Friday, July 29, 2016


Year 8, Day 211 - 7/29/16 - Movie #2,406

BEFORE: Welcome back to Comic-Con follow-up week.  Disaster film, exploitation film, zombie film, and now it's time for robots.  Even better, the kind you can have sex with.  Someday, right?  I wonder which we'll get first, flying cars or pleasure-bots.  I think the Japanese are probably pretty close with the latter.  If this concept of a theme park with artificial humans, where you can do anything you want, sounds a bit familiar, it's because there was another film back in the day, called "Westworld", that riffed on the same theme.  And there is a reboot of "Westworld" being planned, but it's an HBO series that's coming in October.  In the meantime, there's tonight's film, with Bruce Willis carrying over from "Planet Terror".  

I'm six films into the final 100 of the year, and I still haven't had time to confirm the chain that will get me to the end, assuming the last film of the year will be "Rogue One".  I've got a loose chain of about 35 films, then 17 horror films scheduled for October, 2 Christmas films, and a 5-film chain that ends with the upcoming "Star Wars" franchise film.  But that only adds up to 59 films, while there are 94 slots, and worse, the small chains aren't linked together.  I've got no time to tear my list apart again and put it back together in a way that jibes with the calendar, so I'm winging it until I do.  I can still move forward, but some time in the next week or two I've got to firm up the plan for the rest of 2016.

THE PLOT: Bruce Willis stars in this Sci-Fi thriller about ultimate resort: VICE, where customers can play out their wildest fantasies with artificial inhabitants who look like humans.

AFTER: Turns out my instincts were right - we really DIDN'T need this film, since it's essentially just a re-working of "Westworld".  Maybe with a bit of "Blade Runner" thrown in.   It's very possible that someone got a peek at HBO's 2016 schedule a year in advance, and rushed this knock-off into production.  How else to explain it?  The only other thing I can think of it that it's a knock at Disney, with Bruce Willis playing the architect of this theme park for adults, where they're free to rape, torture or even kill the artificial "residents".  

There's also a cop in the city where this theme park is located, and he doesn't care for the actions taking place there - his belief is that people will come to the resort, get a taste for rape or murder, and then try to recreate those actions in the real world.  But, umm, why would they, when they can do so in the resort, without any fear of prosecution or repercussions?  But if you follow that logic, you might come to believe that the rise of first-person shooter video games would result in fewer mass shootings, but the sad truth is, we've got more of them taking place now than ever.

There's also an attempt to get inside the heads of the robots themselves - they're supposed to have their memories wiped at the end of every day, but just like a computer's hard drive, nothing really gets "erased", it's just the links to those files that get disabled, so unless the storage is needed for something else, those memory files are still there, and eventually they start to seep into the day-to-day consciousness of one resident.  So even though she's supposed to be living the same day over and over, (and some programmer cruelly decided that she's always looking forward to leaving the city "tomorrow") she starts to have memories of her past experiences, particularly getting raped and killed.  

This causes her to break out of her programming cycle, and she finds one of the men who designed her, who modelled her after an ex-girlfriend (gee, what are the odds of that?) and he tries to help her escape.  Because that's what the world needs, a pissed-off female android roaming about, looking for revenge.  And it's a huge NITPICK POINT that this programmer didn't build a sub-routine into her programming so she'd be forced to come and sleep with him every night.  Almost like having his ex-girlfriend back, right?  

And then, when presented with a way out of the city, and the help of this cop, this fembot doesn't leave, but instead returns to the park headquarters, just to stop the out-of-control theme park owner, and (for some reason) enable all the robots to remember their past experiences.  Because why should SHE be the only messed-up robot, looking for revenge on humans?  Why not ALL of them?  This is just a terrible plan, no matter how you look at it.  By all means, try to shut the park down, but don't just make more robots mad at people!

My second NITPICK POINT concerns the safety checks in the system, or lack thereof.  If the robots are so lifelike, and programmed to have these feelings - why, oh, WHY would you program the robots to feel bad about things, if you don't have to do that.  If they're not supposed to remember the bad things that happen to them, why even associate "bad" with those things in the first place?  Things that happen to humans over time are only classified as "good" or "bad" when we compare them to experiences we had before, and this wouldn't apply to the robots!  If they're designed to do "immoral" things, why give them a moral code in the first place?  Not to mention, how would a guest be able to tell the robots from his fellow guests, some of whom are (presumably) female?  What happens if a guy rapes or kills another guest, instead of a robot?  

They also used to have this TV show, back in the day, called "Fantasy Island", where a mysterious character named Mr. Roarke would allow people to come to his island, presumably for a lot of money, where they could live out their fantasies, to be a rock-star or a model or whatever - and they never really said if Roarke had magic powers, or if everything was done with special effects, or if he just drugged or hypnotized everyone, letting them believe they were living out their fantasy, while they were in a deprivation tank or something.  But there was usually a lesson involved, the island's guests would learn that their fantasy wasn't all it was cracked up to be, or that being a Western gunfighter was in fact quite dangerous.  The resort in "Vice" didn't seem interested in providing any lessons, nor did the film seem interested in making any coherent points.  You're probably better off just watching the old "Westworld" again.  Or "Blade Runner", whichever.

Also starring Thomas Jane (last seen in "Under Suspicion"), Ambyr Childers, Bryan Greenberg (last seen in "Prime"), Johnathon Schaech, Charlotte Kirk (last seen in "Non-Stop"), Brett Granstaff, Don Harvey (last seen in "Taken 3"), Ryan O'Nan, Colin Egglesfield (last seen in "Must Love Dogs"), Jesse Pruett, Lydia Hull (last seen in "Escape Plan"), Tyler Jon Olson.

RATING: 2 out of 10 skill sets

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