The moviegoing public has flocked to films about automatons, machines, automatons and robots since the movies began. One of the world’s first “blockbusters” or event movies, was Fritz Lang’s Metropolis from 1927, a film so beloved to this day that it has been updated, restored, and rereleased countless times.
One of the givens in 90% of these films is that we get to watch these machines turn on their makers, providing us with countless fables about the evils of progress and allegories for human nature. The latest such film stars Antonio Banderas in Automata, from Spanish director Gabe Ibañez. According to Ibañez, his film is about “this moment where artificial intelligence arrives at the same place as human intelligence.”
Banderas plays Jacq Vaucan, an insurance agent or accident investigator 50 years in the future. Earth’s ecology is on the point of collapse. Vaucan, working for the ROC Robotics Corporation, begins another routine investigation into the “illicit manipulation of a robot”, but this time he gets to know the ‘bots a little better than he bargained for, and even starts seeing their side of things, as the machines develop sentient intelligence and begin to rebel. What he discovers will have profound consequences for the future of humanity.
The actor also produced the film. During a recent Reddit AMA conversation he described it as “… a movie about … [a] scientific concept called singularity, which is the time in which machines actually overcome the human mind. So it’s a very reflective philosophical science fiction, going back to the science fiction I love, like Isaac Asimov. That’s the type of movie we tried to do.”
Take a look at this:
I like it. It doesn’t appear nearly as cold and bloodless as the landscape or even the synopsis would suggest. Or maybe it’s just the pulse-pounding score they put under this trailer. But c’mon, how cool was that gunslinger robot throwing off his cape a la Clint Eastwood and his serape? In any case, we see lots of different robots in varying degrees of technological advancement, which may hint at some sort of class structure and sociological hierarchy among the machines. A ‘bot “Animal Farm” perhaps.
In addition to Banderas, Automata stars Dylan McDermott and Robert Forster (in an Olympus Has Fallen reunion – although they didn’t share any scenes in that film), Birgitte Hjort Sørensen, Tim McInnerney, Andrew Tiernan, and yes, that was Javier Bardem’s voice. Automata has been languishing on the shelf for a while, which explains the presence of the ex-Mrs. Banderas, Melanie Griffith. Automata bows at the San Sebastian Film Festival next month then opens in the US on October 10, released by, what seems appropriately enough, Millennium.