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Prototype
IMDB Rating: 6.0/10 from N/A votes
Release: 07 Dec 1983 /

Prototype

Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi
Director: David Greene,
Stars: ,
Synopsis: An intelligent android (Michael) constructed by a research team is taken outdoors and successfully passed off as human in a trial run. When the government hears of this, they order their ...

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Critic Reviews


Forget the campy alien-on-earth cliché treatments. PROTOTYPE delivers the smartest dialogue yet to be seen in SF film, in a contemporary of Mary Shelley's FRANKENSTEIN.

In a performance that brings smart dialogue and simple but telling cinematography to a deserving SF-savvy audience, Richard Levinson and William Link mark a cerebral triumph in this 1983 TV film starring Christopher Plummer, David Morse and Frances Sternhagen - recently in DVD re-release. With such a well thought-out script, one is left to guess that the film was derived from the theatrical likes of Peter Schaffer or Arthur Miller, but with a tight and wholly spec-fic basis from classic SF matriarch Mary Shelley. In this unabashed homage to that story which began a genre, artificial life is brought to casual life as we know it - a curiosity, a property, a fellow living thing, and finally an entity in search of its purpose, place and destiny.

'Michael', the culmination of years of research by a Pentagon-sponsored program to develop a mechanical man, is introduced to us just as creator and mentor Forrester introduces it to an unsuspecting Mrs. Forrester, in an impromptu Turing test weeks ahead of schedule. Afterwards, convinced that the successes in the creature's first experience outside the controlled environment of the lab are a milestone in their careers, Forrester's research team discovers that instead of celebrating, they should now fear the control which the government has been preparing to exert all along. Forthwith, Forrester and his mechanical man go AWOL from the doctor's work, his team, and his own personal life - to see his creation through to its own self-determination.

There is no high speed chase scene. There are no gun battles, and no hunchbacked, ghastly half-made man shambling amok about the countryside terrorizing innocents. Only this bright and responsive albeit naive young man who never blinks, drinks, or realizes when he tells a stupefyingly appropriate joke. With this unseemly Pinnochio goes the doctor, a man who finds himself questioning his own intents and purpose as he tries to defend his life's work from those who would 'alter' it - perhaps to turn Michael to military ends, or to tap the knowledge of an artificial mind for more ... human ... purposes. The villain is only the looming threat of misuse of a great thing.

The film makes you think. Hard, too, because its social commentary and hypothesis is presented in a most stripped-down and unpretentious format, unencumbered by anything by which it could become dated or trivialized - no high budget special effects or quasi-horrific makeup cloud this film and no glib, idiotic dialogue or cornball voice-over pollutes it. In short, PROTOTYPE is a mind-grower not a mind-blower. Think of PHENOMENON without nonsense, or STARMAN without the glam of superhuman ability. DARYL without any kid stuff.

For all it's worth, 'Michael' is human enough that you want to cry at the mistreatment doled out to him for his innocence, but at the same time you are morally lost with Forrester, who is doggedly naive in attempting to save him. In the end the only thing that gives hope is the basis for the title: PROTOTYPE is only the first, and of course there can be more.

If the shuttle's Canadian-made robot arm had a thumb, it would be up.

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