Films with robots have always interested me in some way or the other, be it the big-budgeted ones like Transformers or the smaller ones like Robot & Frank or Ex Machina. On the same lines comes Archive, a small yet punchy sci-fi drama from debutant director Gavin Rothery. The film is released on VOD, on the 10th of July.
What’s the story about?
The year is 2038. After a freak accident in which he lost his beautiful wife, George (Theo James) stays away from the outside world in a lonely laboratory situated in the snowy lands. George is assigned with the task of creating robots with high levels of artificial intelligence and has also succeeded in bringing about two of the same. However, his third and most close-to-heart robot is that of an andro-humanoid robot which will bring his dead wife back to life, using her memories stored in a special unit. However, all that meets the eye isn’t true as George himself has to come face-to-face with some harsh truths and face his biggest fears when things go berserk.
Archive takes this pretty simple plot and prepares some engaging visual storytelling out of it, with the slow yet detailed narrative of the film packing up all the little elements that George (Theo James) has in his life. The film does give us lots of time to understand what is actually going on, with the single location setting helping it thanks to the tech gimmicks and everything else that comes along. The presence of the two smaller robots also helps in adding further drama to the proceedings, until it all comes together in the final twist of the film, which is not easy to see coming. Archive really does make up for its flaws with the final 20-minute stretch of the film, which is indeed its biggest win.
In a film that mainly has only two characters, Theo James’ character is very important and the actor does a very good job in the role. He totally understands the shades of the character and brings up a measured performance that is devoid of any melodrama. The rest of the cast fit the bill, with a special mention to the voice artist Stacy Martin, who is perfect while dubbing for the latter two robots.
Music and other departments
Archive boasts of superb production design, effectively using the controlled budget that it has in hand. The sets put up for the ARM are excellent, because of which the functional VFX and cinematography do not seem out of place.
The excellent visual range on such a budget, along with the worthy twist ending of the film makes this worth a watch.
The film is extended past its actual runtime and suffers from pacing issues because of this. It could have been 15 minutes shorter.
Did I enjoy it?
Yes. I had problems with the languid pace but I really dug the final stretch of the film.
Do I recommend it?
If you liked films like District 9 and Ex Machina, Archive will be your pick for the weekend. A cool new sci-fi drama.