Michel Sargent, contributor
“Something’s not in orbit in this capital of the galaxy” says the gun-toting revolutionary Lemmy Caution upon entering Alphaville (1965). This French New Wave technocracy is run by a narrating supercomputer that decreed showing emotion gets you the death squad over a swimming pool with synchronized swimming. Blow that shit up!
Filmed in Robo-Monstervision (Super-8!), Automatons (2006) is a nightmare future aftermath of the last great robot wars of humanity and cheap but amazing-looking special effects-laden allegory of perpetual warfare.
It’s corporations vs. the Lotek movement of hackers, data-pirates and guerrilla fighters in an info war that Johnny Mnemonic (1995) gets his brain-storage tangled in. The man bun-bedecked villains wear white turtlenecks, Henry Rollins gets crucified but not even Ice-T and his trusted cyber-dolphin can save this film from Keanu’s special effects-leaden “acting”.
It sure doesn’t take long for the killbots to violently apply their Christian moral values on the fornicating staff of the Chopping Mall (1986).
Millennia after the last atomic apocalypse, two Wizards (1977) fight an animated psychedelic war between magic and technology. The technological wizard embraced the swastika and uses guns, tanks and vintage Nazi propaganda against the swordsmen and archers battling for magic, whose wizard lives in a tall circumcised-looking phallus, objectifies women, is tolerant of slapstick blasphemy and befriends a robot assassin named peace.
A little kid creates a virus that takes down Wall Street and forever thinks in cult film montage, Penn Jillette is a “technowienie” but besides the costumes the worst part of Hackers (1995) is the obvious pro-roller blade/anti-skateboard bias.
A nerdy disorganized exec buys a computer to organize his coffeemaker and security system. After interfacing it with his apartment he spills champagne on the keyboard giving it sentience; rage and jealousy are its first emotions. Not the Electric Dreams (1984) he envisioned.
A newly invented element called Superconn created by zapping rock mushrooms with electricity makes Mandroid (1993) possible and “designed even more that it was supposed to”. The remote-operated diabolical-looking warrior lab assistant design is coveted by both creators resulting in a hilariously bad story. And the human lab assistant turns invisible!
Yes! Invisible: The Chronicles of Benjamin Knight (1993) follows our Mandroid-controlling team as they battle a disfigured asylum director and his totally insane army. Knight can control his invisibility by mainlining Superconn and Mandroid is now controlled with sunglasses but I’m only guessing the advanced tech was the result of a reduced budget.
Modern Times (1936) is a totalitarian story of industry that views men as sheep, monitors the restroom and hopes to machine-feed workers to cut down on breaks. Also Charlie Chaplin falls into the machinery causing a nervous breakdown then accidentally leading a communist protest, ingesting a bunch of “nose powder” and finding love.
After going online Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970), a gigantic self-sufficient, self-protecting, self-generating and impenetrable computer created to control the military’s weapons invents binary and expands scientific knowledge with its surprise Russian counterpart, who both immediately decide they’ve had enough of their human overlords. Shall they play a game…