Robotropolis (2011)

Domo arigato, killer robotos


Over the past decade, we have witnessed some incredible technological breakthroughs. Smartphones. iPads. HDTV. Yet the vast majority of the population does not have their own robot butler.

Is it just me, or does that seem wrong? Weren’t we all promised robot servants would be a part of our lives sometime after the year 2000? Yet now we’re 13 years into this millennium, and I’m still pouring my own bowl of Count Chocula and bathing my own children in a completely robot-free home.

Thankfully, Hollywood is here to give us a glimpse of what we are missing. In the glorious tradition of RoboCop 3 and Short Circuit 2 comes Robotropolis, an instant science fiction classic that envisions a scenario where more robots would actually be a bad thing.

Robotropolis takes place in New Town, a private community where robots have become commonplace. They work in factories and interact with the locals. A television news crew has come to New Town to file reports on how perfectly everything is going. However – brace yourselves – a stunning turn of events changes everything.

While the GNN crew is in the midst of a live broadcast, a robot wanders into a soccer game. This game certainly could not be called a “friendly,” as the robot inexplicably shoots and kills one of the human participants. There have only been two exciting moments in soccer history: when Brandi Chastain ripped off her jersey during a World Cup victory celebration, and when France’s Zinedine Zidane head-butted someone back in 2006. Well, we now have a third thrilling soccer moment to remember.

Now, the simple solution would be to find the killer robot and destroy it. However, it is not that easy. At the risk of sounding racist, all these robots look alike. That’s not the only issue, though. The bad behaviour is spreading, and before long, the robots are preying on the townsfolk like a family of guinea pigs attacking a Dairy Queen ice cream cake. Have you ever seen guinea pigs eating a cake? It is not a pretty site, and neither are these vicious robot assaults. And no, I am not getting any kickback from Dairy Queen for mentioning them in this review.

The story is mostly told through the point of view of the GNN crew, so it is almost like the viewer is watching an actual news broadcast. Except in this case the news is interesting, and there is no awkward banter between the anchorman and weather girl.

Robotropolis is a stylish tale that not only delivers plenty of action and drama, but also gives viewers plenty to think about. How much do you trust that microwave in your kitchen? What about that electric toothbrush in your bathroom? How well do you really know your iPod Nano? I’m not suggesting that these devices are going to rebel and murder you while you sleep. Just to be on the safe side though, you might want to see if you are able to sleep with one eye open.



Rubber (2010)

You’ll never tire of watching this film


Throughout the history of motion pictures, audiences have been presented some truly heartless, cruel and dastardly villains. Darth Vader. Heath Ledger’s portrayal of The Joker. That shirtless werewolf guy from the Twilight films. They all pale in comparison, however, to the protagonist in Rubber, a truly ground-breaking film I’ll be taking a look at this week. Why? Well, because the lead character is a tire.

Rubber is a film within a film from renowned French director Quentin Dupieux. As the story begins, a group of individuals are gathered in a desert to watch a film. There is no screen, only binoculars. What they are treated to is the oddest occurrence in a “theatre” since Fred Willard decided to get out of the house one night this past summer.

A tire suddenly springs to life, and that’s where things really get rolling. Literally rolling, as that is all the tire does at first. But it doesn’t take long for the tire to cross paths with others objects, and eventually animals and people. And that is when this tire will make you squeal.

You see, this isn’t your typical Disney-style anthropomorphism. This tire is pure evil. Through the power of telekinesis, the tire is able to make anything – or anyone – explode into bits. This leads to a thrilling and hilarious “tire-hunt” where buffoonish local law enforcement attempt to give this tire a flat.

I cannot say enough about the performance of the tire. Not since Kristen Stewart burst onto the scene with the aforementioned Twilight films has an inanimate object been given such a prominent role in a major motion picture. I hope to see the tire tackle other genres of film, and to really challenge itself with the roles it chooses. Perhaps a romantic comedy with Reese Witherspoon? Maybe a buddy action film with Jason Statham? The only genre I don’t feel the tire would succeed in is pornography, since rubbers are not generally used. But as long as the tire’s ego doesn’t get too inflated, and it treads cautiously, its career will continue gain traction. The wheels are already in motion.

In an age when most movies seem to just be retreads, Rubber is a provocative and original film. If you want to have a good day – hell, if you want to have a good year – then be sure to check out Rubber.