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Review: ‘Automata’ appears to be on automatic pilot

‘Automata’
A scene from the film “Automata.”
(Yana Blajeva )

Visually inspired but thematically derivative, the apocalyptic sci-fi drama “Automata” pits humans against robots with predictable results.

Set 30 years in the future, when a good chunk of mankind has been decimated by deadly levels of radioactivity, the film stars Antonio Banderas as an insurance agent investigating reports of odd behavior concerning the Automata Pilgrim 7000.

It would appear this class of androids designed to protect humans has figured out how to override key protocols limiting its advancement. The machines have begun making alterations to themselves.

Directed and co-written by Gabe Ibáñez with an overwrought tone, the dreary “Blade Runner"-"I, Robot” retread never manages to evolve into a compelling piece of filmmaking despite production design that has its moments of stark, surreal beauty.

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Banderas, with a shaved head and mournful eyes, labors mightily to make something meaningful out of all the tedious psychobabble, while his fellow cast mates, including Dylan McDermott, Robert Forster and a miscast Melanie Griffith (as a robot programmer) appear to be acting in different movies.

Given some of those oddly affecting compositions juxtaposing man and machine against washed-out natural settings, it’s a shame Ibáñez couldn’t come up with a storytelling approach that wasn’t so robotic.

“Automata.”

MPAA rating: R for violence, language, sexual content.

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Running time: 1 hour, 49 minutes.

Playing at AMC Burbank Town Center 8. Also on VOD.


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