless than that and that is what went into “New Rose..” oh and then a main character jumps off a balcony.

    April 19, 2008

    Johnny said:

    Seems YOU don’t know what you’re talking about. For you it’s only a cyberpunk movie if it has a guy with a jack in his head, huh?

    New Rose Hotel absolutely has both cyberpunk themes and future tech in it, if you’ve bothered to actually see it. Corporations killing and fighting eachother with any methods, above the law.

    The use of the hooker and her key containing the virus sequence that wipes out the entire lab.

    Dude, you better go read up on what cyberpunk is. You’re SO wrong it’s not even funny.

    April 23, 2008

    Case said:

    Most definitely a cyberpunk short story/movie. Easily recognisable as such with all the political, sociological elements. Even the corporate names , Maas and Hosaka, which I seem to recall in other stories. Also, the ubiquitous Asian influence which feature very heavily in most of Gibson’s scenarios.

    Cyberpunk doesn’t depend on gee-whiz techo stuff, but it certainly pays lip-service to it.

    For an interesting “retro” type view of things, have a read of the Gibson/Stirling joint effort, “The Difference Engine” - a great tale - sort of reverse cyberpunk often referred to as “Steampunk”.

    Case said:

    Gotta add another comment, specifically for the dweeb who wrote the review.
    Seriously son, you view is particularly childish and shallow.

    Just by way of a quick example, because at this hour 2:45am I really CBF going on too long.

    However, you whine about the last 15 minutes being a rehash of flasbacks. If you read the book, you’d probably get it. Let me only say, Ferrara is at least making a sincere effort to convey the tone, mood, and lets not forget emotion, of Gibson’s story.

    July 1, 2008

    oliver b said:

    I would have to agree with people who disagree that this film does not have cyberpunk elements because it is actually pretty faithful to the short story about warring zaibatsus.

    Unfortunately its still a pretty damn dull and boring film and the latter part of the story with the depressed isolation of the character in the cubicle hotel is interpreted a little too literally and is the result of basically stretching the premise of the (not one of Gibson’s best by a long shot, IMO) short story and adding nothing interesting as filler. What worked well as melancholic prose in the story is very hard to translate compellingly to film and although Ferrara makes a valiant attempt I did not find the long mental disintegration of Dafoe’s character to be particularly compelling.

    It should have been a short film and it would have worked quite well, just like the movie of Dick’s Impostor could have worked well as originally intended (also a short).

    August 15, 2008

    Casemon said:

    Agree with xristos… New Rose Hotel is cyberpunk, it leaves out the cheesy pop-infused fluff that whines “i just hate my parents!” and instead delivers on a well-devised character study with a heart of pure cyberpunk.

    I’ve heard yeah people call it boring, which is the same response to a lot of good character-centric films. Such pieces require you have experience in life that extends beyond adolescence (it is amazing how many 30 year old children there are today).

    It’s a great film to boot. Left me cold when it came out, but watched it again recently and there are interesting layers and developed relations there; has aged really well I think. It performs more like theatre (with the always excellent and theatric Walken), but it still strongly works.

    Think early Gibson or Shirley, not bubblegum cyberpunk like Stephenson.

    November 29, 2008

    Katalyst said:

    I agree with the moderator, I don’t think this movie is cyberpunk. It is a good movie with an interesting plot and great cinematography, but it doesn’t contain any cyberpunk elements.

    Casemon said:

    Katalyst; this story is rife with a high tech future, social decay at the hand of technology, warring techno factions, corporations replacing governments, ‘high tech low lifes’, techno-criminals, a noir-ish style with a femme fatale of dubious intent, and detective / mystery themes…

    which part of that isn’t Cyberpunk?

    I think some people here identify with minor pop aspects of the genre, yet ignore the style as a whole. I call such people ‘cherry pickers’ or perhaps more accurately, ‘cultural tourists’.

    December 1, 2008

    Stormtrooper of Death said:

    CaseMon, what about film-noir ? or so ? I wouldnt even bother to rent New Rose Hotel. Still waiting for the comming of Neuromancer or Mona Lisa Overdrive as a movie….

    Casemon said:

    Stormtrooper, not sure I understand your question.

    I’m saying that NRH has noir elements; noir atmosphere is _one_ of the de-facto tenants of the Cyberpunk style.

    That _combined_ with the other key & stated cyberpunk elements in NRH makes the film definitely and without question Cyberpunk.

    Saying it isn’t is IMO looking at the genre with rose-colored glasses… or perhaps grey-colored glasses, like television… tuned to a dead channel :P

    December 3, 2008

    SFAM said:

    Hi Casemon, I would turn your comment around and say that if this movie (Not the the short story) is cyberpunk, than pretty much EVERY corporate espionage film involving computers is cyberpunk. If this is your position, we have a disagreement. Also, there are high tech thieves in this who use computers - I don’t classify every high tech thief as a cyberpunk high-tech low life, nor do I really think the fact that they had shitty noir features help make the cut. This movie hardly qualifies as neo-noir. In addition, this took place in modern times, not near future. Getting more to the point, just take a gander at the short story of the same name if you will to get a sense of what a cyberpunk “New Rose Hotel” story would look like, and then compare it.

    Again, its fine to disagree with the definition from the “What is Cyberpunk” page, which is what I use to classify, but I would ask you to think of the implication - if this movie is cyberpunk, we can add about 4000 more movies to the list.

    Casemon said:

    A fair rebuttal, but in response, the question as to whether a piece is Cyberpunk is not about having this or that element in isolation, it’s about the blending of them; the balance is what makes it Cyberpunk (which negates the ‘4000 more movies’ you mention).

    Another example of how NRH is Cyberpunk; the role of tech in NRH is very specific, very cyberpunk; just like in the originating short story. The other elements of the film / story add into this: mega corporations controlling entire economies, human capital, corporate espionage not based on product but on the minds who create product, the slime who traffic in this… add to the other elements I’ve highlighted, the film is very faithful in my view and very Cyberpunk. If the film isn’t Cyberpunk, then neither is the short story.

    For many, Cyberpunk is largely fashion & visuals, but IMO such fans are missing the core of it. Just like so many wannabe punks missing the heart of the punk movement in the late 70s (or countless other culture manifestations); it isn’t about fashion and flash, it rather speaks to our humanity.

    I applaud the director for not following into the “style over substance” trap so common with attempts at adapting Cyberpunk … here in the film, the focus is clear, it is about what Cyberpunk has always been about… the people in this setting; the setting acts as the catalyst for a human condition that anyone living today can relate to… that our lives are increasingly becoming “like an experiment in Social Darwinism conducted by a bored researcher who kept one thumb permanently glued to the fast forward button.”

    As for the time the film takes place… you’re missing it… it isn’t about some distant future… it is about a specific future, and in many ways, that future is now. Most cyberpunk was written prior to all the advances we now take for granted. Again I applaud the director… even when this film was made, it was clear the future written had become real; there was no need to place it into the future, we’re already there.

    And if you think that’s bullshit, ask yourself this: why have Gibson’s last 2 published works taken place in the present? Because he’s lost it? No. Because he understands it was never about the future… like all sci-fi, Cyberpunk is about the present… and it is right here, right now (alive and well!)

    December 7, 2008

    Katalyst said:

    Well Casemon, I read your last two most and you have opened my eyes even more then they are now. You see, i’m just starting to study the cyberpunk genre (culture) or you will, your ‘cultural tourist’ but an eager one at that.

    Your explanation has furthered my understanding of cyberpunk although it does not change my opinion of the movie’s position. I still don’t think it’s cyberpunk. While Gibson did set his two newest novels in the present, that is because it is now possible to get a grip on the direction of our technological advances. 20 years ago when cyberpunk was just catching its feet, computers were still new and people weren’t sure which path they would take us (leaving room for more speculation).

    That aside, (this may be very wrong) but my immediate impression of cyberpunk is the visuals and themes that depict the degradation of society and the advancement of technology. It is these too ideas that are the nutshell of cyberpunk. And since this movie did not impress either of these two values, it does not strike me as cyberpunk.

    Casemon said:

    Well we’re each entitled to take what we want from the genre.

    If it helps, I used to think visuals and flash were what Cyberpunk was about also. But that was back in the mid to late 80s, my understanding of it has since evolved.

    We can agree to disagree :)

    Katalyst said:

    It is quite understandable that our visuals differ due to the amount of time each of us has spent in the genre. I wasn’t even around in the 80’s and definitely haven’t been studying it for that long. Perhaps it is our age that differs our opinions.

    Casemon said:

    I think there is some element of that; but perhaps it comes down to the view from our relative perspectives (inside-out, outside-in).

    To be clear, I identify with the visuals being an _ancillary_ part of the genre definition, but I do not ascribe it to be a _major_ part (as this site’s reviews appear to do).

    As stated above, I think the visuals are more for when you first get into to it, but the core of the genre does not rest there; to try to subtract what I (and the genre’s authors) define as the core, is “cultural tourism”.

    Similar to going to Egypt and saying the main reason you liked the Pyramids was because there is a McDonalds nearby. And that the pyramid of Chichen-Itza, Mexico isn’t a real pyramid because there is no McDonalds nearby.

    There is an entirely other discussion that states visuals _cannot_ be the core of _any_ cultural movement that survives more than a year, but I digress… :)

    April 1, 2009

    Sioux said:

    I read this review a year ago and decided not to see this film.
    I just watched it and found it included:

    megacorporations that act like governments
    neon lit sex clubs
    corporate prostitutes
    ultra-portable computers
    cellphones that project video
    [killer] DNA synthesizers
    research advancing faster than it can be stolen
    capsule hotels [in the US]
    the value of knowledge
    corporate underground crime networks
    Christopher Walken

    I think this qualifies as cyberpunk?
    I thought it was a damned good movie too, really captures Gibson’s tech-noir feel, although there is definitely a greater focus on the “noir” than the “tech”.

    Case said:

    While we’re on the same page regarding CP to not CP, your exchange with SFAM, particularly on the “4000 other” question gave me some food for thought.

    What has emerged from my briefly considered ruminations is that at what point does one draw the line between CP and non-CP?

    So here’s a thought and note, not that I believe it should QUALIFY, but what DISQUALIFIES Blade Runner, for example, as being CP.

    The funny thing is, if I took the time, I could articulate the reasons, I’m sure. However, for a quick response, it just doesn’t FEEL CP.

    And therein lies the answer I think. CP is the evocation of a feeling as much as any identifiable tangible elements…

    Just a thought.

    Oh…and another one. I read Spook Country a little while back, and can’t say I got that much out of it…any thoughts?

    Casemon said:

    “To answer your query…” :) BR does (barely) lack some more common expressions of CP, but yet find it a real challenge to define it as anything other than CP, given BR’s established heart.

    For example, BR has no competing corporations, Tyrell is pretty much the order of the day (in the film) but the heart of the film, Deckard’s attempt to rectify his life with changing technology (with a great twist, that he is both hunter & unknowingly prey), is definitely CP.

    Simply, I think if the content focuses on how humans struggle to adapt to new technology, then for most intents, it is CP. The methods and means to express this are varied & many, and understandably it is at first difficult to disconnect identification with expression. As such feel the tenants identified here, and that many identify with, are simply window dressing; the heart of CP lies in the above struggle. Swinging this back OT, this reason is also why NRH is CP :)

    As an aside, re: Spook County; read it while traveling recently and was disappointed. Think that Gibson, like his inspiration Lou Reed, is past his prime. Spook County was over done, over stylized, too self-indulgent. I didn’t identify with any of the characters, struggled to keep reading, and in the end thought it was misguided. Maybe I’ll think differently in the future :)

    Case said:

    Thanks for your response - and pretty much agree with your position. One thing, however, I take it you mean “Tenet” when you write “tenant”.

    And yes, you pretty much summed up my reaction to Spook Country - I desperately didn’t want to be disappointed, but in the end…..I was! I persisted, and while the book had certain moments of tension, it just seemed to dribble away to nothing with no final satisfactory denouement.

    I’m not sure Gibson is past his use by date. I’m more than prepared to give his next offering (whatever/whenever???) a chance - hope we don’t have to wait too long.

    April 2, 2009

    Casemon said:

    Indeed we both share perspective.

    And you caught my typo! That’s what I get for posting while hungry :) Literally had clicked Submit and then ran to have a tasty vegetable rice with Prawn hehe.

    So what say we rally together and get this movie moved to a proper section? :)

    Case said:

    I’d certainly support your suggestion re the move to it’s proper section. How can we do this? ;-)

    Casemon said:

    Offer it is time for this site to get some new features. No other similar genre site that I’ve visited has only reviews from the site author, with no means of the site’s users & audience to decide.

    It would include such features; user voting, in conjunction with the author’s opinions. Maybe even require a little trivia before voting, so you have to at least be familiar with the work before casting your vote.

    Would be nice to be able to change my vote as well; for those that think about a material one way, then consider the comments of the users, and change their mind, or perhaps time passes, and their views change; such is the case for many with NRH.

    Then we can see enjoy and express different views, and contrast them to the site author’s views and everyone can expand their views on the genre.

    What say you SFAM? Do you we users need to rally you for this, or do you already see the need? :)

    January 11, 2010

    Wintermute said:

    I’ll stay out of the CP or non-CP discussion.

    Your review triggered me to actually sit down and see the entire movie again. I do love the story, the actors … Ferrara was so close! But I have to agree with you:

    “Ferrara needs an award for taking a high quality cast […] and producing this steaming pile of dung!”

    In my case this is primarily triggered by those last 15 minutes.

    “Worse, the last 15 minutes involves replaying of scenes from the first half of the movie. […] Truly, this movie sucks on just about every aspect of movie making one can imagine.”

    While I agree with other commentators that this was probably Ferrara’s attempt to recreate the setup of the short story, so is it painfully obvious that the way he did was a disaster.

    - First I was annoyed with his pacing / cut / audio … the technical things.
    - Then I wondered how it is even possible to have three IMHO superstar’s (little Asia Argento bias here ;-) look so amateurish.
    - Finally the last 15 minutes should have been maybe 1-2 and then it could have had the effect that the director maybe intended.

    Tokyo 4 AM … not kidding.

    April 9, 2010

    tony said:

    This movie is weird and the acting feels ad-libbed, and those are two reasons why I LOVED it. Seriously, it’s one of my favorite cyberpunk movies.

    I’d rather see a low budget indie production of a great William Gibson story performed by ultra-charismatic actors such as these than a boring predictable Hollywood pic any day.

    It’s like watching a play based on Gibson’s story. A very sexy and dark play, which captures the literature’s tone perfectly. I wish this film had a higher rating here, because I think a lot of cyberpunk lovers would like it. It’s refreshing to see an artistic science fiction film that doesn’t rely on expensive flash, wasn’t made for kids, and wasn’t test-audienced into blandness.

    Aesthetically, I really like that the characters don’t look like something out of an overly art-directed video game, but rather like the low life hustlers they are. I’d love to see more films based on other stories from “Burning Chrome”, done in a similarly low-key way.

    DaFoe and Walken are fun and awesome in this, and Asia Argento is unbelievably hot.

    All that said, the last 15 minutes of New Rose Hotel make for one of the most frustrating and WTF?!? experiences I’ve ever had watching a movie. :)

    July 24, 2011

    Haeckel said:

    New Rose Hotel is definitely cyberpunk in my opinion. Previous commenters have already made the case for that.

    However, it is not good. It is the Nadja or (Hal Hartley’s) Trust of cyberpunk movies. Like them, it is tedious and pretentious (especially the dialogue), and badly edited. The last quarter of New Rose Hotel is simply incompetently executed, not that the first 3/4 was especially engaging.

    William Gibson on the film New Rose Hotel:

    November 16, 2011

    Erosolvent said:

    I couldnt help notice how many cyberpunk christopher walken fans there are out there in contrast to the number of people who noticed Amato (Final Fantasy artist) was in this movie playing the defector. Ha! Shame on all of you…

    May 3, 2012

    wintermute said:

    hahahahahahahaha.. haaaa..

    May 9, 2012

    The Peso said:

    I have to disagree, New Rose Hotel, is very cyberpunk. Starting off, Kansas City, or wherever it was, looked like the skyline of Beijing or something, not to mention the biotech company they were trying to get the guy to defect from…. just the fact you would have someone “Defect” from a corporation. 2 points about this movie though, it is NOT an action flick, which most CP movies have an element of, and its pretty damn boring unless you are in the mood for it. BTW The hooker chick is Sooooooooooo friggin hot its worth it anyway. he he…

    The Peso said:

    Besides, the terrible flashback sequence takes place as Defoe is in a Coffin Hotel…… Thats the only cinematic reference to a Coffin Hotel that Ive ever seen. Thats something right?

    June 16, 2012

    Elektrik2012 said:

    Would anyone kindly explain to me what happened in this movie? The meaning of the movie is that human relationships (love) is higher than corporate stuff? So she never flew to wherever she wanted to fly and that spoiled the whole corporate espionage stuff? But how come she and Dafore are not finally together? And how did Walken die? Thanks in advance!

    Elektrik2012 said:

    Hah, I just watched the ending in English (saw previously translated to Russian) and he says “if you really want, go walk away”. Now that does make sense. Stupid Russian translator said “if you want, we will not fly”

    Elektrik2012 said:

    Still I would be glad if someone clarified to me the movie, esp. the things about the chip and how Walken died. And why did people die because of the chip

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