Why scifi is awesome: Minority Report

. 2 min read

Continuing with the scifi theme that we started yesterday, let's analyze a somewhat (read: a lot) better scifi movie: Steven Spielberg's Minority Report.

Minority Report (2002) is about a futuristic world in which a special police squad stops crimes (mainly murders) before they're committed. They get visions from three superhuman "Precogs" who have no other life except to dream about the future. This all works well enough, crimes are stopped and the not-yet-criminals are put to jail, until the Precogs have a vision about a murder in which the killer is the head of that very police squad, the protagonist of the movie. (Played by the beyond awesome badass Tom Cruise.)

I fell totally in love with this movie the first time I saw it. Young and full of enthusiasm, I even built my own precognition machine - not the Precogs though, but the device that gives out the balls that name the victims and the criminals, integrated with a system that randomly chose the names from a pool of my creation. It was brilliant if I say so myself. But why did this, of all the movies I saw in my childhood, have such a big effect?

Well, first of all, technology and scifi is usually interesting and exciting in itself, although it should be noted that Spielberg does them especially well. Secondly, when it comes to the plot, there was the obvious hole in the system right from the beginning - what if the Precogs were wrong? The police squad had no way of really knowing if the people they were arresting and putting away were really going to do it. It was a question of free will - even if the would-be criminals had intended to do something the Precogs dreamed about, could they have changed their minds at the last moment? And, of course, the movies does exactly what good movies are supposed to do - get the viewer to care for the protagonist by showing how he lost his son and how he struggles to deal with the guilt. Not to mention the twist towards the end, when both the protagonist and the viewer together realize that the precognition about him murdering someone wasn't a mistake - that Cruise's character has no minority report (meaning that one of the Precogs disagrees with the others), leading us back to the first question about free will.

It's the perfect movie - full of not only philosophical questions, but also action and scifi, making it both intellectually interesting and popcorn-munchingly entertaining!

(Anything described as "popcorn-munchingly" has to be pure gold. Feel free to use the word appropriately.)

That's basically it - the ingredients of a perfect scifi movie. It's one of those movies you can watch again and again without getting tired. So of you haven't seen it yet, check it out tonight. Make a large bowl of buttery popcorn, turn on the philosopher inside and press play.

Enjoy and analyze.