Thoughts on HER

I’ve been reflecting for several days as to why I found HER so singularly unsatisfying, and frankly dull, and I think I’ve pinpointed the issues.

The first and obvious one is that this felt like an interesting question that had been asked and answered years ago by the science fiction community and for readers and writers in the field this really was  old hat.  When I attended the AI conference a number of years ago the issues of user bonding with their AI helpers was already under discussion.  There was an entire talk devoted to the issues of robot health care helpers that are being tested in Japan.  What happens when an elderly person can no longer afford their helper and the robot is taken away?  What kind of psychological damage will be done to the human user?

For me the film felt very predictable and not in a good way of promises kept.  It was clear who nerdy guy was going to end up with at the end from the first moment she set foot on screen.

I found the characters to be narcissistic, whiny and boring.  This was such a first world problem that I became more and more impatient as the film dragged on.

What did I like.  I thought the performances were pretty good in that they portrayed self-absorbed people really well.   I really liked the echoing issues presented by Theodore’s real job.  It was the one place where the script really shone for me.  Theodore writes touching, personal letters for other people who are too busy or insecure about writing their own love letters, thank you letters, condolences, etc.  In a sense Theodore was no different then Samantha — he echoes human contact without ever actually connecting with another human being.   He’s an interface, an operating system too and a counterfeit of emotion.

I didn’t care for the direction.  Endless boring montage scenes of Theodore taking his OS to the beach or cafes or coffee shops, etc.  And when we weren’t montaging all the visuals felt very static.

I usually like talky, cerebral films, but this one left me absolutely cold.

4 Responses to Thoughts on HER

  • TenglandName says:

    You’re in the minority, apparently. ‘Course, most of mainstream Hollywood and most mainstream critics have no idea what’s going on in the SF world. That’s for geeks & nerds, don’tcha know.

    • Melinda Snodgrass says:

      Yeah, I know. A bunch of critics have listed it as the best movie of the year. They all seem to think this is so “edgy” and new and cutting edge. It’s not. It’s old hat for all us geeks. I much preferred GRAVITY.

      • Neville Ross says:

        These snobby, Sundance Film Festival-biased only ‘ critics’ care about nothing but indie movies where people are messed up and fucking somebody else’s lives up anyway. I was thinking about seeing it, but I’ve been having money problems and I can’t see a lot of movies, so I can only see a few-I might catch only Gravity instead.

        Most of the movies I love are sci-fi ones like Gravity, but I also love the ones that are probably looked down upon by you like Pacific Rim, Star Trek Into Darkness, and The Avengers. But I would love to see the American film industry tackle and adapt sci-fi novels like The Stars My Destination, or Moving Mars (or, if they like traditional action and adventure, the film companies can adapt the Venus Prime novels by Arthur C. Clarke and Paul Preuss, which is like an action-adventure/space opera, but with realistic hard science background for its universe.) Anything’s better than Ender’s War or just what they usually release. They can also consult people who know about science and science fiction, like you, to make better movies.

        • Melinda Snodgrass says:

          I like my share of snobby movies, but they have to be good snobby movies, Neville. 🙂 I loved GRAVITY, and I really enjoyed THE AVENGERS. PACFIC RIM was what my friend Len Wein calls Big Dumb Fun. It promised me giant robots kicking the shit out of giant monsters, and that’s what it delivered so I was good with it. STAR TREK: INTO DARKNESS was a hopeless mess, but that’s what I expect from that particular writing team. You can find my extensive review of the film on my blog. The Bester novel would be tough to adapt. It’s a very interior book, and those are hard to dramatize, but it is a brilliant book. Thank you for the compliment. I’d love to do more work, but in many ways Hollywood fears science fiction because it is tough to do well.

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