If you were looking to give me advice on something, I regret to inform you that this isn’t the time right now. Actually, it’s time for another movie review! 🙂
A while ago, I had mentioned some DVDs that I had received, and as it turns out, one of them was Short Circuit. You can probably guess how it ends (generically) as there is a sequel, but I belive that this is the first time that I’ve seen the first movie in a long time, if at all; that’s because I was a bit confused and was thinking that this was the movie where Johnny is fixing himself in the Radio Shack, but it is the sequel that this happens in.
Before tackling the actual movie, I want to bring something important to the attention of DVD makers – if you claim that “SHORT CIRCUIT IS PRESENTED IN A 2.35:1 WIDESCREEN ASPECT RATIO”, then make sure that the whole movie is actually in that AR. When I put the DVD into the computer to take some screenshots, the actual movie was presented in a 4:3 AR, standard for most TVs, but this isn’t disclosed on the box.
Another quite surprising thing about the DVD is the lack of extras. Most DVDs now have English, Spanish and French language and subtitle tracks, but Short Circuit has two English tracks – Dolby 5.1 and Dolby 2.0, and does not have any subtitles (it doesn’t even appear to be closed-captioned as there is no CC logo on the box). Additionally, there are no additional features such as a director’s commentary, deleted scenes (though the director did put some of them into the closing credits), or the theatrical trailer (see below). In fact, here is the menu for the movie –
Now, the feature presentation…
It all starts with scenes of a computer-type device being formed with the last scene showing S.A.I.N.T. 5 operational, ready to have its manufacturer’s tag placed on it. This is all in preparation for a bunch of tanks to come and destroy a very nice flower patch before they get destroyed by these new S.A.I.N.T. machines. Fortunately, they decided to place plastic replica people into the vehicles. Afterwards, the robots are placed into a police line-up where they are praised for destroying these tanks.
You know that there is trouble ahead when you hear thunder in the background, forcing the well-prepared brass to take the presentation inside the Nova offices. This begs the question – if these robots were real, if they had to take the presentation inside, then woulnd’t that mean that they couldn’t use these robots in their operation GotchaLast if it were raining or snowing in Moscow?
Now, since the only place they can actually charge the robots is outside, and there’s a thunderstorm approaching (you’d think that if it was raining at the demonstration ground, it’d be raining at the Nova building, but it’s actually clear when the Trailways buses appear), the general tendency would be to make sure that the electronics are protected from electrical surge, but the numbskull in charge of the charging of the robots just kinda blows it off and, of course, what happens? Yep…
In the meantime, the inventor’s assistant Ben is trying to get Newton (the inventor) out and hobnobbing with the brass, including a visiting Senator; of course Newton is the stereotypical geek – insulated to the world, but he uses his robotic hand to give him an assist in replying to Ben’s request 😉
A brilliant move on the behalf of the director is to actually use some of the footage from the beginning of the movie during the hobnobbing scenes, before the discovery of the disappearance of Number 5…
Three observations about these robots, and Nova in General –
1. They are incredibly light as a trashcan being pushed by a robot is enough to overpower them.
2. Exposed wiring looks incredibly like a dog’s teat.
3. Their security guard can’t read the sign at the entrance
Fortunately, 5 manages to get away from the people from “Security” bent on his destruction, and finds his way onto the top of a food wagon that caters “partys”
Even in the 80s, there was some great product placement – take a look at the ads, commercials and other assortment of cool, old stuff that they got into the movie 🙂
The one bit of cultural knowledge that Number 5 manages to pick up on the best are the antics of the Three Stooges. The great thing is that he has just enough time to program the other robots to mimic their act. It’s interesting that Howard didn’t raise a red flag over having not just $11 million, but $44 million of robot out there (like he had done when Ben & Newton decided to take Number 1 along with them and their Apple Macintosh).
The most interesting thing about the movie is the relationship that Newton (the man who hadn’t driven for 5 years, but isn’t awarded a cake from Ben – clearly 5’s driving was worse) and Stephanie make. The meet at first when her van is hijacked by Number 5 and she rides along trying to get him to stop; and that meeting ends in her wanting to meet with him again. By the end, they’re planning to go off to Wyoming and live their lives together, despite all the times that she thought that he was lying to her.
Interestingly, in the scene where Number 5 summons Newton to meet Stephanie, radio geeks will appreciate the fact that you could see that they used a labelmaker to make labels to represent the five robots and the FCC licenses that they had taken for their use, but since the movie is 20 years old, the licenses have probably lapsed, thus they do not appear in their online listings.
This is definitely one movie that deserves to be seen, and the main reason isn’t the story; it’s the fella that steals the show comedically, Ben Jabituya, portrayed by Fisher Stevens. Basically, if he starts speaking, expect to laugh. Below is an audio clip from early in the movie; there’s a point where there is a sound that goes pfft (note that this is a poor textual representation of a computer, so the actual sound will be different). You should refer back to the picture of the reply to Ben’s request to go to hobnob when this happens 😉
Here’s a second audio clip, just because I can do it; this is of one of the more memorable lines from the movie (maybe that’s just because there’s a radio host in my area who might have used this as a drop-in once or twice); just after Number 5 reactivates himself, and Ben and the other Nova employee stop at the side of the road. The question is “What should we do?”…
Lastly, here is the trailer for the movie. I know I’ve heard the narrator’s work previously in other commercials; his talents used to be quite common on TV, but maybe I’m wrong about that. 😉
Addendum: Sorry for the odeo player deciding to play the audio at double pitch; I really don’t know how that happened, but I bet it has something to do with sample rates….