|Index||9 reviews in total|
Forget the campy alien-on-earth cliché treatments. PROTOTYPE delivers
the smartest dialogue yet to be seen in SF film, in a contemporary of
Mary Shelley's FRANKENSTEIN.
In a performance that brings smart dialogue and simple but telling cinematography to a deserving SF-savvy audience, Richard Levinson and William Link mark a cerebral triumph in this 1983 TV film starring Christopher Plummer, David Morse and Frances Sternhagen - recently in DVD re-release. With such a well thought-out script, one is left to guess that the film was derived from the theatrical likes of Peter Schaffer or Arthur Miller, but with a tight and wholly spec-fic basis from classic SF matriarch Mary Shelley. In this unabashed homage to that story which began a genre, artificial life is brought to casual life as we know it - a curiosity, a property, a fellow living thing, and finally an entity in search of its purpose, place and destiny.
'Michael', the culmination of years of research by a Pentagon-sponsored program to develop a mechanical man, is introduced to us just as creator and mentor Forrester introduces it to an unsuspecting Mrs. Forrester, in an impromptu Turing test weeks ahead of schedule. Afterwards, convinced that the successes in the creature's first experience outside the controlled environment of the lab are a milestone in their careers, Forrester's research team discovers that instead of celebrating, they should now fear the control which the government has been preparing to exert all along. Forthwith, Forrester and his mechanical man go AWOL from the doctor's work, his team, and his own personal life - to see his creation through to its own self-determination.
There is no high speed chase scene. There are no gun battles, and no hunchbacked, ghastly half-made man shambling amok about the countryside terrorizing innocents. Only this bright and responsive albeit naive young man who never blinks, drinks, or realizes when he tells a stupefyingly appropriate joke. With this unseemly Pinnochio goes the doctor, a man who finds himself questioning his own intents and purpose as he tries to defend his life's work from those who would 'alter' it - perhaps to turn Michael to military ends, or to tap the knowledge of an artificial mind for more ... human ... purposes. The villain is only the looming threat of misuse of a great thing.
The film makes you think. Hard, too, because its social commentary and hypothesis is presented in a most stripped-down and unpretentious format, unencumbered by anything by which it could become dated or trivialized - no high budget special effects or quasi-horrific makeup cloud this film and no glib, idiotic dialogue or cornball voice-over pollutes it. In short, PROTOTYPE is a mind-grower not a mind-blower. Think of PHENOMENON without nonsense, or STARMAN without the glam of superhuman ability. DARYL without any kid stuff.
For all it's worth, 'Michael' is human enough that you want to cry at the mistreatment doled out to him for his innocence, but at the same time you are morally lost with Forrester, who is doggedly naive in attempting to save him. In the end the only thing that gives hope is the basis for the title: PROTOTYPE is only the first, and of course there can be more.
If the shuttle's Canadian-made robot arm had a thumb, it would be up.
That Terminator-like metal skull with the pointy teeth and glowing red
eye has absolutely nothing to do with this movie. That was obviously
just some ad executive's attempt to play on the popularity of
"Ahnold's" film successes. Ditto for the tag line "The future is not
friendly." Instead, "Prototype" is a thoughtful, well played drama
about two character's struggles to understand and deal with the world
around them. Christopher Plummer is on solid ground as the scientist
who wants his creation to have a chance at life, and David Morse is
spectacularly understated as the android prototype of the title.
What makes this so compelling is the same thing that makes all of the best science fiction or fantasy work: The principle players take the situation and their part in it as real, without engaging in histrionics. As Michael, Morse indulges in neither the overplayed "childlike wonder" nor the hyper-mechanical stiffness so often poured into similar roles by lesser actors. Michael is "other" without being weird.
Well worth a look.
This is one of the most compelling and heartbreaking redux of the Frankenstein story set in a modern age. Plummer gives a great portrayal of a scientist working to push make his vision come true without realizing why it is so important. David Morse is very good as Michael the Prototype android of the title. His innocent curiousity about the world pulled me into the story. And his realization about the way things are in the end tore my heart. When Michael says, Don't hold me. You can feel the metal." The pain was shared between the three of us, Dr. Forrester, Michael and me.
I, too, bought this movie out of some bargain bin and it lay around our
house for quite some time before my wife and I watched it. We were, in
a word, quite surprised and pleased to encounter a science fiction
movie about an intelligent robot that for once did not rely on special
effects to make its point.
"Prototype" is a thoughtful look, not only at the emotions of a man who has dedicated more or less his whole career to creating a human-like robot , but also at the thought processes of such a creature as it actually goes into the world and has to react with real people and situations. The story builds to an inevitable climax very smoothly.
The cast is quite good and the production values, such as they are (the budget was obviously rather low), do not detract at all from the story. In fact, a great deal of the story takes place out of doors or in real buildings, giving the whole film a touch of reality.
A great deal has been left unexplained, such as the building of the robot, which has already been accomplished as the story begins. One also wonders what powers the robot. The viewer must simply pass over that and concentrate on the existential dilemma of the robot and its creator.
I definitely recommend this movie. It is a pleasant change of pace from the current spate of SF films that depend so much on spectacular visual effects. "Prototype" is definitely an example of the thinking man's science fiction. Just the kind of story that John Campbell would have published in the old Astounding Science Fiction magazine. (Just to make sure that there is no misunderstanding, that is a compliment, considering how much of the maturity of modern science fiction resulted from Campbell's wise editorship of that great magazine.)
Christopher Plummer plays Dr. Carl Forrester, who is part of research team experiment an android with artificial intelligence. David Morse plays Michael the android. When Dr. Forrester finds out that the team is using Michael for a soldier in military. He hides Michael and starts a new life but for how long? Well worth your time to watch.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I think the other reviewers are right when they say this is a far
underrated movie. What a great job from the writers, crew, director and
cast! Definitely a keeper for my DVD collection.
I think David Morse was excellent. "Michael" had just enough oddness that people would only think he was eccentric or maybe a bit mentally challenged. His movements were a bit unsteady, yet only in an awkward, overgrown kid sort of way, not mechanical-like.
I'd read the quotes here on IMDb about the metal, but I wasn't at all prepared for the actor's voice breaking when he said the line. How heartbreaking!
And Christopher Plummer! They scored such a wonderful performer because of the quality of the script, and he truly did it justice.
Bravo to everyone involved in this production! A worthy effort.
But I was quickly reassured. From the moment Christopher Plummer shows himself to be a genuinely irascible old man and not your typical 'hero', and David Morse as the android, in his elongated pants and wide-open baby-face, made their first appearances, I was held. With its' plot -- professor wants to keep his invention out of the hands of the military -- this is nothing new in the plot department but it is written with care, and the cast (including the wonderful Frances Steenhagen as Plummers' feisty wife) and a good director, David Greene, make the most of it. The ending is a stunner, both clever and touching. On my list as one of those films I was expecting nothing of and was delightfully surprised.
I respect Christopher Plummer, playing against his typical villainous character, and he is very convincing as a concerned scientist. The supporting cast is very good also. The plot alludes to "Frankenstein" numerous times and is obviously hinged on that classic tale. There is no excitement in this movie. It is so laid back, especially Arthur Hill, Plummers adversary, that you begin to drift off early and often. Cerebral sci-fi doesn't have to be this boring (see "Enemy Mine"), and while the acting is totally acceptable, everything lacks excitement, and just drifts along towards a conclusion that was only a minor surprise. Not recommended. - MERK
'THE FUTURE IS NOT FRIENDLY' intones the cover. While this may or may
not be true, the movie is set in 1983. I suppose that being suckered
into buying this bargain DVD at Wal-Mart in 2005 is the unfriendly
future they were referring to.
The cover art is a lie. There are no skeletal Terminator-style robots with red eyeballs in this movie. The android guy wears a white turtleneck and is less threatening than Star Trek's Data, and he doesn't do anything interesting. He's a wuss. This movie is crap.
If you are responsible for the marketing of this DVD, you should be ashamed of yourself.
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