A while back, I spent a whopping $5 on this 50-movie set, Sci-fi Invasion. That adds up to 10 cents per movie. Let’s see what 984: Prisoner of the Future has to offer.
Here’s what happens: It’s the future, and a “new regime” rules the U.S. A man is imprisoned, and he doesn’t know why. As his captors try to torture information out of him, he dreams of revolution and escape.
Speculative spectacle: Every couple of years, somebody makes a “futuristic prison” movie, such as Fortress, Alien3, and, most recently, Lockout. This one is, obviously, a lesser entry in the subgenre, more interested in making a political statement than in sci-fi action. Near the end, the movie randomly introduces some robot guards, but by then you’ll be too bored to care.
Sleaze factor: Torture, torture, torture!
Quantum quotables: Warden: “No judges to bribe, no team of lawyers to hire. Gentlemen, welcome to tomorrow. Your trials were all played out yesterday. Your guilt is one of the foundations of our new order.” (The entire movie is filled with this type of jargon.)
What the felgercarb? The opening text crawl states, “Sometime in the future, a maximum security prison stands somewhere in North America.” How is that the future, exactly?
Microcosmic minutiae: The internet tells me that this is actually an unsold TV pilot, allegedly called “Tomorrow Man.” How on Earth were they planning to turn this into a series?
Worth 10 cents? I’m not a politics guy, so this movie isn’t my style. If you are a politics person, the movie’s “the government is bad” message is so generic and heavy-handed, I doubt you’d enjoy it any more.
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You paid $0.05 to watch this flick?! I’ve got you beat. I was PAID $0.67 to watch this movie. Let me explain.
Halfway through this movie, my friend, Paul, and I paused for a quick snack break. We chatted about the film so far, what if offered and what it lacked. I expressed my concern that it might end without explaining the reasons behind the main character’s mysterious abduction and torture. I mean, most screen writers would work out a sensible ending that gave the viewer a sense of satisfaction. You know, develop plot and character arcs, reveal mysteries, tie up loose ends. Yeah, most would. But this flick was part of a crap-tastic 50-movie pack I bought for $15.00. “984” was public domain for a reason. And part of that reason, I thought, was because the ending was going to fall flat. Paul believed the unfolding mystery would eventually be explained, so we bet $1.00 on it. The criteria of “a satisfying ending” was defined as my pal’s ability to explain why the main character was taken and tortured – in 30 words or less. If you’ve seen the movie, you know who won the bet. As the end credits rolled, Paul wordlessly reached into his wallet and handed me a dollar.
So…having paid about $0.33 apiece for each of the movies in this 50-pack, and making $1.00 from my bet, I came out ahead $0.67!
Still not worth it.