Archive is one of those ‘high concept’ sci fi movies with robots and AI. It draws extremely heavy inspiration from Ex Machina, one of the more successful releases in this subgenre of sci fi. It also has imagery and concepts similar to Netflix’s Mother (which wasn’t very good), the live action Ghost in the Machine (which was fine), Blade Runner (which was very good), and musical elements reminiscent of Hans Zimmer’s Inception soundtrack. Then it pulls the rug out from under you and for a few brief moments, the film tricks you into thinking that it was a fantastic movie, when in reality it is very subpar.

George Ex Machina

I’m actually very irritated with this movie. Archive follows some generic prettyboi genius in a futuristic robotic factory, flanked by two female robots that he’s created. Both of them have Artificial Intelligence, and are said to have their mental growth stunted at age 5 for one robot, and age 16 for the other. So to reiterate, there’s a man, living alone in the woods, with a 5 year old girl and a 16 year old girl. Keep this sentence in mind, it’s very creepy what happens later.

The main character, George, is a complete and utter douchebag. He routinely dismisses the people around him, acts selfishly and has zero consideration for everyone else’s feelings. His pursuit of building his dead wife a new robot body is the sum of his character development. At one point, the teenager robot pisses him off, so he shuts her down, tears off her legs, and gives it to the wife-robot. Then, when a robot with AI expresses her sadness and betrayal at his destruction and theft of her body, he tells her she’s being ‘dramatic’. So she fucking kills herself.

Let’s recap. There’s a man, living alone in the woods, with a 5 year old girl and a 16 year old girl, who he violates, and then she kills herself because of it.

This movie takes itself so, so seriously and it absolutely does not deserve that. Archive has so many threads and plots and ideas interwoven into the story, and barely does any of those threads true justice. They just wind and wind and wind with no satisfying release. There’s an intruder on the base. Someone’s watching him sleep. There’s a hitman who gives him a gun. There’s corporate espionage. AI. Father-daughter relationship drama. Wife-husband relationship drama. Discourse on death and consciousness. There’s so much packed in and all of it sucks.

Pretentious Art

For whatever substance the movie lacks, and whatever pedo, rapey undertones you do or don’t find, the movie is not a bad piece of media to look at. Again, the dreamy nature shit is beautiful, the sci fi visuals are great, the futuristic technology is fairly unique, and it’s just a nice movie to look at. Again, there are heavy Ex Machina vibes, and that movie was gorgeous.

Uh, also, the wife-robot lady is cute as hell.

Archive has a lot- a lot- of artsy, lingering, hoity toity nature shots. Don’t get me wrong, wintertime Japan is breathtaking, and the base the movie takes place on is also gorgeous. Snowcapped mountains, freshly powdered roads, hibernating trees, roaring waterfalls, surreally calm lakes. The visuals are magnificent, but so overdone that it’s detracting from the film. There’s some weird editing thing going on where there’s random shots (essentially just stills) from other subplots as we follow whatever thread the film is focusing on. There are two rotating shots of the waterfall from overhead, at different points in the movie. We get a ton of the forest, and some weird cave that one of the robots goes to be depressed at. It’s all over the place.

The soundtrack is excellent, definitely the best part of the film. The movie is worth watching just to listen to it. The dialogue is bland, which is a shame because I think they should have and could have gotten really poetic with the stuff they talk about, given the subject matter explored. Like, if George and the 16 year old robot had a whole limerick about consciousness and dreams, I’d be ok with it. Instead, the robot teenager tells him about a dream she has, George verbally shrugs his shoulders and it’s never mentioned again.

“Was it good driving or bad driving?” He asks.

“Just driving.” She responds. End of scene.

Big Gross

I so wanted to like this movie. Then I got mad at it for not being as good as I wanted it to be, and then I was mad it thought it was better than it is and then there was a twist, and I was like, ‘huh… huh?’ then I got mad at it again. 3/10.  Again, what in the world is up with the weird pedo vibes with our main character? Gross.

I watched Archive on a flight to Frankfurt (funny story, I was actually on my way to San Francisco from Philadelphia and accidentally took a 30 hour detour). You can find Archive archived on Amazon Prime.

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