DEF CON 24 Homework,
Guilty Pleasure Edition
Heady, insightful movies about the rise of robots and AI are great. We've even recommended several in these pages, and you should definitely watch them all.
Still, movies don't have to carry the weight of 2001 or the maniac attention to detail of Blade Runner to be worth 90 minutes of your life. Sometimes an earnestly misguided B-movie is just what the doctor ordered. In that spirit, we offer 'Rise of the Machines' Movie Homework, Guilty Pleasure Edition.
In the early 70s, the robot future looked like the Disney animatronic President exhibit, at least to the makers of this film. Take a fun, sexy vacation to a theme park where robots populate a Wild-West themed town. You can drink with them, dance with them, fight with them - it's a hoot until somebody makes the Yul Brynner-bot angry. Fun and interesting, if a little slow-moving.
The Lawnmower Man:
Sure, VR is all the rage now, but this isn't the first time we've gone crazy for the idea of low-poly graphics and nausea goggles. The last VR boom mostly created dozens of televised interviews for Jaron Lanier, but right on the edge of that bubble we got 'Lawnmower Man' - a sort of 'Flowers for Algernon' meets 'Transcendence' with some seriously early 90s graphics work.
I can't really give you a better description than IMDB does:
"The head of a cyborg reactivates and rebuilds itself and goes on a violent rampage in a space marine's girlfriend's apartment."
This movie isn't high art, but it's fun and it's better than its budget deserves. Also, Lemmy is in it.
Tom Selleck and his absurdly luxurious mustache have the dirty job of deactivating robots who've gone haywire. The over-the-top bad guy is played by Gene Simmons of KISS. Michael Crichton wrote and directed. Dopey fun, and a good reminder how incredibly weird the 80s were.