Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection
Treading water at the very surface of RoboCop, there is an idea. A dense concept, ready and willing to provide no dearth of dissection for any eager student of philosophy, psychology, political science, physics — hell, any of the Ps. To simplify the idea on hand: What separates man from machine? It's a question that is not just teased by the basic premise of José Padilha's remake of the 1987 sci-fi staple, but asked outright by many of its main characters. And then never really worried about again.
We have principal parties on both sides of the ethical quandary that would place the security of our crime-ridden cities in the hands of automatons. Samuel L. Jackson plays a spitfire Bill O'Reilly who wonders why America hasn't lined its streets with high-efficiency officer droids. Zach Grenier, as a moralistic senator, gobbles his way through an opposition to the Pro-boCop movement. We hear lecture after lecture from pundits, politicians, business moguls (a money-hungry Michael Keaton heads the nefarious OmniCorp...) and scientists (...while his top doc Gary Oldman questions the nature of his assignments while poking at patients' brains and spouting diatribes about "free will"), all working their hardest to lay thematic groundwork. Each character insists that we're watching a movie about the distinction between human and artificial intelligence. That even with an active brain, no robot can understand what it means to have a heart. But when Prof. Oldman tempers his hysterical squawking and Samuel L. Hannity rolls his closing credits, we don't see these ideas taking life.
In earnest, the struggle of rehabilitated police officer Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) — nearly killed in the line of duty and turned thereafter into OmniCorp's prototype RoboCop — doesn't seem to enlist any of the questions that his aggravated peers have been asking. Murphy is transformed not just physically, but mentally — robbed of his decision-making ability and depleted of emotional brain chemicals — effectively losing himself in the process. But the journey we see take hold of Murphy is not one to reclaim his soul, although the movie touts it as such. It's really just one to become a better robot.
Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection
Meanwhile, RoboCop lays down its motives, and hard: Murphy's wife and son (Abbie Cornish and a puckish young John Paul Ruttan) lament the loss of Alex, condemning his dehumanization at the hands of Raymond Sellars' (Keaton) capitalistic experiments, and sobbing out some torrential pathos so you know just how deep this company is digging. Weaselly stooges (Jay Baruchel, Jennifer Ehle, and Jackie Earl Haley) line the OmniCorp roster with comical wickedness. Overseas, killer combat bots take down peaceful villages, unable to work empathetic judgment into their decision to destroy all deemed as "threats." And at the top, figures of power and money like Sellars and Pat Novak (Jackson) speak the loudest and harshest, literally justifying their agenda with a call for all naysayers to "stop whining." Clearly, RoboCop has something to say.
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And when it's devoted to its outrage, RoboCop is terrifically charming. The buzzing political world is just a tiny step closer to ridiculous than our own; the pitch meetings at OmniCorp are fun enough to provoke a ditching of all the material outside of the company walls. And one particular reference to The Wizard of Oz shows that the movie isn't above having fun with its admittedly silly premise. But it loses its magic when it steps away from goofy gimmicks and satirical monologues and heads back into the story. We don't see enough of Murphy grappling with the complicated balance between his conflicting organic and synthetic selves. In fact, we don't see enough "story" in Murphy at all. First, he's a dad and a cop. Then, he's a RoboCop. But can he also be a RoboDad? With all of its ranting and raving about the question, the film doesn't seem to concerned with actually figuring out the answer.
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These days, the idea of a celebrity becoming the leader of the free world is something laughable. Can you imagine, a movie star (let alone a reality star) in the White House? Pshaw! But, it seems everybody wants to put their hat into the political ring these days, so perhaps one day soon we'll have another actor in the Oval Office to join Ronald Reagan's lonely little club of celebrities-turned-Presidents.
As we close in on what feels like the most intense presidential election season to date, we thought to ourselves, "Hey, let's take a little break from all the vitrol, all the hatred and divisiveness and focus on something silly we can all agree on: Wouldn't it be funny of one of these people were our president?"
Because in the end, once the dust settles on this campaign season, we'll have to go back to agreeing on at least some things, so we can get back to all getting along (sort of) again. Why not start off with a little bit of light-hearted irreverence loosely based on the happenings of the past year (and then some!) of political strong-arming, right? Enter: the celebrities that would be president.
Yes, you heard that right: the following stars have actually expressed interest in running the most powerful nation in the world. What would their campaign slogan be? Who's their Paul Ryan, Joe Biden, or (gulp) Sarah Palin? What would they want to change about our fair nation? We decided to take a deeper look at their would-be campaigns, and lay it all out for you, the American people.
Oh yeah, and everybody? Vote!
Vice President: Sean Penn. Of all of Madonna's former flames and friends, Penn is undoubtedly the most political. With his dedication to the seemingly continual crises in Haiti, we imagine these two would put their differences aside for the greater good of America.
Campaign Slogan: Justify Your Vote. Love, votes — so often one and the same when you're a passionate politico. Madonna's slogan would be a hint of her pop star ways, but also speak to the bigger question of justifying a vote for the singing presidential candidate.
Presidential Platform: Madonna would be a wildly liberal and controversial candidate. She would campaign heavily on the promise of a constitutional amendment to make marriage legal for same-sex couples. Undoubtedly, her campaign ads would involve a freedom of religion, expression, artistic endeavors, and voguing.
President Nick Jonas
Vice President: Demi Lovato. You know, to pull in those lady votes.
Campaign Slogan: Make It Right. A slogan based on the title of one of his songs? Naturally, this is how the littlest, non-bonus Jonas would amp up the excitement of his campaign. By the time Jonas is old enough to run for president, his fans may have long-forgotten his boy band superstardom days. Always good to use a gentle reminder of your past glory days to gain some momentum!
Presidential Platform: Jonas would definitely be big on medical advancements and treatment, given his outspoken support for diabetes research. It therefore seems natural that Jonas would campaign on health care reform and investing money into scientific education and research. Additionally, Jonas would probably be really interested in reinvigorating the religiously-minded folks across the country (no, no one's forgotten about those purity rings, Nick). Whether it be religious freedom, or just used as a bit of a moral compass is yet to be seen.
President Pauly Shore
Vice President: While we'd typically choose Stephen Baldwin to complete this ticket (hello, Bio-Dome reunion!), we know that their politics (Baldwin is conservative, Shore is liberal) are quite different. Our second choice, Rob Schneider, has the same problem (they endorsed different candidates this season). So instead, we choose his Encino Man co-star, Brendan Fraser.
Campaign Slogan: Thinking About You. Shore has become notably more political in recent years, and in his special Pauly-tics, he discusses a desire to think about everyone else and make the US economy strong again. So instead of making the election road all about him, he'd instead make it all about you. Not a bad political move when you're a comedian most well-known for being The Weasel.
Presidential Platform: Legalization of marijuana, possibly other drugs. He would create a new cabinet position: The Secretary of Hilarity, to make sure that the US keeps its sense of humor (even if it's a really, really lowbrow one) above all else in trying times.
President Arnold Schwarzenegger
Vice President: Sylvester Stallone. If Arnold ever went from Governator to Presidenator, he would certainly need his Expendables co-star to beat up all the threats to American freedom.
Campaign Slogan: Don't Be A Girly-Man. It's always about being manly with this guy. Second string options include something about pumping and humping: the two greatest activities a man can do, according to Schwarzenegger. (I wonder how he'd do with the female vote.)
Presidential Platform: Schwarzenegger would certainly campaign on his run as California Governor, even if he wasn't all that popular. He would certainly campaign on a promise for more jobs and a better economy (Schwarzenegger has frequently been quoted as saying that "the public doesn't care about figures" when it comes to the economy, but does care about jobs). He'd be a very typical Republican candidate—minus all the push-ups and the budget for accidental suit shredding from his intense workout regime.
President Donald Trump
Vice President: Donald Trump. Because The Donald is a business man. He doesn't need a second in command. All America needs is him and his billions. And the fact that he believes he is the world's most famous human. Megalomania is always a good quality to have in a politician!
Campaign Slogan: Money Makes the World Work. And if you don't believe it, you're fired from America.
Presidential Platform: Since The Donald has actually already run for President in the past, and has been both a registered Democrat (in 2001) and now a Republican, he will no doubt run on a platform of bipartisanship. Sure, he hates our current president with every fiber of his being, but that's personal, not political. In 2007, Trump has been quoted as saying, "I'm very much independent in that way. I go for the person, not necessarily the party. I mean, I vote for Republicans and I vote for Democrats." The biggest issues for The Donald? Loopholes for the rich, Trickle-down economics, turn The Apprentice into a legal viewing requirement for all Americans, and a constitutional amendment to recognize corporations as human beings.
President Roseanne Barr
Vice President: Cindy Sheehan. Since the noted activist is already Barr's running mate in the 2012 election, might as well keep her on board.
Campaign Slogan: Seriously. Because even though she's a comedian, Barr takes her politics very seriously. She always has—haven't you seen an episode of Roseanne?
Presidential Platform: Being a member of the Peace and Freedom Party, Barr's political leanings are very liberal. She wants to end the war on drugs and, well, all wars. No more fighting! So no doubt the legalization of marijuana (and all drugs) will factor into her economic policies (look at all the tax options!). She might also make it a constitutional amendment to ban former husband Tom Arnold from the United States.
President Alec Baldwin
Vice President: This one is a toughie. Since Baldwin is incredibly serious about politics, we imagine he'd pick a real hard-line liberal to end up on his ticket. His dream would probably be someone as accomplished as Hilary Clinton, but we all know she's probably a shoo-in for frontrunner in the 2016 race. Instead I'd bet on Massachusetts congressman Barney Frank. Having an openly-gay VP candidate would cause just the right amount of hysteria on the right for Baldwin's liking, no doubt.
Campaign Slogan: We're Better Together. Given that Baldwin is an actor, he's probably also a bit of a people-pleaser. Hence the desire for everyone to come together under his line of thought.
Presidential Platform: Baldwin is all about the economy and the environment. He's traveled around discussing an anti-fracking documentary, so clean energy (real clean energy, not coal) would certainly be a platform point. As would the current deficit and tax reform. Baldwin wants to actually pay more taxes as a wealthy America. Which is certainly admirable.
President Will Smith
Vice President: Jeffrey Allen Townes, aka DJ Jazzy Jeff, obviously. Please.
Campaign Slogan: Let's Do This...Big Willie Style. Because let me tell you, Smith is nothing if not confident.
Presidential Platform: In an interview with UK's The Mail, Smith has already stated what he believes are the country's most important issues: "The basis of human sanity is physical survival, right? So I'd start with universal healthcare and shelter." Look out for his children to also get cabinet positions, or at least their own movies, tv shows, and concert specials about being the Freshest First Family in the White House.
Vice President: Oprah Winfrey. Because with their powers combined, they'd probably sweep the election.
Campaign Slogan: I Got 99 Problems But Electability Ain't One. No additional commentary necessary.
Presidential Platform: HOV lanes... for everyone! Terrible jokes aside, Jay-Z will probably campaign on the promise of solving the biggest problems facing America: the lack of accountability amongst the big pimpin' types in the US. There would no doubt be some sort of reform surrounding that. Picturing Beyoncé as FLOTUS might just make this election dream a reality for him. Blue Ivy would become the most popular name in the US, and Kanye West would be the Secretary of Swag.
Would you vote for any of these potential presidents? Think they're all a wash? Let us know in the comments!
[Photo Credit: WENN.com]
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Welcome back to The Voice. This season’s blind auditions are nearing their end — with their teams all but filled, who will be the first coach to recruit golden-throated conjoined triplets and claim they only count as one performer? (It’s inevitable, people.)
I’m only now realizing how interesting the game theory underlying the show can be. There’s no doubt that Adam and Christina win more battles for team members than Blake and Cee Lo do (I’d crunch the numbers, but I still haven’t figured out how to open Microsoft Excel), theoretically enabling Levine and Aguilera to assemble stronger teams overall. But there’s actually a sound argument to be made for joining one of the ugly stepsister teams instead — after all, you’d last longer against weaker peers. Just think: Would you rather be a small fish in a big pond, or a medium-sized fish in a comically undersized doll teacup? Let’s see what tonight’s contestants decide.
Though Sylvia Yacoub now calls Michigan home, the 19-year-old was born in Alexandria, Egypt. She explains that women face many obstacles in the Middle East — including her mother, an aspiring singer who was unable to pursue her own dreams of a performing career — but this is clearly false, because, um, Cleopatra?
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Sylvia’s “Only Girl in the World” is bold and powerful, if occasionally kind of warbled. Even more than I like her voice, I love her wonderfully curly hair.
Sylvia’s Result: Team Christina
When I first lay eyes on teeny tiny IJ Quinn, my heart leaps at the thought that I might’ve found a roommate for Brendan Mahone in the Voice-edition Polly Pocket Playhouse of my dreams.
IJ (I’m assuming that stands for Indiana Jones) is a pig farmer with an unusually high, almost girlish voice. He takes on an appropriately androgynous song, “Virtual Insanity,” in a register that switches back and forth from masculine to feminine in a Michael Jackson-y style that kind of works for me.
Unfortunately, the judges aren’t impressed by IJ’s range. It’s back to the farm with him, where at least someone appreciates his talents.
IJ’s Result: Team Nobody
Carson Daly hand-delivers an invite to the blind auditions to Charlie Rey, who works on cars alongside his father in the family smog shop. Charlie goes full Bublé, crooning a pleasant (if slightly bland) version of “Home.” For reasons I can’t explain, Charlie’s performance drives the female members of the audience into hysterics, his voice having apparently instantaneously impregnated all of them.
Charlie’s Result: Team Blake
(Fun fact: this parenthetical marks my first and, fingers crossed, last mention of Christina Milian this season.)
Amanda Brown grew up listening almost exclusively to gospel — until, she says, the first time she heard Radiohead — and has performed as a background singer for Adele. Like Alexis Marceaux, Amanda has a Girls look about her, albeit in an alternate universe where someone had reminded text Lena Dunham that non-Caucasian women also exist.
Amanda’s fun, wild cover of the Zutons-via-Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie” wins her a spot on Team Cee Lo. (I think her fabulous neon lipstick and hammer pants helped, too.)
Amanda’s Result: Team Cee Lo
(REVELATION: CEE LO’S COCKATOO HAS A TWITTER ACCOUNT. I can die now; this world has no wonders left to show me.)
A veteran cruise ship entertainer, Yolanda Barber has been singing for more than four decades, though lately she’s had to moonlight (daylight?) as a school bus driver. At 55, she is this season’s oldest contestant — sorry, Lorraine Ferro.
Yolanda’s version of the ballad “Get Here” proves that hers is the controlled, expressive voice of a true diva. But despite her undisputed talent, the judges don’t bite, growing ever more conservative now that only a few spots on each team remain.
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Boo, that doesn't seem fair. AARP, please cast Yolanda as some kind of spry, sexy spokesgrandma.
Yolanda’s Result: Team Nobody
If you, unlike me, are familiar with the band Hey Monday, you might recognize its lead singer, Cassadee Pope. Hey Monday previously toured with Fall Out Boy and the All-American Rejects, but now Cassadee’s ready for a solo career. Backstage, Carson pulls out some kind of prominently branded Sprint non-iPad to play her a good luck message from Pete Wentz, her former mentor.
In spite of Cassadee’s pageant looks, her tattoos and black nail polish let us know she’s Hard. (I actually think she’s totally adorable, and I appreciate her repping freckle-faced ladies like myself.) She showcases a beautiful pop voice with a slight edge on Natalie Imbruglia’s “Torn” — ONE OF THE FIRST SINGLES I EVER OWNED,Y’ALL — and earns a four-chair turnaround.
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After each coach’s impassioned plea, Cassadee finally picks… Chr — Ad — Blake?! What an upset, sports fans, and with no replacement refs to blame. Blake is visibly shocked and delighted—the rest of his team is now the icing on the Cassadee Pope cake.
Cassadee’s Result: Team Blake
The Voice returns next Monday at 8. Until then, holla [well, tweet] at your boy [well, girl] on Twitter @mollyfitz.
[Image Credit: NBC]
There have been many ostentatious interpretations of The Iliad but Troy roots itself in reality instead of trying to tackle both the epic story and all the mythological hullabaloo. As it goes the ancient Greek King Agamemnon (Brian Cox) builds his vast empire by conquering one country after another with the help of the warrior Achilles (Brad Pitt). Yet Achilles holds no allegiance to Agamemnon or any king for that matter fighting only so that he will be remembered as the greatest warrior of all time while also agonizing over the death and mayhem he causes. Agamemnon rankles at Achilles' insolence but soon has other fish to fry. Seems Agamemnon's brother Menelaus (Brendan Gleeson) King of Sparta has had his pride wounded when his lovely wife Helen (Diane Kruger) is spirited away to the great city of Troy by its lovesick prince Paris (Orlando Bloom) who fell for the queen when he was visiting Sparta on a peace mission. The scandalous act creates a chain reaction--unleashing the cuckolded Menelaus' need for retribution Agamemnon's greedy desire to take Troy as his own and Achilles' pursuit of ultimate glory. But Troy's impenetrable walls have been fiercely protected by the Trojan warriors especially the powerful Prince Hector (Eric Bana) for decades--and they are not about to lay down arms now even for as fearsome a foe as Achilles. Let the games of war begin.
The men of Troy have it in spades--flowing hair rippling muscles and dripping testosterone aplenty. As for the main eye candy it's a given Pitt is going to look like a god as the formidable Achilles--but the fact the Greek warrior is tormented as well suits the actor perfectly (remember Legends of the Fall? Who can't?). Pitt handles the pitiful tortured moments better than most as poor Achilles with his six-pack abs struggles with his questionable ethics and actions as well as his place in the world. Troy's other hunk the warrior Hector complements his nemesis Achilles nicely. Played by Aussie actor Bana who audiences might recognize as The Hulk (well the smaller-sized more human version of the big green guy anyway) Hector is just as full of bravado as Achilles yet has a very grounded sense of honor and duty to his country as well as love for his wife Andromache (the billowy Saffron Burrows). Counteracting them both is the infatuated Paris portrayed effectively by heartthrob Bloom who has the unenviable task of being the coward surrounded by heroes. Luckily Paris redeems himself a bit in the end--and we get a brief reminder of Bloom's Lord of the Rings alter-elf Legolas. The veteran actors hold their own among the sweaty he-men including Cox as the megalomaniac Agamemnon and Peter O'Toole as Paris' and Hector's misguided father King Priam who should have listened more closely to his sons. Troy's women do not fare as well however especially German model Kruger as Helen. While certainly beautiful enough to play the part she is relegated to mostly standing around watching the men fight over her without getting the chance to show any of Helen's spunk. Australian ingénue Rose Byrne gets the most to work with as the virginal Troy priestess Briseis who is at first a captive but then seems to be the only one who can calm Achilles down. Lucky girl.
Dubbed possibly one of the most expensive movies ever made (the budget reportedly hit about $200 million) Troy's set was plagued with costly crises: Endless production delays tortuous heat in Malta and Mexico hurricanes wiping out sets and the star actually injuring his Achilles tendon (no joke). Yet for all the film's troubles director Wolfgang Petersen (The Perfect Storm) never lets you see it onscreen. Petersen builds the tension heightens the calm before the storm and then deftly brings one of the most legendary wars of all time up close and personal with each of Troy's battle sequences meticulously done--from the all-out beach battle as the Greeks bring their ships to shore to the massive army charge on the walls of Troy to the best of them all--a tragic and an inevitable mano á mano confrontation between Hector and Achilles. If there's any drawback it's the lag time between the battle scenes as the men walk around preparing for battle talk about how to prepare for the battle spend time with their wives/lovers before the battle pray to the gods to help them win the battle and so on. It's unavoidable in a movie like this but much like The Lord of the Rings at least Troy's story comes from a classic source.