Cast: John Cusack, Julian Schaffner, and Carmen Argenziano
Director: Robert Kouba
89 minutes (12) 2017
Thunderbird DVD Region 2
Review by Christopher Geary
Near-future sci-fi drama Singularity is about Kronos, a super-computer that’s much like the machine antagonist in Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970), created to end wars or at least automate decision-making processes, and eliminate delayed responses and possible human errors. Politicians would not want to attack enemies because of disinformation, or lies, would they..? Actually, it’s not about Kronos, or a ‘singularity’ event that devastates human civilisation but leaves planet Earth still green and habitable. It’s 97 years after the apocalypse when young techno-ingénu Andrew (Julian Schaffner) becomes an instrument of discovery and change. He teams up with somewhat unwary survivalist Calia (Jeannine Wacker) to find a mythical sanctuary. Both of the youngsters are hunted by giant robots.
The advent of A.I. almost never seems to be a good thing in movies. From early cinema’s first robot wars, to infamous sci-fi names like Alpha 60, HAL 9000, Proteus IV, Roy Batty, Skynet, Red Queen, Decepticons, and Ultron, etc. science fiction’s intelligent machines do not trust or even respect many of their biological creators. Their confrontations invariably result in ethical conflict and global devastation. Singularity’s trailer looks quite appealing. However, the full-length picture is rather less entertaining.
Reportedly, the movie harvests footage from the low-budget European feature production Aurora (2013-5), financed by a crowd-funding campaign. The product was scooped up by a US company and revised with extra scenes of Hollywood actor John Cusack. Singularity suffers from the twin faults of patch-worked confusion and frequent bouts of mild tedium. Its post-prologue chapter starts like Robot Overlords (2014), but with a serious intent. It finishes with reflections upon the twist-ending of Knowing (2009) an interstellar diaspora from planetary disaster, but minus that earlier fantastic drama’s emotional resonance.
The disconnected strands of plot are merely stuck together without any obvious narrative connections, or rationally coherent intervening development. Like humanity, too much of the acting here is predictable and disappointing. ‘Look up there, in awe,’ the director may well have said - to the young actors, several times, while filming on some beautiful Czech locations. ‘The awesome visual effects will be added later.’ Overall, it’s mainly an exercise in digital effects used to fuse the wraparound scheme to a failed post-holocaust drama of young romance. Robot meets girl. Girl loves robot, until human enemies appear. Capture and rescue actions ensue. A new Eden is searched for. You can probably just guess all of the rest... However, beware of the happy ending on another planet!