12th May2015

‘Automata’ DVD Review

by Richard Axtell

Stars: Antonio Banderas, Birgitte Hjort Sørensen, Dylan McDermott, Melanie Griffith, Robert Forster, Tim McInnerny, Andy Nyman, David Ryall, Javier Bardem, Andrew Tiernan, Lyubomir Neikov, Krasimir Kutsurapov, Geraldine Somerville | Written by Gabe Ibáñez, Igor Legarreta, Javier Sánchez Donate | Directed by Gabe Ibáñez

automata-dvd

Thirty years in the future, mankind struggles to survive as the environment deteriorates. Technology combats the prevailing uncertainty and fear with the creation of the first quantum android, the Automata Pilgrim 7000. ROC corporation has set forth security protocols to ensure mankind maintains control over the manufactured population. However, as ROC insurance agent Jacq Vaucan investigates cases surrounding defective androids, he begins to uncover the secrets behind who is really manipulating the Automata Pilgrim 7000 – and the truth is far more complex than the make or model of any machine.

Take I-Robot, Blade Runner and a hefty tome on the philosophy of life, remove most of the action, stir in a few creepy-faced robots and leave to simmer. Boom. You have yourself Automata, a film which explores the meaning of life and how creepy you can make robots look. Fronted by dark, broody Antonio Banderas, and set in a dystopian future (love me a good dystopian future), the majority of the film seems to consist of a group of robots dragging Vaucan across a desert whilst he complains about the fact that they aren’t dragging him in the opposite direction.

The bits which aren’t desert-based are a lot more interesting. Automata switches to a more detective-esque style as Vaucan searches the dark city for the villain who is manipulating the robots and causing lots of chaos. Well, I say ‘chaos,’ but ‘mild inconvenience’ would probably be a better description. Either way, the world set up for this film really shows its colours in the opening (they are a mix of greys, browns and dark blues) and you really feel a sense of menace on the horizon as the plot thickens and Vaucan digs deeper into the mystery.

Then we get to the desert bit. Somehow this bright, sunny, lots of radiation-gonna-kill-ya section manages to remove a significant amount of the looming threat, and to ruin the pace created at the start. It reveals a lot of the answers that we kind of knew but didn’t know know in a way which is quite, well, boring. It isn’t about the big bad guys, it’s about the deeper meaning behind it all. You should have figured this out by now!

Automata does pick up again for an exciting finale which might leave you scratching your head as you ponder what life is and how it is defined – or you might just scratch your head wondering what it is you just watched. Either way, head scratching will occur, so make sure your fingernails are trimmed before you watch this one.

Automata is out now on DVD from Lions Gate Home Entertainment.

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