Robots. It’s already been established that they will eventually take over the world; currently they’re sussing out the human race, having already calculated that they can wipe us out over night, just before they serve us our last dark roasted latte and turn all our lights out – literally.
And although this film doesn’t quite go that far, it certainly reveals a kind of blueprint to that particular scenario. It also probes a little deeper into a really interesting area, which is not so much what the robots will do, but how they feel.
Working in a remote research lab in Japan is scientist George Almore (Theo James). He wasn’t supposed to be spending his three year contract on his own, but that ending up being the case when his wife Jules (Stacy martin) died tragically in a car accident.
She may have died, but thanks to technology, George can still talk to his wife through the process of Archive. It’s remarkable tech, but unfortunately it’s time limited as the conscience cannot be kept going indefinitely.
With George fully aware of that, he’s been focusing on a way of extending the process, by transferring the contents of her mind to the body of a robot, so that she can continue living within a new body. But as it’s not actually the work he’s currently being paid to do, it’s a risky venture, and with his demanding boss (Rhona Mitra) breathing down his neck, he can’t afford to make any mistakes.
Although this film focuses on what could happen in the future, it beautifully resembles sci-fi film offerings of the past. Brit Gavin Rothery, who has worked on films in various capacities such as in the art department for 2009’s Moon, makes a highly impressive directorial debut with this sumptuous sci-fi offering.
Essentially it’s a homage to 1972’s classic Silent Running, especially its adorable robots Huey, Dewey and Louie, mixed with the themes from Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, and more specifically 1935’s Bride of Frankenstein. It is a film about the struggle with grief we go through, and a determination, at whatever cost, to not let go.
And although Rothery handles the story element well, including an ending that may take many by surprise, it’s the film’s retro references visually were it really shines. It may well be a small budgeted project, but Rothery gives it a visual style that is just a joy to watch. It’s a modern take on the type of look and feel of seventies TV classics such as Space 1999 and Blake’s Seven, which surely made an impression on him. Everything from the decor of the research lab itself, to the robots he has built, gives it a classic glossy sci-fi look that just drips authenticity.
The story itself may be a tad on the slow paced side for some, as it’s hardly action packed, but it is a film that has more depth than that, raising some interesting issues along the way. For instance, what happens if robots have the ability to dream? About electric sheep, or anything else for that matter.
It’s also a good showcase for Theo James, yet another disgustingly talented Brit whose career is likely to blow up just like every other British actor’s has.
If you love sci-fi, Archive is a thing of beauty, delivering not only a gorgeous homage to past future adventures, but also examines how the use and development of AI could have a huge impact on all our lives.
What’s more exciting however is the potential for Rothery himself, who has managed to produce a remarkable debut, giving a hint of what could be a particularly bright and bold future ahead for him behind the camera.