Good ideas for toys do not make good ideas for movies. Take Transformers, for instance. As toys, they’re ingenious: robots (!) that turn into cars (!), planes (!) and guns (!!!). In one fell swoop you’ve itemised every pre-pubescent boys’ dreams. The robots divide into goodies and baddies (as they must, according to the Lore of the Playground) and they proceed to beat each other up (because what else would pre-teen boys’ want them to do? Get a mortgage?). If you’re lining up merchandizing for a big Hollywood movie: hallelujah! But where’s the movie in all this? Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen does not provide a plausible answer.
Can you think of a movie with a good super-computer? From Hal through to Skynet through that computer that turned Richard Pryor into a robot in Superman III, super-computers equal bad news in movies. Luddite Hollywood doesn’t seem to trust advanced technology. Never mind the irony that most of the most memorable moments in modern blockbusters are made of ones and zeroes; on-screen, super-computers are not our friends. In the new techno-thriller Eagle Eye, yet another sleek, malign thinking machine is added to the villains’ roster. Was it always this way? Did ancient audiences boo the abacus whenever it appeared on-stage?