AI-Themed Blogging: 2036 ORIGIN UNKNOW Movie Review

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AI-Themed Blogging: 2036 ORIGIN UNKNOW Movie Review - Photo credit: imdb, edition by Amber255 via

According to the main profession, the British Hasraf Dulull is a computer visual effects specialist who usually works on television series. But he does not limit himself with the other people ideas' realization. In recent years, he also comes up with and makes low-budget science fiction films.

In 2017, Dulull released a film called The Beyond, and last year the minimalist space drama 2036 ORIGIN UNKNOW, all action of which takes place in a small room in a military space bunker.

The story's too elementary, but a strong lead performance and clever staging make "2036" something committed genre fans might appreciate.

Credit: latimes

This low-budget science fiction film brought together very contradictory reviews online. Some described the film as a real art-house from the Science-Fiction genre, filmed on a wave of inspiration of the cult 2001: A Space Odyssey. Others have stated that such comparisons are the most real insult to the classics film

So, what it is: a masterpiece for those who are able to understand, or a mediocre dummy, similar to an essay written off by a bad student of an excellent student?  Too intriguing to pass by without making an opinion.

2036 ORIGIN UNKNOWN Official Trailer #1- Video credit: youtube

The Plot 

In the near future, the Earth sends a research expedition to Mars. Immediately after landing, the ship suddenly collapses, and the entire crew dies. The tragedy leads space agencies to the idea of abandoning space's exploration by humans and move to the use of artificial intelligence and remotely controlled machines. As a result, only a few space flight experts stay on Earth, who oversee the expeditions of robots.

Mackenzie Wilson (Katee Sackhoff) - one of the last Mohicans. She works in a bunker in a pair with artificial intelligence ARTi and is responsible for a new expedition to Mars. The woman hopes that will be able to find out what killed her father, who was among the participants of the dead crew.

Science fiction films: 2036 ORIGIN UNKNOW - Photo credit: twitter

The Content

First of all, 2036 ORIGIN UNKNOW - this is not the new birth of 2001: A Space Odyssey. No, the film of the British of Middle Eastern origin Hasraf Dulull is a mix of Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece, the squeeze of the original Terminator trilogy, and Carl Sagan’s Contact. Only in comparison with the trinity of inspiration sources, with all the space's abundance in the frame, in fact, Dulull gives to his creation smaller scale, turning the film into a chamber drama.

The idea to build a tape as a tense, conflicting duet between a human controller, not very fond of computers, and independent artificial intelligence, who has his own plans for an expedition, has his own charm.

However, the film's script is lame in both legs. As for the dialogues' content, more than half of the conversation is unnecessary figuring out who is the head, calculating the flight path, telling and showing how important it is to change the battery, and the like - there is a lot of garbage. The dialogues filled with professional terminology are not understandable for all viewers, the actions of the characters are not always logical and justified, and the action is a pile of genre clichés that are not glued together in an emotionally touching story.

The film about a mission to Mars: 2036 ORIGIN UNKNOW  - Photo credit: morpicert

At first, the picture is intriguing. But rather quickly you begin to watch it just out of curiosity: “What other stamps will come to the surface?” And they come, come, and come. Hasraf Dulull is not ashamed of borrowing so much that he even makes the characters stumble upon Mars on a mysterious black monolith. Which, obviously, flew straight from the classic movie 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Having lost in scale, the film does not even try to hide what inspired its author. If I say that there is a lot of borrowing, I will not say anything. A large part of the script and the visual is one big borrowing, where, however, the author’s desire to bring something of his own to the puzzle assembled from three mosaics, make it least to some level original.

So what is the film about in the end? A Space Odyssey has remained in the memory of the audience, including through scenes of intense confrontation between the astronaut and artificial intelligence. But mostly Clark and Kubrick thought about the place in humanity and each of us in the universe, about our origin. Mysterious, but at the same time clearly not a marvelous monolith, created and operating according to the laws of physics, set a reference point into unthinkable distances! 

The film about a mission to Mars: 2036 ORIGIN UNKNOW -  Photo credit: jrlcharts

And what about 2036 ORIGIN UNKNOW? The first of Mars's expedition crashed. The astronauts did everything they could, but even the onboard computer was powerless when something incomprehensible destroyed the ship during landing. After some time, the United Interplanetary Company almost completely lost faith even in the most highly qualified specialists, relying on artificial intelligence with a proven net safety specialist. Having decided, Interplanetary company placed its vehicles in orbit of the red planet, which descending probes should continue the research interrupted by tragedy. The main character, Mackenzie Wilson, the daughter of one of the scientists who died in the mortar-fated expedition should control one of these probes.

It seems nothing special, but only because of the reforms, the specialists manage the probe not from the large hall of the institution together with many other specialists, but from the relatively small room of the underground bunker, where there is a console, information screens on the walls and the grandnephew of the famous HAL 9000, artificial intelligence ARTi as either an assistant or a rival in the rights of access to one or the other operation.

The film about artificial intelligence: 2036 ORIGIN UNKNOW - Photo credit: solarmovie

Soon after finding alien technology on Mars and strange discrepancies in the archives, the script adds a bit of action to the film. Because, as you know, scientists want to discover all the secrets of the universe, and the government is constantly working to hide everything and everyone in the name of security, because everything new and unknown is not only attractive but also a potential threat to humanity, which, of course, is necessary to destroy.

So, what the mixture of three masterpieces is trying to say? Is there any sense in this mess? There is. And in my understanding, the investment in a standard hour and forty minutes is the same interesting as unpleasant.

James Cameron staged a war of humans against machines to show the consequences that can happen when human aggression gets to really high-tech. The finale, together with the epilogue of Terminator 2, sought to convey that a person can and should, in fact, to fight not for domination and greatness, but for world peace. Dulull first accuses humanity of the desire to break, crush and tear apart, but after he describes the problem as a natural part of human nature.

 2036 ORIGIN UNKNOW Review  - Photo credit: sky

Perhaps the idea of the film would have been good, but it was difficult to discern it for the endless tedious search for the truth of the main character and artificial intelligence.

The very idea of the purpose of civilization, its meaning, a look at artificial intelligence is interesting, but in this film, the director showed this idea so miserably and boring that even a good game of the charismatic Katie Sackhoff, or rather her duet with artificial intelligence did not sweeten this film.

The Characters

The film is shot in a limited space - bunker, but it still sends a ship to the cosmos. The main character watches the flight of her ship, directs its landing on Mars, controls the exploring of the planet.

None of this is as deep as it intends to be, nor will it strike science-fiction devotees as especially novel. But Sackhoff’s Mack is such a vivid, well-rounded character that “2036” still works. It’s like a stage play, crossed with one of the more philosophical old pulp magazine short stories.

Credit: latimes

Approximately half of the film is going into disputes between a man with the machine. Mackenzie wants to work with her hands and her head, but it is almost impossible if once, twice, and third-time the artificial intelligence declares that it is he who has to carry out such a maneuver. 

The film about artificial intelligence: 2036 ORIGIN UNKNOW - Photo credit: hdqwalls

Periodically, the sister of our heroine, who contacts through Skype, strongly defends the importance of as much freedom as possible for ARTi and others artificial intelligence in the name of more and more efficient space exploration. So that mankind does not stay on the orbit of the native blue planet or in the Earth-Moon system, but, having mastered Mars, rushed towards the stars!

Which of the two women is right and who is wrong is not important. Because in addition to posing the problem of inspiring perspectives and the dangers of developing artificial intelligence, the plot of the film is devoted to the theater of one actress, the Mackenzie drama, her psycho-trauma that arose after the death of her father, which she tries to cope with, in spite of all the winds, driving the probe through the abyss of space.

 2036 ORIGIN UNKNOW Review - Photo credit:

The Technical Side 

In part, all the trip to Mars is shown on the bunker monitors, but there is also special effect footage from Mars in the film, and they are well made for the production, which was shot for pennies.

 The view of Mar's landscapes with all the effects at the same time is impressive and cause rejection. Being a specialist in special effects, the ambitious British did everything he could, with a clearly limited budget. Simply put, 2036 ORIGIN UNKNOW is the very fantasy that is made under the motto “cheap and angry”. Therefore, all the effects demonstrated in the frame without jokes do their work, while performing the role of a time machine that sends the viewer to the nineties or the beginning of our era.

Accustomed to the visual feast viewer will feel nothing but annoyance mixed with disgust, and then he will completely refuse to waste time on clumsily crafted nonsense. And, frankly, he can be understood, even if I am one of those most hardened who watched the film to the end.

Musical design to match the implementation of the plot: tedious, acting on the nerves.


2036 ORIGIN UNKNOWN Official Trailer #2 - Video credit: youtube

The Actors 

The former star of the TV series Battlestar Galactica Katee Sackhoff has enough charisma and attraction to keep the audience’s attention for an hour and a half. 

In this film, she is the focus of almost all episodes. All other characters from the kind of homo sapiens are secondary. With this difficult task, she coped, in my opinion, great. There are a lot of close-ups here, and Katee transmits vividly the experiences of her character.

In turn, ARTI is far from memorable, just ominous disembodied voices. That is, it is also ominous and disembodied, but what it says is not as entertaining as remarks and monologues of similar characters from more talented films and video games. And since ARTi has the second main role, its failure is the failure of the entire film. In addition to failures in other artistic directions

AI-Themed Blogging: 2036 ORIGIN UNKNOW Movie Review - Photo credit: jrlcharts

On A Final Note 

The film 2036 ORIGIN UNKNOW is a philosophical, scientific parable about the meaning of our civilization.

We are imperfect, so our way of knowing the world and ourselves is just as imperfect. We can and should even try, but we will not get anywhere from ourselves. And with all good intentions, our civilization will sooner or later create its end, where it either disappears, as if it did not exist, or voluntarily or involuntarily passes the baton of progress to artificial intelligence

Fiction writers have already created this kind of nightmares, drawing the world as the embodiment of horror. But in the case of 2036 ORIGIN UNKNOW, it does not matter if the quantum brain creates a kind of utopia or becomes a great destroyer. Because surely the time will come once again, creating a completely different, new world of generations'alternation, the birth of a new era or even an era on the ashes of a dead end. Optimistic and decadent, noble, but cruel.

Director HaZ Dulull - Photo credit: imdb

And what ultimately we can say of this plagiarized creation? If you are a connoisseur of original stories, genuine classics, better save your nerves. But it is human nature to fight to the end, if not for the truth, then at least for life. And yet I advise you to take a chance and run the film at your leisure. May suddenly you will like it? 

In general, it is great that in the era of the dominance of blockbusters about the comic book characters with all the glittering flashes of light, Hollywood is starting to shoot a completely different movie, real science fiction. It would be nice if this trend was gaining momentum.


My rating: 5.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 40/100
Metacritic: -/100
Critics average: 61/100
IMDb: 4.5/10 

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