The Machine – Film Review

The Machine

After last week’s thoroughly mediocre releases of Starred Up and Labor Day I decided to have a look at new British sci-fi The Machine. A lot of the reviews I’ve seen on the smaller sites are very positive, I was supposed to review it weeks ago, and I have a hankering to give something above three stars. Three stars are not fun. Three star films are not bad enough to rant about nor good enough to gush about. Three star films are only of mild concern; nothing to write home about and tricky to blog about.

Sadly (spoiler alert) The Machine is very much a three star film.

Set in a near future version of Britain The Machine focusses on artificial intelligence developed by the Ministry of Defence as a scientist played by an angsty Toby Stephens builds humanoid robot killing machines for the good of mankind. Initially working on human-robot hybrids the troubled doctor eventually builds a robot with the digital personality, and shapely form, of his fellow scientist played by Caity Lotz.

It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that creating robotic killing machines to protect mankind ends up not quite going to plan.

The Machine Still

In many ways that is the film’s major flaw; the sheer lack of surprise from start to finish. With the burgeoning success of HeKniSciFi we have collectively moved on from the days when robotics were looked at as a fearful development and everyone stopped worrying so much about the machines rising against us. This isn’t the era of RoboCop and Terminator any more… Except it is as both of these once nostalgic franchises rumble on into the 21st century. Regardless, the idea of mankind playing God and finding themselves in trouble is not new and The Machine has little new to offer to the familiar storyline.

Weirdly The Machine actually felt like a film made back in the heyday of its thematic predecessors. The soundtrack has a definite feel of 80s sci-fi to it and the general visual style is impressive but somehow fails to hide the low budget nature of the film. The overall effect was not that of a film released in 2014 but of a classic piece of sci-fi made a few decades ago. Maybe this is to the film’s credit, maybe I should actually embrace the traditional feel of the film and enjoy it for what it is; a solid example of a sci-fi thriller made on a tiny budget.

Sadly the film failed to connect and left me with nothing to gush about and no real rant either beyond my own personal bugbears. Three stars it is then.

The Machine – in Cinemas / VoD 21 March and DVD/Blu-ray 31 March

Out Now – 21st March 2014

Labor Day

Labor Day
Jason Reitman has directed five great films… and he’s directed Labor Day. Silly romantic drama about Stockholm Syndrome setting in over a long weekend when Josh Brolin’s brooding escapee takes refuge in Kate Winslet’s sad widow’s house. There are pies and sexual tension in a film I described as “a good film if a little too laboured (HA!) to be believable.” That joke never gets old.

Starred Up
Jack O’Connell plays the character he usually plays; a terrifying angry young man that fails to get my sympathy because I can imagine looking at him in the wrong way and getting a black eye. This is gritty British prison drama at its best but this isn’t a genre that I particularly enjoy. My second three star film out this week.

A Long Way Down
A saccharin-seeming Nick Hornby adaptation about four people who form an unlikely friendship (take a shot) when they meet on a rooftop while attempting to commit suicide. Reviews are mixed at best but for some reason I wouldn’t mind giving the film a try.

About Last Night
“Follow two couples as they journey from the bar to the bedroom and are eventually put to the test in the real world.” I advise you follow these couples only through watching this film rather than in real life. Following a couple from the bar to the bedroom could lead you to dangerous sexual situations.

Italian film about a bodyguard and hitman called Salvo. Upon meeting the blind sister of one of his targets Salvo is made “to question himself and his existence”. Expect lots of violence followed by quiet contemplation.

The Machine
UK sci-fi thriller in which robots are used for evil! I will be reviewing this film next week when I return from my accidental blog strike. A strike I am apparently holding against myself. What an idiot.

The Robber
I should probably focus on the fact that this German film focusses on the true story of a marathon runner turned bank robber but I am too distracted by how childish sounding the word “robber” suddenly feels.

British comedy about a postman who enters the music industry. Interestingly enough the Postman Pat film has a similar plot but Svengali is infinitely less likely to tarnish the memory of a childhood favourite. Damn you Pat!

“What happens after Tanner is outed by his classmates and becomes the title “gay best friend” for three high school queen bees?” A teen comedy centred around a gay character has the potential to be progressive or horribly exploitative. People I respect have given differing reviews; the good and the bad/ugly.

Yves Saint Laurent
Biopic looking at the life of Yves Saint Laurent. The poster uses the same logo as the brand which caused me more confusion than you’d expect.

The Unknown Known
“Former United States Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, discusses his career in Washington D.C. from his days as a congressman in the early 1960s to planning the invasion of Iraq in 2003.”