1986's Short Circuit is a cute, sometimes funny riff on E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial that never feels dangerous or all that threatening given the fact that it basically falls in line with The Terminator's backstory in terms of non-sentient beings gaining intelligence. Johnny 5 becomes self aware, but he wants to love, not destroy the human race.
Director Tim Hill, whose last project was the fluffy Easter themed comedy Hop, is hoping to change that with his upcoming Short Circuit remake. Sure, it will still be a sci-fi comedy about a lovable robot that becomes self-thinking, but he wants the movie to feel dangerous. He wants the themes of Short Circuit to play bigger, and have more relevance in terms of these times of War we currently live in.
"The thing that makes it so relevant is that we live in this age of robots, particularly when it comes to war. We have drones that do our fighting for us, do all these jobs men and women don't want to do. And that's what makes this so interesting -- things like this moment in the story when Johnny realizes he's going to be disassembled and contemplates death, and whether it's right to terminate someone else. These are heavy themes for a family movie. But I think they can have their place."
Tim Hill is going to keep Johnny 5's wide-eyed sense of wonder in discovering the world, but his look may be radically altered from the original.
" [Johnny 5 is] like an infant struck by lightning, and you see human foibles reflected in him. I'm tempted to go back and grab the [look of the] original. But I think it has to be closer to what modern design actually is. There are computer models and labs developing real machines like this. We want to do something like that."
Along with the robot's look, Tim Hill also plans on changing the character portrayed by Ally Sheedy, who was in her mid-to-late twenties, into a teenager. There are two reasons for this. One, it will add a sense of wish fulfillment to the movie. And two, it will make the film more family friendly. Which seems to be a contradiction of themes the director is happy playing with.
"If you look at kids and how they adopt machinery, it's just getting tight and tighter. We're just becoming more connected to our machines. That's why I think this can say more about our relationship with technology than the original ever did. You've got to find the balance between something fierce and something endearing. The original was cute. But no one was threatened by it."