Automata is similar to I, Robot, but without the charisma of Will Smith to help keep things interesting.
Review (with Spoilers)
I was reading an article on IndieWire about how Antonio Banderas says Hollywood plays it safe, and naturally this leads you to wonder what film is he promoting that supposedly goes against the grain? The answer: Automata. A film which is interesting visually, but whether or not the story also can peak your interest, well look below.
Characters & Story
Far into the future, when drought and radiation has become an issues due to solar flares, mankind has found its population dramatically decreased back to the millions. Of which, amongst those millions of humans, is Jacq Vaucan (Antonio Banderas), a robot insurance claims checker. One who finds himself investigating robots after Officer Wallace (Dylan McDermott) decides to put a bullet into a robot for he found it to be possibly repairing itself. Something which goes against the laws of robotics which include not harming humans, or robots modifying themselves.
Thus leading us on a journey to understand if that one robot was modified by a human, or whether robots were slowly gaining conscientiousness.
What I enjoyed most about this film was how the robots didn’t look CGI made, like in I, Robot, but seemed just like the type of robots you can see are being built right now. This gave every interaction with them a sense of realism, especially when the actors physically interacted with a moving robot. Outside of praising the robots though, nothing really stands out for positives.
And this is mostly due to me, in terms of my personal feelings, not seeing Antonio Banderas as the best choice to be the lead of the movie. Which probably is due to me comparing him to Will Smith in my head. For while Banderas has shown charisma, and the type of stuff leading actors should have, for some reason such skill and talent isn’t really seen here. Though, what probably doesn’t help in terms of my film taste, is Jacq is a plain old insurance claims checker. He isn’t a man who uses a gun, nor someone with some dark past that is uncovered. He is an everyday guy trying to make his family’s life better and easier.
Which would lead you to think that at least his family would make things interesting right? Well, no. You see, his wife isn’t much more than that, and she is pregnant. So while there is this desire for him to move them to a better place to raise the child, there isn’t any emotional depth given to really make you root for them to find a better place.
Then, when it comes to action, again there isn’t much here. For while there are people with guns, there isn’t any moment when you feel worried for anyone, though someone does die. As for the robots? Well outside of one named Cleo (Melanie Griffith), most are unidentifiable. Which is a shame for Cleo, and seemingly others, are very interested in all the things around them. However, being that the robots aren’t given much time and dedication to show us the complications of gaining conscientiousness, never mind understanding their creators, again the film loses an avenue which could have made things interesting.
Overall: Skip It
For me, while I liked the whole dystopia future which looked like a mix of RoboCop and The Fifth Element, and that the robots seemed to be mechanical entities that we could modernly see vs. overdone CGI, sadly there wasn’t much appealing past that. The story just covers the need to do a beginning, middle and end, which sadly is drawn out; none of the characters are that interesting to help compensate for how dull the story is; and quite honestly, like I said for Young Ones, I can’t imagine someone finishing this movie in one shot unless you were stuck in a movie theater.