Long before The Matrix, long before Avatar, a not-very-classic movie was made. It’s about a plastic surgeon who touches up models searching for perfection, only to have them show up dead and yet somehow digitally imaged and still alive in the media. In 1981, the effects weren’t great, but being writing and direction by a young Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park, Twister, Runaways) was the push the studio needed to greenlight this film. Even then, as a new author, Crichton held enough sway to put this on the screen. Add to that a stellar cast that included Albert Finney (Wolfen), James Coburn (The President’s Analyst), Leigh Taylor-Young (Soylent Green) and Susan Dey (yes, THAT Susan Dey), and this movie outshines a predictable script to become a first draft of a cautionary tale about technology and the future.
Finney as the bemused surgeon, Coburn as the cynical corporate head, and Dey as the digitally exploited model make for a better than average popcorn afternoon. Terse editing, good directing, and a solid if dated script all make this movie work. The movies dubious distinction of being on the list of the top 100 sex scenes in science fiction notwithstanding, it is worth a re-watch. It’s soft, where dystopian movies tend to be harsh, the soundtrack is safe and nondescript, the moral is predictable as hell and yet, the amazing acting talents of Coburn and Finney under pedestrian circumstances make this a treat to watch.
As is the problem with movies like this , they invariably settle into one of three categories, they either become timeless classics (1984, any version will do), dated trivia (I, Robot, damn you Will Smith) or, in this case, a somewhat whimsical cautionary tale, that while missing the mark for the test of time it still fun to watch because on balance it is more positive then silly.
This is Dome sayin’: Remember fondly the innocence of youth, and enjoy every sandwich.