Speculative Fiction Saturday: Minority Report, one of my personal favorities

minorityreportposterWhen I first saw the Steven Spielberg/Tom Cruise film in 2002, I felt rather indifferent about it. I remember purchasing it for Christmas in 2002, and I have discovered that I love watching it, and can learn more from it with every watch.

Most films are not this good, and I would have to say it is Spielberg’s finest since his golden run in the eighties. The film is based on a short story by Philip K. Dick, the man who gave us the inspiration for Blade Runner. There are a lot of films that were inspired by this man’s writings.

I decided to do this film because I recently read the original short story. Only the concept behind the story is the same, but it is an interesting one at that. In the future, psychic detectives known as “precogs” are designed to identify murderers before they commit their crimes. When that happens, the department of Pre-Crime swoop in and prevent the murder from ever occurring.

The story begins when the chief of Pre-Crime, Jon Anderton, discovers that he is going to kill someone he has never met. Since Anderton thinks he is innocent, he runs. What happens then is a plot similar to The Fugitive and other films where the main character is framed for a crime that he or she did not commit.

What makes Minority Report shine is the odd filmmaking, which presents a future of cobalt blue and a weird washed-out look. The crowning achievement is that there was a “think tank” to present the future world with somewhat realistic technology. There are no flying cars, but cars that run on a magnetic track. Interesting. Then there are the retina eye-dentifiers on ever street corner. Interesting, and scary. Then there is the gesture-recognition computer. Even more interesting and possible inspiration for the Kinect. I think I reference this movie every week as the tech shows pretty much exactly where we are headed.

This film also has a lot of subtlety, as it asks how much freewill we really have if we can see the future. As was the case in Next, another film inspired by Philip K. Dick, the moment you see the future, you change it. The short story and film are quite different, but they both hinge on the theme of what happens if you can see the future, and is it worth it.

Within both works is a theme of how knowing the future creates the ultimate dictatorship. The film was released in 2002, and it was considered timely as it can be interpreted as a symbol of the Patriot Act. For me, I see the Minority Report as choice, something that really affects our destiny.

Just see this film if you haven’t yet. Too bad Spielberg and Cruise couldn’t have lightning strike twice when they did The War of the Worlds in 2005.

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