Automata

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On the surface, this is a solid bit of science fiction; dark, moody, and comfortable next to similar films like Blade Runner. It is also a bizarrely upbeat search for hope in a dystopian universe.

The cast is a big surprise in this little indie as well. Banderas (I’m So Excited) in the lead is generally doing a good job. The script isn’t brilliant at times, but he makes it work. McDermott (Olympus has Fallen) was practically unrecognizable in a tweaking freak role that was way over-the-top, but at least it was consistent. Forster (Intruders) and Sørensen (Borgen) round out Banderas’ world while a couple actors show up as voice-only: Griffith and Bardem (Skyfall).

Ibáñez, who directed and co-wrote this offering, brings his VFX background to bear as well as his sense of story. Despite a rather steady pace of plot, the story stays intriguing through till the end. And the look and f/x are impressive for a lower budget movie. The script is expansive in the world it creates, incredibly so, and does so without drawing a lot of attention to the details (after a front roll explanation before the credits). For all the world building alacrity, though, occasionally the dialogue drops like lead. Never enough to ruin the story, but it clunks nonetheless.

This low-budget flick has a lot going for it, with levels and commentary that rise above any of its flaws and makes me wonder what Ibáñez will come out with next. Even with some of its weaknesses, I can see myself rewatching it again down the road.

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