SHORT CIRCUIT 2. Unpretentious and enchanting science fiction comedy

There are plenty of movies about powerful, ominous, metal cyborgs, robots, androids, and otherwise well-intentioned computers.

Rafał Donica

27 November 2023

SHORT CIRCUIT 2. Unpretentious and enchanting science fiction comedy

Skynet from Terminator wanted to annihilate humanity, the guy from the cheesy Ghost in the Machine wanted to take control of the computer network, and Jobe from The Lawnmower Man wanted to mow minds using the same. Schwarzenegger in Terminator and Terminator 2 shot at everything that moved and didn’t climb trees, T-1000 poured itself from emptiness to emptiness, and Alex Murphy encased in titanium armor engaged in a destructive duel with the ED-209 robot in the movie Robocop and Cain in the sequel. The Cyborg-Woman from the little-known movie Cyborg, with the help of Jean-Claude Van Damme, tried to save humanity, and the cyborgs from the C-class Nemesis had unclear motives…

However, all of the above-mentioned characters exuded a certain coldness, not just because of their metallic construction. These characters, entangled in the struggle for the survival of humanity, had little or no chance to show “feelings,” those warm emotions. In the post-apocalyptic setting of Los Angeles, machines programmed for destruction fought against humans. In the streets of Detroit, a new Sheriff appeared – Robocop. Hal 9000, due to a malfunction, mowed down almost the entire crew of Discovery, and Nexus-6 class Androids, after a bloody rebellion, tried to find a way to prolong their lives. All of this looked rather grim, accompanied by the sound of futuristic gunfire and pessimistic visions of both the future and the present, associated with attempts to create artificial intelligence. Even Spielberg, who wanted to soften the image of an “artificial human,” stumbled on this topic like slipping on a banana peel. He fell into sentimentality in A.I., prolonging the sugary ending indefinitely. The history of film knows only a few “machines” with a sense of humor, including the immortal duo from Star Wars, R2D2 and C3PO… and Johnny-5 from the movie Short Circuit 2.

Short Circuit 2 Johnny 5

The story of his existence goes back to the first part, where Johnny-5 was still called Number-5. Why exactly “5”? Johnny was then (in the first part) the last of the five combat robots, equipped by the military with a laser cannon for its needs. By a twist of fate, Number-5 was, like Frankenstein’s monster, struck by lightning, and from then on, it seemed to him that he was a living being. Of course, like any living being, he needed freedom. So, he escaped in search of new data, and the military organized a manhunt for him. The plot of the second part is much less… um… military and much more humorous. Johnny Five arrives to help his creator Ben Jahrvi, who has to build 1000 toys – miniatures of Johnny, within a few months.

Everything would go smoothly if it weren’t for the obligatory good-versus-evil conflict in every movie. Bank employee Oscar Baldwin will try to exploit the good-natured and somewhat naive Johnny-5 for a diamond heist. But Johnny “lives” and thinks, so he learns and draws conclusions…

Short Circuit 2 Fisher Stevens Michael McKean

It rarely happens that over the past fifteen years, I have returned so often to a movie as I have to Short Circuit 2, which is not only a very original and memorable picture but also genuinely warm, positive, and enjoyable. Besides the cheerful plot and the pleasant musical illustration, this is mainly thanks to the character of the robot. Johnny 5, despite being made of metal, moving on caterpillar tracks, having two lenses instead of eyes, and orange LEDs flashing in place of a mouth, does not allow you to look away from him, unfailingly endearing and intriguing viewers.

Five from Short Circuit 2 can really touch you, as in the scene in jail when, handcuffed by police handcuffs, he slowly leafs through Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein – about the same outcast, exile, and loner as him. Or in the finale of the movie when “beaten” by the rioters, with a leak from a cracked battery, he brushes against “death” – which will surely bring a tear to the eye of a more sensitive viewer. At times, he is so amusing, funny, and talkative that the screen becomes as lively as in a slapstick comedy. In both cases, he is so credible in portraying emotional states that you feel like hugging him and patting him on the metal back. It’s a pity that miniature Johnny Five is not actually available for sale; I would gladly put such a minifive on my shelf.

Short Circuit 2 Michael McKean

Short Circuit 2 is undoubtedly a better film than the first part, even though no widely known actor appears in it (I remind you that in the first part, Steve Guttenberg, who was then at the top, played). This is a movie for the whole family, as they say: from five to a hundred and five. It presents the problem of artificial intelligence in an entertaining setting but without forced moralizing, philosophizing, and pretentiousness. This unpretentious comedy should enchant everyone and not bore anyone.

Rafał Donica

Rafał Donica

Since watching "Blade Runner", he has been passionate about cinema, loves "Akira", "Drive", "Escape from New York", "North by Northwest", the underrated "The Hateful Eight" and "Terrifier 2". Author of the book "Frankenstein 100 years in cinema". Founder and editor-in-chief (in the years 1999 - 2012) of the Polish film portal FILM.ORG.PL. Since 2016, a professional reportage photographer.

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