I have both a movie review and a book review to write, and since they both have something to do with cyborgs, I suppose I might as well combine them into one post. The movie is RoboCop. No, not the recent remake, but the original from 1987, which I actually hadn’t seen before a few days ago.
It’s a pretty good film, and while the title practically screams “B-movie,” there’s actually some astute commentary to be found. The movie takes place in a future Detroit, where crime is high, commercials are somehow even more prevalent than they are today, the most popular television show seems to consist of nothing more than a sleazy guy shoving cake on women’s breasts, and women still have eighties hairstyles. Maybe it’s a retro thing, although I’m hoping that never comes to pass. The corporation responsible for making RoboCop has so much control over the police force that they’re more or less above the law, a real problem when one of the executives turns out to be in league with criminals. RoboCop is unable to harm any executive of Omni Consumer Products, which is resolved at the end when the corrupt executive is fired. But what if more bad apples rise up in the ranks of OCP? This is never addressed, making it feel somewhat incomplete. We also see the theme of robots without a certain level of human control inevitably becoming malfunctioning killing machines, and it’s not subtle. The corrupt executive wants to sell a bunch of crime-fighting robots to the police and the military despite the fact that they not only don’t work, but one almost killed someone during a demonstration. It moves in somewhat odd-looking stop-motion, and makes jaguar and pig noises. If only it were a mountain lion instead of a jaguar, they would have correctly predicted the future of Detroit. Speaking of commercialization, RoboCop is one of several R-rated movies from the eighties that spawned toy lines geared toward children.
I also finished reading Cress, the third book in Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles. While the previous two volumes provided futuristic takes on the stories of Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood, this one brings in an analog of Rapunzel. Cress (short for “Crescent Moon,” but also a play on rapunzel being a leaf vegetable) lives on a satellite, where she’s forced to be a hacker for one of one of the Lunar Queen Levana’s thaumaturges. She joins forces with Cinder, who is still trying to find a way to stop the marriage of the Emperor of the Eastern Commonwealth to Levana. Not a lot is resolved, but we do learn the true origins of the letumosis plague that’s been affecting the Earth. I understand that the fourth book, Winter, will be based on Snow White. Meyer mentioned that she had originally wanted to do a fifth inspired by Puss in Boots, but decided it didn’t really fit. I wonder what her take on Puss would have been. Robotic? Alien? Genetically engineered? I’m sorry I didn’t get to go to Meyer’s book signing at Books of Wonder, but I was working that night.