Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Genre Character of the Week: David 8

Last weekend I went to check out the new film Prometheus with my mother, brother, youngest daughter and BFF.  The movie is a prequel to the 1979 Horror/Science Fiction classic, Alien. In structure it was not unlike last years The Thing, in that it wanted to be a frightening film on its own, as well as a set up for the events of the earlier film (Sorry to get a little film-nerdy here, but there’s an interested connection between the two films – The Thing (1982) director John Carpenter and Alien screenwriter Dan O’Bannon went to film school together and both dreamed of remaking the classic Howard Hawkes 1951 film The Thing from Another Worldand although they went their separate ways before they could do it together, both Alien andThe Thing are very heavily influenced by the earlier film).  Although Prometheus was not a perfect film, it did introduce me to this week’s genre character, David 8.

Played by actor Michael Fassbender, David 8 is an android created by Weyland Industries, which (mild spoiler of AlienAliensAlien3, and Alien Resurrection) means that he should be carefully watched, as androids in these films tend to range from strangely helpful to brutally homicidal.  What I liked best about the character was his very near-human status.  By this I mean that he came across as almost a perfect human being, but sat on just the other side of creepy the whole way through.  Some of this I comes from the script and direction, but honestly it was the acting that blew me away.  For a character that seems very helpful, he’s just got this strange undercurrent of “other” that gave me a serious case of the creeps.

This Is why I’m not a big fan of robots in film– from The Terminator to Data (and no, I haven’t seen every episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, but I did see the end of one where he KILLS HIS OWN BROTHER!!! – whoops – mild spoiler again - right after the brother says “I love you”), I mean sure, there are some nice robots in film (Terminator 2, WALL-E, That busted up thing from The Black Hole), but generally if you’ve introduced robots into your SF story it’s to have them programmed to kill, or to break their kind programming and kill (I don’t know about you, but for me the military was totally in the right in trying to track down and destroy the laser-armed killbot known as Johnny 5 in Short Circuit).

Wait a second, where was I?  Right – David 8, creepy performance, and also the reason I won’t be buying a Roomba anytime soon.

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