#22 Small Soldiers
I remember this movie coming out all of 16 years ago. I remember the marketing explosion of Happy Meal toys, commercials, action figures, and a looming sense that this movie was different. Dark things had happened in kid’s movies before, but this movie I remember scaring us before it came out on a subconscious level. It was perhaps because it was a kid’s version of the Chuckie films, which, on the most basic level, was out to scare you with the notion of these toys, these things you have in your room that you control and have fun with, have an entirely different agenda of their own and they can totally kill you.
It was as if they were kneeling in front of us at our eye level and smiling as they whispered, “Toy Story sold you a lie.”

Of course we all wanted to see it. It was some kind of right of passage we all agreed to sail together, “Yes, we like toys. But they’re scary now.” Growing up without letting go.
I don’t remember my parents taking me to see it, we rarely saw movies in the theater (and when we did it was at the local $1 theater my mother dubbed ‘The Sticky Palace’ due to its fly-trap soda-sticky floors), but I’m sure at another kid’s house the VHS tape was popped in and the fear was unleashed.
I have always had a special affinity for toys, my other blog starkminiatures attests to that, and in adulthood as the the projection of human emotions and attachments only seems to strengthen and is occasionally worrying (especially after hearing such feelings, among other traits, is a slight form of synesthesia). However, I haven’t seen this film since it’s initial release, and watching it again now I can see why we were scared. 

Aside from taking away the control we have of our own possessions, this movie is dark both physically and figuratively. Some scenes are hard to even see they’re so ill-lit, and whether it’s for tone or to help the 90’s special effects along, it’s almost straining in some parts to watch. On the other hand, we have figures’ faces melting off, even dismembered, an assembly line of Barbie-esque ‘Gwendy Dolls’ being torn open and programmed for combat, who then swarm and subdue their owner, a Jumanji-era Kirsten Dunst.

This movie is full of, “Wait, they’re in this?” moments. David Cross, Phil Hartman, & Denis Leary to name a few faces, and the faceless are even more extensive when you get to the voice actors. Some are obvious, like Tommy Lee Jones, but then Sarah Michelle Gellar & Christina Ricci as the Gwendy Dolls? Ernie Borgnine & Christopher Guest as commandos? Huh.
It took a lot of consideration to decide if this was indeed a ‘robot movie’, but at the end of the day, they are man-made moving parts with artificial intelligence provided by the ‘X-1000 microchip’ implanted in each figure. They are robots, they are toys, and they are here to ruin all the fun you had as a kid.

#22 Small Soldiers

I remember this movie coming out all of 16 years ago. I remember the marketing explosion of Happy Meal toys, commercials, action figures, and a looming sense that this movie was different. Dark things had happened in kid’s movies before, but this movie I remember scaring us before it came out on a subconscious level. It was perhaps because it was a kid’s version of the Chuckie films, which, on the most basic level, was out to scare you with the notion of these toys, these things you have in your room that you control and have fun with, have an entirely different agenda of their own and they can totally kill you.

It was as if they were kneeling in front of us at our eye level and smiling as they whispered, “Toy Story sold you a lie.”

Of course we all wanted to see it. It was some kind of right of passage we all agreed to sail together, “Yes, we like toys. But they’re scary now.” Growing up without letting go.

I don’t remember my parents taking me to see it, we rarely saw movies in the theater (and when we did it was at the local $1 theater my mother dubbed ‘The Sticky Palace’ due to its fly-trap soda-sticky floors), but I’m sure at another kid’s house the VHS tape was popped in and the fear was unleashed.

I have always had a special affinity for toys, my other blog starkminiatures attests to that, and in adulthood as the the projection of human emotions and attachments only seems to strengthen and is occasionally worrying (especially after hearing such feelings, among other traits, is a slight form of synesthesia). However, I haven’t seen this film since it’s initial release, and watching it again now I can see why we were scared. 

Aside from taking away the control we have of our own possessions, this movie is dark both physically and figuratively. Some scenes are hard to even see they’re so ill-lit, and whether it’s for tone or to help the 90’s special effects along, it’s almost straining in some parts to watch. On the other hand, we have figures’ faces melting off, even dismembered, an assembly line of Barbie-esque ‘Gwendy Dolls’ being torn open and programmed for combat, who then swarm and subdue their owner, a Jumanji-era Kirsten Dunst.

This movie is full of, “Wait, they’re in this?” moments. David Cross, Phil Hartman, & Denis Leary to name a few faces, and the faceless are even more extensive when you get to the voice actors. Some are obvious, like Tommy Lee Jones, but then Sarah Michelle Gellar & Christina Ricci as the Gwendy Dolls? Ernie Borgnine & Christopher Guest as commandos? Huh.

It took a lot of consideration to decide if this was indeed a ‘robot movie’, but at the end of the day, they are man-made moving parts with artificial intelligence provided by the ‘X-1000 microchip’ implanted in each figure. They are robots, they are toys, and they are here to ruin all the fun you had as a kid.

theunicornkittenkween

mothwizard:

me: i want something very short and small and cutesy but most importantly body safe and discreet

sex toy companies: try the DEVASTATOR SEVENTY THREE INCHES OF PURE JELLY RUBBER HYPER REALISTIC VEINS WE SHOWED IT TO A NUN ONCE AND SHE BURST INTO FLAMES THERE’S ONLY ONE SETTING: DEVASTATION THE VIBRATIONS CAUSED AN EARTHQUAKE MILLIONS ARE DEAD

I miss working in a whack-shack so much sometimes.

#21 Condor

Ok, first of all, can we talk about this movie poster? Look at it. LOOK AT IT.

Now that we’ve set the expectations for this film with that non-nonchalant explosion, we have to talk about this movie. It reminds you immediately that it’s a TV-movie by opening with shots of quasi-future-ish traffic (the movie was made in 1986, so they picked the high-future year of 1999 for the setting) and a bizarrely informative, yet somehow still useless narration by our hero, played by Ray Wise.

Dearest Ray looks and sounds like Charlton Heston piloting the skin of Mick Jagger.

The first robots seen here are prison guard androids, and you quickly feel the bar being set rather low.

They opt for the low budget version of the look from THX 1138, guys in bulky white hazmat-casual ensembles. However, the closer shots of the helmets prove their design is actually rather good and somewhat decrease the ‘clumsy human’ aspect that ruins many an android illusion.

Lisa is an android paired up with whatshisface as a partner in classic ‘I just lost my partner so I’m bitter toward you and a little robot-racist but okay get in the car’ fashion. Other than heightened intelligence and a few other miniscule moments of inhuman abilities, they do little to enforce Lisa as an android. Whether this is to enforce that she’s so advanced she’s practically human or someone just forgot, it doesn’t make her any less likeable.

For the most part, the movie actually doesn’t delve into the spandex-n-science goofiness most low-budget future movies give us - especially from the era of it’s making - rather, we have little normal things, like voice recognition and fast food establishments (pirate themed, because why not?) manned by sexy automatons that end at the waist. No film-scratch lasers or chrome automatic doors (until later), hell, the character’s house still has wood paneling.

…and holographic viking opera alarms. But still. He owns a chrome blender, and if anything, that looks future-y.

Despite somewhat promising beginnings, including the Lisa the android partner assigned to Proctor (had to look that up, because of course you would) the movie does slip somewhere in the middle into ‘generic 80’s action flick’, complete with obviously toy-sized helicopters being passed off as huge killer drones, Tron-style ‘effects’, and a catsuited villain called the Black Widow intent on taking over… stuff… with computers. Because reasons. Her brother was killed or something, I wasn’t paying attention after this, seeing as how nothing, nothing could surpass Viking Holo-Alarm.