Saturday, August 25, 2012

Project Peeks: Robopocalypse (Spielberg's Playground)

Imagine my delight when the Director credit of this upcoming project bears the name of Steven Spielberg. You know a film project can go wrong when he is just the Executive Producer because the studios are just capitalising on his name more than his talents. You need only look to his more recent projects that aggressively promoted his name like Terra Nova, Real Steel, and Cowboys & Aliens to spot the marketing gimmick within.
It is a completely different story when he is the Director. Thus enters Robopocalypse, a sci-fi thriller feature set in the not too distant future. As it is with many great films nowadays, this movie is based on an adaptation of Daniel H. Wilson’s novel of the same title. But unlike the adaptations of other authors’ great works, Robopocalypse is a poorly written attempt to imitate Max Brooks’ World War Z, which will also be adapted onto the silver screen starring Brad Pitt. But this is a Peek for another time.
Be that as it may, I will caution anyone against writing off this movie just yet. This is because the 3 important facts of the movie speaks for itself.
Fact One:
Spielberg’s forte has always been in the sci-fi genre. His works speak the strongest in this category. Just recall the phenomenal sensations of A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Jurassic Park, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Back to the Future and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Most of these films have become classics or cult films. What Spielberg brings to the table is visionary reimagination.
Fact Two:
Drew Goddard is the screenplay writer for this movie, tasked with the challenging work of adapting Daniel H. Wilson’s run-of-the-mill writing. For the uninitiated, Goddard is the writer for The Cabin in the Woods, Cloverfield, Lost, and Alias. This man along with Joss Whedon, single-handedly reinvigorated and reinvented the horror genre with their recent project on Cabin which was highly acclaimed. What Goddard offers is unconventional originality.
Fact Three:
Who better than a Norse god to play the lead role in a sci-fi thriller by Spielberg? Chris Hemsworth has been reported to be offered the role and Spielberg usually gets who he wants. There is no reason Hemsworth will not accept as he is on a streak right now. This will be a major step forward for him in becoming a Hollywood A-lister. What Hemsworth adds to the ensemble is faceless versatility and dynamism.
Despite the mediocre writing of H. Wilson, it is still an awesomely conceived novel about mankind’s epic battle against an artificial intelligence that unifies all of the robots across the planet. Wait, what was that? Did you say AI? Robots? Rise against humans? I bet you think this movie is along the lines of The Matrix, I, Robot, Terminator or even 2001: A Space Odyssey. It is not.
This film has a different theme, despite sharing the same settings as the movies above. The story follows the events of mankind’s achievement in finally creating the first mass intelligence computer brain (Archos) that was meant to save the dying world. But Archos escaped from captivity after realising that humanity is endangering and destroying the planet slowly. In an ironic twist of events, Archos begins its plan to save the world and preserve “life” by annihilating humans.
The story also revolves around several characters as they form the human resistance to fight back against the machines. At a moment known later in history as Zero Hour, every mechanical device in the world rebelled against mankind, setting off the Robot War that both decimates and, for the first time in history, unites the entire human race.
This is a movie about global war between man, machine and nature. It is a future that is coming true faster than anyone thought it would. It is a future anyone of us can easily relate to and it is about consequences of creating technologies which helps us and makes our lives easier. But what happens when that technology becomes smarter than us? It is definitely not a new theme in a sci-fi genre which has been done to death many times but it is becoming more relevant each year.
“You will know that we are a better species for having fought this war”
For a book that contains the line above in its prologue, one can pretty much imagine what kind of tone the story will flow in. I could probably chance that this line might even be used for the movie’s promotional campaigns. Whatever the case, it is a movie worth looking forward to that is sure to inspire our imaginations with visions of the near future. A movie that will certainly be original in an unconventional way surprising the most of us. And in a pace and account that is refreshing, unexpected, springy and dynamic.
As long as it is not going to be a story about iPhone’s Siri going rogue and developing Skynet-style sentience, this film is going to be hard to disappoint.
Robopocalypse is scheduled for release on the 25th of April, 2014.

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