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  Film Reviews: Help! I’ve Been Speilburglerized: Minority Report  

Sunday, July 14
Help! I’ve Been Speilburglerized: Minority Report
Ah, it’s time for the Dark Summber Block Buster (DSBB). The DSBB is the well-intended, “hey, we know your serious, so here’s a movie for you film.” In the DSBB we find all of the usual SBB trappings – great special effects, actors we all know, a well-known director and the OPP (see Spider Man for more detail on the OPP). HOWEVER, the DSBB has a distinctive dark “feel.” This means that the sets will be dark, lighting will be dark, costumes will be dark, and the overall storyline will be dark. When doing the DSBB, though, it is important to bring a director that can keep the film within the bounds of the SBB – this means that we aren’t going to go totally dark. The director must have the talent to make a happy ending in order to preserve the natural order of Summer.

First I must admit a bias. I am a huge Philip K. Dick fan. Fantastic writer of non-utopian futuristic fiction. Yeah, you might think you know Dick if you’ve seen Blade Runner or Total Recall. You don’t. The novels and short stories of Philip K. Dick are great, but not suitable for screen adaptation. Why? Well, they tend to end with a lot of lose ends and unpleasant situations. Still, the ideas and stories are great and filmmakers are always desperate to prove that they read something interesting. I’m sure the development of Philip K. Dick stories go something like this:

Director: My last two movies, and I’m quoting here, “were the very reason that film should be destroyed as a medium.” What should I do about this, lackey assistant?

Assistant: Uh, I don’t know if I should answer that. I heard that’s how the last lackey assistant got fired…

Director: Answer me, insolent fool!

Assistant: Well, there is this writer, Philip K. Dick…

Director: Will he be a difficult negotiation?

Assistant: Um, he’s dead.

Director: Even better! Which story do you like?

Assistant: Well, there’s a story called “Minority Report” which centers on a man’s quest to protect a division called Pre-Crime. Pre-Crime is assumed to be perfect since it means arresting people before a crime happens. Unfortunately, he finds himself accused of a murder he knows he won’t commit – this means that the system might not be perfect, but he must prove the perfection of the system in order to preserve it.

Director: Future, you say? Well, we can get some special effects going and I see Tom Cruise playing the lead.

Assistant: He’s not old enough to play the lead, Director…and this is not really about special effects, it’s about the story…

Director: What did you say? [Grabs hot coffee, throws in assistant’s face.] Did you make me spill my cappuccino? What did we say would happen if you if I ever spilled coffee? Do you not understand that I am the lord god of filmmaking and I will determine what the story is about? Take your leave of me!

So, we have an assistant suffering from second-degree burns joining the ranks of the unemployed but leaving the idea that a Philip K. Dick story might make a good movie. I am not entirely sure that the story actually gets read – perhaps the director will have his dog psychic skim over a few pages – but the movie is done anyway.

Yes, there are elements in the story that make it to the film. But little else remains, so I must tell you of the OTHER Minority Report – the one that made it to screen. Picture a future that’s not too far away from right now. In it, we have perfected the retina scan, made computers beyond cool, solved traffic problems by thinking “up and down,” made home movies interesting and found a way to solve murders before they happen. The Washington DC Pre-Crime unit relies on the visions of three Pre-Cogs who sit in a vat of milk and generate wooden balls with the names of victims and murderers out of a Rube Goldberg dream of a machine. Yes, justice is all about a Pre-Crime cop grabbing crime’s balls and running with them to apprehend the pre-criminal. In the opening sequence, we do have a “They Still Act Appearance” (TSAA) that is occasionally populates the SBB (remember Doogie in “Starship Troopers?”). First one? Arye Gross – yeah, he’s the one that left “Ellen” (back when she was still straight and it was called “These Friends of Mine”) for a bigger career. An IMDB search will reveal many movies you’ve never heard of, but also a few you know (“Gone in 60 Seconds”) – Arye is now officially in the ranks of the TSAAs.

Of course, the movie is all about the paradox of perfectionism. We all know that perfection is an ideal, not a goal. As we are human, though, we will make perfection a stated goal and develop something big and important around this goal. That is Pre-Crime. New-guy hottie Collin Farrel (gals, he really has an Irish Accent!) comes to Pre-Crime to prove that Tom Cruise and his system are not perfect. But how to prove that the system is not perfect…ah, some OPPs, a PC Alert and a ton of special effects! Oh, in regular-lingo, have Tom Cruise accused of committing murder!

The OPPs are beyond amazing in this film. With the retinal scan that will sense your every move (it leads to the “what if you got eye transplants?” question being answered), every billboard, store and vendor will immediately tailor their sales pitch to your tastes wants and desires. We learn that The Gap will truly know everything that there is to know about us! The PC Alert comes in the form of a dead child – one that drives Tom Cruise to do what he does. The PC was not an element of the short story – but in the PG-13 world, kids do need a role model (even if he’s dead). The special effects – something else! Our last TSAA comes in the form of Mike Binder. Sure, he’s got that HBO series “Mind of the Married Man,” but that’s such awful stuff that I simply refuse to acknowledge it’s existence. His existence up until now has been in those movies that come on HBO17 at 3 in the morning – the ones you watch even though you know you shouldn’t.

Ah, but I prattle on…trust me, I really enjoyed the movie, it’s just that the cult of Philip K. Dick (okay, it’s just me) requires that I rant a little.

The Usual:

Recommendation: Full-Price – take a date!

Annoying Theater Goer: Being that I’m way behind on my reviews at this moment, I can no longer recall. Husband believes that this was a well-behaved audience.

Main Reason To See This Film: This is a smart movie for all my ranting. Go to see a complicated story that manages to weave the problems of Pre-Crime into the overall plot of the movie.

Main Reason Not To See This Film: Okay, what is up with Tom Cruise’s overly nasal voice? I noticed this in “Vanilla Sky,” but chalked it up to the whole broken face thing. Now, I’m starting to wonder what this is all about…am I supposed to want to offer Tom a tissue the entire film? Is this expected to make me feel sympathy for the man that broke Nicole’s heart? Oh, and the lame Philip K. Dick adaptation/happy ending.

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Nudity: No

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