Revisiting Logan's Run (And How They Should Approach a Remake)
They've been talking about remaking Logan's Run for ages now. For awhile, it was in the hands of Bryan Singer, but it recently passed to Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn and his frequent thespian collaborator Ryan Gosling. Despite the change in hands, the project remains dead in the water, which makes this the rare science-fiction remake to not be happening at the moment. What makes Logan's Run a more difficult film to remake than Total Recall or RoboCop? Is this a story that needs to be told again or is it better that no one seems particularly hurried to make it happen?
Well, these questions meant one thing: it was time to revisit the original 1976 film.
For those unfamiliar with the chilling premise of Logan's Run, here's the quick version: it's the distant future and society (or at least a portion of it) now occupies its own underground/indoor city. Everyone is young and beautiful and they have no real responsibilities, with most of their time spent pursuing pleasure, which the computer-controlled city supplies in great measure. The catch? You must die when you reach the age of 30. Some people don't take this lying down. Logan (a "Sandman" normally in charge of hunting down fleeing citizens) is one of them. Hence the title. The film follows his escape attempt and what he discovers outside the walls of the only place he's ever known.
Logan's Run is a great movie, but not in the way many will suspect (and not in the way it may have been great to its original 1976 audience). The first half of the film, filled with pretty people with '70s haircuts wearing brightly colored jumpsuits, is often pure camp. This is a dystopia by way of disco. This future is so '70s that a pre-fame Farrah Fawcett shows up.
For the first 60 minutes or so, the film is an absolute blast, but it's awfully hard to take seriously. Michael York (wearing atrocious sideburns) and Jenny Agutter (wearing an awesomely short skirt) flee and fight their way through a candy-coated nightmare future populated by sneering teenagers with Tarzan complexes, psychopathic plastic surgeons and robots with vaguely Eastern European accents who live in ice caves and eat people (or something). It's a riot. It's blast. It moves quickly and shamelessly, and around the halfway point, you think you've found your new favorite guilty pleasure.
And then the second half happens (minor spoilers follow). Our heroes escape the city that's been their home for their entire lives. They see the sky for the first time. They breathe real air. What was once Washington D.C. is now a jungle wasteland. They're initially terrified of this world, but a brief romp in a watering hole changes that in a heartbeat. Outside of the campy pleasure dome, the film slows down and grows contemplative. Now that first half makes sense: that bizarre world we were laughing at earlier only exists because of isolation. People weren't acting like people because they didn't have the proper frame of reference that would come with a real life. That gaudy future is exactly what the youth of the '70s would create if they didn't have older hands guiding them, if they didn't have someone guiding them towards maturity.
In its second half, Logan's Run makes you feel guilty for chuckling at its first hour and proceeds to become one of the most moving science-fiction films ever made -- a long, hard look at what happens when a society loses its history, an examination of what we lose when youth and pleasure are prioritized over growing old, and finding wisdom with age. The world outside the city is dangerous and it certainly doesn't offer instant prostitution via teleportation (apparently a staple in everyone's apartment if Logan's dwelling is any indication), but if offers true fulfillment: it offers you a place in the fabric of history, a place where you can grow old beside someone you love and watch the world evolve and change around you. A stagnant future of infinite pleasures is nothing compared to a ruined world. In the former, you die young and learn nothing, while in the latter, you rebuild the world and craft a future.
So… what the heck can Refn say with a remake that wasn't said with the original?
First of all, he needs to remove Gosling from the cast and think younger. Kids these days (said in my best Old Man voice) grow up a lot faster than they used to and modern teenagers are gleefully enjoying reckless pleasures with the best of them. What if the remake reduced the age of termination to 21? There's something just plain horrifying about a computer-controlled world that allows teenagers to enjoy their wildest whims, only to kill them before they can grow up and realize that there's more to life than needing to feel good all the time. Not to mention, what's scarier than being hunted down by a bunch of 14-18 year olds who are compelled by their robot masters to kill you at all costs?
A remake of Logan's Run, unlike many sci-fi classics, actually feels necessary. Done properly, it could be a scathing satire, an examination of a generation raised on the Internet. It could be a look at a society used to instant gratification, who can get anything they want with a URL and a few clicks of the mouse. A new Logan's Run could (and should) be about young people who grow up too soon and see their lives ending right when they should be starting. Refn is a director who doesn't pull punches and hopefully he'll realize how hard-hitting this story should be.
If a new Logan's Run doesn't make you reconsider what makes a life worth living, it's a failure. Period.
Sci-Fi in Real Life: Russian Scientists Will Turn Us into Robots
Since so many science-fiction stories deal with humanity's reach exceeding its grasp, it's hard to look at Russian mogul Dmitry Itskov's plan to achieve human immortality by transferring our minds into artificial robotic/holographic avatars and feel good about it. The whole project just reeks of NO. There's only one way for this to end: a scorched Earth covered with human corpses, ruled over by immortal robots controlled by the consciousness of rich people.
Itskov has already assembled a team of scientists and now he's seeking funding from the world's billionaires, promising them free robotic immortality if they assist in funding the research. It's an ambitious plan: by 2020, he says we can have robotic copies of human bodies that can be controlled by the human brain. By 2025 he says we'll be able to transfer someone's brain into one of these robotic copies. By 2035, he claims our consciousness can be transferred into an entirely robotic brain inside the robotic body. By 2045, we'll be living inside holographic avatars. And the world will probably be burning.
It's hard to believe that this project will actually happen, but if it does work, it's difficult to imagine it all not ending in blood and tears and nuclear fallout.