My take on…Robot & Frank
Science fiction doesn’t always have to be about the differences between our world and the world created.
Robot & Frank is much more about relationships that are just the way they are today than about the technological speculations in the movie.
In fact, there really aren’t many things that the characters encounter that you couldn’t see announced by a tech company in the next year or so.
MILD SPOILER ALERT
If you want the discovery of seeing these speculations yourself, you’ll want to skip this section. I”m not going to talk about the plot here, but I personally prefer to encounter things myself in a work of fiction, so I am warning you. There is a large video call monitor in the movie, and you answer the call by saying, “Hello”. That’s not as impressive as, say, a Kinect. 😉 We could certainly see that in a few years. The SmartPhones were largely transparent…which was cool. My favorite thing was that the license plates on the cars had gotten wider to accommodate more numbers. As to the featured robot, yes, the conversational capabilities are beyond what’s out there in the market now. I think we could hit that apparent level within five years, though. I was amused by how they had to fake the robot’s physical capabilities. 🙂 It went up a set of stairs with no hesitation. In the movie, we only see the top of the robot’s head in the shot. The robot also gets into a car with no problem…a considerable advance on actual robots today, and accomplished with a jump cut.
END MILD SPOILER
The acting in the movie was good. Frank Langella made us feel for Frank the character, without being flashy. I liked Susan Sarandon’s performance. Everyone did fine (Liv Tyler, James Marsden), but I did think Jeremy Strong was a stand-out. As the embodiment of the “new view”, Strong glides into a scene with the smoothness of a slug…I was irresistibly reminded of Jellybean the Snail from the Dick van Dyke episode, and that’s a good thing.
I love to be surprised by fiction, and while this isn’t a mind-bending plot, Christopher D. Ford’s script did manage it.
This isn’t my favorite movie ever,and the Peter Sarsgaard robot isn’t my favorite robot, but the movie is worth seeing. While at its heart, it’s about…well, heart, there is enough interesting thinking going on here to interest a geek.:) I particularly liked a scene that looked at how robots, designed to interact with human beings, might interact with each other…
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.