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Movie Review: Automata

Despite its dystopian future Automata seems closer than most films exploring robot intelligence to what may actually happen. The robots in this movie are not too far away from those already being developed now. Capable of fairly human like movement and intelligence that is all functional rather than athletic or super human.

Antonio Banderas, in one of his best roles where he just gets to act rather than be that guy with the exotic sounding accent, plays insurance investigator, Jacq Vaucan, working for a robotics company, taking on cases where robots have defied either of their two main protocols; harming humans or altering themselves (or other robots).


When a robot discovered by Police Officer Sean Wallace (Dylan McDermott) appears to be altering its self, Jacq is called in to investigate the case.

I really enjoyed the first two acts of this movie as Jacq begins his investigation and then starts to get deeper into the question of what constitutes life and having his ideas begin to blur.

The explanation for why the planet has fallen into decay seems plausible and reason for the robots being brought into existence to help restore the world brings up some very interesting imagery in the opening exposition.

The film has some interesting twists, a good deal of action and gun play too. I really liked that there was no central intelligence driving these robots in their motivation. The idea that these robots are truly autonomous beings and not really threatening in themselves make this seem more realistic than a film like iRobot where everything is controlled from a central intelligence.

For me the film falls down a little in the third act because it descends into almost mindless action and gunfights. Making it seem like all the investigation done in the first two acts never really leads to anything in the way of a philosophical resolution for humans or the machines.

That said, it does lead to a resolution that may be satisfying if you're not really into the deeper issues.

Overall I felt this movie was very compelling and well worth watching. If this kind of robot uprising/evolution style of sci-fi is something that interests you definitely check it out. It may not be packed full of amazing special effects and explosive action like a Terminator film but it does try to be thoughtful and present something a little different to anything you've seen before on film. Sure the initial premise comes across as a blend of several similar films but don't let that put you off. You'll still find a few ideas here that you haven't seen before.

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