WARNING…….SPOILERS This isn’t strictly a film review, instead it’s a conversation about the meaning behind the film’s events,etc…
I have seen tons of post-apocalyptic films through the years and Cherry 2000 is definitely one of the best to come out of the 80’s. Mostly because there is a woman lead character, Johnson, that doesn’t need constant saving. She is a total badass.
What is unique about this film is the theming. It looks obviously 80’s, but that aesthetic is blended with others to denote different locations in the film. You have the pick-up bar in which everybody has 80’s hair and make-up but with kind of a futuristic sci-fi bent. Then you have the town of Glory Hole which is 80’s meets westerns. Finally you have the enclave of Sky Ranch which is firmly planted in the 50’s with Hawaiian shirts and games of hokey-pokey. Visually it makes everything more interesting, rather than almost every character in every area wearing very similar clothes.
Speaking of visuals, I think the the guys who made Fallout 3 definitely watched this film before making the game because there are some similarities between the two of them. Specifically the enclave of Sky Ranch. In Fallout 3 there are small enclaves in the wasteland that are 50’s themed, that sometimes happen to be filled with cannibals. In Cherry 2000 we see a cookout going on in Sky Ranch in which they are grilling some meat and you have to wonder where the heck did they get the meat if they are in the middle of the wasteland? Yep, I think they are cannibals!
The film is set after the ‘border wars’ are fought. Who fought who? We aren’t given an answer, which is actually okay because we don’t really need to know. It’s a society where single people do one of two things for companionship; buy a sex robot or go to a singles bar. If you go to the singles bar and want to hook up you have to sign a contract of what will and will not happen, and lawyers are there to make sure everything is agreed upon. Sam, our lead male character, prefers his robot, a Cherry 2000 model. When she glitches and fries her circuits Sam goes to the town of Glory Hole, hires a tracker named Johnson and off they go into the wasteland of Zone 7 to find him yet another Cherry 2000.
The future portrayed in the film is kind of similar as to what is going on right now. Everybody recycles everything and there is a 40% unemployment rate. Yes, our current unemployment rate isn’t quite that bad yet, but we are heading in that direction this winter. Everything seems very soulless and people are very self-centred. If I had to live in the time of this film I would head out to the border town of Glory Hole, because at least life there doesn’t seem as manufactured. Yes, they have sex robots for hire there, but people aren’t playing it as safe. They are living life on their own terms, instead of living how society tells them to. There is something life affirming about that.
When Johnson and Sam finally arrive in Las Vegas things will look a little familiar. That’s because Blade Runner 2049 used some of the same visual landmarks. Others have argued that Blade Runner 2049 also stole the idea of a non-human companion. I wouldn’t go quite that far, because it’s a bit of a step from robots to holographs. However, I do think that Denis Villeneuve, who directed Blade Runner 2049, had seen Cherry 2000 before he made that film.
This film is pretty much a ‘falling in love’ story set in the wasteland. Sam, who only wants a Cherry 2000 for company, slowly realises that Johnson has something that a robot can never have; a soul. Cherry only ‘lives’ for Sam, does everything that he wants her to do. While Johnson does as she pleases and isn’t afraid to tell Sam when he is wrong. I think Sam realizes that Johnson actually cares about him, rather than being programmed to do so. This whole aspect of the film doesn’t feel forced, rather it feels like something that would naturally happen.
Feel like taking a trip through the wasteland? Then Cherry 2000 is definitely the film for you!