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8 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

A childhood wish fulfilled, for better and worse

7/10
Author: galensaysyes
24 August 2008

An insert that comes with the DVD of this movie contains a kind of preface by the director about how he came to make the movie and what he intended by it. It is the realization of an idea he formed at age four, of a kind of movie that did not exist. The idea was inspired by the watching of an old movie, only half understood and only half remembered, and by later watchings of other movies, only half seen for spotty television reception. The director spent his early life searching for the movies he had imagined, only to understand in the end that they never had existed. So he finally made one himself.

I understand and sympathize with his objective. Long ago I discovered that the movies one imagines or half-imagines often had more to them than the real thing. Movies--especially fantasy films--which I saw fuzzily and partially satisfied my imagination more thoroughly than when I saw them later, clearly and whole. My imagination had filled in the gaps. In my late childhood I discovered the magazines Famous Monsters of Filmland and Spacemen in their "classic" period, studded with black and white stills from old movies I would not have chances to see for years afterward. What I imagined of them and of the movie history that had generated them--and, as I wrongly extrapolated, others like them--was different, and more, than what they turned out to be.

So I understand why the director would want to realize what he had imagined to exist and which did not. Also why he would want to make a movie from what his own imagination had summoned up, which had excited him more than any near counterpart he ever found in the real world. This movie looks exactly like an attempt--a successful one--to recapture the wonder engendered by a child's viewing of two or three minutes of an old robot movie--Gog, maybe--only half visible because of bad reception, until the signal gave out altogether and the screen went tragically white. The child, still hungry, retained a keen sense of what he had lost--and it is as if now, as a grown-up, he has re-created it in this movie.

The director's field of interest is therefore very narrow; he as much as says so in his preface. But within its limits--which amount to two or three scenes, or impressions of scenes--he has a great eye for composition and for the play of black and white, and is able to work up endless variations of them, which hold the eye and make the movie watchable.

But still, there are those limits. The director has no interest in what is dramatic--which is a benefit in one way, because it is true to fantasy as children receive it in movies, oblivious to screen writing conventions which they have no interest in, and which usually obtrude on what makes the movie worth seeing to them. However, they do like stories, and there is no story in the movie, either. Most of the action consists of a young woman puttering around in a laboratory, with robots (extras in robot suits) which occasionally go haywire and have to be shut off, and an old man on a TV screen recounting a future history of the world. There are also occasional interludes in which toy robots fight on a tabletop model of a barren plain. That, in essence, is the movie.

One might note that, in aiming to re-create and sustain the effect of a single type of childhood experience, the movie is equivalent to a piece of fetishistic pornography. It seeks to recapture and extend one emotional moment--and, once having done so, that is all it can do. It is stuck in the moment. It cannot expand on it, or grow beyond it. It cannot move on.

Also, the movie is not skillful, but perhaps it was not intended to be. Certainly much of its ineptness must have been deliberate. When people are speaking on TV, their lips are out of synch with the sound; the shots of the outside plain are streaked and spotted, like bad TV reception; most of the close-ups are out of focus, and the inserts do not match the long shots. Glitches like these seem designed to help create the atmosphere of a low-budget movie. But I wonder if that is not partly camouflage, since some of the raggedness does not aid in the purpose. The lighting balance changes from shot to shot; and though the old man on the TV screen is a competent actor, the young woman in the lab is not, nor is the other (unless she is the same one) who appears on the screen occasionally to say Resistance is futile. I believe the badness of the performers was brought with them, and not part of the director's recollection; actors in old movies were bad differently.

Ultimately, however, the director has done something that did not need to be done. What he has created is something that did exist, after all--though he would not have known it at age four. In his preface he writes that the TV shows he used to watch included Doctor Who. But the early Whos never played in the U.S., and he would never have gotten to see them. In any case, it is one of those whose atmosphere and technique he has captured, with a fidelity all the more remarkable if it was accidental. This movie is just like the early Dalek and Cybermen stories, minus the narrative--and of course, minus the Doctor. If the director had been able to see them at the time, they would probably have satisfied his childhood wish. But they would also have prevented it from becoming a yearning, then a passion, and then a quest, and so in the end he might have been none the happier. This is how humanity _lives_.

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9 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

The plural of Automaton is Automata

2/10
Author: bernie-122 from Sydney, Australia
31 March 2008

The title should have given it away. This is really just a waste of time, not worth for anybody to bother to watch.

The earlier reviewer is right; any comparisons to Guy Maddin or David Lynch are just ludicrous.

If the maker had a sense of humour, it might have had a chance to land in the "so bad it's good" category but, alas, such is not the case.

The "robots" are nowhere near as endearing as the Daleks on Dr. Who. The FX are one notch above toy spaceships on strings. The acting and script are pitiful. The plot is threadbare. The direction is a bad Ed Wood imitation.

Watch paint dry or something instead.

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15 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

An Twilight Zone 50's feel with sinister robots is fun.

Author: oscar-35 from working in Movieland
18 June 2007

It's not for everyone - it's odd and experimental - but if you're a fan of Guy Maddin or early David Lynch, this film is for you. It's B & W. I loved 'Automatons'.

I saw it as part of an all-night sci-fi marathon which is probably not the best venue for this film. I know that any unknown film would be harshly judged by the mob rule of three hundred, irritable, over-tired nerds. They probably hated it.

Look at all of the positive reviews this film got through the mainstream press and movie reviewers. They are NOT all friends of the filmmaker. It had an enjoyable Twilight Zone 50's feel. Thanks Monsterpants DOT com.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Again People... Let's PLEASE remember what TYPE of film we are talking about...

7/10
Author: lathe-of-heaven from Sunny Southern California, USA
31 October 2012

I will never cease to be amazed at the kind of people that come on here at IMDb for the sole purpose of pissing all over a type of film that they wouldn't like anyway, saying that it is 'A waste of time' or 'Garbage' This is ESPECIALLY true for odd or offbeat Cult films or a particular Genre that the person doesn't even like anyway! What the HELL is the point. I know I've 'said' this before but as an excellent example I personally cannot stand Torture Porn films, BUT, you will NOT see me come on here at IMDb and specifically trash films like 'SAW' & 'HOSTEL' Why...? BECAUSE I DON'T FRIGG'N LIKE THOSE KIND OF FILMS, PERIOD! So, why would I be so stupid and pointless to come here just to write a horrible review of these kinds of films? Will that be of any help at all to people who DO happen to like those kind of films or will it help them to know how well these are done or how entertaining they would be to people who ARE fans of this kind of movie???

Uh... NO...

So, my long-winded point being that it is painfully OBVIOUS that this is an extremely offbeat and unusual film, just in the way it was made. I mean, we're not quite talking about Gerry Anderson's 'THUNDERBIRDS' exactly; it's not a puppet show or anything like that, BUT... and it is a BIG BUT like Mariah Carey's... the film makers who went through all this bloody time and trouble CLEARLY have a deep affection for this type of movie. DUH...!!! All you have to do is watch the absolutely WONDERFUL extras and you will see that. These guys went through A LOT of pain and trouble just to get this bugger made.

It's kinda like what I consider to be some of the excruciatingly CORNY Sci Fi films made in the 1950's (with the exception of the excellent 'FORBIDDEN PLANET' of course! GEEZ, have you seen the new Remastered Blu-ray of FP...? It's so gorgeous I promise you that it will make you cry and have to change your pants at the same time!) Anyway, sorry... But, there are a hell of a lot of people who just adore the most corny films made at that time because they have a personal affection for them; whereas a lot of the rest of us would quite literally be in serious, physical pain if we had to sit through some of them (NOT that I mind a strong CHEEEEEZ factor now and then, but some of these are just pain BAD!) But to THOSE people who love these films, it is a different story.

So it is sort of like that with this one; these people very painstakingly and lovingly made this film and created this quite surprisingly Surreal and apocalyptic vision of the future, clearly with next to NO budget at all. What I absolutely LOVE about this movie is that it is taken DEADLY serious! Not a shred or ghost of a smirk anywhere to be found. Although, when you watch the extras (which I WHOLEHEARTEDLY recommend if you are a movie maker or true move lover at all) you will see that they had a frigg'n BLAST making this thing! Also, since they clearly had an extremely limited budget, I personally felt that they were brilliant in coming up with not only ways to create the effects, but also the ingenious way in which they processed the photography to give it a very Surreal and quite creative look, considering what they had to work with.

So, if you are the kind of person who can totally get into this kind of film and just enjoy it for what it is, then it is absolutely great! I warn you though that you WILL have to be quite forgiving with the life-sized robots; they're pretty silly looking... But, if you are like some of these other nay-sayers here who look at the production values and think it's just crap, or homemade, then NO, you will absolutely NOT like it.

I personally found it to be completely fascinating and somehow in a way that I truly cannot explain, it REALLY grabbed me by the nuts and pulled me completely into the world that they created. Then afterward, watching the 'making of' and the 'extras' just made me fall in love with it all the more...

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7 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

absolute garbage

1/10
Author: geg3 from United States
12 August 2008

the most uncreative garbage I've ever seen. i don't care how much money was spent on a film - a good story is a good story. this didn't even HAVE a story.

i watched the making of documentary included on the DVD, just to get a feel for WHAT THE HELL THEY WERE THINKING when making this. turns out: not much! a group of stereotypical jocks in their mid 30s decide to make a movie. they want to make it about robots! and it has to have fighting! they wrote the "script" about 10 minutes before the actors say the lines. they make fun of one of the actors to his face cause he has a nerdy hair cut, and the actor is obviously uncomfortable. they have no opinion about how the actors deliver the lines, and are more interested in drinking coors light and dumping gloves full of sweat (the robot costumes were hot) on their friend's heads after seeing behind the scenes, the film (lol) itself makes a lot more sense. a bunch of talentless dumbasses making a really bad sub-home movie grade short film (maybe 15 minutes of content total) and padding it out with 70 minutes of filler.

only see this if you are a masochist with an acute need to have your intelligence insulted

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9 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Skip it

2/10
Author: jamesstreet from United States
1 February 2008

Shot B/W (although its not film --edit, my mistake, its 8mm) with early '50s styled robots and mid '80s style gore. If the filmmaker had a sense of humor, this could have been good campy fun. But instead a tired message is presented over a nonexistent plot with little dialog. You end up with more than an hour of walking and (occasionally) fighting '50s robots, and about 20 minutes of actual plot delivering movie.

Even if your a movie junkie who has seen everything, skip this. Its not awful, but it is bad and you wont gain anything from it. Comments relating it to Guy Maddin or Rod Serling's Twighlight Zone series are crazy. Even worse is the connection to David Lynch - completely unwarranted.

Skip it, or waste 1.5 hours.

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