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Short Circuit is one of those movies that when it came out in 1985 I remembered walking out thinking what a fun film that was. Alley Sheedy and Steve Guttenberg were a great screen team. And fresh of Saturday Night Fever ad Wargames, director John Badham really showed the compassionate side of humanity. This is a warm and friendly family film for everyone.
The plot is simple - aren't they all? The military develops a device meant for war and `first strike' and decides to take it to the officials of the government for funding. Five very unique and laser-powered robots are built. Something happens to one of them, "Number 5", during the demonstration where an electrical storm creates an electrical surge and super jolts Number 5. Guess what? He comes alive! Complete with a personality and a small amount charm. He escapes (accidentally) and befriends an animal activist Stephanie (Sheedy) while Newton (Guttenberg) is assigned to chase him down and get him back.
Now add the adversary of the military trying to destroy him and you've got a great chase movie. Filled with laughs, bits, gags and a few scene stealing lines, this movie makes you believe that Number 5 IS alive! Some great supporting character roles and a lot of technically puppetry that would make even George Lucas jealous - the energy in this movie is great.
The DVD extras include a commentary with the director and writers as well as the original 1985 interviews with cast and crew. This is definitely a fun family film and something everyone who likes science fiction and fantasy mixed together will enjoy this a lot!
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In 1986, the film "Short Circuit" was released in theaters and made over $40 million domestically. The film about a US military robot gone awol after an electrical surge and eventually developing a conscience attracted moviegoers.

The film is directed by John Badham ("WarGames", "Blue Thunder", "Point of No Return") and a screenplay written by S.S. Wilson ("Wild Wild West", "Ghost Dad", "Tremors") and Brent Maddock ("Wild Wild West", "Heart and Souls", "Ghost Dad").

The film kicks off with a military testing as NOVA Robotics is showcasing five robots developed for the Department of Defense. The military looks to use these robots against Moscow (note: This film was released during the Cold War between the US and U.S.S.R.) and we see the robots taking out tanks and vehicles with their laser beams.

Due to weather, everyone is brought inside of the laboratory to celebrate the robots and a Senator requests for the PR director of NOVA Robotics Howard Marner (played by Austin Pendleton, "Glass Houses", "Dirty Work", "Christmas with the Cranks") to meet the designer Graham Crosby, Ph.D. (played by Steve Guttenberg, "Police Academy" films, "Veronica Mars", "Three Men and a Baby" films) and his partner Ben Jabituya (played by Fisher Stevens, "Lost", "Awake", "Undiscovered").

While the NOVA staff, military and politicians are admiring the robots, the five military robots are being prepared for the Department of Defense but while the robot No. 5 is still hooked up to a generator, a lightning bolt hits the generator which produces a surge affecting the robot.

Next thing you know, No. 5's programming has been affected and he undergoes a malfunction and as he strays around inside various rooms, he is ushered into a garbage truck and taken out of the facility and is on the loose.

Because the robots are literally military weapons, NOVA Robots officer Skroeder (played by G.W. Bailey, "Mannequin", "Police Academy" films) and other soldiers go after the robot. Skroeder has a hatred towards the robots and feels it must be destroyed but Marner and Crosby feel that the robot should be brought back in one piece.

Meanwhile, No. 5 manages to sneak into a food truck driven by Stephanie Speck (played by Ally Sheedy, "St. Elmo's Fire", "The Breakfast Club", "WarGames"). Stephanie is an animal lover and when she discovers No. 5, she automatically assumes that he is an alien from outerspace. She eventually communicates with No. 5 and tries to help him understand the world around him. Providing him books and access to television.

She eventually finds out through a mishap that No. 5 belongs to Nova Robotics and contacts them to pick up their robot but while she is with him, No. 5 accidentally jumps on a grasshopper and asks for Stephanie to reassemble it and she tells him that the insect is dead. When No. 5 figures out that disassemble means "dead", he panics and he takes Stephanie in a joyride to escape from Nova Robotics.

Meanwhile, Crosby and Jabituya managed to find Stephanie and No. 5 and Stephanie tries to explain to Crosby that the robot has a conscience but Crosby who developed the robot doesn't believe its possible since robots run via software. Skroeder and Nova Robotics manage to reclaim No. 5.

While in captivity, No. 5 (who's body is shut down) which is still awake (the head portion) manages to find a way to activate the whole body and commandeer the van and kicking out the passengers. No. 5 returns to Stephanie's home but now Stephanie must find a way to protect him. But can she trust Crosby into helping protect No. 5 from Nova Robotics?

VIDEO & AUDIO:

Surprisingly "Short Circuit" is presented in 1080i High-Definition Widescreen (2:40:1) instead of 1080p. The film has scenes that are quite vibrant and look great for a film that is 23 years old but then some parts seem a bit off at times. The good news is that there is grain present in the film but there is also dust present as well (although not that bad). The bad news is that certain indoor scenes look a bit darker. Even certain outdoor scenes seem to be dark (as if there was an overcast of clouds that came and disappeared). But overall, picture quality is a bit inconsistent at times.

As for the audio quality, the film is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (and also Dolby Digital 5.1). The film is primarily front and center channel driven. Dialogue is clear and for the most part, El DeBarge's "Who's Johnny" theme song seems to be the only scene where hear a lot of bass. But there is surround channel usage during the actions sequences and the thunderstorm but I was hoping for a more immersive lossless soundtrack but overall, the soundtrack was satisfactory.

Subtitles are in English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

"Short Circuit" special features are in 480i Standard Definition and in Dolby Digital 2.0. Included are:

* Audio Commentary by Director John Badham and writers S.S. Wilson and Brent Maddock - The three discuss the making of the film and the storyline. Badham is very detailed in his commentary about certain scenes and bringing the script to life.
* The Creation of Number 5 - (6:46) An old school featurette featuring director John Badham and the effects crew and the making of Number 5.
* Cast and Crew Interviews - Featuring interviews from 1986 with Ally Sheedy (2:18), Steve Guttenberg (2:24), John Badham (2:06), Syd Mead - Talking about the production end and going to Japan to look at robots and how to make No. 5 a genuine character for the film (17:36) and Eric Allard - Discussing the special effects for the film (35:02).
* Behind-the-Scenes Footage - (3:48) Behind-the-scenes clips of the making of the film and Director John Badham and crew recording certain scenes from the film.
* Isolated Music and Effects Track - Watch the film with only the music and special effects.
* Biographies - Text based biographies that you can view via your remote.
* Production Notes - Production Notes from the original 1986 press kit. You can view and turn pages of the production notes via your remote.
* Robot and Production Design Still Gallery - View the robot and production design gallery via your remote.
* Original Theatrical Trailer - (1:50) The original theatrical trailer in its old school glory.

JUDGMENT CALL

I grew up watching "Short Circuit" and watched it in the theaters and watched it countless times on cable but part of the reason why I wanted to watch this film was that it was directed by John Badham, which I loved his movies "WarGames" and "Blue Thunder" and the fact that he is reunited with Ally Sheedy who was also on "WarGames" and one of my favorite actresses from the 80's.

And the fact that she and Steve Guttenberg (another favorite from the 80's) were together, let's say I was feeling nostalgic and I wanted to see "Short Circuit" again. The first thing my toddler asks me if this is a new "Wall-E" film and to tell you the truth, I never thought for once that the two look similar (but looking on Google, it seems that many have).

Overall, the film is campy but "Short Circuit" has that 80's charm. Yeah, it's campy but it's "fun campy". A robot developing a conscience and next thing you know he's dancing to El DeBarge's "Who's Johnny" and John Travolta on "Saturday Night Fever" and repeating things he sees on television. But it has its share of action as well with soldiers and an ex-boyfriend wanting to take on No. 5.

Sure, for today's audience it may not attract them but having grown up with this film, I enjoyed the film when it came out and watched it again and still enjoyed it today.

Granted, I wish I could tell parents that you can show this film to your young "Wall-E" loving toddlers but the film has its share of profanity. I actually made the mistake in thinking this was a children's film and had my son watching the film along with me. (note: Although it says PG, there is no description of why it's PG. I figured it was for the more action-based sequences).

As for the Blu-ray, it's one of the cheaper Blu-rays available to find online (usually under $10) and it's a release that is not in 1080p but 1080i. There are a good number of special features but nothing new added and for the most part, picture quality is not spectacular and the lossless soundtrack is average at best.

Overall, "Short Circuit" is fun, campy 80's film. Granted, with today's audience, "Wall-E" seems to have won the hearts of many viewers and No. 5 has been forgotten. But with a remake of "Short Circuit" being developed, for those who want to go down that nostalgic road like I did (and the fact that you can find it for under $10 which is not bad), then you may want to give this Blu-ray a try.
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on April 12, 1999
"Short Circuit" is one of those motion pictures that I enjoy viewing so much about a Nova Robotics Robot named Number 5, struck by a power surge of lightning and giving him life. He suddenly escapes with a malfunction and searches for "imput". Later, he befriends a young woman named Stephanie Speck (Ally Sheedy) who gives him imput about life including animals, laughter from the Three Stooges on TV and even death (or in Number 5's case, "disassembled.") He then learns that Nova and the team want Number 5 destroyed and makes a break for it through the roads of Oregon. Steve Guttenberg plays a creator of the Nova robots when he and his friend Ben Jabituya (Fisher Stevens) look for the robot first before Howard (Austin Pendleton) and Skroeder (G.W. Bailey) does and destroy him. The show stealer is Number 5 (voiced by Tim Blaney.) The comedy Number 5 shows in "Short Circuit" will please kids as well as adults with hilarious and touching moments at times. Look for outstanding filming throughout Oregon that in my opinion is almost like driving through Arizona. TriStar Pictures, Inc./PSO Presentations, 1986, Rated PG for language and some violence.
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on November 2, 2013
It is supposed to be a PG movie but it is full of bad language. I remember watching it on tv as a kid and thought I would let my children watch it. I had to stop the movie because of all the bad language in it. I wish there was a setting on amazon that would bleep out the bad language on movies like this to make them kid friendly.
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on May 11, 2016
Short Circuit -My favorite movie! I love Johnny 5. I had this movie on repeatedly when I lived alone in my apartment. I love the sound of the laughter from Johnny 5. The special effects are amazing for 1986. Also Short Circuit II states in the credits that there was a human voice for Johnny 5. I am wondering whether there was actual AI in 1986 and what Johnny 5 is up to now. For example Koko the gorilla, who became famous for caring for a kitten in the 1985 National Geographic, has an extensive sign language vocabulary and probably can use the internet!

It is possible that Johnny 5 is real. Also the Super Computer at University of California San Diego, I wonder what it is up to these days. I find humans to be rejecting similar to the experience Johnny 5 had. I'm excited about repurchasing this video. I guess the Google staff is shelling out $301 to own the multi-media format. The casting directors also casted Steve Guttenburg in Cocoon, another movie I enjoy
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VINE VOICEon November 20, 2006
The open scene starts with the Saint 5, laser defense robots defeating a simulated infantry war exercise assault by ground troops and armored vehicles, and tanks. The adaptive communication networks and complex electronic social network gives the Saint 5 robots instantaneous data feeds making possible satellite-like triangulation and millisecond coordination and chess like tactical responses that destroying all enemy targets. The Saint 5 robots have visual processing systems, voice recognition capabilities, 3D map terrains navigation, social hierarchical command coordination and organization, human behavioral response states (facial expressions) and gestures, and autonomous locomotion throughout the base.

Saint 5 idealizes the dream robot of the 80s: self-programmable, machines building machines, visual recognition systems capable of independent symbol recognition duplicating WABOT robot hand on the piano. Dr. Crosby (in the likeness of Brooks) does not want to "Hob nose with the big wigs" and he would rather remain in the laboratory working and interacting with the MIT robotic hand. Cog #5 is shocked by a massive electric shock from static lighting bolt that traverses nearby power lines and traverses the lines too the generator connected to #5 and sparks loudly as the power enters the robot. The technicians examine #5 and access that everything checks out on the $16 million machine, "an ultimate solider, never ask questions". #5 higher level control systems seem to be destroyed allowing #5 to roam. #5 roams off the base and when Dr Crosby types in the return code, nothing happens. #5 keeps responds back to Dr. Crosby, "need input-triangulation position". People start becoming afraid but Dr. Crosby reminds the group, "robots just run programs; they are not alive". Cpt. Schroader alarms the group when he discovers from Crosby the laser is still live, telling the group, "what if it melts down a bus load of nuns?"

#5 lands on the roof of Stephanies (Kismet) food mobile called Stephanies Snack Shack. Stephanie attention activates #5 learning algorithms. Stephanie calls #5 a "cute robot" and her endearing affection classify Stephanie as a "friendly" by #5. Stephanie thinks #5 is an alien robot and murmurs out loud, "I knew they would pick me" reference alien abductions. #5 like Kismet can make and respond with facial gestures. Stephanie has a difficult time getting #5 to respond until she shouts the word, "forward".

#5 robotic brain needs input. #5 downloads all reading material that Stephanie has in her home. #5 then watches countless hours of TV. Kurzweil like futuristic potentials were implied such as the complete download of the internet into #5, if it were possible; and space exploration to distant worlds. #5 has a problem solver algorithm. #5 breaks a dish set and observes, "numerous fragments, some large, some small", "reassemble, no resemble is dead", "dead is forever", "dissemble is dead", and "Nova robotics wants to dissemble #5". #5 starts his fear and anger algorithms. #5 changes wire diagramming allowing for greater expression in internal algorithms and becomes self-aware, "#5 is alive". #5 has disco dance algorithms (Honda and Qrio), "dancing fool". Crosby tells Stephanie, "It's a machine" and Stephanie replies, "He is scared". Nova has issued a 25k reward for the return of #5.

#5 manages design a strategy where Stephanie is to meet Crosby at the Black Lion Inn. #5 defeats the other Saint 5 robots, breaks through the security encryption protection the robots programming and reprograms the robots to enact a scene from the three stooges.

Stephanie argues that humans are machines and that the neural circuitry can be all simulated mechanically. Humans and tin men are only different in time to develop the mechanical equivalences: "life is not a malfunction" and "we are a machine". Stephanie idolizes the brain download potential replacing man with machine. #5 learns the language and reprograms the robots in 10 minutes. #5 expresses the irony of bio/mechanical paradox by telling one of the Saint 5 robots, "your mammas was a snow blower". #5 has learned to evaluate other machines exclaiming, "cars are dumb machines", and cars should be locomotion robots. #5 address the dilemma of the human condition by telling Crosby, "it is wrong to kill", "I told you". Crosby tells #5 a joke and #5 starts to laugh, spontaneous emotional response.

#5 survives entrapment, by creating a decoy duplicate of himself, which the army destroys. Crosby, Stephanie, and #5 go to Montana to live.
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on April 25, 2014
This review has nothing to do with the movie itself, but the terrible formatting of the Standard DVD version of this film.

The description claims that it is "widescreen," but when you insert the disc, it is still 4:3 format with black bars on the side and bottom. This really angered me, but the movie was so cheap, it would just be a hassle to return it.

There is a sort of fix that makes it close to true widescreen, thankfully. Most TVs now come with a way to change the aspect ratio of your display. I found that by using my remote to change the resolution, it filled the TV and with no black bars (the only downside is the loss of quality, but it's not extremely noticeable).

I hope this helps anyone looking to buy the standard DVD version of this movie.
Other than that, the movie is a classic and I'm glad to have it in my 80's movie collection; and if it weren't for the lazy formatting, this review would have a much higher rating.
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on June 20, 2015
This is a wonderful movie but the image quality and transfer quality is utter garbage. The image is such low resolution it's a small box in the middle of my screen. I need to find a better copy of this movie because this one is not worth it.
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on September 16, 2015
Silly funny movie that is one we needed to replace before DVD's. My kids loved it growing up and now we want to share with our grandkids. Did not remember all the swearing so will wait a bit to let the little ones watch it but it is really a great movie.
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on April 8, 2013
This should be a suitable film for most but there are a number of problems which would influence its acceptability for certain groups. It does not have subtitles for the hearing impaired. Happily, this is made in the old-fashioned way, all the speaking is articulated and given the volume to be understood by anyone who is not in the more serious categories of hearing impairment. Still in all, no DVD made in recent decades should have been deficient in this respect. For some in the potential audience, who are extremely conservative (in a social not political sense), the language will, on occasion, be over the line of propriety. I do not think this is true for the larger segment of the public but these people should be aware of the problem so as to avoid, what to them, is an impropriety. One reviewer mentions some language bothersome to their religious sensibilities, I did not notice this, but potential watcher beware.
For myself, it was a movie that, as they say, kids of all ages, could enjoy (with that pleasure, of course, diminishing in inverse proportion to their actual age). It is the theme of Pinocchio. Wizard of Oz, and who knows how many other classic stories, becoming human through the induction of certain characteristics. The robotetry (after puppetry and similar words) was quite well done, the good guys (and gal) suitably nice, and the villains suitably villainous. While much is simple minded slapstick, physical and verbal, as the use of the Three Stooges clips remind the adults watching, this is what kids get a kick out of .
At any rate, with the exceptions I point out, this is a young peoples movie which allows the adult to sit in without an eyeshade and ear plugs.
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