The First Protocol
prevents the robot from harming any form of life.
The Second Protocol
prevents the robot from altering itself or other robots.
From what I saw last night this appears to be a movie about humanity in it’s death throes, and the rise of our “replacements.” The year is 2044 and solar flares have turned most of the earth dangerously radioactive. It has also severely reduced the human population down to 21 million with the survivors taking up residence in a few cities that are “safe” to reside in. But even in this future time there are still classes, and the rich get to live comfortably behind the huge walls of the cities and the poor live just outside it, but the farther you venture away from the city the more radioactive the landscape gets. But living in the city ain’t as great as you’d think it is. Remember this is humanity at the brink of extinction and urban living looks a lot like Blade Runner (1982). Rain is artificially made by these blimps and it appears very acidic.
But even though we’re in a technological regression we still have the technological know how to create these robots that are used as menial labor, but have come to be integrated into all parts of our lives. Those protocols listed above are what’s supposed to keep them from evolving and becoming a threat to us.
Things change, though.
The movie starts out with scummy cop, Wallace (Dylan McDermott), coming across a robot altering itself in the poor section outside the city. As expected he literally blows the ‘bot’s head clean off. This is where insurance agent, Jacq Vaucan (Antonio Banderas), enters the picrture. He works for the ROC Corporation who created the robots and his job is to make sure any “accident” involving a robot does not interfere with the recent developments of the corporation re-upping their contract with the city concerning these automatons.
Unfortunately, in the morgue later on, where he’s gone to have a look at the robot’s body, things appear to be “strange.” They get stranger when he tracks down the source of these new components to another robot who actually commits suicide right in front of him when he asks what it’s got in that compartment on the front of it.
Yeah, you guessed it, these robots are altering themselves. . . and others. A sex robot provides the next clue, leading Vaucan to scientist Dr. Dupre (Melanie Griffith aka Banderas’ wife), who fits this improved component Vaucan brings her into the sex robot and the robot begins upgrading itself and becoming “aware.”
I liked this flick a lot despite the many elements it pulls from other movies, namely Blade Runner and District 9 (2009), and the somewhat predictable play out of the plot. What I most loved were the design of the robots that appeared to be executed solely through practical in-camera means. There was only one CGI ‘bot I recognized in the whole movie.
I haven’t seen Banderas in a movie in a long, long time, and then in the span of a couple of weeks I reviewed The Expendables 3, which he had a small, memorable part in and now this movie, which he headlines. Both films reminded me that he’s still a hell of an actor and also made me wonder where the hel has he been?
Back on November 18th Millennium Entertainment released Automata in separate DVD and Blu-ray editions
Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1080p 2.35:1 high definition transfer—5.1 English TrueHD, 2.0 English Dolby Digital—English SDH, Spanish subs only.
The transfer and audio were both excellent.
For extras you get the movie’s Theatrical Trailer and a short featurette (4:50) titled, “Making Of” Featurette. It’s a perfunctory, basic extra akin to something you’d see on HBO. It’s nothing overwhelming, but it gets the job done. What I did learn was they had puppeteers dressed in green controlling the robots that were then rubbed out in postproduction. In an unrelated note, I think Melanie Griffith did the voice of the sex doll; it sounded just like her.