Jacq Vaucan, an insurance agent of ROC robotics corporation, routinely investigates the case of manipulating a robot. What he discovers will have profound consequences for the future of humanity.


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  • ★★★½ review by zuhair vazir on Letterboxd

    Three directives one plot device:

    -Serve the public trust

    -Protect the innocent

    -Uphold the law

    Secret catch: Do not arrest or injure any senior OCP employee

    That was 'Robocop, 1987'.

    One protocol and one plot trapping:

    -Prevent the robot from harming any form of life

    Not so secret catch: Prevent the robot from altering itself and other robots

    'Automata, 2014'

    The opening makes the viewer feel sorry for a toaster. Really sorry; wanting to kick the guy in the balls for doing that to the unarmed toaster. The scene broke my heart just like the visuals from an 'unmanned aircraft bombing' in night vision, sometimes getting the coordinates wrong and blowing away dinner guests.

    Automata is magnificently painted by Alejandro Martínez in stark white with tons of grey. The washed out look of the film gives it the realistic look of a shiny bright but melancholy future where the suit jacket lapels stop at one peak or are completely missing. The costumes although primitive for 2044 give Automata the look of a (middle to lower strata group) colony built on a planet far away. After sundown the colony turns into Japan (not futuristic looking at the rate those guys are advancing in technology) where there are 'Big Sister Style' announcements instead of forecast of rain or sunshine, for the robots control the weather through mechanical clouds and have built walls around the few zones declared safe after solar storms fucked up Earth.

    'I, Robot, 2004' came to mind, but it was soon replaced by something new and intriguing. The writers Igor Legarreta

    Javier Sánchez Donate and Gabe Ibáñez have tweaked the 'robot conscience' at the right places for a stale idea to a flicker here, a burst of blue spark there. This one answers the question differently; within a question: 'Do you know what a mother is Cleo?'

    (Eric Draven once had an answer: 'Mother is the name of God in the hearts of children', he squeezes white liquid out of a lady's arm, 'morphine is bad for you' - The Crow, 1994)

    Automata means to self-repair, which is in direct conflict to the movie's plot and hence the eventual theory of 'Transitioning' and NOT evolution for fuck's sake. This time Cyberdine Systems and Skynet do not go live after becoming self-aware and paranoid about humanity, the Connor family and this one big bad motherfucker in particular.

    The 'Pilgrim 7000's' built by the ROC corporation to protect humanity, do just that. The Pilgrim 7000's are more loyal to man than beer and football but they also have HAL singing 'Daisy Bell' in the collective circuitry.

    Melanie Griffith reminded me of high-school and 'Milk Money, 1994'. She still has that embracing smile, never mind if she is using it this time to explain robotics to her real-life husband, Antonio Banderas. Our protagonist is too curious for his own good and then his day goes from worse to parched.

    Director Gabe Ibáñez sets his scenes with precision and wide angles and executes them by the book. This viewer could have done without the subplot and the pacing of the makeshift stretcher-dolly.

    The stubborn and broken wasteland is white, the desert itself is an endless barren of radioactivity. The special effects and the look of the film are appealing despite the fifteen million dollars. The opening credits are beautifully shot in high-contrast black and white. The supporting cast performs well and Jacq (Jack) Vaucan is just a man working for an insurance company. Banderas, the accomplice to 'Orignal Sin' comes across a lot better than his previous roles; sure he goes a little 'Assasins, 1995' at one point, without ammunition, and it surprisingly works. The heavy trademark 'Desperado' accent mixes in well with the 'global' epidemic theme of the film where we also spot a Thai Tuk-Tuk (a vehicle with three tires, called a Rickshaw down here) on the roads.

    Automata lets the script evolve on its own - something like the cyanobacteria four thousand million years ago - without hurrying anything. And coupled with the breathtaking visuals, the transition towards the end and the lurking consequences make Automata a winner.

    'Technically the protocols reside within the biokernal, which itself is based on the quantum encryption; the security system is a one way road. If you try and change the protocols you destroy the biokernal'

    Simply said, good enough for me to watch a movie.

    Plus there's Javier Bardem in there somewhere. Listen closely, he will not ask to call.

  • ★★★½ review by Joachim Andersson on Letterboxd

    Interesting and well made dystopian scifi that has a couple of really nice ideas and great robots but never really goes any real lengths to tell its story. Instead we get that staple of 80:s scifiaction, a showdown with men in long coats wielding shotguns - and the main baddie is Lord Percy from Blackadder! Still, a very nice try and Antonio Banderas is great in the lead role. Melanie Griffith on the other hand looks more artificial in her five minute cameo than the entire crew of automatons.

  • ★★★★ review by Waldo on Letterboxd

    A smart Sci Fi thriller. Big and ambitious in its vision. It has an epic scope this motherfucker. Antonio Banderas looks like Blade Runner's Deckard cousin. He's a burnt out insurance agent in a not so distant future answering faulty robot claims and feeling empathy for the machines that are violating the protocol of the machine altering itself. Good ideas and questions about being human and all that crap. A who made who scenario. Gabe Ibanez is the one to watch. A great, smart, new voice out there in the science fiction arena or any arena really.

  • ★★★★ review by PabloC on Letterboxd

    Un gustazo para todos los aficionados a los robots de Asimov. Alguien ha leído al maestro, lo ha comprendido, y sin abusar de su nombre o de su legado a construído una historia lo bastante nueva como para que corra libre durante casi dos horas. Los autómatas como reflejo de nosotros mismos, como desafío a nuestra moral, como contrapunto a la mezquindad que los humanos, en ocasiones, ponemos por delante de nuestro potencial. Tiene menos esperanza que la obra de Asimov, pero es que el tiempo no perdona, y el Apocalipsis nos parece ahora mucho más real, pero entiende para qué sirven los robots en una historia.

    Que los personajes femeninos (incluso el robot feminizado) sean apartados a un lado y empujados a la irrelevancia en la construcción del discurso es una auténtica pena porque se siente forzado y deja cierto vacío en un personaje como Cleo, al que deseábamos más. Las interpretaciones podrían haber sido más potentes. A cambio, ver a los autómatas moverse y construir es una gozada, por lo que, con todo, le dejo una muy buena reseña. Recomendada.

  • ★★★½ review by Andrea López on Letterboxd

    First of all, I really liked this movie.

    It has been said that this movie doesn't bring new concepts, stories or even an innovative plot to the table, and it's mostly true. But from where I see it that doesn't make it less enjoyable.

    Overall is a good movie with a simple story, great and quotable dialogues + beautiful visuals.

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