Fantasia Film Review: The Machine

(Source: redandblackfilms.com)

(Source: redandblackfilms.com)

I liked The Machine. It’s because I was engrossed in its characters and its production that I feel the need to nitpick over its nuances. If I didn’t like it, this would be an easy review.

It’s a very well executed movie. The dance is a very familiar one: it’s the future and nations are at each other’s throats. Global powers are struggling to gain the upper hand. The ultimate goal is to achieve true artificial intelligence. The UK is leading the way by creating superhuman prosthetics and mental implants.

Vincent (Toby Stephens) is the leading scientist who is very close to achieving this goal. He has a secret motive: his daughter’s mental illness. He eventually meets Ava (Caity Lotz), a scientist who’s been able to create AI smart enough to learn on its own. Together they start working towards a common goal, while Ava questions the motives of the military and starts prying into secrets.

Eventually Ava will get in trouble and it’s not long until their boss, Thomson (Denis Lawson aka Star Wars’ Wedge Antilles!) decides to intervene. After Ava gets suspiciously murdered, Vincent will move forward using Ava’s own image to create the proverbial Machine…

It’s hard to criticize a movie when you really loved its characters. Director Caradog James may tell a familiar story but it has very nice touches to it. A machine becoming human to teach humans how to act more humanly has been done ad nauseam, but it’s hard not to enjoy this film. Great special effects and decent acting make for a very nice movie to watch but the storyline at its core is predictable.

As Ava/The Machine becomes more human, the war veterans fitted with implants will eventually reveal they themselves are working to overthrow their masters. It’s all going to come down to a showdown. When it happens, it’s a little too easy to race down to a happy ending. I’m not a fan of depressing films but I kept hoping for a dark twist along the way that never comes. It’s basically a paint by numbers conclusion that doesn’t seem fitting to the look and feel of the rest of the film. I wanted more substance, but the end is a bit too light.

It’s still a great film to watch and I will recommend it, but the ending reminds me of Blade Runner’s original audience-catering finale. It wraps everything too nicely. That being said, any comparison to Blade Runner already speaks of the quality of this film.

That will do for now.

Coming up next in Fantasia:

(Sources: 2013 Fantasia Film Festival, redandblackfilms.com)

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