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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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Reader Feedback - 37 Comments

1

As much as I love Spielberg, I can't see how this will be any different from The Terminator and  I Robot.

Hggfd on Jan 12, 2012

2

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.

JBrotsis on Jan 13, 2012

3

...And The Matrix.

Hggfd on Jan 12, 2012

4

So it's basically The Terminator then...

Lagoya on Jan 12, 2012

5

...with some I-Robot...

Quanah on Jan 12, 2012

6

Amazing.....i cant wait for that.

Bob on Jan 13, 2012

7

I would be much more excited about his interstellar project. I don't know what's the status on that one though.

Robert L. Tuva on Jan 13, 2012

8

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.

peloquin on Jan 13, 2012

9

" I recently finished the book and it deals more with self driving cars hunting people down than actual humanoid robots. " So... Like Terminator: Salvation. 

Triangle Dimes on Jan 13, 2012

10

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 on Jan 13, 2012

11

How does it stack up to Asimov or Philip Dick's stories?

Anonymous on Jan 13, 2012

12

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".

peloquin on Jan 13, 2012

13

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 on Jan 15, 2012

14

Great breakdown

Anonymous on Jan 23, 2012

15

Alright techie Maximum Overdrive :0p I'm down with it.

Anonymous on Jan 13, 2012

16

" 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!

Triangle Dimes on Jan 13, 2012

17

I feel like no matter how hard I try, this'll just be another I robot in my mind

Terry on Jan 13, 2012

18

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.

Anonymous on Jan 13, 2012

19

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. 

Triangle Dimes on Jan 13, 2012

20

Moi?  A ROBOPOCALYPSE plant? Perish the thought!

Anonymous on Jan 13, 2012

21

I WILL EXPOSE AND RUIN YOU, SCOPEDOG. I WILL FUCK THIS ARTICLE IN THE ASS AND THEN I WILL FUCK YOU IN THE ASS.

Triangle Dimes on Jan 13, 2012

22

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 on Jan 13, 2012

23

"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.....

Anonymous on Jan 13, 2012

24

If you like Minority Report you should read 'The Demolished Man' by Alfred Bester. MR copied so many elements of that book.

Lagoya on Jan 13, 2012

25

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!

Anonymous on Jan 13, 2012

26

I just recently finished "the stars my destination" technically its a better book, but I enjoyed "the demolished man" a lot more!

Lagoya on Jan 15, 2012

27

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.

Voice of Reason on Jan 13, 2012

28

"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.

Anonymous on Jan 13, 2012

29

"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.

Triangle Dimes on Jan 13, 2012

30

Geez, man....have you tried decaf?

Anonymous on Jan 14, 2012

31

I refuse to believe you are any less than 45 years old because you just made a decaf joke.

Triangle Dimes on Jan 15, 2012

32

Just read this book. Reminds me of a robot version of World War Z.

Jasonmd2020 on Jan 13, 2012

33

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 on Jan 14, 2012

34

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.

Anonymous on Jan 13, 2012

35

What about stealth drones? Those are pretty fresh.

Triangle Dimes on Jan 13, 2012

36

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 on Jan 15, 2012

37

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.

Anonymous on Jan 14, 2012

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