I wrote this recently for Engadget - but they turned it down (I'm not going to blog the reason I was given or explain why I'm not going to - try asking me). Any how, the boys were disappointed not to be published so I thought I'd make use of it over here for the enjoyment of you lot.
Since it’s the school holidays, in a burst of enthusiasm and wild abandon I thought I’d add some children to the usual movie Gadget Friday proceedings for a couple of slots.
I let Joseph Ishmael (8) and Luke Shortland (7) loose in a well known video store and asked them to pick out a film with gadgets in that we could write about. Fortunately for me, they were all out of Inspector Gadget movies. Unfortunately, they spotted Agent Cody Banks - basically, James Bond with kids, and a matching child sized budget.
First of all the boys demanded a list of all the gadgets as they appeared, in order to identify the boss gadget:
• Nanobots: central to the (ahm) plot, these teeny tiny robots are designed by world-renowned but simultaneously extremely short sighted scientist working for an evil super villain, in this case Ian McShane dressed rather unflatteringly in a white polo-neck. The scientist believes the Super Villain is funding the work out of the kindness of his heart, and that the nanobots ultimate purpose is cleaning up oil spills and the like following environmental disasters. Unsurprisingly to everyone except the scientist, McShane plans to use them for nefarious ends. They are only stable when frozen, or when the plot dictates they should be.
• Segways. Actually neither of the boys wanted to count these, but they’re shown transporting busy CIA agents around headquarters.
• Rocket Snowboard. It’s a snowboard, with a rocket stuck on the back. The two things didn’t really seem to be connected, but the boys assure me that the rockets make it Way Cool.
• X-ray glasses (with parental control). Me – I think grown ups should teach children the responsible use of technologies, not impose their often arbitory restrictions on them. The boys however were not prepared to talk about or even acknowledge anything involving women’s under things.
• Mobile phone with holographic display – how many times would this come in really, really handy? None.
• Wrist watch that can electrocute you, and also tell the time. Both the boys were extremely keen on this one. The potential was well pointed out in the film: “No! Please don’t take my watch! Oh, OK then. But please – what ever you do - don’t press the second button from the left!”
• BMW Skateboard. These probably exist. Who knows why, although I guess if people are prepared to buy a Porsche toaster you might as well flog them this too.
• Necklace with concealed tracking device. The perfect gift for young women from young men who want to be full-blown control freaks when they grow up – nothing says you love someone quite like the gift of surveillance.
• Mini Hovercraft – pointless.
• Heat beam pen – actually the thing I most wanted, since I sometimes use a laser pointer at work. This one punishes people who dare to talk over your important words. Or you could just use it to entertain/divert the rest of the audience in an emergency. The potential for random acts of torture also appealed to the boys.
• iPod spy kit thing. Looks like regular product placement, but doesn’t actually play tunes as far as I could see. Does however do stuff that acts to patch the odd gaping plot holes, so the perfect gift for lazy scriptwriters.
• Suction Boots. – Didn’t know props departments were still churning these out. An oldie, and still rubbish.
• Personal Helicopter – This is pretty handy for flying you around, but at the cost of your dignity. Guaranteed to make even the most handsome enemy look really. really stupid.
In the end, and after no deliberation, the boys vote was unanimous for the Nanobots:
“They just eat anything that’s in their way”
“I’d put them in the war. They would eat both sides.”
“World domination is the most important thing ever.”