The Gendered AI series filled out many more posts than I’d originally planned. (And there were several more posts on the cutting room floor.)
I’ll bet some of my readership are wishing I’d just get back to the bread-and-butter of this site, which is reviews of interfaces in movies. OK. Let’s do it. (But first go vote up Gendered AI for SxSW20 takesaminutehelpsaton!)
Since we’re still in the self-declared year of sci-fi AI here on scifiinterfaces.com, let’s turn our collective attention to one of the best depictions of AI in cinema history, Colossus: The Forbin Project.
Release Date: 8 April 1970 (USA)
Dr. Forbin leads a team of scientists who have created an AI with the goal of preventing war. It does not go as planned.
This week marks the otherwise unsung 50th anniversary of the absolutely terrible film Las luchadoras vs el robot asesino, or Wrestling Women versus the Robot Assassin. I know I have to finish Idiocracy, but I wanted to pause to share this with you here on its anniversary. It’s a Mexican B-movie from 1969, it has an AI of sorts, and it is brain-explodingly bad with a handful of simple, evil interfaces to review.
Release Date: 9 January 1969 (USA)
The mad scientist Dr. Orlak has created a robot assassin, which he programs to punch through cheaply constructed set walls and capture scientists to enact his nefarious world domination plan.
I saw Doctor Strange fairly close to opening weekend and was intrigued by much of what I saw there, especially the artifacts and the Cloak of Levitation. (It has some powerful agentive aspects, and given that that is the topic of my new book, I thought it would be fruitful to examine.)
Yep. This book. Check it out. It ain’t sci-fi, but it might inspire some.
But, awwww, that’s too bad. Doctor Strange deals in magic, not techn—Whatever. Continue reading →
Battlestar Galactica (here meaning the mini series that launched the show, not the 4-season show itself) is based around an extremely large battleship/carrier spaceship and the crew that serves on her. The Galactica is a vessel more than 50 years old, and was built during a time when humanity was in a life or death struggle with the Cylons—a species of sentient AI and robots.
And, as usual with these reviews:
The Cylons haven’t been seen since the end of that war, and the Galactica is one of the few ships from that time still operating. It’s seemingly backwards and simple technology was dictated by the enemy. Cylons were able to hack into and take over any networked device, which meant that only the simplest weapons could be used to fight them.
We catch the Galactica just at the end of its life, as it’s about to be decommissioned and turned into a museum. It is at that moment that the Cylons strike humanity again by firing nuclear weapons at every major city in the 12 Human Colonies.
The entirety of Humanity’s army is quickly scrambled to fight the Cylons, but they have infiltrated the networks that run all of the current weapons and ships that Humanity has available. By the end of the first episode, only the Galactica (that survived due to it’s old design) and a small flotilla of civilian ships has survived.
The Galactica and its crew then spend the rest of the miniseries attempting to fight their way out of the Cylon ambush to safety.
Despite what you may think, I know how far down the Sarlacc pit this is going. I’m in the middle of The Avengers, which I interrupted for the Star Wars Holiday Special, and now we’re looking at the interfaces inside a ten-minute cartoon that Lumpy watches complacently while stormtroopers trash his home and rough up his family in the background. We’re at Inception level Hoth.
I even know I have proclaimed that I must shy away from reviewing interfaces in hand-drawn animation on principle. I know all this. But if you have yet to brave gazing into the dark heart of The Special, know that this is its highlight. The animation is gorgeous and trippy (like something out of Heavy Metal magazine circa 1980) almost making the frame story of The Special worth it. Even if the plot is a little wan.
Luke, the droids, and Leia are aboard the cruiser R.S. Revenge, anxiously awaiting word from Han and Chewie, who are racing to find a mystical talisman before the Empire does. The Millennium Falcon comes out of lightspeed barreling toward the cruiser and out of radio contact. After it zooms past, Luke takes the droids and chases the Falcon to an intensely pink moon. Luke crashes into the soupy surface, and while looking for them with binoculars, he is saved from a pink sauropod attack by Boba Fett. (Yes, that Boba Fett. This is where he is introduced in the Star Wars universe.) Fett then leads them to the Falcon.
There Luke sees Chewie eject the talisman from the ship, before falling into the same coma-like sleep as Han. Turns out the talisman is infected with a virus that only affects humans. To survive, Luke is hung upside down next to Han until they can be cured. Something something blood to the brain something. Fett offers to get a remedy in the nearby city.
After he gets the serum, Fett contacts Darth Vader (insert gasp) on a public video phone (insert gasp). Back at the ship, the Droids intercept the message, hearing that the talisman is a red herring—Fett and Vader are really trying to earn their trust to learn the location of the new Rebel base. When Fett returns to the Falcon, they inject the serum to wake Han and Luke, but the droids out Fett as the bad guy he is. Fett escapes with his jet pack, promising that they’ll meet again.
The crew of the military vessel C-57D travels to planet Altair to investigate the fate of the Bellerophon expedition. Ignoring warnings radioed from the surface, they land on the surface where officers Adams, Farman, and Doc meet Morbius, his daughter Altaira (aka “Alta”), and his domestic servant robot Robbie. The same invisible terror that had killed every other member of the expedition begins to threaten the military crew. Adams and Doc confront Morbius, only to learn that he has been hiding the secrets of an ancient alien technology beneath the surface of the planet. They discover that it is Morbius’ use of this Krell technology that created and controls the monster. Morbius faces the monster and dies, but not before instructing Commander Adams to destroy the planet and save humanity from the temptation of using it and repeating his mistake.
After falling in love at first sight with Maria, Freder leaves his idyllic life in the Upper City. In the Lower City he learns of the plight of the laborers and witnesses a tragic explosion. He speaks with his conniving father Joh, who instructs a spy to keep tabs on his son.
Freder switches places with a laborer only to be drawn into an underground resistance, where he learns Maria is its spiritual leader. Meanwhile Joh meets with the mad scientist Rotwang and sees his robotic creation, the Machine-Man. Joh tells Rotwang to use the robot to end Maria and dispirit the resistance. Rotwang captures Maria and gives the Machine-Man her likeness.
Machine-Maria ruins Maria’s reputation with lascivious public performances. She then foments an insurrection in the Lower City. The mob storms the gates and ruins the vital Heart Machine. The city begins to flood. Maria escapes her captor and rushes to the laborers city, to be reunited with Freder and save the children who had been left behind.
Grot reminds the rabble of their abandoned children. Suddenly terrified, they conduct a witch hunt for Maria. They find Machine-Maria and burn her at the stake, who transforms as she is dying back into the robot.
Meanwhile Rotwang has re-captured Maria. In a great struggle atop the roofs of the Upper City, Feder defeats Rotwang and saves his beloved. Afterwards at a public gathering she declares him the Mediator, a savior who was foretold to bring the long-parted classes of the Metropolis together.