Friday, November 28, 2014

3+1 Short Paragraphs: Autómata

2014, Gabe Ibáñez (Hierro) -- download

Before I get around to rewatching I, Robot again (watched it about 6 months ago when I snapped up the cheap Blu-ray) I will talk about this movie inspired by the laws of robotics. Rather than just blatantly rip off Asimov and his three laws, this movie narrows it down to two -- they must protect humans and they cannot alter themselves.  So, it just borrows. Unfortunately, the whole movie seems to be about borrowing plot points and ideas from better movies. And yet, running entirely through it, there is a fondness for the world and the core plot, of how people will deal with the emergence of robotic intelligence, i.e. AIs, when they find themselves almost at the brink of extinction.

Yeah, I have been watching a lot about AI emergence. Its in the pop culture focus right now, and that's probably why this one was greenlit. The prevalent idea is that we are scared of it. Even in this movie, where robots have been developed extensively to work in zones we can no longer (sun flares have devastated the Earth), the status quo is terrified of what will happen if they get smarter than we allow them to be. I don't subscribe to the fear that we will be wiped out by whatever child race we are responsible for; I guess I don't have the staple insecurity of our species. Or more cynically, I think we will be very good at enslaving whatever intelligence we bring into this world.

Jacq (Antonio Banderas) works as a claims investigator for the company that makes the robots. They come with insurance and he makes sure his company doesn't have to pay out. So, he knows & understands the robots well. Why a world that is completely falling apart would even have an insurance concept is beyond me, but in its best Blade Runner-ish dystopia, sometimes a boring job is the best character. Antonio Banderas is actually pretty good as the tired working man, afraid of what he is discovering but pretty sure it should emerge. So, as he is about to become a father, he also becomes the godfather of robots coming into their own.

The use of real looking robots, as in slow, clunky and plastic-y, was a mistake. If its the future and these things are our working class, you should expect more of the movie I mentioned when I started this review. They should be mobile, hardy and versatile. Instead, they are not much more than Sony's AIBO. I guess this was retained so that the robots would need to rely upon a human to protect them, being more fragile than your average man. The best parts of the movie have Jacq discussing their existences, the robot's and his own, in the halting Stephen Hawking voices. The worst parts have thugs in trenchcoats shooting at everything and Melanie Griffith looking more artificial than the sex robot she takes care of.  I felt Ibáñez needed a collaborator who was not afraid to be harsh with him as well as someone who could stand up to the money, so the movie could have been pure to the vision at its centre. In the end, the movie made a better short or trailer, than feature.