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Colossus - The Forbin Project [Blu-ray]
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Fourteen years before The Terminator (and only two years after HAL refused to open the pod door), there was another, lesser-known tale of a supercomputer seizing control of the world and trying to eradicate humanity. Engineer Dr. Charles A. Forbin, who convinces the U.S. Defense Department to let his "Colossus" control the country's nuclear arsenal, then watches in horror as his creation goes over his head and starts communicating with the Soviet's own electronic brain. Colossus is The granddaddy of all "computer run amok" films.
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Love this film as its the old story of a monster becoming smarter than its master . Films like The Matrix and The Terminator have been inspired by this film. Science fiction does not have to be about special effects and CGI, it can just be about ideas and a great story.
I quickly overlooked the terrible picture and thoroughly enjoyed watching the film again after such a long time. Eric Braeden is superb as the genius inventor/father of Colossus. He is charming, witty, cool and handsome - not your typical movie scientist. (Braeden would go on to play another scientist in "Escape From The Planet Of The Apes" but using the intelligence, charm, logic and good looks of Forbin to create a far more chilling and cold-blooded character. Such a shame that this versatile actor has been so woefully under used. He made 2 excellent appearances in "Mission: Impossible" in the 1960s, both of which showcase his ability to be charming and a total bastard). The supporting cast in "Colossus" fared a little better and will be familiar to most viewers. Susan Clark is excellent as Forbin's assistant, Dr Cleo Malcolm, before plot developments transform her into Forbin's lover. This could have been crude but her sudden change from scientist to love interest is handled with wit and humour. Look carefully and you'll also spot among the supporting cast Marion Ross, who went on to play Mrs Cunningham in "Happy Days", Georg Stanford Brown (veteran of many films and television shows, including "Roots", formerly married to Tyne Daly) and Martin Brooks, who will be familiar to fans of "The Six Million Dollar Man" and "Bionic Woman" as the third actor to play Dr Rudy Wells). Best of all is Gordon Pinsent as the American President. Pinsent is best known outside Canada for his recurring role as Benton Fraser's father in "Due South". His President is intelligent and shrewd as well as decisive.
I re-purchased "Colossus" on DVD when the picture was finally upgraded to 16:9 so it was a pleasure to finally see the whole film. This new edition is well priced and also includes a commentary by veteran director Joseph Sargent, who recalls the making of the film with a great deal of affection. Some of his revelations beggar belief - was Susan Clark really wearing a body suit during the nude scenes? Maybe that explains why BBC2 didn't cut these scenes when the film was broadcast because I definitely remember being a little shocked by the nudity the first time I saw the film, especially as it was being shown at tea time.
The film is not without flaws. It is slow, the dialogue banal and much of the science is laughable in light of today's technology. Dated as it is, the film remains a charming time capsule of the Cold War era and the beginning of the computer age. The film's excitement and suspense is largely down to how the super computer achieves its dominance over mankind. For me the film retains its power by focusing on how Forbin the inventor/father is meticulously imprisoned by his creation - physically and mentally. Colossus is a terrifying villain and its takeover of the world is believable and complete. The film makers bravely stay faithful to the source novel by DF Jones so there is no pat happy ending, despite Colossus' promise of a new era of peace. A gem of a movie.
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Otherwise, quite pleased.
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