Prototype (1983)

Michael, testing.

Michael, testing.

I’m embarrassed to write that Prototype, a made-for-tv flick from 1983, was ever on our cull* list. This movie is so much better than so many other movies we watch on any regular night; it doesn’t just get to stay, it will get shared.

Dr. Carl Forrester (Christopher Plummer) is a Nobel prize-winning scientist. He’s been hired by the government to create a robot. While Forrester is a nice enough guy, he’s also a little pompous, and doesn’t wait for authorization from his superiors to take his robot Michael (David Morse) out for a test drive. First stop is, of course, the mall, where Michael has a brush with mall security. He then takes Michael home for dinner, where his wife thinks he’s just another scientist working on her husband’s program.

Michael's insides.

Michael’s insides.

Forrester’s team is ecstatic when they hear that Michael “works” in public; that he convinced people he was real and didn’t cause any issues, despite nearly shoplifting a toy. Forrester’s boss, however, is irate at Forrester’s irresponsible move, so much so that he calls the Pentagon and tattles on him. A day later, the Pentagon boys are at the facility to collect Michael for “testing.”

Once the government swoops in, Forrester realizes he has no control over what they plan to do with his creation, which is capable of just about anything. Fearing that the government plans to turn his prototype into an army of invincible killing machines, Forrester takes Michael on a road-trip to live in hiding until he can figure out what to do.

Michael & his creator celebrate the new year.

Michael & his creator celebrate the new year.

It’s on this trip that Michael also realizes that he also has no control over his fate; that his current programming is merely current – his “brain” can be changed at any time by anyone authorized to do so. Essentially, he has no free will. Michael clearly yearns to learn more about humanity, particularly our customs and our literature.

This movie is really thoughtful. I am not ashamed to admit that I cried for the robot! David Morse is so good as Michael, I really believed he had his own thoughts and emotions. I can’t figure out why the cover art for this DVD makes it look like a Terminator film – nothing could be further from the truth.

*Q and I have decided it’s time for a great cull; an early spring cleaning. We have a large number of movies we have not yet seen. Are these movies any good? This is the question we are out to answer. If it’s no good, out it goes.


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