By: Heather Seebach
I first saw The Machine at last year's Toronto After Dark Film Festival where it blew everyone away with an imaginative sci-fi tale and bold visuals that belied its modest budget. The Toronto audience was so absorbed in this movie that when the screen went black due to technical difficulties, I thought the angry mob might tear down the venue! Needless to say, the movie pulled us all in and left me praying for it to get a proper American release. Thankfully, the film is now available in the US for our viewing pleasure courtesy of XLrator Media.
The plot is as follows: In the not-so-distant future, British intelligence is developing androids as soldiers to fight in the UK's impending war with China. Their key scientist Dr. Vincent McCarthy (Toby Stephens), a specialist in brain damage and mechanical implants, is secretly using the project to cure his ill daughter. But everything changes when one of his creations becomes self-aware.
Fresh and exciting sci-fi is so rare these days that I welcome films like The Machine with open arms. This British indie is one of the best science fiction films of recent memory and it was somehow made for less than one million dollars - a fact that makes my jaw drop. The film has been compared to classics of the genre like Blade Runner and The Terminator, and rightfully so. With a fantastic script, stellar performances, a cool synth score, and some of the most stunning FX I've ever seen (seriously, less than $1M?!), it earns that cinematic company for sure.
As the film's badass femme-bot, Caity Lotz delivers an unforgettable performance that has the cold roboticism of Metropolis' Maria crossed with the sweet vulnerability (and ass-kickability) of The Fifth Element's Leeloo. Lotz steals the show, but Stephens - who looks like the perfect lovechild of Guy Pearce and Damien Lewis - is solid, too.
This film not only looks amazing, but has strong socio-political commentary, and fascinating philosophical examination of life versus imitation. The Machine was definitely among my favorites from TADFF. After watching it, I immediately wanted to throw all my money at it but apparently director Caradog James doesn't need it because he's some kind of sorcerer who can turn a tiny budget into a spectacle like this! This is a movie you really must watch on Blu-ray so you can fully enjoy its beauty. The release also includes a behind-the-scenes featurette called "Inside The Machine." I cannot recommend this one enough, especially for sci-fi cinema fans.
The Machine hits DVD and Blu-ray in the USA on June 17th. You can order a copy using the widget below!