How many times have you played a game or watched a film that takes place in a dystopian future? Chances are that if you’re a fan of sci-fi, it happens a lot. Automata takes many overused elements of other dystopian sci-fi films but fails to distinguish itself as something worthwhile.
I’m a fan of Antonio Banderas because he has exactly two modes: funny and sploosh prince. Can he be serious? Maybe. Understandable? Even less so. Giving him a script that requires complex analysis of scientific possibilities was one of the worst things the movie could have done. The second being adding Melanie Griffith and Dylan McDermott in roles that fit outside their type casting. I appreciated the movie for giving them the opportunity to do so, but the stiffness of McDermott’s tough guy Batman voice, and Griffith’s wavering plastic surgery mom who needs a cocktail and an antidepressant demeanor ruined most of what little good the dialogue had. I can’t even speak for Banderas’ wife (Brigitte Hjort Sorenson) because the extent of her character was to be beautiful and pregnant.
Another problem is the opening. I take issue with films that open with a bunch of “catch up” knowledge over opening titles, babying you like mom picking out your school clothes the night before. The rest of the film then goes on to rely entirely on the information that’s offered at the beginning, not bothering with exposition of the surrounding idea of the society in which it set up for us. This seems wasted considering we’re talking about a film where androids are modifying themselves to become smarter and evolve. The opportunity for development is instead replaced with scenes of Banderas being completely confused about what’s going on around him.
There were so many moments where he makes absurd decisions contrary to what logic would dictate, solely to further progress the imitation Asimov plot. The movie pulls further away from the “ROBOTS WITH THE FEELS” angle, and instead compounds generic humanity lifestyle in a boring, bleak world with little real meaning. Artificial intelligence is a solid enough concept for many sci fi fans, so don’t keep showing me these boring ass humans unless you plan on making their conversations meaningful on a deeper level in relation to the film.
It’s confusing too because even now when I look at images from the film I wonder, was I wrong? It still looks so cool. NO BETTY THIS IS A SHIT FILM. I mean, there were a few cool parts. At the end there is a crazy looking robot porcupine dog alien that is simultaneously adorable and dangerous which would normally be a popularity cocktail if it wasn’t drowning in rehashed clichés. Another semi interesting thing was the giant holographic advertisements. The holo-television has been done before, but I really loved the idea of the inescapable creepy ten story ghosts conveying lust and violent programming. It took something inspiring from previous generations of sci-fi and tried to extend it a bit further. Plus, it just looked really cool. This very tiny facet was probably the most interesting idea.
In the end, Automata isn’t good, and I honestly didn’t expect it to be great. I thought it may provide an idea that was worth deliberation later, but no, it’s honestly bad. It seemed to have spawned out of a half way decent concept, only to implode on the weight of the clichéd stereotypes added to fill out the rest of an unfinished idea.
TL;DR Generic, boring and unimportant. Automata is neither a feat nor anything worth remembering as a failure.