starring Antonio Banderas, Dylan McDermott, Melanie Griffith, Birgitte Sorensen
screenplay by Gabe Ibáñez, Igora, Javier Sánchez Donate
directed by Gabe Ibáñez
by Walter Chaw Though I've seen worse movies than Gabe Ibáñez's Automata, I've also seen Automata what feels like a few dozen times. Rather than turn this into an exercise in listing source materials, however attractive shooting fish in barrels might be, best to focus on how the picture makes Isaac Asimov's three rules of robotics into two (making it different!), and how its closest film analogue is probably somewhere in the junction between Kurt Wimmer's Equilibrium and Richard Stanley's Hardware. That'll have some of you feeling pretty excited and most of you either puzzled or properly dissuaded. Yes, Automata is a muddy piece of pseudo-profundity showcasing its creators' lack of vision, discretion, and judgment. It needed at least a few more passes through the typewriter, frankly, and a mid-film appearance by a distractingly-altered Melanie Griffith--altered by real-life plastic surgery, not in-film techno-debauchery--highlights exactly how brutal the Hollywood machinery is in destroying people like her and Kim Novak and Lara Flynn Boyle and on and on. Griffith's kind of like the girl-version of Mickey Rourke at this point. There's more sadness and auto-reflection embedded in how she looks now than in anything in the film.