Entertaining if rather slow Sci-Fi effort.
Caradog W. James’ The Machine, is a decent British sci-fi flick, that succeeded in being interesting, but never managed to really get going. It’s stylish and well acted, with great production values considering the low budget they were working with, and the story certainly held my attention throughout. This is only James’ second full-length feature, the first being Little White Lies in 2006, but he shows he is a capable director with The Machine. The film stars the sexy Caity Lotz, who some may know from the TV show, Arrow, and Toby Stephens, whose new TV show Black Sails has recently started airing.
Both actors do a very good job, with Stephens’ character, Vincent, father of a brain damaged young girl, who is working extremely hard to find a cure that will help her get her life back. Stephens plays the part with the right amount of feeling, however, the character could have been written with more depth, which would have helped us feel more sympathetic to his plight. Caity Lotz performed wonderfully with her Ava character, and one gets the feeling she may have studied Brent Spiner’s Lt. Commander Data from Star Trek, to get her take on the self-aware synthetic lifeform just so.
Set in a futuristic, bleak UK, The Machine tells the story of Vincent, an MOD scientist who is seeking answers to the brain, by helping brain damaged soldiers injured in combat, with the hope of eventually curing his daughter. Vincent inserts an implant into their heads which helps the soldiers lead a close to normal life, with the only known side-effect the loss of speech, which is something they’re working on. While interviewing for someone skilled enough to help him in the lab, Vincent meets and hires Ava, a highly intelligent programmer. They hit it off, but Ava is killed shortly after joining the MOD (Ministry of Defense), however, Vincent recreates a highly-advanced robotic Ava using scans he’d taken of her face and mind. The Machine (as the robot is now dubbed) becomes self-aware. Once Vincent’s boss (Denis Lawson) discovers the potential The Machine has as a weapon, he pushes it into doing things against its will, with unexpected results.
The cinematography by Nicolai Brüel was good, as was Tom Raybould’s score, and I enjoyed the choreography during the fight scenes, all helping to make The Machine look nice and slick. The only thing I wasn’t pleased with was the pacing, which really let the film down quite a bit. The makeup and CGI were particularly good, especially when they clearly didn’t have much of a budget to begin with, showing what can be achieved if you’re passionate about filmmaking.
Caity Lotz was the clear star of The Machine, and showed great skill and attention to detail as she played her robotic character. She also looks to have done her own stunts, and as well as displaying her stunning figure, Lotz let us see her doing some impressive gymnastics. Veteran thespian Denis Lawson put on a good show as the government bad guy, who is willing to sacrifice as many people as it takes to get his weapon working. Overall, The Machine is a pleasing Sci-Fi effort that looks great, and uses plenty of lens flair and CGI to help make it appear as modern as possible. If you can overlook the dodgy science we’re presented with and the slow pace, you’ll find The Machine will keep you entertained.