By James Lindorf
The year is 2038, and George Almore (Theo James) is nearing the completion of his three-year research contract at a remote Japanese lab codenamed ‘The Garden.’ In secret, George has been working to develop an Artificial Intelligence that is a true human-equivalent. He lives alone except for his prototypes. J1 is a hulking robot with the AI of a five-year-old; J2 is much smaller, more agile, and is the equivalent of a teenager or young adult. The final evolution of his robots, J3, is nearing completion. Still, George must hurry because he is running out of time. The archive containing the consciousness of his late wife Jules (Stacy Martin) is failing, and if he wants to be reunited with her, he will have to finish his experiments. Written and directed by Gavin Rothery “Archive” will be released by Vertical Entertainment in Virtual Cinema Screenings, On Demand, and Digital on July 10th.
Rothery has an extensive background in art design from his time working on comics, programming video games, and working on Sci-fi films like 2009’s “Moon.” His ability to visualize and design his world gives “Archive” a leg up over most low budget films. The more decisions that can be made in advance and with fewer people involved dramatically alter how the limited funds are used. “Archive” has a great look even if “’ The Garden’ appears to have more in common with a spaceship or military complex than a research facility. It is futuristic without the excess polish that makes many genre movies feel overly sterile and devoid of life.
The performances turned in by Stacy Martin is the most memorable element of the film. Taking nothing away from James, who was perhaps the best I have ever seen him, but Martin was in a class all her own. Martin was responsible for playing Jules in flashbacks, she was under the paint and prosthetics to play J3, and she also lent her voice to J2. The 29-year-old actress is primed for a breakout with so much great content to add to her reel.
It will be easy for some to label “Archive” as a derivative of films like “Her”, “Ex-Machina”, or the new Amazon series “Upload.” When the truth is, Rother first had the idea for “Archive” in 2011 and has been working to make the film ever since. The concept may not have been entirely unique even then. Still, it would have put “Archive” in a much less crowded field and garnering more attention and appreciation. Though it may not be breaking new ground and may feature an unnecessary side character or two, there is still a lot to enjoy about the plot. Combining the story with the art design, practical effects, and the performances make “Archive” a movie that all fans of Sci-fi should file away to watch sooner or later.
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