thatcow

More than a few minor flaws

Speilberg is definitley an American film making icon. He's covered nearly every genre and sometimes done it quite well. This is the second consecutive film dealing with the future. It's not quite a companion piece to AI, but maybe the two should be taken together to understand Speilberg's vision.

This movie is based on a Phillip Dick story about the near future and the rise of something that could be considered "thought" police. Dick is also at the heart of Blade Runner and the movies seem to share more than a view themes.

It's 2054 and we are in the city of Washington DC. The city has begun using a new way of fighting crime. It involves angelic looking humanoids suspended in a fluid that sense the future. There are three of them and they are called the Pre Cogs. It is clear that the Pre Crime division thinks of the Cogs as part of the machinery and that their human bodies are mere artifacts or containers for their gift. The Pre Cogs see the murders as violent disturbances of the future and through the fluid and some fiber optics, project their vision to the Pre Crime division. Additionally, in something that is definitely under-explained, their visions allow them to manipulate a Rube Goldberg device that whittles two blocks of wood into finally lacquered pool balls that have the victim's name and the offender's name on each ball. This device is specifically cited as ensuring the integrity of the vision. Once these balls are delivered via a Mousetrap like tubing, the Pre Crime division follows some basic evidentiary rules and begins their investigation. Apparently, each investigation involves our protagonist, John Anderton. John invokes the proper legal audience via video conferencing and begins a dance like manipulation of the video images captured from the Pre Cogs. Initially, it's unclear what is he doing, but he is definitely interacting with the next big computer phenomenon - transparent glass and special VR gloves. Since the pool balls only list the names, it's up to the Pre Crime division to build the evidentiary trail by dissecting the video for clues of location and possibly to attach the faces in the video with driver's records. Once their identity has truly been divined, the Pre Crime division swoops in and arrests the future offender before they can commit their crime. They are electronically imprisoned with something called a Halo. It's unclear why we continue to manipulate criminals in a very similar fashion - large single cell housing units - when the Pre Cogs could be used to decide if the offender is of any future risk.

OK, seriously, that's the first 15 minutes, and unfortunately, probably the best part of the film - much of the presentation and narration is visual. As the movie moves forward, the audience is now clued in by the characters speaking parts and the movie ends up with more questions than answers and the answers that are provided are sugary sweet.

Next up, the crisis. Pre Crime has a _perfect_ record and is about to go national, provided that the public votes for it and the attorney general's designate does not uncover anything in his investigation. It's during this investigation that we get to see more of the Pre cogs. They look mostly like models with bad haircuts floating in a pool on some sort of water chair. There are two males (Arthur and Ash - although nothing clever is made of this point) and Agatha - the female. Agatha reaches up and grasps Anderton. This shocking breach of protocol clues the audience into the fact that the Pre Cogs are not just mechanical entities with organic flesh.

The next pool balls are delivered and Anderton begins the video editing side show. The victim is identified, and to his shock, the killer is him. Typical chase scenes are involved as the Pre Crime divison turns on its own and tries to capture Anderton. The movie has become a quirky film noir about stolen identities (or future stolen identities). We believe strongly in Anderton and have been manipulated by Speilberg to believe that the Pre Cogs and Pre Crime may not be _perfect_. Anderton is forced to be on the run and uncover the many truths of the Pre Cogs.

We're probably 30-50 minutes in and I think the movie is close to 120 minutes. There's more chase scenes, a chance for Speilberg to unleash his ILM group to produce futuristic cop spider robots, a plot for the power of running the Pre Crime group, some conspiracy, and ultimately Anderton's own truth.

This is a dense film. There are plenty of opportunities to explore many topics - destiny, machinery, loss, and exploitation to name a few; however, Minority Report tends to side step these in favor of a little more action and a chance for the set designers to showcase their considerable talents. But in the end, the various themes are tidied up and we have another cop movie. I guess I was hoping for the pacing of Minority Report with some of the themes from AI.

A couple of random thoughts

For being called Minority Report and being from the same source, it is surprising how different Ridley Scott's world is from the nearly all white, all male world of Spielberg's movie. There is one African American and only five woman in the movie. Scott's Blade Runner is a global cosmopolitan soup. I understand we are only 50ish years in the future, but the movie is centered in Washington DC which is largely African American and in 50 years, probably more hispanic as well.

The DVD's extra features aren't very good. Mostly, it's the same interview with Speilberg and Cruise spread out over an hour or two of vignettes. The most interesting is the futurist summit that Speilberg conducted in which heads of companies predicted what would be happening in the near future. Apparently they predicted exactly what is shown in Blade Runner - a society that continues to innovate through marketing and advertising. Minority Report feels very much like a commerical. Unlike Blade Runner where most of the brands aren't known to us, Minority Report probably made a great deal of money before it was ever seen by leasing film time to Lexus, the Gap, and Guiness (to name a few). This commercialization bothered me more than other recent movies.

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Review: A good Spielberg flick? star7/10 andrew

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