Science Fiction Films discussion

February Film Discussion > Topics for Consideration:

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message 1: by Alex DeLarge (last edited Jan 25, 2009 08:50AM) (new)

Alex DeLarge | 342 comments Mod
I posted in the January Topic that I suggest we pick a theme to discuss, which can lead us to a variety of films to recommend. We could discuss Silent Films or 50s era Cold War paranoia, even compare remakes v originals. Post your ideas and I'll create a poll in a few days so we can vote. Let's have fun:)

message 2: by Angie (new)

Angie I really like the Silent Films idea. I haven't really seen any and would love to do that theme so I could get suggestions.

message 3: by Phillip (new)

Phillip the 50s cold war era (and fear of the atomic age) produced my favorite sci-fi films. i'd vote for that. but it might be good to see things that help expand my knowledge of sci-fi, which is fairly limited.

message 4: by Alex DeLarge (new)

Alex DeLarge | 342 comments Mod
Daniel said: "How about "great robots?" That covers everything from "Metropolis" to "Blade Runner" with "Forbidden Planet" along the way. (And has anyone ever seen Robby's follow up film, "The Invisible Boy?")

Great Robots! From THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL, ALIEN, STAR WARS, THE TERMINATOR, LOGAN'S name just a few more of the cuff.

message 5: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) That's funny Alex because I was just going to suggest a "Robot" theme. :)

message 6: by Tom (new)

Tom | 166 comments I was thinking robots in LOGAN'S RUN? And then I remembered good old Box.

My birds! My birds!

message 7: by Phillip (new)

Phillip it could also allow for ridley scott's first effort in the alien chronicles.

message 8: by Alex DeLarge (new)

Alex DeLarge | 342 comments Mod
I couldn't remember the name of the robot in LOGAN'S RUN but remember how cheesy it looked:) Wish I still had my trading cards.

On that note, does anyone remember (or collect) the original MARS ATTACKS cards from Topps in '62? They were released quite a few years before my time, but my friend just discovered about a dozen in an old shoebox when he cleaned out the basement of his new house. He was kind enough to give them to me! Some of the most gruesome science fiction artwork I've ever seen outside of the original EC Comics. Great stuff!

message 9: by Angie (new)

Angie Robots has my vote!

message 10: by Alex DeLarge (new)

Alex DeLarge | 342 comments Mod
Rob, yep, these are originals. Wally Wood (the great EC artist) did the sketches for this set and seeing soldier's flesh melt of their bones from Death Rays is just too a ghoulish child-like way:) Topps also released a Civil War set of cards (same year) and about another dozen were mixed in: they are just as violent! Pickett's Charge shows soldiers being stabbed through the throat, for god's sake, all this for kid's trading cards. I've been doing some eBay surfing and figured I need to buy a card at a time over the next hundred years to afford a complete set of both.

SILENT RUNNING is on my list to watch again. I remember the robots kinda stumbling drunkenly around, like cardboard boxes with legs.

message 11: by Kandice (new)

Kandice ROBOTS!!!!!

message 12: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) Aww! I thought the Silent Running robots were cute! I loved them! When he was playing cards and telling them not to talk to each other it was really cute.

I'm such a sappy GIRL! I'm so ashamed! ;)

Anyway, Rob, they did use double amputees for the robots... Check it out.

message 13: by Alex DeLarge (new)

Alex DeLarge | 342 comments Mod
I'm really liking this theme! Do we want to review films with robot pro/antogonists in generall or be more specific and focus upon the role, both culturally and psychologically, that the machines play in the story? I think there are some interesting philosophical questions when we consider robots as equal to human BLADR RUNNER; seems to satisfy our god complex, except sometimes the 'student" becomes greater than the "teacher".

I just remembered a cool Outer Limits (original) episode based on Asimov's I ROBOT about Adam, who stands trial for murder. Wow, this IS a great topic. Thanks Daniel!

message 14: by Phillip (new)

Phillip i think robots is a wide open subject and we could view it with a variety of lenses.

message 15: by Angie (last edited Jan 27, 2009 08:21AM) (new)

Angie I think of Flight of the Navigator when I think of Robot movies for kids. And what about Short Circuit (though I don't know if that is sci-fi)?

message 16: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) I'm up for anything except "A.I.", I fell asleep during that movie, and I can never fall asleep with the TV on.

message 17: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) Rob wrote: "Should we distinguish between 'robots' and 'androids'?"

Good question Rob, I was just lumping them all together...

message 18: by Alex DeLarge (new)

Alex DeLarge | 342 comments Mod
Robots and the difference only aestethic?

Seems as if we've already starting discussing our February topic:)

message 19: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) Maybe Alex. I think of androids as being a bit more "human" in the fact that they have emotional responses, the ability to reason and communicate.

C3PO is an android, while R2D2 is a robot, yet both communicate in their own ways and seem to have emotions and the ability to think, etc.

Huey, Dewey, and Louie from Silent Running can be seen as having emotions and even loyalty to each other, but don't really have the reason and logic abilities - they can only do one function at a time, until programmed differently.

Interesting question since robots can be seen as having human emotions even if they aren't really programmed to. But maybe that's just a human tendency to give everything around us human characteristics...

message 20: by Kandice (new)

Kandice I think androids are made to look like humans, but robots are not. Depending on the work you are discussing, androids may or may not have human emotions or reactions, but their look is always human, or humanoid. Robots generally don't resemble humans, but may resemble animals.
(I think)

message 21: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) Kandice, what would you consider Jonnny 5 from Short Circuit? I'd consider him an android because he is able to reason and show emotion, etc, but he is more robotic looking than humanoid. (I mean that whatever human features he has are strictly functional rather than aesthetic.)

Rob, weren't there some mechanical beings that Luke referred to as "bots"? I can't remember.

message 22: by Kandice (last edited Jan 27, 2009 03:26PM) (new)


According to Wikipedia, an android is a robot built to resemble a human being. A robot is a virtual or mechanical artificial agent.

I agree Jonnny 5 was very human in his reactions, but he didn't resemble one.

message 23: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) Who needs Wikipedia? I just make my own definitions! ;)

message 24: by Kandice (new)

Kandice That's okay! By your definition, R2D2 AND Jonnny 5 are androids. (kind of) And I love them both so don't have a problem with that.

message 25: by Angie (new)

Angie So Robocop would be a android?

message 26: by Kandice (new)

Kandice YES!

message 27: by Alex DeLarge (new)

Alex DeLarge | 342 comments Mod
What about HAL? Arguably, he (it?) could be the most human character in the Kubrick canon. (For example, the characters from FULL METAL JACKET are more robot-like than HAL). His reasoning and logic, his empathy, and his soft gentle voice are more human the the crew. He dreams and thinks independantly...and murders for self-preservation. Like a human being. So the difference between a robot and an android may be just cosmetic, but what seperates them from us?

message 28: by Kandice (new)

Kandice I think HAL was self aware. That's where the line between them and us becomes indistinct! The way they look factors in how we may treat or interact with them, but their ability to reason, and not just access a preset program for a resolution to a given problem changes everything.

message 29: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) Yep, HAL is definitely an android, Alex. Fits my definition perfectly! ;)

message 30: by Alex DeLarge (new)

Alex DeLarge | 342 comments Mod
I just re-read Stephen King's DANSE MACABRE and I definately need to see THE STEPFORD WIVES (original); he writes at length about the merits of the film which cross science fiction and horror boundaries. I've never seen it!

I like the theme of discussing robots/androids in relation to their human counterparts in a particular film. Our discussion now is general in nature (still very interesting) but we could focus more on specifics in a particular film(s). So. we could vote on one film or each of us write a review of a favorite film, speaking to this (in)human dichotomy and how it relates to that film's theme. The second idea is neat because we may all write about different films but still reach similiar conclusions!

message 31: by Phillip (new)

Phillip i say we include android and robots - look at what fun we're having playing with the distinction - it will make for a more diverse array of films.

message 32: by Daniel (last edited Jan 28, 2009 07:17AM) (new)

Daniel | 39 comments A few comments. I go to the annual 24 hour SF film marathon here in the Boston area every year, and they often have themes. So robots (and androids) was a natural suggestion.

I tend to be expansive in my definitions when there's no reason not to be. Why not include, say, HAL from "2001?" The point is to enjoy the discussion, not to yell at HAL that if he doesn't have arms and legs he's out. Don't forgot "Colossus: The Forbin Project" as well.

"Stepford Wives" should absolutely be included, but see the original movie (and read Ira Levin's book) and ignore the recent misfire of a remake.

"A.I." should be included in the discussion, but only to be laughed at derisively as the Spielbergian disaster that it was. I wanted to storm the projection booth and burn the film after seeing it. (And the stir the ashes.) It was originally supposed to be done by Stanley Kubrick who ultimately couldn't figure out how it could be successfully filmed. Spielberg then proceeded to prove Kubrick correct.

Finally, "Robocop" is not an android. He is a cyborg. :)

message 33: by Daniel (new)

Daniel | 39 comments The discussion seemed to be going quite nicely without any restrictions or pre-conditions.

message 34: by Tom (new)

Tom | 166 comments Is HAL a robot/android? I always thought of him as a computer. He's never referred to as a robot/android, is he? He's fairly consistently referred to as a computer, as I remember.

He certainly brings up all the issues that seem to have been discussed thus far about the lines between human/mechanical, and would of course be a valid topic, as would Spielberg's little stand-in for himself, David The Mecha from AI.

message 35: by Angie (new)

Angie So what are a few movies we are going to watch or do we just watch any movies and comment on them?

message 36: by Arthur (new)

Arthur | 8 comments A cyborg is organic, unconscious or controlled using mechanical systems and drugs and for inhuman conditions.
That’s why you see a cyborg army in vandamme’s Cyborg. They perform robotic actions just like a robot, unlike an android, which Robocop thinks he is or a man and robot because his memories are real and no longer under control. Why in science-fiction can Cyborg claim to be human if it once was?

message 37: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) Tom, you're right, HAL is a computer.

I was just saying that by my own very unofficial definition of androids, HAL would be one due to the human-like tendencies he shows, such as self-preservation, etc.

As I see it, robots and androids could all be reduced down to computers. Strip away their exterior and that's all that's left, so it's not that far of a stretch (for me anyway, haha) to include HAL as an android. :)

message 38: by Phillip (new)

Phillip i think it might be more fun if we leave it open. cyborg, robot, android, computer housed artificial intelligence gone awry - you know, that way we can look at all these different constructs and enjoy the compare and contrasts.

like, what is the original terminator? is he an android or robot or?....seems like a robot to me.

message 39: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) I concur. The Terminator would be an android.

message 40: by Tom (new)

Tom | 166 comments OK --




Can folks define these terms? As I understood it, a cyborg was actually a combination of human and machine. But what's the difference between a robot and an android?

message 41: by Angie (new)

Angie I agree with Philip we should watch all the movies instead of just robots or just android.

message 42: by Kandice (new)

Kandice I like Alex's idea of everyone choosing their own on-topic movie and then review it and it's relevance to our topic.

The original Stepford Wives movie was terrific! I loved the book and was serioulsy upset when I paid full price to see the remake. Ridiculous!!! I was even more dispaointed because I liked the actors.

message 43: by Alex DeLarge (new)

Alex DeLarge | 342 comments Mod
Wow, this topic is really interesting! I'm not too concerned about the physical difference between robots/androids/cyborgs/computer but the abstract emotional and intellectual similarities between us and them. Can a human being construct an "object" that can reason and act on its own, become self aware? Science fiction is the genre that can ask these questions and deliver some fantastic answers...and I'm not sure there is a correct answer. Though HAL is a computer that can't walk around...Stephen Hawking is a human who can't walk around; is he a computer? Maybe, they have the same IQ!

Does everyone like the idea of discussing artificial intelligence (I don't mean the Spielberg fiasco) in contrast to the human element in a particular film? Like I said, it's cool that we each choose our own film(s) and bring different viewpoints to the topic. Or would that be too confusing?

message 44: by Kandice (new)

Kandice I think that would be perfect. We all seem to be very good at expressing ourselves, and it's so much more fun when a discussion becomes a debate!

message 45: by Phillip (new)

Phillip yeah - i think the general umbrella of "artificial intelligence" works well.

rob - thanks for schooling me on terminator. now that i know our governor is an android, it helps me understand a few things.

message 46: by Angie (new)

Angie I have a shot glass from California with Arnold on it that says Govinator. Love it!

message 47: by Angie (new)

Angie To me one of the most recent good robot movies is WALL-E. I love how most of the beginning of the movie there wasn't any dialog yet it kept children involved.

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