Director – Gabe Ibáñez
Starring – Antonio Banderas, Birgitte Hjort Sørensen, Dylan McDermott, Melanie Griffith
Automata is released on DVD & Blu-Ray from Lionsgate on May 4th
The year is 2044 and this humble film reviewer is fifty seven years old. Or at least, I will be if I manage to survive that long. You see, according to Spanish director Gabe Ibáñez’s film, at some point between now and then a drastic increase in solar flares has scorched the Earth and wiped out 99% of the world’s population. Thanks, Global Warming. The remaining population of the Earth are divided into two distinct categories: those that can afford to live in large bubble-like cities that protect them from Earth’s now radioactive atmosphere and those who can’t, and live in squalid ghettos outside of the city walls.
These large cities have been built, and are maintained, by robots, or Pilgrims as they are known. These robots have become a large part of everyday life – not only building and maintaining the cities but helping out around the home, catering to the needs of their human owners. The robots are programmed with two main protocols: the first is that they can not harm, or allow harm to be caused to a human life. The second is that they can not alter themselves, or another robot in any way. Jacq (Antonio Banderas) is an insurance fraud investigator for the robotics company who manufacture the Pilgrims. He is a down trodden man who hates his job and when a police officer guns down a Pilgrim unit who he claims to have witnessed self-repairing, it is Jacq who is tasked with investigating the matter. This leads to a chain of events that takes him deep in to the murky underworld of the ghettos, where robots are bought, sold, traded and altered (illegally) by people known as ‘Clockmasters’.
This is film is very much inspired by the film noir of the 40s and 50s, you could easily imagine the likes of Robert Mitchum or Humphrey Bogart in the Banderas role. It is a slow burner, following the weathered protagonist as he attempts to unravel the mystery of how and why these robots are able to alter themselves. The robot effects are largely practical, which not only looks excellent, but adds so much to the texture and tone of the film. Ibáñez has crafted a grimy, gritty atmosphere, reminiscent of Blade Runner or more recently, the work of Neil Blomkamp. As well as looking wonderful, this is a thought provoking story, which throws up many questions around the nature of evolution, morality and of life itself. If you’re in the market for a Terminator style, Man vs Machine action flick, then you won’t find it here. What you will find is a rewarding, well directed, superbly acted and beautiful looking film.
Automata is available to order from Amazon UK NOW here – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Automata-DVD-Gabe-Ibáñez/dp/B00TSEW5LQ/