Review: Automata (2014)

Automata

A film that may have slipped under your radar in 2014, Automata is the story of rebellious robots in a dim, Blade Runner-esque future. Directed by Gabe Ibáñez and staring actors Antonio Banderas (Jacq), Birgitte Sørensen (Rachel), Dylan Mcdermott (Wallace) and other famous faces including Melanie Griffith and Robert Forster.

Set in a future where robots called Pilgrims were created to aid the human population after solar flares irradiated the Earth and killed 99% of the population. The Pilgrims were created with two Protocols in mind, not to harm any human and not to modify any robot. As the film progresses Jacq becomes involved in something large as he realises the Pilgrims have become sentient and someone is overriding their protocols.

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With a small cast of known actors they do a great job of immersing you into the futuristic world. However, what lets them down is the poor characterisation. An example of this is McDermott’s character, Wallace who carries a prejudice against Pilgrims going as far as shooting innocent Pilgrims every chance he can. Why does Wallace have this prejudice? The film never explains it and one is left to wander after the ending.

The CGI and special effects worked within the film. The radioactive desert, which plays a prominent role in the film, looks dangerous but also wonderfully done. The robots were the best part of the film. As the film is set in a world where society has regressed and there is a lack of technology, the robots look as they should. There’s an amateur way the Pilgrims move giving the audience the impression that they were cheaply made but in the films context, it works.

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While the plot felt dry, and during the middle segment it felt directionless, it hits a small peak at the end as the audience realises why the Pilgrims were becoming sentient and what their goal was. The audience is left to interpret what happened at the end of the film as it lacks a clear ending.

All in all, Automata isn’t a bad film. It’s easily watchable if you’re craving a dystopian science fiction film with a nod to Blade Runner.