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Robot Stories
Robot Stories
Actors: John Cariani, Catherine Carota, Louis Ozawa Changchien, Cindy Cheung, Bill Coelius
Genres: Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy
NR     2005     1hr 25min

robot stories is science fiction from the heart four stories in which utterly human characters struggle to connect in a world of robot babies and android office workers. Studio: Kino International Release Date: 02/08/200...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: John Cariani, Catherine Carota, Louis Ozawa Changchien, Cindy Cheung, Bill Coelius
Genres: Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Sub-Genres: Drama, Robots & Androids
Studio: Kino Video
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 02/15/2005
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 1hr 25min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Uneven but often intriguing anthology
Roland E. Zwick | Valencia, Ca USA | 02/21/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)

"In the four-part anthology film "Robot Stories," writer/director Greg Pak examines the role that technology plays in modern life, pondering the age old quandaries of what is real and what is synthetic and whether or not technology can truly enhance our lives. Knowing a good thing when he sees it, Pak has chosen to utilize many of the same cast members - largely Asian - for each of the unrelated episodes.

The first story, entitled "My Robot Baby," takes place in the not too distant future when couples who are looking to adopt a child are first sent home with a fully computerized and monitored, "simulated" baby that they have to take care of for a brief period of time (this is a more elaborate version of what many high school Health teachers do with their students to convince them of just how much work caring for a newborn can be). How the participants do on this "test" helps to determine their fitness as parents and their eligibility for getting a "real" child in the future. This segment is both creepy and witty in roughly equal measure. In the well acted and touching second episode, "The Robot Fixer," a young man lies brain dead in a hospital after he is run over by a car. His mother and sister, who have long been estranged from the man, spend their time reconstructing his collection of beloved toy robots as a way of coming to terms with who he really is. This is the only section that deals not with futuristic technology per se but with the part technology plays in our imaginations and fantasies. The third installment, "Machine Love," is probably the most conventional of the quartet, about how even two robots - in this case, two office "workers" - need a little love in a cold, uncaring world. It's a theme that has been explored in virtually every film involving robots since "Metropolis" in 1927. "Clay," the fourth and most thoughtful segment, takes us to a future world in which people, rather than dying, become somehow absorbed into a giant "system" that allows them to live on in holographic form. A dying sculptor is forced to choose between this kind of virtual "eternal life" devoid of tactile sensation, or taking his chances with a more natural albeit uncertain existence in the great beyond.

As with many anthology films, "Robot Stories" turns out to be better in parts than it is as a whole, with certain episodes inevitably proving to be more imaginative and more captivating than others. Moreover, the twenty-odd minute length allotted for each section doesn't allow for the kind of depth and resonance one finds in more fully developed feature length movies. Nevertheless, given the constraints of the format he has chosen, Pak has mounted an impressive little product, taking advantage of his miniscule budget to adopt a subtle, low-keyed approach to a subject that, given less limited resources, might otherwise have become top heavy with special effects. The acting - particularly on the part of the older actors in the cast - is outstanding. "Robot Stories" may not satisfy the demands of the average sci-fi aficionado, but those in search of something different may enjoy it.

Thoughtful Sci-Fi with Deliberate Intentions...
Kim Anehall | Chicago, IL USA | 03/15/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Robot Stories tells four different science fiction stories in regards to robots and artificial intelligence in a thoughtful manner. These short stories provide an introspective perspective on what the future might hold in regards to the development of humans, human interaction, and artificial support to human intellect and collective wisdom. The wisdom in the stories is never exhausted or dissected into great detail, as they merely scratch on the surface of futuristic existential philosophy. Yet, it is this superficial scratching that offers much more for the audience to drift into deep contemplation of what might lay ahead for mankind.

The first tale, My Robot Baby, delivered to the audience illustrates the difficulty of raising a child in a loving and nurturing environment, especially, if people carry baggage from the past that might harm future children. Awareness of this predicament has generated a baby robot, which people can bring home to practice on while awaiting the possibility of having a child. However, can people learn from this awkward looking robot that demands attention like an infant?

In the Robot Fixer a mother discovers that her adult son has been placed into a coma after an accident. They seemed to have had a strained relationship, as it appears as if the son has distanced himself from the family. Nonetheless, the mother rediscovers the son's preoccupation with toy robots from his childhood and through these broken toys she attempts to reconnect with her son.

Entering electronic stores, watching TV commercials, and seeing billboards swooshing by along highways provides several opportunities for the audience to bump into the growing popularity of Macintosh's popular iPod. In the near future people will be able to purchase their own iPerson's, which can be seen in Machine Love. The iPerson the audience gets to follow is named Archie who is put to work as soon as he has delivered himself to a small computer company. Work seems to be the only thing Archie is allowed even though he proclaims that he will be more efficient if he is allowed to interact with the humans. However, people seem to perceive Archie in a similar fashion as an audience in the 1930s did when they viewed Tod Browning's film Freaks (1932). The neglect slowly begins to have its toll on Archie, as he notices another iPerson in a window across the street.

The final short story, Clay, offers the audience a possible future where a person's identity and consciousness can be scanned and through this process live forever. Despite the possibility of never-ending happiness through digital immortality the audience is introduced to an artist that struggles with the idea of existence--an existence where pain and suffering are a large part of reality while in a generated world the suffering might be avoided. This question seems to have a simple answer, yet as the audience knows, philosophy is so much more than what meets the eye.

Ultimately, Robot Stories offers an intelligent take on what the future might hold, as it is depicted in a natural order from birth to death. In the process, the audience gets to experience the possibility of artificial love and the human reality where robots are mere items. The stories are well written which helps bring cinematic occasions of brilliance. This small budget film has grand conceptual thinking and moments of visual artistry, which in the end bring a good cinematic experience to the audience."
Robot Fixer
dlb | Here | 03/05/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

""Robot Stories" is a movie that includes within it, 4 stories; all having to do with a robot or some such A.I. technology. Each story focuses on a particular time period in life, beginning from birth and ending in death. The second story deals only with toy robots, but it's the most moving. It deals with a mother comming to accept the loss of her comatose son. Clay, the last story, was also very insightful and interesting. The old sculptor of the story struggles with his obligation to "scan" his brain for the sake of future generations having access to his knowledge or the dignity of a natural death.

This is the kind of science fiction that I love and hope to see more of. It's sci-fi that works to bring out the humane, using it to contrast and make the human experience "pop" to dramatize it to the limit without becoming contrived. "Robot Stories" is a wonderful collection of stories spanning a life of experiences."
The gentlest SF ever
wiredweird | Earth, or somewhere nearby | 12/10/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The title should have one more word in it: "Robot Love Stories." Despite it's decidedly SF premise, it's hard to call these stories SF. The themes are far more human than the title gives any reason to expect.

The first vignette, "My Robot Baby," is about mother love. Face it, that's not something that comes easily to every woman (or man, for that matter), and there's something to be said for making all your mistakes on a robot instead of a human child. The next story, "The Robot Fixer," is about familial love again, faced with a terrible family tragedy. The robots this time are toys, mementos of a loved one, when that love holds on long after it needed to let go. "Machine Love" points out that, in making robot minds in the image of our own, we're likely to succeed far too well. That new underclass will have a lot to overcome, expecially in pursuing the rewards in their lives that were never part of the product specification. Finally, "Clay" presents robot love in yet another way, the kind that appears when the distinction between human and robot blurs completely - or maybe not so completely, in ways that matter most to sculptor Johnny.

They are all exceptional and warm stories, enhanced by the extras on this disk. Deleted scenes and alternate endings show other directions that the thoughts could have gone. A ten-minute short, "Mouse," also appears among the extras. It stands away from the robot theme, and I'm wholly sure what to make of it.

These loving, literate stories have my highest recommendation. This quiet set deserves a lot more attention than it's generally gotten.