Max Headroom - The Original Story (1986)
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Critic Reviews for Max Headroom - The Original Story
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Audience Reviews for Max Headroom - The Original Story
The TV network in “[URL=http://sandsquish.wordpress.com/2006/09/01/max-headroom/]Max Headroom[/URL]” has a problem. Well, two problems, really. Neither of them are much of a bother. But still, you never can tell. You may as well deal with them and be done with it. After all, you’ve got to keep the sponsors happy and the ratings up. And you’ve got this really innovative way to do both those things. Your R&D department has worked out how to compress advertising, so viewers can’t consciously react to it and you can squeeze much more of it into the shows. And this makes everything much more efficient and profitable. You’re very good at this sort of thing. But, the new commercials have this, sort of, well, deadly, side effect in some viewers. Not very many of them, really. It’s not like it will effect your ratings or anything like that. At least, not if that investigative reporter starts doing his job, like he’s been told to, and stops doing irresponsible things like investigating dead viewers. Although “Max Headroom” is subtitled “Twenty Minutes Into the Future,” it’s really, as you’ve probably guessed, about the present. The main differences are that the present has worse art direction and the writers switched the TV networks in “Max Headroom” to the more general, but just as pathological, corporations. For instance, when the TV network’s head of R&D explains that the future is about translating people into data, it’s tough to believe that he’s really talking about Max, the amusing, computer-generated, talking head. He’s got to be talking about credit ratings, consumer profiles, demographic statistics, and market analysis, right? And when the art directors show us a future littered with obsolete video technology, they must have been thinking about cable boxes, VHS, DVD, satellite dishes, Web casting, pay-per-view, pod-casting, video-enabled cell phones, and on-demand movie feeds, right? The American TV series based on this short film had much clumsier scripts. And, well, this script would have been better if it had either dropped the title character or involved him more in the film’s subject matter. However, the TV show still retained this film’s remarkably insightful story ideas and explored more of its thinly-disguised present-day world. It depicted mortuaries that sell body parts (and if you want something fresher, they can manage that too), government officials who are sponsored and controlled by big business (and elected by audience ratings), computer-controlled security systems that are inherently abusive (but keep stock prices high), people who are summarily convicted of crimes if their profiles fit (unless they’re lucky enough to end up with a trial by TV game show), an outsourced school system that can’t be bothered with producing anything other than highly-trained (but ethically challenged) math geeks, entrepreneurs who push a technology so invasive it can record peoples’ dreams (and create great subscriber-video content), corporations who claim (and enforce) intellectual-property rights to human knowledge, and subsidiaries that sell genetically-modifed babies (not only because it’s profitable, but also because the results make great employees). It’s enough to make you understand what Blank Reg, the video jockey, means when he reminds his audience to, “Remember when they said there was no future? Well, this is it.”
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