British writer-director Caradog James has just released the first trailer for his futuristic new film, The Machine. Unfortunately, despite the film’s important message, the sci-fi thriller’s teaser does not do the film justice. Instead, the preview looks like another boring rehash of iconic Hollywood films like The Terminator, Blade Runner and even Robocop. The Machine, which will be released in the UK this March and has been featured at the Tribeca Film Festival, stars Toby Stephens (Die Another Day) and Caity Lotz (Arrow).
The film itself, according The Verge, has a lot to say about the pitfalls we may face in allowing our humanity to become overly dependent on technology. This clichéd preview should have given audiences a sneak peek at an independent motion picture that brings new mustang parts to the Frankenstein legend. We all know about Mary Shelly’s character Dr. Victor Frankenstein, a scientist who creates an artificial life from dead human body parts. Frankenstein’s creation goes on to become an uncontrollable monster that must be caught and destroyed. But the quickly edited, fast-paced action scenes in this trailer reminds me of cookie cutter sci-fi flicks from the 1990s rather than an indie film with originality and a clear message for its audience.
Stephens, the star of the new thriller, plays Vincent McCarthy, a British scientist in an economically depressed world threatened by a seemingly unstoppable new villain. McCarthy has been working on advanced implants for the Ministry of Defense to help soldiers who have been brain damaged on the battlefield. His goals, though noble, have led to experiments which seem to tread a little on the unconventional side and have resulted in catastrophic failures.
It looks like the MOD’s plans to build a Robocop-style super-soldier with the strength of ten is fast approaching fruition when McCarthy’s research eventually leads to the development of artificial limbs and other body parts. But McCarthy is still missing a way to bring the brain to life.
Then McCarthy meets a talented researcher named Ava. Ava has built a computer that might be the missing piece of technology McCarthy needs in order to animate his super-soldier’s artificial brain. He quickly convinces Ava to join his team and all seems to be going smoothly.
But Ava tragically meets her fate in an unfortunate accident, a turn of events that allows McCarthy to give his soldier life using Ava’s likeness, brain scans and computer research. As also happens in the classic Frankenstein, the Machine turns against McCarthy, destroys his work lab and escapes, thereby creating an even bigger threat.
The problem with the trailer for this is film is that the editing and setup give the impression that it is another commercial for the Terminator franchise even though it is not just another cyborg movie. The world of The Machine is a very dark and frightening place as evidenced by cinematography that makes extreme use of darkness and light. But what the trailer offers viewers is a quickly edited action sequence that is more “Hollywood” than meaningful indie production. The other problem with this trailer can be attributed to the musical score composed by Tom Raybould, more than by the trailer’s presentation of it. Raybould’s composition reminds me too much of the classic sci-fi epic, Blade Runner or Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight films. These films are classics with their own individual merits and music that is clearly their own.
The Machine deserves a score that will help it achieve undeniable iconic status. Instead, Raybould’s creation lacks the soul of a potential classic with musical accompaniment that has clearly been done before. It does not uniquely reflect the dark, troubled world that is the setting for The Machine. This trailer does the exactly the opposite of what it was intended to do which is to tantalize the viewer so they want to pay for a ticket. Ultimately, the trailer lacks the true soul of an otherwise award-worthy film and lessens my desire to see The Machine when it is finally released in the U.S.A. If the next trailer does not present The Machine’s message more competently, I might not be the only viewer who decides to decline seeing it when it comes to America.