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Steven Spielberg Speaks Briefly on His 'Robopocalypse' Adaptation

by
January 12, 2012
Source: Time Out London

Robopocalypse / Steven Spielberg

Though he had two films released in 2011, The Adventures of Tintin and War Horse, director Steven Spielberg isn't slowing down at all. Currently the filmmaker is working on Lincoln with Daniel Day-Lewis as the titular 16th President of the United States, but after that, the iconic director will return to science fiction with his adaptation of Daniel H. Wilson's book Robopocalypse scripted by Cloverfield writer Drew Goddard. Few details have emerged on the project, but recently Time Out London (via The Playlist) sat down with Spielberg who talked a bit about his approach to the story and what drew him to the proejct.

For those joining us, here's the official synopsis of Daniel H. Wilson's book:

They are in your house. They are in your car. They are in the skies…Now they're coming for you.

In the near future, at a moment no one will notice, all the dazzling technology that runs our world will unite and turn against us. Taking on the persona of a shy human boy, a childlike but massively powerful artificial intelligence known as Archos comes online and assumes control over the global network of machines that regulate everything from transportation to utilities, defense and communication. In the months leading up to this, sporadic glitches are noticed by a handful of unconnected humans – a single mother disconcerted by her daughter's menacing "smart" toys, a lonely Japanese bachelor who is victimized by his domestic robot companion, an isolated U.S. soldier who witnesses a 'pacification unit' go haywire – but most are unaware of the growing rebellion until it is too late.

When the Robot War ignites -- at a moment known later as Zero Hour -- humankind will be both decimated and, possibly, for the first time in history, united. Robopocalypse is a brilliantly conceived action-filled epic, a terrifying story with heart-stopping implications for the real technology all around us…and an entertaining and engaging thriller unlike anything else written in years.

Here's what Spielberg, who hasn't done a straight-up science fiction film since War of the Worlds in 2005, had to say about his forthcoming adaptation of Robopocalypse:

"It's a movie about a global war between man and machine. I had a great time creating the future on 'Minority Report,' and it's a future that is coming true faster than any of us thought it would. Robopocalypse takes place in 15 or 20 years, so it'll be another future we can relate to. It's about the consequences of creating technologies which make our lives easier, and what happens when that technology becomes smarter than we are. It's not the newest theme, it's been done throughout science fiction, but it's a theme that becomes more relevant every year."

It's fairly interesting that the film will only take place 15-20 years in the future, but considering how fast technology is developing, we don't have to go decades into the future to believe amazing leaps in technology. That's an interesting concept to get a grasp on, especially since films like Back to the Future Part II looked 30 years into the future and flying cars and hoverboards still aren't around (what are you waiting for, scientists?). Even a film like Minority Report, Spielberg's next most recent sci-fi film, had gritty parts of the world still around amidst unparalleled technology. But for now, we'll have to wait a little bit before seeing any solid incarnation of the world Spielberg is crafting for Robopocalypse as the film won't go before cameras until September at the earliest. Personally, I can't wait for Spielberg's return to sci-fi, and hope he takes it to a darker arena than we've seen from him previously.

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  • Hggfd
    As much as I love Spielberg, I can't see how this will be any different from The Terminator and  I Robot.
    • JBrotsis
      totally agree. when i was reading the caption for the plot of the story, i was thinking "umm....sounds alot like terminator". But its speilberg and he rarely disappoints.
  • Hggfd
    ...And The Matrix.
  • Lagoya
    So it's basically The Terminator then...
  • http://twitter.com/QuanahTweets Quanah
    ...with some I-Robot...
  • Bob
    Amazing.....i cant wait for that.
  • http://twitter.com/rltuva Robert L. Tuva
    I would be much more excited about his interstellar project. I don't know what's the status on that one though.
  • peloquin
    This is nothing like the Terminator or iRobot.  I recently finished the book and it deals more with self driving cars hunting people down than actual humanoid robots.  There are a few humanoids in it towards the end, but it's mostly about the technology we use everyday turning on us.  It was also written by Daniel Wilson who has a PHD in robobotics so it's got a more realistic approach to the singularity then any previous works.  I'm highly anticipating this film and I recommend that anyone interested in computer science or robotics read the story as well.
    • http://www.milliondollarcuffs.org Triangle Dimes
      " I recently finished the book and it deals more with self driving cars hunting people down than actual humanoid robots. " So... Like Terminator: Salvation. 
      • Anonymous
        Nope, it isn't like that.  Just read the book and you'll find out what Peloquin was talking about.  Personally, I really liked the book--it did scare me, though.  But it's more "Nightmare Number 3" by Stephen Vincent Benet than TERMINATOR: SALVATION. Just sayin'....
    • Anonymous
      How does it stack up to Asimov or Philip Dick's stories?
      • peloquin
        I'd say that it has a lot of the same themes as PK Dick, but it tries to ground them in reality rather than including fantasy elements such as aliens or other dimensions.  A lot of the book is spent with people who have left the cities and started a new colony in the forests.  It's about getting back to the basics of friendship, love, and family.  The robots are more trying to "clean up" the world rather than exterminate all the humans.  They actually remove the bodies that are killed by zero hour to keep the cities clean and they say in the book that if they wanted to kill all the humans they would just eliminate all the oxygen.  The machines do not want to kill the humans, they want to repair what they see as a "broken world".
        • Anonymous
          in peloquin we trust! thanks for your two posts (and @Scopedog:disqus's), that and Spielberg's honest comments have made me more excited for the film and keen to seek out a copy of the book. cheers. nice to know there's still some discussion and informed opinion on the web, and this site.
        • Anonymous
          Great breakdown
  • Anonymous
    Alright techie Maximum Overdrive :0p I'm down with it.
  • http://www.milliondollarcuffs.org Triangle Dimes
    " In the near future, at a moment no one will notice, all the dazzling technology that runs our world will unite and turn against us. Taking on the persona of a shy human boy, a childlike but massively powerful artificial intelligence known as Archos comes online and assumes control over the global network of machines that regulate everything from transportation to utilities, defense and communication." HOLY SHIT I DEFINITELY HAVEN'T SEEN THIS BEFORE!
  • Terry
    I feel like no matter how hard I try, this'll just be another I robot in my mind
    • Anonymous
      Well, Terry....it isn't like I, ROBOT.  The best thing to do is to read the book and find out.  Yeah, when I cracked it open and started reading it, I thought the same thing; as it turned out, I was wrong.
      • http://www.milliondollarcuffs.org Triangle Dimes
        I get it now. I see what's happening. You're working for the Robopocalypse people. "Hey man it's cool just read the book." I'm fuckin' onto you, Scopedog.  YOU REEK OF DANIEL WILSON. 
        • Anonymous
          Moi?  A ROBOPOCALYPSE plant? Perish the thought!
          • http://www.milliondollarcuffs.org Triangle Dimes
            I WILL EXPOSE AND RUIN YOU, SCOPEDOG. I WILL FUCK THIS ARTICLE IN THE ASS AND THEN I WILL FUCK YOU IN THE ASS.
  • Anonymous
    Like most, I-robot immediately comes to mind.  And although as hard as I-robot tried to be Minority Report (Near Future, Noir, etc) it might be kinda cool to see Steven take on the future again.  I was a big fan of the visuals in Minority Report & AI.
    • Anonymous
      "I was a big fan of the visuals in Minority Report & AI." Same here.  I dug the "future" that MR depicted, both the good and bad aspects of it.  But I wonder why people still s**t all over that film and bitch about it.....
      • Lagoya
        If you like Minority Report you should read 'The Demolished Man' by Alfred Bester. MR copied so many elements of that book.
        • Anonymous
          Will definitely make the effort to read "The Demolished Man".  I've read "The Stars, My Destination" and while I've heard of TDM, I've never gotten my hands on it....might have to do that soon!
          • Lagoya
            I just recently finished "the stars my destination" technically its a better book, but I enjoyed "the demolished man" a lot more!
  • Voice of Reason
    I totally respect that Spielberg openly admits that this isnt a new theme, which makes me feel pretty sure he's doing something to make it unique and his own and hopefully a lot of new things we havent seen before. Fundamental rule on all creative projects: It doesnt matter if its been done before, so long as you can do it better. I trust Spielberg to not only know this, but deliver on it.
    • Anonymous
      "Fundamental rule on all creative projects: It doesnt matter if its been done before, so long as you can do it better. I trust Spielberg to not only know this, but deliver on it." (Stands up and applauds) Well put.  I mean, the "alien hunting down people" theme had been done before ALIEN, but that film did it better, with a look and feel that was, well, original.
    • http://www.milliondollarcuffs.org Triangle Dimes
      "Fundamental rule on all creative projects: It doesnt matter if its been done before, so long as you can do it better." FALSE, ASSHOLE. REVERSE APPLAUSE.
      • Anonymous
        Geez, man....have you tried decaf?
        • http://www.milliondollarcuffs.org Triangle Dimes
          I refuse to believe you are any less than 45 years old because you just made a decaf joke.
  • Jasonmd2020
    Just read this book. Reminds me of a robot version of World War Z.
    • Anonymous
      I had the same thought as well....but honestly, it was a plus in my view, since WWZ is one of my favorite books.
  • Anonymous
    Sorry to nitpick, but can't fault Back to the Future in predicting technology because of hoverboards and flying cars. If you think about what their simplest function is and how it is achieved you'll realize just how near impossible it really is... to fight gravity. Consider the Wright Bros pioneered powered flight only 110 years ago, and almost no progress has been made in 50 years.
    • http://www.milliondollarcuffs.org Triangle Dimes
      What about stealth drones? Those are pretty fresh.
      • Anonymous
        the AI and computer tech is very fresh yes, but they are still aircraft and use the exact same principles of flight (thrust, lift, etc) as the Wright Brothers did... and every plane since then.
    • Anonymous
      Well, Harlan Ellison did say that predicting the future [in science fiction] was a "Mugg's Game"; that is, it's difficult to d. Think about all the SF films from the 60s, 70s and 80s that took place in the future--say, around 20-40 years in the future.  Notice what most of them were missing (well, pretty much all of them)--cell phones. In terms of flight though....well, you are right up to a point.  One can call the change to jets, fly-by-wire systems (using computers to help fly the plane), construction materials and yes, stealth as progress, but practical hypersonic aircraft are still years away.  And hoverboards?  Yep, they looked cool, but like you said, we are nowhere near creating an anti-gravity technology.

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