Short Circuit (1986) Film Review

Rating PG
Length 1h38
Release 5.12.1986
Director John Badham
About Johnny is a data courier who literally carries data packages inside his head for a fee. This time he carries a package that is too large to hold for long and he must race against time to deliver it.
Moon: no moon sighting
Where to Watch: DVD

First Thoughts

This was MY movie. This was on a repeat cycle along with Santa Claus: the Movie, Flight of the Navigator and Batteries Not Included. Short Circuit was my comfort movie, only to be replaced when Jurassic Park was available to own.
However, I probably hadn’t watched this again since I reached double digits. Surprisingly, I remembered almost all of it word for word.

The Good

  • This really is a film for everyone. There was so much humour and dialogue I hadn’t picked up on as a kid that I’m sure adults at the time would have found funny. The best example is when Johnny 5 offloads his tracker to a cute looking couple. They’re pulled over by Skroder and his crones and the wife turns to the husband and states: “I hope you moved the grass from the glove compartment”.
  • G W Bailey. If you’re in the UK, you probably know him best for his comedic roles in Police Academy and Mannequin. However, in the States, he’s a highly regarded dramatic actor. It’s only once you see him in some of his more serious roles that you really begin to appreciate his style of humour. The joy of having Bailey in these roles witnessing the moment the character snaps. That “She’s the dummy, she’s the dummy.” moment, if you will.
  • Wall-e tried to take Johnny 5’s crown, but come on. No robot is ever going to be better than Johnny “I am alive” 5. Even with his angles and metal exterior, I want to hug him. It’s the voice that truly makes him. There’s something charming about it.
  • While a little heavy on the synth, I adore this score and soundtrack. It may be to do with how much I watched this film, but I can’t hear its title without mentally singing “who is Johnny?”, the films theme song, in my head.

The Bad

  • The weird leering of Johhny 5 over Stephanie is something I didn’t catch as a kid, but really creeps me the fuck out as an adult. Perhaps it’s not so much Johnny’s flirtations, but how Stephanie responds?! I mean, is she hoping he has an attachment just for her?!

The Ugly

  • I think its a given that Fisher Stevens’ brown face is one of the most offensive things put on celluloid. Mainly because this is one of the most inoffensive films. ever. Oh, and the fact that he’s the one that comes over to the sequel?! Seriously.
    Of course, at the time, I thought nothing of it. I giggled away at him getting things wrong in that ‘funny voice’. However, as an adult, I’m horrified that there was a time in which this stereotype was acceptable.

Final Thoughts

It still has that charm, but it certainly won’t be on my regular rewatch list any time soon.

Infinity Files Blog Tour Q&A with S. M. Wilson

As we meet Ash, she is faced with ‘failing’ at the academy. It’s not something readers will be used to and is a big fear for those who tend to read YA fiction. Why was it important to have the protagonist experience failure so early on?

Failing was the whole motivation for the start of the story.  Ash had strived for this for so long, she’d thought that once she’d achieved her goal, she it would solve her problems and help how she felt.  As a young woman she was determined to wreak revenge on those who’d stolen her family from her.  But once she didn’t achieve her goal?  Well, it put her in exactly the position I needed her to be in for this story.  The reason she failed was important too.  She acted on her instincts.  And Ash’s instincts were good. That’s why she was chosen for the next role in the book!

Being a massive sci-fi geek myself, I loved how much this book read like a love-letter to those shows many of us will have grown up with. Which shows inspired you the most?

Where do you want me to start?  I’m a huge Star Wars fan (except the first three – they don’t count).  I also love Star Trek. Next Generation is my favourite.  I also loved Battlestar Galactica, the original series and the 2004 series alongside Stargate, the film and SG1 and Stargate Atlantis, and The Mandalorian.  As a kid I even loved Buck Rogers, and the Flash Gordon film, V (which was terrifying).  Finally, there’s ET.  I have a son called Elliott, enough said really!

The theme of isolation perhaps hit harder than it may have any other year. Was that struggle something you felt was important to thread through the story and were there any benefits of it not being about current events?

Ash’s aloneness was a key part of her character development, along with concept of ‘found family’.  It carries on into the second book too.  As a nurse, I’ve been at the heart of the coronavirus epidemic since the start, so for me, an escape is very welcome.  Space was definitely my escape, though there will always be elements of real life that bleed into anything that I write. 

If you had to create your own team of five Guardians from any Sci-fi franchise (you can mix and match), who would you choose and why?

You are literally asking me to choose between my children and that is exceptionally mean.  First and foremost, Captain Picard will always in my team.  I love how he always pretended to obey the Prime Directive but never actually did.  First Contact will always be my favourite film with the emotional damage the borg did to him revived.  With him in my team, I also need the character of Hugh from the borg collective.  I adored that character and loved they brought his fully formed version back in the Picard series.  Next, is my Star Wars favourites. Since Yoda has sneaked into both Extinction Trials and The Infinity Files it really should be him.  But instead, I’m picking Obi-wan Kenobi.  (The Alec Guinness version and not the Ewan McGregor version), alongside kickass Princess Leia.  Carrie Fisher brought such fire to the character and I loved the spark that was there. I suspect Picard and Obi-Wan might get a bit snotty with each other, but Princess Leia will kick them both to the kerb and keep them inline.  Whilst my childhood heart still hankers after Dirk Benedict as Starbuck in Battlestar Galactica, or fabulous Q from the Next Generation, I have to pick ET as my final team member.  Sure, he may not be very mobile, but I can carry him.  And he has a magic finger.  What more do I need?

X Files – I Want to Believe (2008)

Rating 15
Length 1h 44
Release 1.8.2008
Director Chris Carter
About Though FBI special agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and his partner Dr. Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) once chased things that go bump in the night, his tireless search for the truth out there has led to his professional exile. However, a missing-persons case leads to the agents’ reunion, along with an encounter with a priest (Billy Connolly) who may or may not be experiencing psychic visions.

First Things First

Right now, I’m sat kicking myself for not seeing this in the cinema. I worked there, for Mulder’s sake. I actually have a vivid memory. An almost ‘Sliding Doors’ moment in which I was done for the evening and the last showing of the day was about to begin. I passed up on the opportunity.
Now, it’s at this point I should clarify, I was possibly one of the strangest ‘fans’. I was such a fan that I wore a Mulder and Scully watch for at least 4 years, even though I’d probably only seen a handful of episodes.
Yeah, I was 8 years old when Scully was sent to spy on Mulder, so I was only allowed to press record on the VCR and watch up until that distinctive theme song. It wasn’t until 1996 or so when it had moved to Saturday nights, that I saw my first full episode. Can you imagine it; being banned from watching the show, but being bought the merch by the same parent?! Then again, this was the same person who, without fail, would buy me a board game every Christmas and refuse to play it with me. Go figure.
Much like a lot of my teens fandoms; Buffy, Star Trek and Angel… I fell a little out of love with X Files. I’d not taken it upon myself to do a rewatch (or a first watch) and I just felt very disengaged in 2008.
However, it’s now 2021. I’ve spent the last few months watching all 9 seasons, and one movie, leading up to this one. I’d been dreading it, I won’t lie.

The Good

  • It’s X Files. Even with its flaws, I’m in. You’re giving me Mulder and Scully. You’re in theory giving me together Mulder and Scully. What’s not to love. It certainly has its moments that will have any fan happy. When they’re together on screen, its frigging awesome.
  • It’s a story that is that perfect middle ground. It’s the supernatural rather than the mythology that, at times, bogged the show down. I love the alien shit, but I think the fatal flaw of the franchise is that it wavered too much on that line of ‘are the aliens real?’. At least this keeps it conspiracy lite. Well, except for the priest with a taste for choir boys.
  • Speaking of the whole pedophilia subplot. It was a powerful thing to address considering this would have still been a rather raw subject, for American viewers in particular. The Boston sex abuse scandal was only exposed in 2002. I’m sure Carter was trying to say something profound about this dirty secret of the Catholic Church. I’m not sure it works completely, but damn I’m still impressed he tried.
  • The editing in the opening was excellent. It was unsettling and lacking context, but it worked. It was something very different to what we’ve come to expect of X Files and it really got my attention.
  • Billy Connolly, while giving me the creeps, was a delight to see on screen. Rather strange to see him without his beard, but given his character I was glad of that disassociation.

The Bad

  • I struggled with Scully’s B-Plot storyline. It felt a little too contrived and almost a plot device hiding in plain sight. The film needed a bit of a change in editing (Like, don’t give me shifty looks to the Father, when the other one was a convicted pedophile, and not give me a resolution to that either way). It’s a shame, because when Gillian Anderson’s scenes worked, it was powerful.
  • This is the ‘ship that coined the term ‘shipping’. So why the fuck does the film play them off against each other for most of the movie?! Why, after EVERYTHING Scully has seen, is she still a skeptic? Both the relationship, and Scully herself are completely devolved to fit the narrative. It does all fans a disservice.
  • Our new Mulder/Scully, Dogget/Reyes. I don’t get them and they’re booted out of the script halfway through. While I adore Amanda Peet and she does an amazing job, put Agent Monica Reyes in that role and it blows the whole thing open and adds investment.
    Then there’s Xzibit as Agent Drummy as the overly-aggressive skeptic. The biggest problem being that there’s no chemistry between him and Mulder…. so he just ends up shouting.

The Ugly

  • That fucking beard! What the fuck, man?! I get that the film was trying to show that Mulder was not the same, but did we really need him to wear such a bad joke-shop stick-on beard?! It was cheap, it was tacky and it lasted so much of the movie.

Final Thoughts

There are worse episodes that feel way longer than this outing. It is flawed and I did shout “Oh, fuck off Scully.” At the tv screen. Something I’ve not done since mid-series 3.
As much as this was made as a stand alone to bring in the uninitiated, I doubt the franchise would gain any fans from watching this first.