*Stolen from an article on The Toast
Second week of Sci-Fi/Fantasy-a-Thon with Christa!
This week I picked The Machine.
True story: I am having such a Monday that I was finished with this post by 4:00 PM EST but forgot to post until now.
Where to Watch:
Mr. Rochester A scientist builds a self-aware cyborg in a cold war arms race. Moody staring ensues.
The Uncondensed Version:
I’m warning you now that this post is largely me freaking out about Toby Stephens, but if you can’t appreciate the man who is the closest living embodiment of Mr. Rochester, you are not welcome on this blog (yes, you are. Mostly).
Soooooooooooooo at an unspecified time in the future there’s a cold war between the UK and China. Probably the US as well b/c we really don’t like to be left out of that kind of thing. Just as in the earlier cold war, the two chief weapons are fear, espionage, and cyborgs. Three. Our three chief weapons are fear, espionage, and cyborgs. Apparently whoever builds the most badass cyborg wins the war and everyone can go home.
Toby Stephens, god love him, is just way too committed to scientific research to live in a time of war. He’s helping develop a self-aware cyborg, but he doesn’t want it to be a robot Nazi superweapon. We get our first glimpse of Rochester Vincent working on Paul, one of his experiments. Paul wakes up to a gentle hand on his shoulder and Toby Stephens asking, “Hello, do you know your name?”
Paul is a man who was shot in the head and has gotten a cyborg brain implant. Rochester VINCENT is giving him cyborg awareness tests involving empathy when Paul gives him a hug…and a stab in the chest!
Like any good movie scientist, being stabbed just motivates him even MORE. Somewhat unethically, Vincent makes up a fake grant so he can recruit people with the most promising cyborgs. Basically everyone sucks except for blonde young American Ava. Weird that I don’t want him to hook up with blondie largely b/of blonde Blanche in the 2006 Jane Eyre?
Also Jarndyce from Bleak House is his boss; I think I need to drop everything and marathon Jane Eyre/Bleak House. If I started now I could be done by…10 am tomorrow morning.
Vincent doesn’t really care that much about cyborgs, honestly, but he thinks the technology can help his daughter with a rare genetic disorder. He and Ava make some progress until suddenly the Chinese assassinate her, which Jarndyce may have participated in.
So Vincent decides to make a robot version of Ava even though she didn’t want her face to be used in any of the cyborg inventions. IDK, I wouldn’t really have a problem with my face being used on assassin robots when I’m dead.
Welllllllllll, until they decide to fuck with her emotions and put a spider jar over her face. Also they have a dude in a clown mask approach her and she fucking kills him, DUH. For some reason Vincent is surprised/upset that she killed the fucker in a clown mask. SHE’S MORE HUMAN THAN ANY OF YOU. THIS IS LIKE BATTLESTAR GALACTICA ALL OVER AGAIN.
Also it’s becoming apparent that Ava is suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuper into Vincent and he does not reciprocate. It’s so very cringeworthy.
At this point, the plot takes a sinister turn as Jarndyce manipulates Ava and Vincent in order to create a perfect killing machine.
That’s all I will say because at some point between Toby Stephens scenes, I realized I was actually enjoying this one quite a bit. There were times when the plot could’ve been more fast-paced, and the action scenes were kind of terrible. Honestly, I thought this was just going to be another bad cyborg flick, but it was reasonably interesting and…thought-provoking even?
Important Toby Stephens Moments Ranked by Rochester-iness:
5. After Ava goes exploring in the top-secret military base, Toby Stephens tells her not to get “lost” again: “There are a lot of secrets down here in the dark, and I don’t want you to get hurt.” This is practically verbatim what Rochester tells Jane EVERY TIME she has a fucking question.
4. Any time he says the word “fuck.” I know Mr. Rochester never actually said the word fuck in Brontë’s final draft (those damn censors, man), but I suspect he would really understand and appreciate the value of yelling the word “fuck.”
3. When Ava the cyborg does a fucking naked dance in front of him and he’s just kind of like “eh.” It’s Bertha Mason all over again. YOU’RE KILLING HER WITH YOUR INDIFFERENCE.
2. Vincent to Ava: “Some people can’t give up hope even though deep down they know it’s hopeless.” THAT IS ON THE ROCHESTER FAMILY FUCKING CREST, I SWEAR TO GOD. Along with “Any suspicious thud you hear is a drunk old woman, NOT a crazy wife secretly living in the attic. Unless you have written documentation.”
1. Every time he looks moodily at a wall or out a window (in terms of screen time, probably at least 1/3 of this movie).
Robots + Mr. Rochester. I feel angels crafted this movie from my dreams.