Nowadays modern technology reached a very high level, so no one surprises at the creation of electrotechnical robots. Artificial intelligence has developed so much that it is threatening to change humans in many areas. So, no surprise we get movies one after another about robots and artificial intelligence.
A-X-L film was born from a small short film Miles by filmmaker Oliver Daly, also acting as the scriptwriter for this fantasy adventure film about a young man’s friendship and a high-tech dog-like robot with artificial intelligence.
Intriguing sci-fi thriller that explores what can happen when robots become smarter than humans.
And if in the short film the title was given just by the name of the protagonist, then for the release of a long film in cinemas around the world, where the completely different actors played the main heroes, the name of the dog - A-X-L. One of the producers of the project is the famous David S. Goyer, who was involved in the creation of plots of such films as The Dark Knight, Ghost Rider 2, Man of Steel, Batman vs. Superman, and many other hits.
It's a film about the friendship of a robot dog and a man. Did humanity embark on the path where it needs to seek friendship with a piece of iron? Let's talk about it.
A-X-L Trailer (2018) - Video credit: youtube
The plot unfolds in the near future, where an eighteen-year-old young man named Miles lives.
Young Miles (Alex Neustaedter) from a poor family is very keen on motorcycle racing. One day, he wins the competition, but after that, the new friends do not act with him in the best way: they throw him on a wasteland with a broken motorcycle. There, Miles meets A-X-L- a military robot that looks outside and by its habits like a huge metal dog.
The young man repairs it, and A-X-L becomes his true friend. However, the military, who invested a lot of labor force and money to develop the robot, want to return A-X-L, by all means, not realizing that he is no longer just an artificial intellect, but practically a living being and just a friend of man.
They face a lot of difficulties throughout the trip, but along with the cute and resourceful girl Sara (Becky G), many amazing adventures await them ahead.
AI-themed blogging: fantasy adventure film A-X-L - Photo credit: imdb
If we talk about the history of a military robot who made friends with a man, the older generation will surely recall the wonderful film Short Circuit from the mid-eighties. Cute and funny robot Johnny, who ran away from his developers and settled in an ordinary American family, has been a favorite of the public for years. I remember how I loved this old movie when first found it online.
By the way, based on it later, Pixar created their own WALL-E ( I will add my review on this movie too). It is likely that the authors of A-X-L (from the acronym AXL) decided to combine the theme of Short Circuit with the developments of Boston Dynamics and the eyes of Bumblebee from Transformers, and at the same time took a couple of ideas from the Black Mirror and the eternal thesis that the dog is a friend of man.
As a result, we got a teenage film about friendship and mutual aid between a young man and a robot dog. It is the most interesting to watch for those who are in the center of the target audience - from 12 to 20 years.
Movies about artificial intelligence: A-X-L - Photo credit: kosmos
The script may seem too simple and naive to an adult viewer; however, the impression smooths out if you emotionally imbued with the iron dog's affection for the person.
There are also major scenario flaws: the robot developer then tries not to intervene in the most dangerous situations, then he is ready to commit a crime to get his creation back. The main characters are somehow quickly and easily convinced that the killing machine will not offend them. And the robot itself then easily beats down the military men but cannot cope with one angry teenager.
But all this will not spoil the impression from viewing either for teenagers or for convinced dog lovers - for the first, the plot is easily understandable, while the second ones will get fascinated by the robot. If you take all the flaws as a background, you can enjoy the most pleasant moments. Firstly, the film perfectly filmed motorcycle racing. Secondly, this computer robot behaves in such a way that many lovers of big dogs will recognize their pet in it.
Running, games, unwillingness to let go of the rope - all this looks very much alive, with the obvious goal of hooking exactly dog lovers. Probably, the authors wanted to create an opposite to the robot dogs from Boston Dynamics and their even more frightening incarnation from the episode Metalhead in the Black Mirror.
Family movie A-X-L - Photo credit: bizarrechats.blogspot
At the same time, the dog behaves most of the film exactly like an ordinary dog. We are not allowed to see A-X-L in action until the very end, he most often just runs and plays, developing the idea of a very ordinary dog in the mask of a robot.
The film is somewhat lacking in action and spectacular special effects, but the main audience will have what to see - the authors try to focus on the story of love, friendship, and loyalty.
There is an action, and feelings, and a bit of humor. Just for sure, it’s worth watching, not the worst version of the films released in last year.
Assume that A-X-L is primarily for children, but to me, the tape is still a bit dark and untidy. Imagine in life a child who truly wants to make friends with such a terrible creation, well, difficult. As, however, some doubtful actions of heroes, such as stealing, breaking ATMs, etc., raise doubts. At the same time, due to the lack of budget, A-X-L lacks action, so it is not a project for teenagers who love explosions.
A-X-L film review - Photo credit: youtube
For an adult viewer, the characters are very schematic.
Overcoming a rebellious spirit, like any teenager, Miles tries to find his place in life, involving in motorcycle races, falling in love with a beautiful girl. And one day, he suddenly finds a robot dog who somehow escaped from the military program to replace people in the army with mechanical creatures made with the latest technology.
The good-natured dog - model A-X-L imbued with mutual sympathy to the guy, and he undertakes to protect the dog from the government, scientists, and special services as his real friend.
By the way, in the real world, for his business, Miles would have troubles with the law, and there are no complaints about him. We are convinced that appropriating an expensive and dangerous weapon is a good deed. The evil owners will force the dog to kill? And how the hero? He is against the military policy of his country? No, he sits at home safely and considers it normal to keep a development that could potentially save hundreds of lives on the front. And he uses a doggie to steal money and frighten others. Should we be on his side?
Movies about artificial intelligence: A-X-L - Photo credit: uralweb
Positive characters after a couple of ugly actions no longer seem so good. Yes, and the robot does not look like the pacifist and the new stage of evolution of the mind.
The antagonist boy is so stupid that, being nearly killed by a killer robot, he returns to play with the dog. And the robot, in turn, is so trusting that it allows itself to be burned (and we remember that he is a fighting robot killer).
Professor genius, the creator of the killer robot, works for the government and, realizing that he cannot get out without problems, he begins to threaten teenagers with death. Well, no comments.
The most indicative among bad personages is the wicked Sam (Alex MacNicoll). He does literally everything to be a villain, turning almost into an operetta villain that fits into the canons of teenage films.
A-X-L film review - Photo credit: youtube
The Technical Side
70 million dollars spent on this mechanical dog, and that is a bit strange as for such money, it is possible to create better spec effects. A-X-L - fighting machine robot in the form of a dog. Fighting means for war. I think that the combat robot doesn’t really need the ability to bark, play, and turn on the disco? After all, to write the algorithm of each such action - these are the months of the programmer's work. Well, let's say he raises the morale of the soldiers. But so that the military equipment handed itself to the first comer all the military secrets and spreads its codes on the Internet!
Add also logical mess with the management of this dog. At one time it can be remotely turned off, then again it can not. There are also other flaws with that dog robot. It looks as if the creators of the machine do not know how it works. The robot, which memory cannot be reset, which burns in a fire, breaks from falling, but at the same time is a perfect killing machine?
AI-themed blogging: A-X-L movie review - Photo credit: pelislk.blogspot
But I want to praise motorcycle race's tricks and the jogging trips of A-X-L and Miles. A motorcycle races, a huge iron dog, speed, turns, jumps, flights - it was spectacular, beautiful and cool! And the final soundtrack is tragical and dramatic.
The graphics sometimes make you wonder why the robot often seems like a doll instead of 3D graphics. The miracle dog itself is portrayed by a combination of decent graceful visual effects. Yes, the moments when A-X-L gets into a fight are made quite competently. Whenever the robot is shown in close-up, there is a slight clumsiness of puppetry. The puppet turns out to be more cumbersome than A-X-L's avatar using computer graphics, which can run smoothly and quickly and even fly.
In other words, A-X-L is often not felt as real, because the graphics or animatronics are always obvious, although the actors, again, do their utmost to portray that the four-legged cyborg with them is very real.
A-X-L "Everybody Can Dance" - Video credit: youtube
The cast of the film is headed by a duet of young actors: Alex Neustaedter and Becky G.
The older generation occupied on the sidelines looked relatively good, but I cannot say the same about the youth. Acting doesn’t make any difference in a project like A-X-L, but it’s quite fair to assume that this film is unlikely to be a shameful stain on someone’s filmography. Alex Neustaedter and so has a modest record of roles, Becky G, like, prefers to focus on her musical career. The only big name in the caste is Thomas Jane, and he wisely stands in the background.
Family film: A-X-L - Photo credit: topsimages
On A Final Note
The film is about Loyalty, Love, and Friendship, which is very lacking today, both to people and to animals.
Teenage fantasy adventure film A-X-L looks like a stranger from those glorious times when greedy Hollywood producers produced similar films in packs - hoping to spend very little money, but earn as much as possible on the wave of the popularity of the genre. Obviously, the quality was of little concern to anyone; they relied solely on the illegibility of the young audience and the relative popularity of the niche.
True, pretty quickly everyone understood that it was becoming more and more difficult to show poor creations to the audience, and the costs were growing, so that the wave of the same type of crafts gradually faded away. But some copies still continue to get to more or less wide distribution.
AI-Themed Blogging: A-X-L Movie Review - Photo credit: movie-like
Here we must say that the film is not so bad. Rather, it is just average in all senses. Even in the presence of fairly high-quality action and special effects that are not bad by the budget standards, A-X-L is a standard and full of cliché family film.
A-X-L created by the military to destroy the enemy. And it amazes how A-X-L's artificial intelligence decided to make friends with Miles. The military is constantly sponsoring programs to create weapons for the destruction of a large number of opponents. A military robot can be friends? Get the answer by watching the movie to the end. A new technological level is when a robot can choose its own human friend.
Great for kids over 9, teens, adults. Well-made family film with good values about kindness, compassion and the value of life over promotion of violence.
My rating: 5.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 27/100
Critics average: 60/100
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