The Colossus of New York gigantically zaps from pseudo-scientific inquisition to self-annihilatory rampage. Question: if possible, would it be morally right to preserve the mind of a genius so that its intellectual brilliance can continue to serve humanity whilst losing the key attributes that define personality? Measuring “genius” is only determined by one’s successful innovation, or the Intelligence Quotient test. The likes of Da Vinci, Einstein and Newton far exceeding the average IQ score, yet would today’s society be far more advanced had their minds been artificially preserved for humanity’s purpose? To continue their work?
Lourié’s monochromatic B-movie sci-fi, released as a part of a double feature with Arnold’s ‘The Space Children’, explores that proposed moral dilemma, albeit with as much subtlety as the clomping metal boots of the titular Colossus. After a vehicular accident, the brain of an “International Peace Prize” recipient is transplanted by his sociopathic father into an intimidatingly colossal cyborg, when the son’s humanity rapidly diminishes during the experimental procedure. Jeremy Spensser is no more, and the Colossus of New York is born! Goldbeck’s narrative basis is clearly that of Shelley’s legendary gothic novel ‘Frankenstein’, modifying its themes for science as opposed to supernatural. It works, if one can ignore the forced thematic endeavour that Schnee’s plain screenplay explores. Spensser’s father conceiving a plan to transplant his son’s brain, treating him not as flesh and blood but instead an object for humanity’s betterment. Problem is, there was no moral or emotional conflict for his actions. He automatically endured a “light bulb” moment, at the precise time of his son’s death, and lacked any duelling moralities whilst undergoing the procedure, regardless of the other supporting characters stating how unethical the experiment was. The feature needed that creation and creator stability that ‘Frankenstein’ excelled at, otherwise the characters become mere plot devices.
Regrettably, these quick actions are a consequence of such a short runtime, clocking in at just seventy minutes, so some leniency can be supplied. Schnee does incorporate Spensser’s son and wife into the foray of artificial vulnerability for the Colossus, acting as prime examples of human emotional output. Love and reassurance. Too little too late though, as the Colossus soon starts developing inexplicable powers including future foresight, mind control and a suspiciously equipped death ray, which begs the question why such a foreboding autonomous body was conceived in the first place. Perhaps a more human-like body would’ve been proficient? Minus the killer death ray?
Still, the design of the Colossus, and Wolff’s physically demanding performance wearing the costume (including kneeling down and walking out of water) were charming to say the least, and certainly memorable. The conclusive ten minutes were rushed, and the sci-fi tones were turned up to full schlock mode, however the core essence of this feature is what makes it somewhat entertaining. It is thinly plotted, technically wobbly and mediocrely acted, yet it all totals up to the eventual schlock-fest that grants this Colossus life. Just unfortunate that its restricted runtime prevented the much required ethical and characterised exploration into its central experiment.