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Minority Report 552

Posted by timothy
from the if-you-didn't-do-anything-wrong dept.
peterwayner writes: "Everyone has heard stories of odd coincidences from cousins who call each other simultaneously or professors making the same discovery, but there may be no better proof of synchronicity than Steven Spielberg's charcoal grey rendering of Philip Kindred Dick's short story, "Minority Report." This tale of police who solve crimes before they are committed reached the theaters just a few weeks after the United States learned that even citizens are being locked up without a trial or a lawyer because they might turn out to be terrorists." Read the rest of his review below.

The resonance between this story and the current war is so strong that it's almost impossible to watch it for what it is, a good murder mystery conceived well before September 11th retelling a short story that was published long ago in 1956. The movie is half a work of philosophy and half a head-scratching what-if narrative exploring the merger of computers, extra-sensory perception, and genetic research. All of this is painted on the screen in the sad muted browns, sepias, blues and greys of an amateur watercolorist who can't keep the colors from turning to mud.

The conceit is the kind of classic conundrum that made science fiction great: the police in 2054 can tap the minds of three "pre-cogs" who see visions of murders a few hours before they will happen. Tom Cruise plays a cop who flies off in a jet pack to nab the soon-to-be-bad guys and lock them away before they kill. Can we really be sure the crime will be committed just as the pre-cognitives predict? Cruise is an earnest believer in the system's perfection until, it should be obvious, the system implicates him in the pre-murder of someone he's never met.

The yarn unfolds as a long string of chase scenes mixed with some flashbacks and some pre-cognitive dodges. Cruise's character, we're told, is a fast runner and he spends plenty of time running fast. The plot is crisp and layered enough to unfold several times. The hinge points are as good as the philosophical question they serve.

The biggest failure of the movie may be the set design and the look. At one moment, we see computers to inspire the next generation from Apple, in another moment we're in a mall that isn't as fancy or as new as the mall around the corner from my house. The logos for the Gap and Pepsi haven't changed since they were faxed over from the product-placement department. Many of the scenes look contemporary, with minimal set dressing, but then along comes a great car chase tricked out like the wet dream from some 19-year-old in an art school in Southern California. The unity of vision that delivered the oily dystopia of Bladerunner is missing this time. I wouldn't be surprised if someone tightened the budget screws in the middle of the film and sent them scrambling to save money on some scenes.

The tone coming from the actors is also a bit uneven. Spielberg managed to toss in funny moments in the Indiana Jones trilogy and whole schtick came together with the amazing certainty of comic-book escapism. The bits of humor in this movie's chase scenes, though, ruin the nervous paranoia and amped-up tension crackling through the narrative's ganglia. Is this supposed to be summer joy ride or a serious exploration of the meaning of justice?

These errors in execution don't matter too much because the storyline is so strong and central to our current struggle with terrorism. No one probably wants to hear that Dick wrote this story just a few years after the Supreme Court finally decided that it wasn't really legal to lock up Japanese-Americans on the off chance that they might take their orders from Tokyo. The movie theater where I saw the film is only a few miles from the prison that held much of Baltimore's City Council during the Civil War.

Despite the uncomfortable fact that moments like these happen again and again in history, there's no way to escape wondering whether Spielberg is some kind of pre-cog being who gets his version of the zeitgeist delivered early. The timing is just eerie.


Peter Wayner thinks his new book, Translucent Databases is about ten years ahead of its time. His book about steganography, Disappearing Cryptography , may be a few months late."

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Minority Report

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  • by Sacker (133852) on Wednesday June 26, 2002 @04:48PM (#3772326)
    so if this future comes about does it mean ill be charged for music i download before i even listen to it? damn the riaa would have a field day with that! =)


    • I was eating dinner at a cafe last night and talking about the RIAA, the TCPA, the DMCA, and other four letter words. The music was too loud and everyone agreed that they would rather not have it. Someone joked that the RIAA would still make us find a way to pay for it. We laughed. Then someone pointed out that ASCAP and the RIAA do go to cafes and hit them up for royalties. So some of what we paid probably did go to the RIAA. And we had no choice in the matter.

      At least I got to listen to it.
  • Piece of advice... (Score:5, Informative)

    by NanoGator (522640) on Wednesday June 26, 2002 @04:49PM (#3772327) Homepage Journal
    In the first paragraph of the summary say: "Go see this movie" or "Don't go see this movie".

    *afeared of Lone Gunmen Spoilers*
    • In the first paragraph of the summary say: "Go see this movie" or "Don't go see this movie".

      You mean, "We know you were going to see this movie. We know you won't enjoy it. We're going to stop you before you go".

  • The biggest failure of the movie may be the set design and the look. At one moment, we see computers to inspire the next generation from Apple, in another moment we're in a mall that isn't as fancy or as new as the mall around the corner from my house. The logos for the Gap and Pepsi haven't changed since they were faxed over from the product-placement department. Many of the scenes look contemporary with minimal set dressing, but then along comes a great car chase tricked out like the wet dream from some 19 year old in an art school in Southern California.

    In the 1950s we were all promised flying cars through the amazing miracle that was atomic energy. But we're still driving plain old cars that run on gas. Not everything will change in the future. And also, I could see malls like the ones today being set up because of nostalgia.

    Also, did anyone else notice that Spielberg switched camera lenses or something during some of those past-looking scenes? Everything looked fuzzier, like from glare or something.
    • Of course in the reviewer's own estimation, by this time everyone should wear pseudo-future space clothes and all restaurants are Taco Bell.

      I thought the mixture of futurism while maintaining modern elements is a pretty good guess. It's 50 years in the future, I don't see our society changing too much. But anything can happen. No one can predict the future (well, except maybe the precogs :))

      This is just one view of the future, and it seems realistic enough. I thought it was done tastefully and thoughtfully, unlike such tripe as Battlefield Earth. My only qualm with the story was the ending, which, like AI, would have been better had they cut the last 10-15 minutes out.
  • by jiminim (104910)
    Hasn't anyone else read Isaac Asimov's tale of the mighty Multivac and how it can predict crimes before they happen? Amazing!

  • in the future... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cpfeifer (20941) on Wednesday June 26, 2002 @04:53PM (#3772381) Homepage
    we'll have cars that drive themselves down the sides of buildings, be able to prevent crimes from happening in the future, have really sweet video processing systems with haptic interfaces.

    But we'll still have to sneakernet media from one workstation to another via removable media. Nothing ever changes.
  • by Ravagin (100668) on Wednesday June 26, 2002 @04:53PM (#3772388)

    The biggest failure of the movie may be the set design and the look. At one moment, we see computers to inspire the next generation from Apple, in another moment we're in a mall that isn't as fancy or as new as the mall around the corner from my house.

    I disagree. That's one of the strengths. It is ony 50 years in the future, and Spielberg uses a few advances to make it both close to home and alien.

    To get all Darko Suvin on the matter for a moment (Suvin is an esteemed critic of and thinker about sf, read his stuff, it rocks), it is clear that the makers of this movie know what their novum (the "difference" that makes it sf) is, and they're sticking to it - precrime. Other lesser nova include the retina-scans and neuroin. What is very, very successfully done is their ability to focus on the important nova and their effects on society without getting too fancy with flying cars and moon malls and so forth.

    What I'm trying to say at 4:48 pm after a long hot day is that the movie is a masterful example of putting an alien concept in a familiar context - for maximum effect on the viewer. A bonus is the gritty feel, and it was cute for me as a DC resident to see the future of the city (you know, we have Lexus plants _all over_ Capitol Hill).

    Good movie. See it.

    • by Wraithlyn (133796) on Wednesday June 26, 2002 @05:13PM (#3772607)
      I agree. The presentation of the future is masterful. Like that residential suburb scene with the couple going by on a pair of horses. Does the reviewer think they decided to use HORSES because of budgetary concerns? Nonsense. Everything is deliberate. Spielberg consulted with a large group of world-renowned futurists to come up with a carefully thought out view of what the future might be like. They ended up with a mixture of high tech and old fashioned. A case can be made that Star Wars employs a similar motif.

      As for the advertising... how much has the Coke logo changed in the last 50 years? Brand recognition is powerful, long lasting stuff.
      • Product placement (Score:3, Interesting)

        by dachshund (300733)
        As for the advertising... how much has the Coke logo changed in the last 50 years? Brand recognition is powerful, long lasting stuff.

        Actually, I think the unchanged nature of the logos can be chalked up to simple product placement. Firms like The Gap, Pepsi and Reebok paid a ton of money to get their logos into this movie, and they want to build brand-recognition in the here-and-now.

        There's an interesting article [msn.com] over on Slate about the ads in Minority Report. Though product placement is nothing new, this film represents the first time corporations have actually hired outside advertising agencies to realize the full-length commercials that were played throughout the movie.

  • That would be the Glendale Galleria (in Glendale, CA), which looks outdated even today, appearing suddenly in the middle of DC in 2054. On the other hand, there are plenty of things around today that were here in 1952. Surely, EVERYTHING would not change in 50 years...
    • by MartyJG (41978)
      • there are plenty of things around today that were here in 1952. Surely, EVERYTHING would not change in 50 years...


      Unfortunately there's a good chance this movie will still be around in 50 years - at which point we'll look back at it and laugh at the thought of owning a jet pack, laugh at the idea of driving a car down the side of a building (in anything other than a suicidal mood), and laugh that people are still making sci-fi movies with futuristic dates reachable in most peoples lifetimes.

      I know someone else who'll be laughing: my HAL-9000 [tbid.com] computer that I put together a few years ago.
  • The Flick (Score:2, Interesting)

    by puto (533470)
    I have not seen it yet but it is on my wish list. Dick was a great author, very visionary. I would also say that he greatly influenced William Gibson in the realm of cyberpunk. If you want to know why check out A Scanner Darkly, a book about an undercover narc in the future who uses technology to his advantage, but also has a habit that is killing him slowly. Dick was a heavy addict at one time and this book reflects his experiences. It is actually a darkly beautiful book and the forward is dedicated to all of his friends who fell into the world of heroin abuse. Blade Runner(Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep) was a very good book although the movie was only 'vaguely' based on it. BUT the movie kicked ass. Rutger Haur as the phliosopher replicant was great. He adlibbed most of his scenes and they kept em. One of my fav's still. So if they keep it on the real with the book it should be good. Heard a rumor once that Lucas wanted to adapt Dick books. God save us all. Puto
  • by dietz (553239) on Wednesday June 26, 2002 @04:58PM (#3772438)
    I admit that this new Spielberg picture is more interesting than most, but through the whole thing we were constantly pummeled by annoying Spielbergisms that ruined most of the film for me.

    It was all there:
    • the pointless "humorous" hijinks interrupting the flow (oh! the protagonist is going to eat a moldy sandwich! ha! ha! ha!)
    • the sappy/happy ending when this movie really deserved an unhappy one
    • the trite music from John Williams (which seemed especially bad this time...
      is he even trying anymore?)
    • and worst of all, the constant need to explain every minor plot twist three times because Spielberg assumes (correctly?) that his audience is really quite stupid.
    Minority Report would be a decent movie if it just wasn't so fucking annoying.
    • I'm not sure about the humor you saw in the movie. I didn't think it was intended to be funny. I saw the scene with the sandwich, etc., as a testament as to the conditions those people lived in and what he was going through to defeat the system. These were people that didn't want to be traced by the system, and to do so wasn't exactly pretty.

      I will agree that having the characters explain things to me annoyed me. I don't like being told what is going on in a movie directly. It is evident why things occured the way they did, and we don't need a monologue or whatever to reveal that to us. Aside from that, I enjoyed the movie.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I can't agree more. Minority Report was an awful movie for those reasons and these few extra:
      • Upon being cited for a future murder, the protagonist decides that he should run, for no other explanation than, "everyone runs".
      • The protagonist could have just asked to be locked in a room until the murder date had passed thereby making the prediction bunk.
      • The doctor who does the protagonists surgery claims he was locked up sometime in the past by his patient. He explains while the patient is passing out from drugs that he is about to exact his revenge. What comes of it? Nothing...
      • After having his eyes replaced to get past security, he goes to his office and uses his old eye in a baggy to get in. Point of getting eyes done? Maybe it was for the laugh of seeing him chase them down a hall after dropping them. har har har.
      • Yes, having Speilburg explain a completely typical ending over and over and over during the last 45 minutes made me dream of my futures crimes.
    • the sappy/happy ending when this movie really deserved an unhappy one

      [SPOILERS] I think it could have been a lot worse. My evidence being that he didn't find his son in the end, and the pre-cogs were left isolated from the rest of the world.

      If this were A.I., Cruise would have ended up with Agatha, and found his son, who it turns out was really helping the whole time. I think the fact that he didn't "redeem" the movie in the end says a lot.

      • by foobar104 (206452) on Wednesday June 26, 2002 @06:45PM (#3773873) Journal
        If this were A.I., Cruise would have ended up with Agatha, and found his son, who it turns out was really helping the whole time.

        I really don't understand why everybody thinks A.I. had a happy ending. At the end of the movie, humanity, repeatedly demonstrated to be arrogant and free of either compassion or a sense of responsibility, has burned itself into extinction. The only true compassion shown in the film is by the ur-robots, when they construct the reunion fantasy for David, and then quietly euthanize him.

        The whole theme of the movie is spelled out in the prologue, when the theme question is raised. If we can build a machine that can love, what responsibility do we have to that machine? And the counterpoint: didn't God create Adam to love him? That's the ultimate conflict of the movie: compassion (of robots to one another) versus arrogance (of humans to one another and to robots).

        From David's point of view, it looks like a tragic story with a happy ending. I guess I can understand how people can be confused; they must have ended up identifying with David, and adopting his point of view. But the true point of view of the film is the omniscient one, the point of view of the narrator, whose voice opens and closes the movie. From that point of view, it's a remorselessly dark, tragic story.

        Obviously, it's one of my favorite movies of recent years.
  • by StefanJ (88986) on Wednesday June 26, 2002 @05:00PM (#3772473) Homepage Journal
    I enjoyed almost everything about the movie except the closing narration, which could have better been done through a sound-collage of media voices.

    I thought the conception and excution of the film's near future was actually very well done. It is important not to change TOO many things, or you end up with a future that isn't "relatable."

    Put another way: I think a mall which is largely recognizable, but has just a few odd tweaks, is a more effective way of delivering future shock than a totally unrecognizable one.

    And, realistically, the near future WILL still have lots in common culturally with the current-day and even the past. I don't find the notion of The Gap logo not changing a stretch (however, I might expect it to be a place where geezers go to shop . . . comforting fashions for elderly Gen-Xers).

    Stefan

    • Many successful logos never change. If you bought ads in this movie, you're buying your way into the future.

      Think Coca Cola's logo will be much different in 50 years?

      Also, how could the reviewer call that mall normal? Holy crap. It was like walking into a physical version of Amazon.com.

      PLUG:
      Read this Interview with Tom Cruise, sorta [lostbrain.com]

      tcd004
    • Episode I gave a whole new meaning to the word "jarring."

      Dunno about the Gap logo thing. I think the fact that it even exists is a bit of a stretch. I mean, how many clothes manufacturers in 1950 are still popular today?
  • This review makes too great a logical leap by trying to tie the pre-cogs/precrime plot of Minority Report to the 'War on Terrorism'. Not only is it, well I don't really have a better word, stupid -- but it seems the reviewer is trying to make a political point. Albeit with all the striking power of a wet noodle.

    Sorry, this article doesn't cut it as a movie review -- or -- as a philosophical statement. It sucks on far too many levels. Moderate me offtopic if you like, but don't moderate as a troll or flamebait, this is truly my opinion and I stand behind it.

    I would hope that the /. editorial staff will try not to drop such obvious dreck on us in the future. Of course history tells me differently...

    Jack William Bell
    • I agree; the movie's point is FAR broader than our simple current situation, and applies to much of justice. The review's reduction is almost absurd, as if we could solve the proposed problems by ending the war on terror or by eliminating key escrow.

      But only /almost/ absurd, not completely absurd. Just because he's driving the point into the ground doesn't mean he lacks a point :-).

      -Billy
  • by doorbot.com (184378) on Wednesday June 26, 2002 @05:06PM (#3772529) Journal
    I thought Minority Report was an entertaining movie and decent SciFi, but for some reason I got the feeling that the movie simply "could have been better" but I'm at a loss to point to specific instances where I felt some touch up was necessary.

    In addition, the movie is actually quite different from the original short story, which I guess would be natural when someone like Spielberg tries to expand a short story to a two and half hour blockbuster which is designed to appeal to Joe Consumer.
  • by tcd004 (134130) on Wednesday June 26, 2002 @05:06PM (#3772532) Homepage
    Tom Cruise, Kind of [lostbrain.com]

    Yes, it's a joke-Enjoy
    tcd004
  • by tempest303 (259600) <jensknutson@yahoo. c o m> on Wednesday June 26, 2002 @05:06PM (#3772540) Homepage
    ***POSSIBLE SPOILER AHEAD***

    (i don't give much away about what happens, but rather, what doesn't)

    Maybe the original short story covers this, but I was miffed that this particular hole in the story was left untouched:

    Why do they have to convict people of these crimes they haven't commited? (or whatever they call it when they arrest you for pre-crime) Why not intercept the criminal before the crime is commited, hold the suspect for like 72 hours, possibly giving them some kind of counseling, and then release them? If they never commited a crime, they can't really be guilty of it, so no harm, no foul. In the movie, they say that premeditated murder is almost extinguished, because no one is dumb enough to try it anymore. This would still be the case under my idea, and you could even consider imprisoning those who are repeat "offenders". But it would keep people from commiting crimes of passion, and allow them to continue their lives.

    Thoughts, anyone?
    • In the movie, they say that premeditated murder is almost extinguished, because no one is dumb enough to try it anymore.

      That's because they know if they do, they'll get caught and put into hyber-prison. If they were just released, they'd say: "might as well give it a shot", attempted murders would go up, and the pre-cons and officers would have to work that much harder.

      This way, they have far fewer cases to process because the disincentive to attempt murder is that much greater.
    • by Wraithlyn (133796) on Wednesday June 26, 2002 @05:21PM (#3772705)
      *** DEFINITE END-OF-MOVIE SPOILER WARNING ***

      You have been warned... stop reading now if you haven't seen the movie.

      -

      -

      -

      I was wondering that myself. At most, book em for attempted murder, not future murder. The other thing I was wondering, is how many would prevent themselves from committing murder, if they were informed of their future, just as Cruise's character was. As Cruise says, knowledge of the future gives you the choice of changing it.
    • Our country is a society of people who like to see the bad guys get their due, not counseling.

      Sadly this is more true in real life than in fiction.

      tcd004
    • ** BIG SPOILER **

      -

      -

      -

      -

      Dismantling the whole fuckin thing at the end is a terrible idea. Why not just have a call center that tries to talk these people out of it? 90% of all the people would be horrified. Failing that, talk to the victims. Tell them not to go home, etc.

    • by glassware (195317) on Wednesday June 26, 2002 @05:32PM (#3772823) Homepage Journal
      In the short story, this was the real crisis. In the movie, the crisis is, will Tom Cruise escape prison? But in the book, Tom Cruise's character was totally nerve-wracked: if he sat in a hotel room and waited for 72 hours, he wouldn't commit a murder and he'd be safe, but the entire department of precrime - which he had helped to build - would be a fraud.

      On one hand, he could murder the person for the good of society, and precrime would stay, and the world would be safe; but he would go to jail.

      On the other hand, he could stay in his hotel room, not commit a murder, and prove that his system was a fake; they'd have to set everyone free and murders would start all over again.

    • The system is based on deterrence, not prevention.

      Once someone has (subjuctively) committed murder, dealing with that criminal is not what the justice system is for. The goal at that point is to kill/imprison/prisonrape that criminal as an example to to future criminal-wannabes.

      Of course, I have to admit, when you're dealing with future crimes, I'm not sure what the difference is between the criminals and the criminal-wannabes. And maybe that's your whole point. :-)

      I guess there must be some threshold of intent that they cross? Instead of the real life point where a person crosses the line of considering to murder and actually committing murder, you have a point where someone considers considering murder, and considers committing it. Ugh.

      You know what? The whole thing is so ridiculous, that I don't think you should take it seriously and worry about the problems. It all leads to time-travel paradoxes anyway, and no one ever gets anywhere with that crap. ;-)

      • Remember, the pre-cogs didn't pick up the intent to commit murder. They picked up the fact of murder. If you really meant to kill your boss, but he was sick the day you intended and then you got hit by a bus, you wouldn't trigger the pre-cogs.
    • That is kind of the point. If you know you are going to commit the crime will you still choose to do it? They have chosen not to take that chance and simply jail anyone who will commit murder. Is that right?

      The system as shown in the movie works (no murders in 6 years!). There were no examples of the system not working, the minority report simply pointed out a way to trick the system not that innocent people were being convicted. The original killer in the minority report explored in the movie was paid to kill the woman. The majority report showed this and prevented it. The minority report showed the second attempt, it was ignored since they thought the crime had already been stopped. Human error really, they ignored/missed the clues, happens in todays system.

      This is why I don't really see a parrallel with the current US actions (maybe in a very superficial sense). I don't think the movie is an example of a broken system, but rather a question of if you could have a system that worked by jailing people before they commit the crime should you use it?

      • Blockquoth the poster:

        The system as shown in the movie works (no murders in 6 years!).

        Um, no. Burgess most certainly did commit a murder, so you can't make that argument. The real -- and unanswerable -- question is, how many false positives did the system report? We can assume it reported no false negatives -- ie., everything's fine, oops, a murder -- but we don't know about false positives. Of the people in Containment, how many of them were victims of "Bob will murder Charlie" but Bob really wouldn't.


        Lost in the shuffle of the movie was the significance of the true minority report: That sometimes, Agatha saw a future that didn't include a murder seen by the other two. I think one of the best moments of the movie is when Anderton asks, desperately, "Where is my minority report? Do I even have one?" (meaning, absolve me of this future crime), to which the heartbroken Agatha cries, "No."


    • Arresting people guilty of "pre-crimes" is obviously a questionable practice. Instead, why don't the police use the precognitions as a TIP? They can stake out the (future) crime scene, capture the whole crime on video, and stop it in progress. There would then be no question about guilt PLUS the violent outcome of the crimes are avoided. This is a win-win situation.
  • by nebby (11637) on Wednesday June 26, 2002 @05:07PM (#3772546) Homepage
    It was a well executed movie, but there was some obviously biased left-wing exaggerations. Anyone who says this movie was realistic or "could happen" is a paranoid alarmist.

    ** SPOILERS BELOW **

    First off, it seems the department of precrime has done away with the entire judicial system. You're caught and then hauled off and put in your little halo/tube thing with no trial or investigation. Also, if you think the American public would be cool with prisoners being plugged into the Matrix and sealed off, you're a moron.

    If there in fact was a department of precrime, those who were prevented from committing murder would not be arrested but most likely be put into counseling along with restraining orders placed from those who were going to be killed. They wouldn't go to jail as if they committed a crime, simply because they didn't. If you think they would, you too are a paranoid alarmist idiot.

    The kicker for me was at the end when the entire precrime system was abolished.. and this was something we were supposed to feel good about. Nevermind the fact that D.C. would probably shoot back to the number 1 murder rate city in the country overnight. Nevermind the fact that precrime could have been used legitimately and usefully, preventing murders by intervention but without punishment (what an idea!)

    I also love the fact that our precog friends decide to live on a farm at the end where they can read books. Because as every good bleeding heart liberal knows, technology and society are evil. Please.

    Oh, and of course everyone would be cool with them immersing the precogs in a vat of goo for all their lives. Starting the movie with this premise, something which would never be legitimate, and then breaking it down at the end to help us feel good about the conclusion is the cinematic equivalent of a straw man.

    I realize it was just a movie, but I want could curb some of the alarmist reaction to this wholly unrealistic depiction of what the world would be like if we could accurately predict murder. Putting this out now after 9/11 makes it all too easy for the lefties to jump on it and say "See???" Don't let them.
    • Oh, and just to clear things up: if you're going to blow up downtown D.C. in the name of a foreign terrorist movement, you're an enemy combatant. This means you can be tried by a military tribunal as per history.
      • if you're going to blow up downtown D.C. in the name of a foreign terrorist movement, you're an enemy combatant.

        Wait, I think what you mean is:

        If someone at a high level of government claims you're going to blow up downtown D.C. in the name of a foreign terrorist movement, you're an enemy combatant.

        And, of course, you aren't allowed to appeal your status as an enemy combatant, either. If the White House says you are, you must be.
    • I also love the fact that our precog friends decide to live on a farm at the end where they can read books. Because as every good bleeding heart liberal knows, technology and society are evil. Please.


      Well, I took that to mean they wanted to live far away from society, so they wouldn't see any murders. At one point someone makes a reference to a 200 mile radius that precrime works in. So it would make sense to put them far far away with an ocean on one side. Best chance of them getting a good night's sleep.

    • Oh, and of course everyone would be cool with them immersing the precogs in a vat of goo for all their lives. Starting the movie with this premise, something which would never be legitimate, and then breaking it down at the end to help us feel good about the conclusion is the cinematic equivalent of a straw man.
      But, we learn from eaves-dropping that the public is told that "it's good to be a pre-cog". A tour guide explains that pre-cogs each get their own gym, and a few other things I don't remember. This happens when Cruise's character is outside of "Precrime", altering his face to let him go inside. He kneels down by a fountain, and we hear the tour guide describe a bit of how pre-cogs supposedly live.

      The public is never let near the pre-cogs, so lies can be told about them quite easily.

    • I think with the right environment, people might be fine with a "department of precrime" - and also, you'll notice the constant advertising/propaganda supporting precrime.
      I would have liked it if they'd touched a bit more on precrime being legit, but also think the ending, with precrime being abolished totally, is not unreasonable - the backlash from such a public display of corruption would be enormous. And the general public doesn't know the conditions the precogs are kept in - remember when Tom Cruise is breaking back in, and there's a tour guide nearby? And he's telling the kids how the precogs all have luxury quarters with a weight room, and how it's so fun to be a precog?

      I think you're a little over-sensitive about "left-wing propaganda", personally, although it does have a slighty liberal cast to it. But it's a refreshing change from such moronically obvious propaganda flicks like Black Hawn Down and Behind Enemy Lines...

    • "no trial or investigation."

      Um, we've never been able to accurately see the future before. Trials and investigations are a patchwork effort to try and piece together what really happened. Precognition renders this unneccessary.

      "immersing the precogs in a vat of goo for all their lives. Starting the movie with this premise, something which would never be legitimate"

      I thought this too at first, but the pre-cogs are presented as incapable of caring for themselves. They are said to not even be aware of other people, and everyone is shocked when Agatha actually speaks to Cruise. Also, remember near the end when Agatha pleads to be taken home? So it doesn't sound like they're prisoners, just willing, dependant guinea pigs.

      "They wouldn't go to jail as if they committed a crime, simply because they didn't."

      See attempted murder. The point is that truly murderous intentions make someone a danger to society.
    • Now you're a troll for expressing an opinion on Slashdot which doesn't toe the line. Keep fighting moderators, sooner or later you'll shut everyone up and we'll enter a state of mindless groupthinking bliss. Hook me up to the Matrix!
    • >Also, if you think the American public would be
      >cool with prisoners being plugged into the
      >Matrix and sealed off, you're a moron.

      Wouldn't dissenters (and morons) be the first ones to disappear?

    • Precrime did NOT do away with trials and teh judicial system. Two judges conferenced with Anderton via video communication. The pre-cogs images were used as evidence and an arrest warrant was granted based on this evidence. The crime was "built" before the judges by sorting the images and creating a timeline of events.

      I agree though that people who try to find corollaries between this movie and modern life are alarmists.
    • I thought the reason the system was shut down was not just because it had been proven to be imperfect. It was because the precogs turned out to be people.

      Early in the movie they are treated like machines, like vegetative humans who are used only for their skills. "It's better not to think of them as human," Cruise's character says in disgust. But as the movie went on we began to see that they were actually human beings. Once freed from their vat and exposed to the world, they gradually start to seem more and more human to us. Under the circumstances, turning them back into mind-controlled slaves would be completely unacceptable.

      I thought the ending was incredibly touching, showing the precogs enjoying the quiet house in the country, kept apart from the world so that their burdensome "talent" no longer torments them. They have become people, they are living a thoughtful, contemplative life.

      The transformation of the precogs from tools to human beings is one of the main story arcs in the movie. It is the real reason why Precrime cannot exist.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 26, 2002 @05:17PM (#3772653)
    The plot is crisp and layered enough to unfold several times

    I'm sorry to disagree, but I found the plot clumsy, inefficient, and not particularly thrilling.

    Assuming that there was anyone in the audience unfamiliar with the premise, was it necessary to set up the premise in at least four repetative sequences, any one of which would have done the job:

    1. In the 15 minute opening arrest sequence.
    2. In the 5 minute discussion following that sequence.
    3. In the Robocop-like "Precrime" commercial.
    4. AGAIN by the tour guide?

    Technology was inconsistant in the film:

    1. Why didn't they use the spiders in the opening sequence when they didn't know which house it was? In fact, why didn't they just run in and check all the houses instead of having 50 guys just stand there?
    2. You think the computers were Steve Jobs inspired? I was SHOCKED that they were using a FLOPPY to move files from computer to computer.
    3. What was up with waving your arms around like a conductor to move windows?!
    4. What was up with that horrible 3d projections system in Tom Cruise's house? Why would anyone use that? It was like bad UHF reception.
    5. "If you don't wait twelve hours... you'll go blind." Or... maybe six.
    6. Whats up with a giant organ in the prison room?
    7. Don't you think the spider technology would have showed up in lots of other places?
    8. If the cops have those stun gun things, why would using bullets be standard issue?
    9. Wouldn't the revelation of PSYCHICS have tremendous scientific reprocussions beyond precrime?
    10. The ads, which were supposed to be annoying in the story... were annoying in ACTUALITY. Part of the reason I think is that I know that this wasn't tongue-in-cheek made up ads, but ACTUAL ADS from ACTUAL companies who were paying big time subsidies for this VERY REAL product placement. How ironic.
    11. Did anyone else get the feeling that this future had about 50 people in it total? I did not feel like this was a "real" world at all.
    12. There were just a lot of plain silly and inconsistant things. I did like the cereal box tho.

    Action Scenes:

    1. The Tom Cruise Plays Car Frogger scene was dull.
    2. Were there any other action scenes? I suppose some chases... blah.
    3. The action, billed as on the same level as Indian Jones....wasn't.

    Characters:

    1. Did Tom's drug addiction go anywhere? Did anyone even buy this character?
    2. Haven't we seen the "I never said she drowned" "whoops!" about a million times?
    3. "Surely by now the precogs have predicted you're going to kill me. So you're caught in a paradox.. bwahaha" How the hell did Tom know what they predicted? They could have predicted what enivitably happened.
    4. The surgeon who replaces Tom's eyes gives a big speech about getting screwed over, then does....nothing bad. Fixes the eyes, leaves a nice sandwich.
    5. Tom's coworkers at precrime have no problem whatsoever going after him.
    6. The precogs were just plain silly.
    7. As for Max von Sydow, don't even get me started.

    Plot

    1. Why did Tom's crime of passion get a full 36 hours of lead time when they had established that such crimes come at the last minute?
    2. As the film was kinda winding down, I turned to my friend and predicted not only who the guy Tom was searching for was, but what choice Tom would have and what he would do. I was right, but never could have anticipated...
    3. The extra 20 minutes or so following that, which like was totally unnecessary and cheesy.
    4. What is the point of putting the precogs in a barn somewhere?

    I still don't see why murders stopped by precogs NECESSARILY need to lead to arrests and prosecutions. I mean, say they had stopped the murder of passion at the top of the story-- rather than putting the dreaded headphones on the husband, couldn't they have gotten him into some family counceling? I mean, having a precog to stop a murder doesn't automatically mean you have to prosecute the pre-murderer.

    With the 95% positive response on rottentomatoes.com I was expecting something really impressive.. But as time goes, I'm just left with... "well, that was kinda mediocre..." Certainly not at all thought provoking.

    I think many critics are smokin' crack.
    • by Sancho (17056) on Wednesday June 26, 2002 @06:15PM (#3773484) Homepage
      Assuming that there was anyone in the audience unfamiliar with the premise, was it necessary to set up the premise in at least four repetative sequences, any one of which would have done the job:

      Each of these had a different purpose:

      1. In the 15 minute opening arrest sequence.
      This is to grab the audience. Most good action movies start out with this.

      2. In the 5 minute discussion following that sequence.
      This showed alternating viewpoints, something which was important, and also told a few intricacies in the system.

      3. In the Robocop-like "Precrime" commercial.
      This showed the propoganda in the world, which is important because in out world, this system would never be allowed.

      4. AGAIN by the tour guide?
      And finally, this was to handle the public's assumed outcry over the treatment of the Precogs. If they thought the Precogs were happy and healthy, there wouldn't be none.

      A few others:
      5. "If you don't wait twelve hours... you'll go blind." Or... maybe six.
      I assume that he went blind in that eye.

      9. Wouldn't the revelation of PSYCHICS have tremendous scientific reprocussions beyond precrime?
      The movie just isn't about that. You're looking for something to complain about here.

      11. Did anyone else get the feeling that this future had about 50 people in it total? I did not feel like this was a "real" world at all.
      That could be said of a lot of movies, since most movies only involves a few people.

      3. "Surely by now the precogs have predicted you're going to kill me. So you're caught in a paradox.. bwahaha" How the hell did Tom know what they predicted? They could have predicted what enivitably happened.
      If Max wasn't going to kill him, there wasn't a problem. This was an effort to stave off his own death.

      4. The surgeon who replaces Tom's eyes gives a big speech about getting screwed over, then does....nothing bad. Fixes the eyes, leaves a nice sandwich.
      YES YES YES YES YES. Absolutely. This annoyed me to no end, and the only thing I can think of is that perhaps he tipped off precrime that Anderton was there.

      3. The extra 20 minutes or so following that, which like was totally unnecessary and cheesy.
      Typical Spielberg. Did you see A.I.?

      4. What is the point of putting the precogs in a barn somewhere?
      If they're far enough away from civilization, they won't get the nightmares.

      I still don't see why murders stopped by precogs NECESSARILY need to lead to arrests and prosecutions. I mean, say they had stopped the murder of passion at the top of the story-- rather than putting the dreaded headphones on the husband, couldn't they have gotten him into some family counceling? I mean, having a precog to stop a murder doesn't automatically mean you have to prosecute the pre-murderer.
      This was the point of the book, but it got lost in the translation.

      You want a problem? Why is it that the precrime agency gets notifications that Anderton has gotten on a Metro (due to the retina scanners that are EVERYWHERE) but when he uses his old eyes to get into precrime, they see nothing. They don't even go looking for him until they see Agatha in the prediction and realize that he will eventually come back to get her.

  • 2054 looks to be a terribly advanced age, except for one thing: sneaker-net [google.com]. Cruise's character uses the large interface to view and interpret the precogs' visions, but he must first upload the data from the small terminal on the other side of the room, using what must be a mid-21st-century floppy disk. And I thought we would have made progress in networking by that time. Maybe we run out of IPv6 addresses too, and decide to drop the idea altogether.
  • This guy has so many axes to grind that I think he forgot he was reviewing a movie halfway through.

    And for those of you who aren't pretentious, my review is: good movie. The only baggage it has is that which you bring with you. One big "suspension of disbelief" hole and one big plot hole, but very enjoyable to watch.

    Holes listed here, but since they're spoilers:

    • Fhfcrafvba bs qvforyvrs - Npprff gbc-frphevgl ebbz ivn ergvany fpna bs qrnq rlr sebz grezvangrq rzcyblrr? Abg yvxryl.
    • Cybg ubyr - Wbua vf frg ba pbhefr gb xvyy ol cer-pbt'f cerqvpgvba gung ur jvyy xvyy. Vs abg sbe gubfr cer-pbtf, ur'q arire unir frg bhg, gurersber abg cerqvpgvba. Frrzf yvxr n cnenqbk.
  • Philip K. Dick could write a helluva lot better than Spielburg can ever direct.
  • Anybody seen this AND read the short story? Any comments on how faithful the adaptation is?

    Anybody looking forward to a JK review?

    :)

  • Heh. Paying to see this movie is a spoiler in itself, but anyways.

    My favourite bit. In the future, when pre crime predicts that one of their own officers is going to commit murder, they decide that removing your security privelidges isn't necessary. You can walk right on in to 'the temple' , where the @#$%ing precogs are lying around, and it's all fine and dandy because the lazy bastard pre crime admin doesn't see any problem with letting a fugitive access the building.

    Bravo to the story writer on that one.

    Oh here's a classic - The pre cogs have apparently been lying in that stupid indoor pool for 6 years, and they have more of a tan than me.

    And i'd love to see who was in charge of all those usability studies which showed that clean sheets of glass are much easier to read text on than todays computer monitors.
  • The physics were completely XP [intuitor.com].

    To start off with, our boy TC jumps from one rapidly falling car thingy to another more-rapidly falling car thingy just like anybody could jump from a three foot portch. Hello? Newtonian physics?

    Then there's the jetpack scene. Guy in jetpack is flying around at incredible lift/weight ratios with standard rocket propelled thrust. As if that wasn't bad enough, these things can actually cary THREE PEOPLE, with armor weapons and backpacks! And all of this done with about an 8 inch flame. And evidently for a gosh-darn good amount of time.

    To top it off, these amazing devices can skim the ground at about 3' without any wings to use for lift!

    Then there's the whole problem of temporal paradoxes. Evidently TC has been set up to find this guy by his 3V|7 boss who pretends to be the man who kidnaped his kid. Fair enough. But how did the "precog" see this happening when seeing it happen is what caused it to happen. There would have had to be an initiator for the temporal paradox to have occurred. Somewhere along the timeline something would have had to put TC in the room with the fake-rapist without the intervention of the precog. But wait, we can't travel in time, so that's not possible. Evidently this "precog" isn't just seeing the future, she's creating it.

    Then there's the villain himself, who somehow turns from noble champion of justice into a person willing to do anything , including murder innocent people, just for the perfect justice system. Yet he's not portrayed as a madman, because he shoots himself in the end.
    • Then there's the jetpack scene. Guy in jetpack is flying around at incredible lift/weight ratios with standard rocket propelled thrust. As if that wasn't bad enough, these things can actually cary THREE PEOPLE, with armor weapons and backpacks! And all of this done with about an 8 inch flame. And evidently for a gosh-darn good amount of time.

      Even more amazing is that these rocket packs don't burn the persons leg off when they're flying around.
  • Two movies come to mind; both released LONG before Sept 11th.

    1) "The Long Kiss Goodnight": (Geena Davis, Samuel L. Jackson) A movie where the CIA, conspiring with it's supposed enemies, attempts to commit a terrorist act to kill 4,000 people, and blame it on Arab terrorists. All this, for no other reason than to increase their federal funding. Does everyone remember the Slashdot stories around Aug/Sept 2001 where this CIA/NSA said their lack of funding was imparing their ability to do their jobs and protect Americans?

    2) "Canadian Bacon" (Alan Alda, John Candy): The president's approval rating is very low because of the end of the Cold War (munitions factories close everywhere). So, the president authorizes agents, posing as canadian terrorists, perform small-scale terrorist acts against the USA. Using the media, they impose the fear of Canada in Americans, even using the line "They Walk Among Us" (Startlingly Similar to the term "Sleeper Cells" of today).

    Both movies are VERY good in their own right. I suggest EVERYONE check them out.
  • Interestingly enough the movie skips on issues it should have addressed. For instance we already have 'pre-crime'laws like conspiracy to commit murder, overthrow the government, etc. The Precrime system also doesn't distinguish between crimes of passion/manslaughter and pre-planned murder. I wonder if they freeze drunk drivers who get into accidents too.
  • Warning, this post will contain spoilers (although if you're read this far, you probably don't care).

    The resonance between this story and the current war is so strong that it's almost impossible to watch it for what it is, a good murder mystery conceived well before September 11th retelling a short story that was published long ago in 1956.

    The movie had almost nothing to do with the short story. It was similar in that it was a murder mystery, there are precogs, and these precogs detect murder. The places where the movie took off from the story are numerable, and the places where the movie actually went against the story starts about 1/3 of the way through and continues until the end.

    The movie is about a guy in charge of precrime who discovers the fallibility of the system and goes out of his way to bring those in charge of it (who were involved in multiple wrongdoings) to justice. The "echos" weren't even addressed in the short story, nor the possibility of faking murders beforehand.
    The short story is about a guy in charge of precrime who discovers a potential fallibility in the system, but goes ahead with the murder because he believes in the system.
    The difference is really quite striking.
  • This is an excerpt [philipkdick.com] from a comic by Robert Crumb, Weirdo #17.

    quoting:
    "It is an interesting graphic interpretation of a series of events which happened to Dick in March of 1974. He spent the remaining years of his life trying to figure out what happened in those fateful months. "

    IMO, a must-read for anyone who enjoys Dick's work.

    m-
  • Why why WHY does Speilberg have to blow most of his movies in the last 15 minutes? I was really into it until it all tied up in a big shiny bow. The bad guys are punished, the good guys come out on top and life is better. COME ON. Movies should tell you something, not BEAT you OVER the HEAD with a HAMMER with "The world is a better place" engraved on the handle.
    Bah.
    Triv
  • This tale of police who solve crimes before they are committed reached the theaters just a few weeks after the United States learned that even citizens are being locked up without a trial or a lawyer because they might turn out to be terrorists."

    This is 100% false. A complete lie. Typical leftist propaganda. Ideology before the truth.

    The only "American Citizen" to being locked up outside, the American Taliban John Walker Lindh, is Jose Padilla, a.k.a. Abdullah Al Muhajir. He has a lawyer, who has appeared in front of a judge. Her name is Donna Newman and she appeared before U.S. District Court Judge Michael Mukasey to plead Padilla's case. Its not like they picked him up off the street and threw him in the brig. Once his conspiratorial behavior with Al Qaeda was documented before the highly respected Judge Mukasey, Padilla's status was changed and he was thrown into a military prison where he belongs (right before the firing squad). Two seconds on google would have pointed that out. But John Ashcroft bashing is in vogue for the politically frustrated left, so these little pesky details never seem make it out when dealing with Padilla. Your Civil Rights are fine, you just don't have the right to make people listen to this "Sky is Falling" hysteria.

    Mr. Dirty Bomber was not arrested for changing his name into something most American's cannot pronounce. He was arrested for travelling to a nation that harbors terrorists and meeting with Al Qaeda officials in order to plot out a radiological attack against innocent American Citizens. This is a conspiracy to commit terrorism. Terrorists are referred to by the Geneva Convention as "unlawful combatants" giving you pretty much the permission to put a gun to their head and blow their evil brains out. But this is America and we play nice with evil people. We give these unlawful combatants the benefit of the doubt and try them through military tribunals instead of executing them on the spot.

    If you want to ensure that you do not end up like Mr. Muhajir, don't conspire with terrorists in a plot to harm vast numbers of Americans. Feel free to call John Ashcroft a religious poopy head, he won't stop you by calling you a terrorist.

  • Future Conception. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by StarFace (13336) on Wednesday June 26, 2002 @07:02PM (#3774079) Homepage
    I disagree with your opinion on whether or not the aesthetic design of the future, visualized in this film, is realistic. Take a moment to analyze the current world, and compare it to how the world was conceptualized in many 70s and early 80s science fiction movies. These movies, even the low budget ones, depicted a world where everything had been changed -- and yes this does provide an aesthetic cohesiveness that looks nice, but it is not at all realistic. Today, when I go home I'll be setting my rather futuristic looking brushed metal PDA on a wooden dresser that appears to have been hand made half a century ago. It has a cracked, oval mirror. In the reflection of that mirror, you'd see a slim flat panel monitor sitting on a white pine desk with curved edges. We live in a world where rocking chairs are in the same room as pocket devices that can link themselves to a global satellite network, communicate with each other, tell you your exact coordinates, and give your the prospective weather for the next four days. Smooth chrome pens with laser devices embedded in them are sheathed in 1920s style fabric suits. Cars with satellite links to maps, traffic conditions, and weather, drive on the same roads as old beat up beige El Caminos. On my wrist, a watch that can take one hundred black and white photographs, and beam them through the air to my computer at the end of the day -- and what sort of pictures might you find within it? Futuristic chrome houses with red velvet trim? Nah, you'll find 50s style architecture, a person with an old wooden cane walking down a cracked side-walk, and other such things.

    Progress makes its changes upon the present day in bursts and halts. Some things change rapidly, other things take decades. Typically, the things that change the quickest are the "everyman luxuries" such as cars, computer devices, and clothing. Our ever evolving concept of what "looks modern" is part of what drives that. Take a look at a six year old computer, it looks boxy and antique already -- yet when that computer was produced, it was likely at the height of what people considered Neat. The things that do not change as rapidly are extreme luxuries, and non-luxury items. Of course, there are always exceptions, but in general this is the case.

    To bring this back to the film, the types of things that you saw looking wildly different and futuristic were precisely the types of things that go through rapid periodic aesthetic modification. Cars, electronic devices, watches, and clothing. The types of things that did not change are the things that haven't really changed in the past few decades for us either.

    Secondly, as far as logos go, these do not rapidly change too much either, at least the bigger companies do not, and for a very good reason. If you go about changing your logo every two years, it stops having as much subliminal impact -- unless your company is already a behemoth, and then changes can actually be considered innovative, and people come to expect them -- however they usually revolve around the core idea. Pepsi Corporation is a good example of a company that has reworked their logo frequently, while always retaining the basic design that we all know by sight. How often has Proctor & Gamble fiddle with their logo? Even Microsoft has managed to hang on to their logo for a few decades now. Changes are made, but they usually are not often made, and rarely are they drastic.

    I for one think that the concept of the future was quite realistic, and I found it refreshing in a way to see a design team correctly assess the way the world changes. I absolutely love the way Blade Runner looks, it is one of my favorite movies, and the design is a big reason why -- but it isn't necessarily all that realistic.

  • The missing element (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tlambert (566799) on Wednesday June 26, 2002 @09:06PM (#3775259)
    I have to admit that, after his learning experience of walking in Kubrick's shoes to finish A.I., Speilberg now has at least a small idea of what it takes to have "an edge".

    However, he failed to achieve with "Minority Report" the same level of sympatico that Ridley Scott was able to achieve with "Blade Runner", or even what Paul Verhoeven was able to do with "Total Recall".

    In other words, Speilberg may know where the edge is, now, but he's afraid to go to it and look over, for fear of falling.

    THe absolute worst movie ever made would be a Spielberg version of a Clive Barker short story.

    Gary Fleder ("Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead") is more likely than not to turn in a morbid showing on "Imposter", due to be released later this year.

    "Imposter" will probably suck. REmember that you heard it here first. My reasoning is that all of the other good Phillip K. Dick adaptations have been short stories. It will likely be impossible to cover an entire book in just one movie.

    Frankly, I wish Ridley Scott had done "Minortiy Report"; I guess he's too busy producing the likes of "Blackhawk Down" to direct, though.

    Given my choice of everyone, I'd like to see John Carpenter direct a Phillip K. Dick based movie; he did such a good job with "The Thing" (an adaptation of John W. Campbell Jr.'s -- former editor of Analog Magazine -- story), and "They Live", even though it was a comedy (written by Ray Nelson). He, like Kubrick, also has a good track record in science fiction (as opposed to Spielberg, who's science fantasy, through and through).

    I don't mind Spielberg trying to stretch; but hiding in safety is not my idea of stretching, and if he can't bring himself to take the risk, he should stick with bringing us the next Indiana Jones installment, and if he wants to do science fantasy, then pick a science fantasy author whose stories are better suited to his talents. Now that Jack Clayton ("Something Wicked This Way Comes") is dead, maybe he could cover some of the other Ray Bradbury short stories? His talents would mesh well with many of the "The Autumn People" mileu, where you are supposed to be sympathetic to "the monsters".

    -- Terry
  • this is so not PKD (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gelfling (6534) on Wednesday June 26, 2002 @09:35PM (#3775527) Homepage Journal
    In PKD's world even the future is grimy, scratched, the windows are sandscored plastic, the light is yellow, the blue plastic chairs have cig burns on them. There is either mass transit or shitty old cars. You breathe in dust and brown smoke. The best things in life are somewhere else and the worst prison in the world is in your own brain.

"I have more information in one place than anybody in the world." -- Jerry Pournelle, an absurd notion, apparently about the BIX BBS

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