Well-received Sci-Fi/A.I. thriller (a tricky New Technology mash-up of THE MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM/’33 and SLEUTH/’72*) has ‘gone off’ faster than unrefrigerated fish in August. A debut directing gig for the strained intellectual stylings of screenwriter (and Kubrick wannabee?) Alex Garland, its studied art layout look is too idiotic & slow moving to take seriously. (Imagine a student graduation film mentored by Steven Soderbergh & M. Night Shyamalan.) The much touted Domhnall Gleeson is fine (if bonelessly thin) as the geeky computer programming wiz who wins a week’s stay at the ultra-isolated retreat of creepy master-of-the-digital-universe type Oscar Isaac. (Note to Mr. Isaac: you don’t have the smooth cranium for that near shaved-head look.) These two dance around deep-think issues between interview sessions for Gleeson and sexy replicant Alicia Vikander. Just how real is this robot’s cognition? By the last act, the story has boiled down to our favorite storyline (guy gets job because he’s not quite up to it, then turns the tables on expectations by coming thru with the goods), and is still a load of manure. On the other hand, kind of fitting to have so much artificial intelligence (the other kind) on display.
ATTENTION MUST BE PAID: In addition to the worst use ever of Schubert's final tragic piano sonata (the one in B Flat Major), the film’s ‘original’ score nabs a near quote from the 'contact' motto in CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND/’77; listen to the bell chimes in the main theme.
WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: *Many WAX MUSEUM adaptations have been made over the years, but the original two-strip TechniColor beauty from 1933 retains its distinctively odd tone. (Skip SLEUTH).