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MindFood: Zombies vs Robots

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Feb 23, 2011 | 8:34am EST

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It’s funny to see how dissemination of news has changed since the rise of Twitter. Straight headlines followed by urls have been replaced by as much snark as can be contained within 140 characters. So if you’re only checking in on Twitter, chances are you’re going to learn the reaction to something before you actually learn what exactly people are reacting to. Case-in-point, yesterday’s news that Sony had optioned the rights to the comic series Zombies vs. Robots to be produced by Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes production shingle.

Zombies vs. RobotsYou can imagine what the flood of tweets was like after that, but I think my favorite would be from Drive Angry screenwriter Todd Farmer: “Zombies vs Robots? Seriously? LOL. Why do I even bother...”

And you can’t exactly blame anyone, let alone those trying to make it in the business as screenwriters, for rolling their eyes at the news. They see the name Michael Bay and the title Zombies vs. Robots and they instantly assume that Hollywood has finally completely given up and abandoned the pointless pretense that they actually want to even bother trying to make original movies. So, yeah, I get the gut reaction, but is that really a fair reaction, all things considered?

First off, the comic is called Zombies vs. Robots; the movie, however, is called Inherit the Earth. Not quite as eye rolling, now is it? Secondly, the film adaptation is being written by JT Petty, a man who has yet to do wrong by the horror/sci-fi genre. (Seriously, if you haven’t seen The Burrowers, you need to fix that as soon as possible. It’s a slow burn, but it’s a badass creature feature with a seriously brutal kick-you-in-the-face sensibility to it.) Thirdly, the plot actually doesn’t sound too shabby:

Mankind has lost its inevitable war with the undead and the world has been overtaken by a race of evolved yet still brain-hungry zombies. The only thing separating the last remaining human, who happens to be a little girl, from zombie lunch is a swarm of robots programmed to protect her.

Zombies vs. RobotsCome on, what’s not to like about that? Yes, combining zombies and robots does immediately seem like the Hollywood equivalent of adding bacon to everything. But just because it appears safe and tasty doesn’t mean it will automatically be without substance.

Anytime a movie like this is announced and the Internet groans in cynical unison, I just sit back, relax and think of RoboCop. Sure, Paul Verhoeven’s bloody cyborg flick is a genre classic these days, but at the time? Twitter may not have been around, but you can bet your ass all the teenage boys read about it in Starlog or saw the poster for it were just as quick to be snarky: “A cop...who is a robot...real f**king genius, Hollywood.”

So, yeah, the idea of a movie about robots vs. zombies may not scream high art, but honestly, who gives a damn? Have we really become so cynical as a movie-going culture that we’re going to pretend like we wouldn’t watch a Michael Bay-produced movie about freaking robots battling the undead for the right to inherit our planet? I hope I never get that jaded. Even without JT Petty’s involvement, that just sounds like a damned good time to me.

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