Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Solo

Mario Van Peebles stars as a secret military robot with Terminator-like abilities, but also with a heart of gold. We know this immediately, because he draws careful sketches of birdies and spiders, and because he refuses to follow the orders of humorless superiors to take out innocent, adorable peasants along with a bunch of evil Latin American rebels. As Van Peebles decides to protect the aforementioned peasants from the rebels and the American army, he undergoes that tiresome process of becoming more "human." The movie, though, never gets beyond the simplest observations about what a wacky and irrational race we are, nor are the thought processes of the android fleshed out with anything more complex than a few flickering screens, pull-down menus, and some noble brooding about not really being alive. Van Peebles attempts a couple of "Hasta la vista"-style taglines near Solo's climax, but it's difficult to accept that his character would actually get the jokes. Since the hero and the villains are equally mechanical, the big, loud battles are as exciting and suspenseful as watching people play Mortal Kombat for 90 minutes.

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