Automata – My Review

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This one started losing me before the titles played. Screen after screen of text, while sun flares churn in slow motion. Opening with text is the laziest sort of filmmaking there is. It violates the show don’t tell rule and is the hallmark of low-budget cheesy productions that want to believe they squeezed as much out of their tiny allotments as they could.

I ignored the text, as I usually do. The film started again, a second time, with a Blade Runner inspired floating over a future shit city. Rather a cliché at this point, this was also losing me, particularly when the police car below looked like it was from the 80s, rather than the 2080s.

So now we have a strong silent rogue cop poking through the seedy underbelly, and he comes upon a robot. The robot is trying to repair himself, but the cop takes off his sunglasses to blast the robot. This is the central conflict of the film. It could have been staged better, to say the least. The whole interaction is like 30 seconds of drama. With no characterization to either party, it’s a missed opportunity at a critical moment. Rushed intros like that, which simply jump to somewhere else, another time, another place, are weak openers.

To where does it jump?

In tonally schizoid fashion, it begins a third time with a montage beneath a classical orchestra. Are there a dozen different directors on this thing?

It’s tough reviewing Automata without feeling like a big meany.

The text screens and the live-action execution weren’t enough to start the film. We still need to get in every name of every clinger-on who took a little piss on this thing before we can begin the actual movie. Viva Hollywood.

They commit to this unholy future/noir blending of extreme technology with retro style, trenchcoats and paper reports from dot matrix printers. Fine. But the little problems mount quickly.

No one can believe that a robot’s software can possibly have been altered. Really? A company that alters software by designing it can’t comprehend that someone else altereed it? We’re straining credulity on level after level.

Banderas walks out into a free fire zone after just witnessing a homeless guy getting shot to death. Why? Dedication to the job? A hunch? Outrageous stupidity?

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When you start in a hole, and you lack the trust of the audience, you really need to work overtime to establish authenticity. This film never does.

The shmaltzy melodrama with the wife, the action movie cliché of a damsel in distress, the blustering arguments about the stupidest things, this rental is truly a chore to suffer through.

You can do better (but can they?).


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