Automation, directed by Garo Seiten, written by Seiten with Matthew L. Schaffer, and Rolfe Kanefsky, is a movie about robots who are replacing the human staff at a company. Auto (so creatively named) is the current robot working and he is also being replaced. When he learns of this, he goes on a mission to save his job through violent and deadly actions...
...This is aggravated by the fact that he was originally built as a war robot and his former programming comes back into play as he feels his survival is at risk. The premise, though topical and relevant, fails in every possible way to make any sort of impact aside from just being present. It's never a good sign when the story has no momentum or meaning, and is just... there.
This reviewer always tries to find something of value in every piece of media, and goes into each viewing with the knowledge that everyone is trying to make their best version of the art they are trying to make. However, Automation is lacking almost everything. First, the script is lazy and so unmotivated to take advantage of the premise which should be ripe for some insightful, cutting comedy. The entirety of the film could be surmised from the trailer alone. There is not a single scene added to the 3 minutes seen that adds any weight or meaning to the story during the full runtime. It’s such a paint by numbers script and it leads to such a bland, uninspiring result.
The acting in Automation is played like they are in a porn comedy. The attempts for humor almost always come off as if the characters are about to rip off each other's clothes. Every scene almost feels like they are going to get freaky at any minute. Also, every single actor in the film is bad. Not just amateur or awkward, but at times so bad, it makes the viewer want to turn off the film and never think of it again. Now, how much of this is just the actors fault or rather, if it is a combination of the poor script and the cast not having the acting chops, is anyone's guess. At points it feels like different actors are each in a different movie. This creates, aside from the aforementioned porn-like acting, a very detached and ultimately dismal style of storytelling. The scene where our main character for lack of a better word, Jenny (Elissa Dowling) ,who gives the best performance, is saddled with terrible dialogue where she tells Auto (as he gives her a massage) that if he were human, he would be boyfriend material. It’s really, really just as awful as it sounds. So many scenes play out exactly like this as the film rolls on. Unfortunately, all of them lead to nothing.
The one thing that can be said as a positive is both the look and performance of Auto. It's safe to say the most care and time spent on any of this production's details went into how he looks. However, that is under-utilized when the rest of the effects come off as cheesy and undercooked. Also this movie takes place in the future, as flying cars are seen multiple times. They look terrible, and then all of the products used in the film seem dated and not even close to futuristic. This continues to help highlight the uneven and very lazy production value. This film is built like it was just trying to get out into the world to be ignored. The passion is not there. From script to performance to art direction, every element feels haphazardly tacked on, and just barely holding it together at best.
Automation will be available on VOD December 3rd from Dread.
By Justin Drabek
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