This Friday, Prometheus — the sorta-prequel to returning director Ridley Scott’s own 1979 sci-fi masterpiece, Alien — invades theaters, with Michael Fassbender as the title ship’s butler and maintenance man, David, who just so happens to be an android (Fassbender has said that he modeled the motions and mannerisms of David after Olympic swimmer Greg Louganis rather than previous big-screen versions of the robotic human doppelgangers). It got us thinking about the movie androids that preceded him, er, it, and how far Hollywood has come in that department.
T-800, T-850, T-101 (Arnold Schwarzenegger), Terminator Movies
Super-human powers: Is an expert computer system at its (zillion) core; power source, er, lifespan of up to 120 years; vastly superior endoskeleton to that of humankind; self-healing.
Weaknesses: The human resistance; the noses of dogs; other Terminators (like Robert Patrick’s liquid-metal shape-shifting T-1000 in Terminator 2: Judgment Day).
Notes: We know, we know: Technically, Ahnuld’s Terminator is a cyborg, not a full-on android, but the difference between the two (some humanlike organic composition for the former vs. 100% robot for the latter) is negligible enough for us, for the purpose of this list, to mention Schwarzenegger — who himself may someday turn out to be the greatest android ever!
Lieutenant Commander Data (Brent Spiner), Star Trek Movies/TV Series
Superhuman powers: Positronic brain; immune to all biological diseases (except polywater); can be disassembled for easy storage; waterproof.
Weaknesses: Unable to dream; vulnerable to tech hazards and viruses; cannot swim.
Notes: Armed with nothing more than a pretty bad makeup job and his own (purposefully) robotic performance, Spiner was able to cement a spot in the hearts of many a techie and Trekkie during his lengthy tenure (TV’s Star Trek: The Next Generation and four Star Trek films) as Data. He also provided countless laughs over the years, of both the intentional and unintentional variety.
Replicants, Blade Runner
Superhuman powers: Superior strength, agility, and intelligence; fully programmable for any mission.
Weaknesses: Voight-Kampff tests; the term “skin-job”; four-year lifespan.
Notes: There will seemingly forever be a lack of clarity as to whether or not Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard was himself a replicant, due to everything from the fact there are a whopping seven different versions of Blade Runner to his failure of the Voight-Kampff test. The key people involved in the movie are split on the issue, but for what it’s worth, Deckard was written as a human in the Philip K. Dick novel on which the big-screen version is based. The debate rages on, with full Web sites currently devoted to the topic!
SID 6.7 (Russell Crowe), Virtuosity
Super-human powers: Can be programmed with multiple, variable personalities, used advantageously (for evil); tons of RAM capacity; capable of regeneration.
Weaknesses: Denzel Washington; impalement.
Notes: Virtuosity remains something of a disaster cinematically, but the virtual reality-gone-murderous concept makes for quite a mindf***, even if the execution thereof doesn’t quite work. Plus, we’ll watch Denzel and Russell square off all day, any day!
Vanessa Kensington (Elizabeth Hurley), Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
Superhuman powers: Super-humanly hot; skill with a Desert Eagle
Weaknesses: Vulnerable to Austin Powers’s “charms.”
Notes: Early on in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, Kensington self-destructs after malfunctioning related to a TV remote, and it is revealed that she was a fembot all along. She’s still the prettiest damned robot since Rosie on The Jetsons.
David (Haley Joel Osment), A.I.: Artificial Intelligence
Superhuman powers: Endless love; ability to not blink; great posture; undrownable.
Weaknesses: Can’t swim; sibling jealousy; has the emotions of a real boy.
Notes: Reaction to this Steven Spielberg-directed (and Stanley Kubrick-hatched) sci-fi drama remains mixed to this day, but there’s no denying that Osment was superb and believable as the main “humanoid,” to an almost disturbing degree — which was thanks more so to his astute interpretation of David than any effects wizardry.
Ash (Ian Holm), Alien (1979)
Bishop (Lance Henriksen), Aliens (1986)
Surrogates, Surrogates (2009)
Gunslinger (Yul Brenner), Westworld (1973)
"Always put your family first. I took nearly eight years off from filming in order to raise my son and I don't regret a day of it." British actress/model Elizabeth Hurley was happy to sacrifice her career to bring up her son Damian, now 10.
"Big thanks to garbage collectors for smashing every bottle in Nottingham outside our hotel window at 5.45am this morning..." British actress/model Elizabeth Hurley was given an unwelcome early wake-up call in Nottingham, England on Friday (25May12).
The Austin Powers star began dating former cricket ace Warne in 2010 following her split from husband Arun Nayar and has since grown close to the Aussie's three kids with his ex-wife Simone Callahan.
Recent reports suggested there was tension between Hurley and Callahan because the children have nicknamed the Brit 'M2' - meaning 'mum number two' - but Hurley has now issued a heartfelt statement calling for an end to the hurtful speculation.
In a post on Facebook.com, she writes, "For the record, neither my fiance Shane nor I have ever asked his children to call me anything in particular and have never suggested any nicknames for me. Shane's three children started to call me 'M2', in an affectionate and light hearted way, over a year ago.
"I find it very upsetting that they have been accused publicly of being 'disrespectful' to their mother by doing this. I believe they were making the best of a situation into which they had been thrust, and it pains me that they are being criticised. They are very sweet children and do not deserve this.
"Melding families is never easy and we are all doing the best we can. Shane's children have been welcoming and inclusive to me and my son and we have a great time when we are together. I try very hard to look after them, and care for them, in the same way that I do my own son when they are with us and I wouldn't know any other way to be.
"I am writing this to remind spiteful and troublemaking publications that they are hurting four children by publishing such ridiculous remarks about them."
"He's always been a wonderful godfather with my son, who's now 10, and I've seen him with his son and he does indeed change diapers. He's very hands-on and a natural parent. Elton's always been incredibly kind, gentle and loving." British actress Elizabeth Hurley is full of praise for Sir Elton John's skills as a dad to his one-year-old son Zachary.
The Four Weddings and a Funeral star became a first-time father last year (11) when he welcomed a little girl called Tabitha following a "fleeting affair" with former model Tinglan Hong.
Grant has now celebrated the birth with a Christening at St. Mary's Church in the small village of Ampney Crucis, in the English Cotswolds region.
The baptism was conducted by Reverend John Swanton, who tells Britain's Sunday Express, "The service was a traditional one and the baby was absolutely delightful."
After the ceremony, guests were invited to a celebratory party at the home of Grant's former partner Hurley, who owns a farm nearby.
British actress/model Hurley and Aussie cricket ace Warne began dating in 2010 after spending weeks exchanging flirty messages on social networking website Twitter.
Their relationship often spans the globe as they jet between Australia, the U.K. and the U.S. for work - so they use the internet to keep their love alive.
Hurley amuses herself by viewing YouTube.com clips of Warne during his sporting heyday, and he keeps a close eye on her Twitter page for a glimpse at her saucy photos and tips on gifts to buy her.
She tells British magazine Hello!, "Shane has always made me laugh, mostly when he's being either very Australian or when he looks bewildered. I often watch his old cricket clips on YouTube just to see his look of outrage and bewilderment if he disagreed with an umpire's decision."
Warne adds, "I still find her tweets very humorous. I like to find out which books have tickled her fancy or what designer clothes she has seen and liked, so I can write it down in the diary for a present at birthdays or as a surprise.
"But, secretly, I like her tweets about her beachwear and the pics, so I know what I have to look forward to seeing on our next sunny holiday!"
The Austin Powers star began dating Aussie Warne in 2010 following the breakdown of her marriage to Arun Nayar, and the couple got engaged late last year (11).
They are adamant their fairytale romance is a match made in heaven - but now Hurley has confirmed rumours the couple split for a short time before rekindling the relationship.
Asked during an interview for Hello! magazine whether reports of a split were true, Hurley replies, "Yes, but ultimately we decided we got on too well not to give it a shot."
Warne adds, "As Elizabeth said, yes, we did briefly (split up), but we realised that what we had was special."
The Notting Hill star voices the lead seafaring character in new animated film The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists, and he hit the red carpet in London on Wednesday night (21Mar12) for the premiere.
He headed inside for the screening and was later snapped sneaking his godson Damian - Hurley's nine-year-old boy - out of the cinema.
The actress/model has previously revealed, "We're always trying to find something that Uncle Hugh has done that he can see, but they're full of swear words. It's quite difficult trying to find stuff for kids."
In This Means War – a stylish action/rom-com hybrid from director McG – Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises) and Chris Pine (Star Trek) star as CIA operatives whose close friendship is strained by the fires of romantic rivalry. Best pals FDR (Pine) and Tuck (Hardy) are equally accomplished at the spy game but their fortunes diverge dramatically in the dating realm: FDR (so nicknamed for his obvious resemblance to our 32nd president) is a smooth-talking player with an endless string of conquests while Tuck is a straight-laced introvert whose love life has stalled since his divorce. Enter Lauren (Reese Witherspoon) a pretty plucky consumer-products evaluator who piques both their interests in separate unrelated encounters. Tuck meets her via an online-dating site FDR at a video-rental store. (That Lauren is tech-savvy enough to date online but still rents movies in video stores is either a testament to her fascinating mix of contradictions or more likely an example of lazy screenwriting.)
When Tuck and FDR realize they’re pursuing the same girl it sparks their respective competitive natures and they decide to make a friendly game of it. But what begins as a good-natured rivalry swiftly devolves into romantic bloodsport with both men using the vast array of espionage tools at their disposal – from digital surveillance to poison darts – to gain an edge in the battle for Lauren’s affections. If her constitutional rights happen to be violated repeatedly in the process then so be it.
Lauren for her part remains oblivious to the clandestine machinations of her dueling suitors and happily basks in the sudden attention from two gorgeous men. Herein we find the Reese Witherspoon Dilemma: While certainly desirable Lauren is far from the irresistible Helen of Troy type that would inspire the likes of Tuck and FDR to risk their friendship their careers and potential incarceration for. At several points in This Means War I found myself wondering if there were no other peppy blondes in Los Angeles (where the film is primarily set) for these men to pursue. Then again this is a film that wishes us to believe that Tom Hardy would have trouble finding a date so perhaps plausibility is not its strong point.
When Lauren needs advice she looks to her boozy foul-mouthed best friend Trish (Chelsea Handler). Essentially an extension of Handler’s talk-show persona – an acquired taste if there ever was one – Trish’s dialogue consists almost exclusively of filthy one-liners delivered in rapid-fire succession. Handler does have some choice lines – indeed they’re practically the centerpiece of This Means War’s ad campaign – but the film derives the bulk of its humor from the outrageous lengths Tuck and FDR go to sabotage each others’ efforts a raucous game of spy-versus-spy that carries the film long after Handler’s shtick has grown stale.
Business occasionally intrudes upon matters in the guise of Heinrich (Til Schweiger) a Teutonic arms dealer bent on revenge for the death of his brother. The subplot is largely an afterthought existing primarily as a means to provide third-act fireworks – and to allow McGenius an outlet for his ADD-inspired aesthetic proclivities. The film’s action scenes are edited in such a manic quick-cut fashion that they become almost laughably incoherent. In fairness to McG he does stage a rather marvelous sequence in the middle of the film in which Tuck and FDR surreptitiously skulk about Lauren's apartment unaware of each other's presence carefully avoiding detection by Lauren who grooves absentmindedly to Montel Jordan's "This Is How We Do It." The whole scene unfolds in one continuous take – or is at least craftily constructed to appear as such – captured by one very agile steadicam operator.
Whatever his flaws as a director McG is at least smart enough to know how much a witty script and appealing leads can compensate for a film’s structural and logical deficiencies. He proved as much with Charlie’s Angels a film that enjoys a permanent spot on many a critic’s Guilty Pleasures list and does so again with This Means War. The film coasts on the chemistry of its three co-stars and only runs into trouble when the time comes to resolve its romantic competition which by the end has driven its male protagonists to engage in all manner of underhanded and duplicitous activities. This Means War being a commercial film – and likely an expensive one at that – Witherspoon's heroine is mandated to make a choice and McG all but sidesteps the whole thorny matter of Tuck and FDR’s unwavering dishonesty not to mention their craven disregard for her privacy. (They regularly eavesdrop on her activities.) For all their obvious charms the truth is that neither deserves Lauren – or anything other than a lengthy jail sentence for that matter.
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