Tag Archives: robots

Movie Review: The World’s End

Ah yes, a British movie. I went to see The World’s End, and I couldn’t help but thinking about all of the movies I’ve seen that were made across the Atlantic: not too many. I’m sure they make lots of films over there, but the ones that make it to me, to a pretty average American moviegoer, I don’t know, it’s like The King’s Speech, Monty Python … do Hugh Grant movies count? They totally don’t count. Even in his most British pictures, he’s really just something on loan from the UK to Hollywood, like even though Love Actually took place across the pond, there were all sorts of American actors and tropes and …

world's end robot

And what am I talking about, Love Actually? I never saw Love Actually, I just remember overhearing someone else talk about it once. Someone really stupid. And I could just tell how inauthentic the whole thing was, you know, from this non-Englishman’s point of view.

The World’s End is billed as the third part in a trilogy of sorts, although besides the principle cast and writing team, there’s not really a coherent story linking all three parts. Shaun of the Dead imagined how Simon Pegg would confront the zombie apocalypse, Hot Fuzz had something to do with police officers (I never actually saw Hot Fuzz,) and The World’s End follows five high school friends who reunite twenty years later to finish a twelve-stop pub crawl they almost completed back when they were eighteen.

I realized pretty soon into the movie that I was laughing a lot more than I would be at this point during an American movie, during parts in any movie that I wouldn’t normally find laugh-out-loud funny. I attributed a lot of the giggles to the fact that everybody’s talking really fast, jokes weaved tightly into every sentence, with absolutely no stopping for even the briefest of pauses between syllables or breaths. It’s just non-stop dialogue and everybody’s speaking in an accent and, yeah, I guess that is pretty funny.

The humor is very dark. Simon Pegg’s main character Gary King hasn’t developed at all since the early 1990s montage that opens the film. By the time we meet our protagonist in the present day, twenty years of partying have taken their toll. The whole intro, the extended speech explaining the almost-made-it night of twenty years ago, it winds up being told by King in the middle of a twelve-step meeting, and even the other participants seem disturbed by the enthusiasm in which he recounts the best day of his life.

King rallies his old friends and convinces them to have a proper night. Twelve bars, twelve beers, all culminating at The World’s End, a fitting name for the final tavern. As the Five Musketeers head out to their old home town, in King’s high school car, with the same exact cassette mix tape never having been removed from the tape deck, the gang starts to question the psychic hold their friend seems to manage over everyone else.

Just as the adults step in to make some belated adult decisions, it turns out that the town has been taken over by robots. And even though that’s pretty much the whole plot of the movie, once things get rolling, a lot of the genuine character-driven plot evaporates. I get it, I guess, that this kind of a spoof on a disaster movie is a way to confront existential problems, addiction, middle-age, conformity, feelings of isolation, but I just couldn’t help but feel that the group dynamic was building toward something. And then the robot thing happens and that’s basically the rest of the movie.

All the way until the really bizarre ending, something that, after having seen Monty Python, I’m just going to go ahead and make the sweeping generalization that all British movies have to have crazy endings. Except for The King’s Speech. Did I mention that I saw The King’s Speech already? Well, I saw it. Although, I guess it’s not all that normal of a movie, right? A king? With a stutter? And the doctor is some crazy guy from Australia? That didn’t really happen, did it?

Movie Review: Pacific Rim

Throughout the entirety of Pacific Rim, all I could think about was stuff like, wow, this is such an awesome movie. It keeps getting better and better. Not once am I finding myself even remotely bored. I cannot wait to go home and write about how much I loved this movie.


And I did love the movie. But I saw it with my wife and the first thing she said upon exiting the theater was, “Wow, that was dumb.” How could we have arrived at two dramatically differing opinions after sitting next to each other for the exact same two and a half hours? Worse, why couldn’t I really mount a defense?

Because, look, I know when I’m defending movies that shouldn’t be defended. Like when I write about how much I loved Iron Man 3 or Thor, yeah, it’s probably because I’ve spent over fifty percent of my life reading comic books, that it’d have to be a really bad comic book movie for me to admit that I didn’t at some level at least enjoy a little bit what I just saw.

Like Daredevil, or Spider Man 3. Go ahead and start throwing eggs, I know that I’m broaching a very sensitive subject here, but were those movies really that bad? I haven’t watched them in a while, but I remember enjoying them. I liked the first Hulk movie. I always default back to the twelve year old me growing up on Long Island, no Internet, no cable TV, I used to get a thrill just from watching Fantastic Four cartoons on Sunday mornings. Never in my wildest imagination would I picture myself as an adult presented with dozens upon dozens of full-length comic book motion pictures featuring B-list superheroes.

I’m getting a little sidetracked from Pacific Rim, yes, but this is all adding up to a huge disclaimer, that in an attempt to review movies, I’m trying to go for an unbiased reaction after having seen one. I don’t know what the opening weekend numbers are, and I’ve yet to read any professional reviewers. I just want to go see a movie, and try as best I can to call it like I see it.

But it’s often the case that something cool like this will come out, a superhero movie, or in this case, a robots vs. alien monsters movie, and I can already picture exactly how the naysayers will react, similar to how my wife put it, that it was dumb. That it was just a bunch of fight scenes linked together by a pretty cheap plot.

And yeah, I guess, if you want to get all cynical and scientific about the movie, I suppose there really isn’t a whole lot more to it than that, alien monsters invade the earth through a portal deep in the Pacific. In response, we build a bunch of rock-em, sock-em robots to beat them all up.

But whatever, those feelings I was experiencing in that theater were real. It was pure joy. And I’ve sat through movies that should have been catered to me, like the new Superman, and I’ve been put to sleep. There was seriously no down time in the fun and excitement here. The score was a movie length fight song. The battle scenes were pure chaotic euphoria.

Did I mention that the pilots of the robots have to link their minds via something called a neural handshake? And that’s not like a colloquialism, the scientists say stuff like, “Neural handshake complete.” That’s what I’m looking for in a big action robot movie, people maintaining a straight face while talking about a neural handshake. The side characters, the almost unnecessary plots and asides and conveniently placed toilets that made up the caulk to this movie’s tiles, everything was fun, ridiculous, everything was insane.

And it’s a good concept. When was the last time we’ve had a really crazy monster movie? All I can think of are the old Godzilla films from decades ago. I know that the series has been rebooted several times in recent years, but nothing sticks, because everything tries too hard to be serious, to depict a modern world where big monsters wreak havoc.

This isn’t that world. It’s just further enough in the future to where the world resembles the one we live in, but all of the backstory is explained in the first ten or fifteen minutes, so everything is alien, fresh, reminiscent of the real but not even close to anything we’d be able to mistake for reality.

It’s just, my heart is still pumping, there’s still a surplus of adrenaline coursing through my veins. I really did love this movie. It’s fun, it’s pretense-free, they laid out some very simple rules that guide the course of the film and they rarely stray from the formula. It works. It’s pure hyper energy, it’s like an amusement park, one built entirely out of crazy roller coasters, and there are no lines, and they just let you keep riding everything over and over again for as long as you want. For like two and a half hours, anyway.

Robots are better than people

Robots are much better than people. Robots don’t get mad if you take that last slice of pie, even if they were saving it, even though they put it on a plate, wrapped the whole plate in plastic wrap, put it not in the fridge, but in the microwave, because they were going to eat it soon, and they wrote out a really long note, a note that said, “Please do not eat this slice of pie. I’m saving it. Also, don’t use the microwave. I’m just putting it in here because I didn’t want to leave it out and attract bugs. Please, please do not touch this pie. My mom drove all the way out to a pie shop at the end of Long Island to get it for me, it’s my favorite, and I’m really looking forward to eating it,” because robots don’t have feelings. You program them to do or say this or that, but if you change your mind later on, you just program them to do or say something else. Plus, when have you ever seen a robot write out a stupid long note like that? If a robot tried to grab a pen and paper, one, their giant metal hands would probably crush the pen, getting ink everywhere, and two, even if they somehow successfully calibrated the necessary pressure to effectively grip the pen without all of that exploding, there’s no way they’d then be able to apply that same gentle pressure from pen to paper without some sort of a ballpoint malfunction. Also, what kind of a robot doesn’t at least have some sort of a printer attachment installed, however rudimentary, like those little receipt printers at department stores? You’re telling me whoever designed a robot sophisticated enough to craft out a whole boring message about pie wouldn’t at least have thought to include one of those little printers? Unlikely. And besides, robots don’t even eat strawberry rhubarb pie. They don’t eat pie at all. Or anything. They just eat electricity, maybe some diesel and grease.

Robots are much better than other people. They don’t constantly come out of their bedrooms at two o’clock in the morning, “Yes, I can still hear the TV. Well lower it again. Look, I don’t care if the game play isn’t as immersive with the volume down that low, I have to get up for work in four hours, so for the last time, just lower the volume, go to sleep, Jesus,” over and over again, the same speech they gave at one o’clock in the morning, the same whiney complaint they’re going to come out and do at three o’clock in the morning. No, because robots don’t sleep at all. And they clean up for you instead of asking you to “clean up after yourself for a change!” They might have little vacuuming robots attached to their feet – no, instead of feet they’ll have vacuuming robots as their feet, those are their feet, so wherever they go they leave two trails of noticeably cleaner tracks behind them.

Robots are entirely preferable to all people, to all human beings. They’re never coming out of the house next door, knocking on your door, telling you, “Listen buddy, I don’t know how you keep getting into our encrypted Wi-Fi network, but you’ve got to stop stealing our Internet. Just pay for your own Internet. It’s like thirty bucks a month. Seriously, you’re mooching our Internet, you’re pirating gigs and gigs of media. You know I get calls sometimes from the cable company? They’re like, ‘stop illegally downloading all of these movies.’ I don’t know what to do. Just … you know, you’re smart enough to hack my router, why don’t you get a job doing computers? Come on man, just get out of the house once in a while. You look like shit. Seriously, no more Internet. I’ll call the cops,” every other week, they never call the cops, finally after months of toothless threats, banging on your door at eight in the morning, showing you a warrant, confiscating your computer, your hard drives. Robots don’t care. They’ve got built in Wi-Fi. Robots are like walking Internet hotspots. And what do they care about thirty dollars a month? Robots have no sense of money, of currency, of personal wealth. Robots love to share. Robots aren’t so judgmental.

Given the choice between robots and people, I’ll always choose robots. Robots are never like, “Come on, stop using my toothbrush! That’s great that you’re not grossed out by germs, and no, I don’t want to hear another speech about personal micro-biomes, just stop using my goddamn toothbrush!” Because, one, robots don’t have to brush their teeth, and two, if they did, they wouldn’t spend a hundred and forty dollars on a super fancy toothbrush and leave it out in the bathroom, all, look, enjoy the view, but never touch, and don’t even think about using it, because of course I’m going to use it, because, what are you crazy? And they won’t laugh at the personal micro-biome thing, because they’ll know that you’re going to want as many germs in your mouth as possible. If they had mouths. If they had teeth. But robots don’t have teeth. Just gears and circuits and microprocessors and motherboards.