2004/12/13

This velvet painting of Elvis? I call it Pieta. Like it?

I watched the most amazing movie tonight. It was called Fellowship Of The Ring. You know, Tolkien?

There was this short guy named Bilbo in it. He's just minding his own business when WHAM, this bearded robot guy named Gandalf appears from the future and starts trying to kill him.

See, Bilbo was going to father a man named Aragorn, who would eventually lead a revolt against the robots of the future, and Gandalf the time-traveling robot came back to make sure that didn't happen.

Anyway, a different robot named Boromir (or Faramir, I couldn't tell because they all had these English accents) was sent back to protect Bilbo from Gandalf. They duke it out, but Gandalf is really hard to beat because he can shape-shift and stuff.

Halfway through the movie an evil elf named Darth Elrond entered the picture from out of nowhere. He wore a black cape and a menacing black mask and had breathing problems. He built a Death Tower out of elm wood and fairy dust that could destroy all of Middle Earth. He was really, really evil.

Another short guy named SAM-1000 turned himself into an evil computer aboard the spaceship Discovery, and he and his pilot, Starbuck, tried to kill Gimli in the Mines of Moria. But in the end, Bilbo's nephew Frodo saved everyone by killing a whole boat load of face-hugging aliens.

Oops! My bad. What I really watched was I, Robot.

I, Robot was "inspired by" Asimov's body of work in the same way that the above was "inspired by" Tolkien's. In other words, if Asimov hadn't already passed away, watching this would have killed him. It had a character from Asimov's stories, a corporation, and robots. All of them have absolutely nothing in common with the character, corporation and robots in Asimov's books. Nothing. Let me repeat that. Nothing If they'd stuck those three things into Indiana Jones and the Temple Of Doom it would have been just as faithful to anything Asimov wrote. Crap. Utter crap.

As a sci-fi/action film it didn't suck too terribly bad, any more than Indiana Jones sucked. It was no less believable than Tremors, say, or Rollerblade. (I'm joking. Laugh.) But as a nod to Asimov? Get real! It was Asimov like Dan Quayle was Jack Kennedy. Except for the gender thing... not.

Stick Rhett Butler into a space-costume, have him battle Ming the Merciless, and call it a tribute to Margaret Mitchell. Pit an angel named Clarence against Hannibal Lecter in a boxing ring with Burgess Meredith as his trainer and say "inspired by a Thomas Harris novel" in the credits.

Go ahead and watch I, Robot if you've never read an Asimov robot story. It's okay, I guess. But if you are an Asimov fan, lock every preconception of yours in the closet before watching this film. In fact, forget you've even heard of Asimov and pretend everything you know about SF's roots comes from reading X-Men comic books. Then you might like it. Kinda. It had a few cool effects.

Sheesh.
Comments:
I was kind of wondering how they made a movie that seemed to centralize around one main character out of a book that was written as a series of stories told to a journalist. I'll probably still watch it, just because I like sci-fi flicks, and i like Will Smith, but I will try to avoid any hope that it might resemble the book. Thanks for the warning.

Oh! Just to add to your outrage, the book has gone to printing again, only with a new cover, you guessed it, with Will Smith on the cover and a nifty little, 'now a major motion picture' stamped on the front.
 
Oh, hey, if it helps to sell the BOOKS, that's okay. The movie already made (or lost, I don't know) most of what it's destined to by now. But the more Asimov books that sell, the better.

Either way, I hope Janet and the kids got some dough from that movie deal.
 
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