56 of 61 people found the following review helpful
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!
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
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.
"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.
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.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
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.
18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on August 6, 2006
What would you do if your $11 million killer robot suffered a serious power surge, escaped, and now, rather than blowing up tanks and troops and stuff, was out chasing butterflies and convincing animal loving Ally Sheedy that a) he's not a martian, and b) he's alive? Why, you'd send out the military/goon types to bring him back so you could disassemble him and find out what went wrong. Right?
Well, disassembling a robot is an awful lot like dissecting an animal, and it doesn't take long for that ingratiating buckets of bolts who calls himself Five ("Five alive!") to figure any of that out. With the resourceful Ally on board Five is soon learning about life and eluding his bumbling pursuers. Among those in pursuit is Five's creator, Steve Guttenberg, and his vaguely Indian or Pakastani assistant Fisher Stevens. The movie indicates that there's an urgency to finding the errant robot before the guys with the guns do, but it's hard to tell - the actor Guttenberg doesn't do `urgency' terribly well, and Fisher Stevens seems an over-caffienated bundle of energy. While in most movies either character would be too much (or too little,) in SHORT CIRCUIT the two rather neatly cancel each other out.
SHORT CIRCUIT is one of those movies you like despite yourself. It's corny and obvious and seemed aimed at non-discriminating 10-year-olds. Guttenberg is a cinderblock of an actor, and while I bought Five's breathless declaration - "Five alive!" - if I heard Guttenberg say it I'd probably ask for proof. Whatever humor you can milk from ineptly gung-ho military types is milked dry long before they put away their guns. Still, this one seems safe and relatively acceptable to all age groups. Sheedy's a marvel, and her scenes with Five contain whatever magic this story holds. Probably not a classic, but touching in spots. Medium strong recommendation.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on July 4, 2009
4 stars movie. 2 stars letter boxed. I bought this to replace my earlier edition to have it play 16:9 on load but it is still letterboxed. Image doesn't want to spend the money to give us an enhanced remastered DVD but they will change the cover to trick us. True, not a masterpiece but fun to watch. 5.1 sound and letterboxed, Incongruous.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 4, 2007
Short Circuit is one of those films I rented as a kid back in the precious 80s when we got so many good family movies that just wouldn't see the light of day in these awful times. A Short Circuit made in 2007 would be mind-numbingly PC with bullet-time effects and a CGI Johnny voiced by a hip-hop 'artist'. It's a grim time for this genre indeed. But back in 1986 I had nothing to complain about as most of the family movies from that decade are fondly remembered as classics.
I loved this movie as a kid and it's been a long, long time since I watched it from start to finish. Plus the VHS I rented back then was in horrid pan and scan with half the picture chopped-off. Which is a real shame since John Badham shot it brilliantly-framed Panavision. So I've never really seen the FULL movie until now. How does it hold-up 21 years later? Well, I guess you could say Johnny Five is kinda dated but not so much as all the rest of the 'ground-breaking' technology at the Nova factory. Number Five is a robot made for Military Stealth purposes and armed with a laser beam. But designer Newton Crosby (Steve Guttenberg) and his partner Ben Jabituya (a non-Indian and very funny Fisher Stevens) originally designed him as a marital aid, apparently. They are unhappy with the way Nova has marketed the robot but after a demonstration to the Military, Five is struck by lightning and assumes consciousness. Needing input and desperate to learn more about his surroundings, he escapes the factory and journey's across Oregon, soaking up knowledge and the idiosyncrasies of modern human culture. As a reflection of today's 'zany' society, Five is full of spirit, personality and random pop-culture references.
The Military are kinda annoyed at a potential lethal weapon (not the Mel Gibson kind) running loose about America, so it's their new mission to find him and destroy him. Five, who has been taken in by animal-lover (not in THAT way) Stephanie Speck (a gorgeous Ally Sheedy) does everything he can to stay out of harm's way. But they are persistent and won't let him live because they don't believe he is truly alive.
It's not totally original since some of it feels inspired by the works of Issac Asamov and I doubt a film like this would have been green-lighted had E.T. not been so successful. But it is very enjoyable and funny and Johnny Five is a great character despite being nothing more than a puppet. Short Circuit is definitely a film for any kid born in the 80s. The video-game obsessed kids of today might to be so interested but its charming simplicity and good-natured story will never really date despite the old-fashioned 'cutting-edge' technology featured in the film.
This DVD from Image Entertainment contains a NON-anamorphic 2.35:1 transfer with Dolby 5.1 sound and a commentary among a few other extras. I believe it also comes in a crappy snapper case. The UK DVD from Cinema Club however IS anamorphic but drops the commentary and has Dolby 2.0 sound. The rest of the extras remain. I'll take superior picture over the rest any day.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
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.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 8, 2005
'Saturday Night Fever' (1977) will probably always be director John Badham's most famous movie. My personal favorite will probably always be his 'Dracula' (1979). But his 'Short Circuit' (1986) is top notch as well. On the surface it may look like a silly movie about a robot that comes to life when it is struck by lightning. But as in his 'Saturday Night Fever' and 'Dracula,' Director John Badham takes the movie to a much deeper level than we expected. The robot (# 5) was originally built for the purpose of killing, and when he comes to life, he can not accept that. While # 5 is undoubtedly the star of this movie, there is an excellent supporting cast. Stephanie is wonderful as the benevolent woman who by chance crosses his path and accidentally becomes responsible for # 5's most famous line: 'NO DISASSEMBLE!' Newton does a good job of the scientist who can not (at least for awhile) bring himself to believe what we as the audience have seen. Ben is hilarious as the Indian who works with Newton. (I.E. When # 5 gets angry and the driver of the truck asks what to do, Ben replies: 'I don't know about you, but I am planning to scream and run.') Howard is memorable as the scientist who has started to become more concerned with business, but his former values of science start to reemerge. What makes this movie so wonderful is that while it is filled with suspense and comedy, it also offers important questions and issues. (How far will science go to kill people? Should important scientific values start giving way to business? Is it easier to destroy than to analyze? We are always looking for new life, but when we find it will we be likely to destroy it?) This is an excellent movie that not only maintains it comical tones, but it offers us suspense and some things to think about. This is certainly worth giving a chance to. If you like this, be sure to check out John Badham's 'Saturday Night Fever'(1977) and 'Dracula' (1979). Thanks again for the great finished product John!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 26, 2002
Beautiful widescreen, better see! As a child I loved Short Circuit, and it's not so successful sequel. The expolits of the robot # 5 who thought that he was a living breathing thinking individual with feelings was a rather entertaining movie with a lot of the stuff that kids find cool in it. A crazy funny robot with some classic tag lines, lazers, and explosions, and a movie that's in general silly.
Until this DVD was released I never got to see this movie in widescreen, and now that I have I am shocked as to how much of the picture was actually missing. The more widescreen movies that I watch the less I can stand Pan & Scam. Short Circuit was a movie that really suffered when it was transfered to pan & Scam. The movie has a decent transfer, not the best, but this is certainly the best presentation of the movie I have ever seen, and it also features decent sound. It's a little lacking in the special features, but would be a good buy for those wanting to relive a childhood memory from the 80s. Unlike Bill & Ted, this movie actually holds up against the test of time, not as well as other 80s classics, but from a decade of [bad] movies, this one's still pretty funny.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
I'll save any potential blu-ray customers the hassle and tell you right now that if you already have the special edition of Short Circuit on dvd, you might as well keep it, because this blu-ray isn't much of an upgrade at all. But for those who still haven't bought the movie, is this version worth buying on the superior format? Again, no. In fact, if you just plain want the movie and don't have to have all your movies on blu-ray, I recommend going with the dvd instead.
For those who didn't see it in the 80s, Short Circuit was a pretty big movie for its time. It's the story of Number Five, aka Johnny Five, a robot who was originally part of a line of military weapons, meant to turn the tide of war in our favor. But he was struck by lightning one day, and as a result, began to think for himself rather than follow orders to kill and destroy. He eventually meets a woman named Stephanie who helps Number Five develop a personality and shows him how people live. Number Five just wants input (any information available, be it in a book, on tv, etc.) and to live his life, but the military wants him back, as do his developers.
There isn't a whole lot to the movie itself, especially when you watch it now and don't let nostalgia blind you. While it is a pretty fun and cute comedy, it's hard to look past some things as being lame or borderline offensive. Fisher Stevens caked on the brown makeup and plays an Indian man here, and eventhough he did go to a dialect coach to learn how to 'speak Indian', I can see his role irking a lot of people. I thought he was funny as a kid, but now, why didn't they just go with a real Indian guy? And sadly, most of the scenes that don't have Number 5 are fairly boring. But when he's on-screen, it's impressive to see how much work was put into him, and seeing all the parts in his face and arms move, seeing that each item has a function. The message of the movie still holds up, like trying to teach a robot about life and death, and why things in the world are the way they are, even if there's no set reason for it. There's not much more to say about the movie other than if you've never seen it, and don't like movies from the 80s, you should pass. But for people looking to enjoy a robot comedy movie or are just nostalgic, give Short Circuit a shot, and definitely check out the sequel, since it did everything better.
Now here's the problem- the visual quality on the blu-ray is a mixed bag. Certain scenes look great while others are a mess. Just when a scene would look beautiful, everything would suddenly become grainy and dull, almost like it was taken from the vhs version. Don't expect much from the transfer here, and you should be fine. The audio though, is much better thanks to the DTS HD Master Audio 5.1. It's nothing that'll show off your home entertainment system, since the movie doesn't have a whole lot of explosions or gunfire, save for a few scenes, but it got much better treatment than the picture quality did.
Special features are fortunately back, after mysteriously vanishing from the second dvd release. The commentary track with the director and writers is here, and the guys do a good job of using their time to talk about technical details and fun stories on how they got the actors for their roles and why they went with some things, like having Stevens play an Indian man. They also talk about the trouble working with Number Five and the budget problems too. 'good commentary track here. Next is nearly an hour's worth of interviews with the cast and crew, though most of the time is spent talking about Number Five's development. Oddly enough, there's a featurette dedicated to the creation of Number 5 that runs under 10 minutes, and is hilarious to watch if only because of how 80s it is. An isolated music/sound effects track is on here as well, though I don't know why. This isn't exactly a movie that's known for either the music or sound effects, but I guess someone out there's been waiting for this. Finally are the Behind the Scenes (very short footage of people on the set/behind the cameras) and the press kit, which is just the trailer, photo gallery and bios and production notes. Overall the extras are good, but only for the die-hard fans of Short Circuit.
Once more, if you already have the special edition dvd, there's no reason to get Short Circuit on blu-ray unless you absolutely need all your movies on the format, or if you don't already have it and for some reason don't want the dvd. It's worth watching once if you haven't seen it, but the people who'll get the most out of it are those who still get something out of the more fun, zany movies from the 80s. You could do a lot worse than Short Circuit, that's for sure.