Automata had oodles of promise in its first trailer. Just one preview was enough to draw the crowds to watch this movie. Set in a post apocalyptic world and Antonio Banderas in the lead, Automata tells the story of an insurance agent investigating the robots or Automatas that populates the city that alters itself, which by the way happens to be a direct violation of their own cognitive laws.
Directed by a lesser known Gabe Ibáñez, Automata had everything is place from visuals to ambience and a good lead. This mid-budget flick offers an experience reminiscent to District 9 with robots yet seemed very different from movies like I, Robot. Unlike I, Robot there are no set piece moments or flashy sequences, Automata, though sets its world on 2 Laws of Robotics inspired from Asimov’s 3 laws. The laws in Automata being 1. An Automata is not supposed to hurt a human 2. An Automata is not supposed to alter itself. The plot revolves around these two laws when some of the Automatas starts altering itself and the corporations that made them feels tries to keep under wraps, one of the first Automatas that was capable of evolving thinking how they’ll be a threat to human kind itself.
Automata clearly draws inspirations from a multitude of genre movies like Blade Runner, The Animatrix’s Second Renaissance, District 9, etc. Automata’s city screamed Blade Runner in almost every frame and even the investigative lead had his shades of Deckard.
The only human character worth investing is Antonio Bandera’s Jacq Vaucan and despite his efforts to put as much personality in, it fails due to a bad script. The other characters were purely one dimensional, even Vaucan’s pregnant wife lacked so much that it was tough to connect or care for them. As for the antagonists, they popped outta nowhere and what initially seemed like a deep conspiracy in works fell flat flat towards the second act. In the end, the lesser said the better.
Automata‘s promises were kept to some extend in terms of the over-all tone, visuals and its core idea, but half-way through it fails miserably in an ocean of cliches and underdeveloped characters. The Robots themselves looked cheap and didn’t have much to do other than being devices to plough the narrative forward. Had it been made a short, Automata would have still had a chance. For a better robot movie, lets us all wait for Neil Blomkamp’s Chappie.