Singularity (2017)


Switzerland. 2017.


Director/Screenplay – Robert Kouba, Story/Producers – Sebastian Cepeda & Robert Kouba, Photography – Jessie Brunt & Sebastian Cepeda, Music – Tobias Enhus & Scott Kirkland, Visual Effects Supervisors – Erik Caretta & Jason Gandhi, Production Design – Tim Stuart. Production Company – Voltage Pictures/Vantis Pictures/Calanda Pictures


Julian Schaffner (Andrew Davis), Jeannine Wacker (Calia), John Cusack (Elias Van Dorne), Carmen Argenziano (Damien Walsh), Eileen Grubba (Veronica Davis)


VA Industries, headed by Elias Van Dorne, has created a worldwide revolution in robotics. In the year 2020, Van Dorne promises a revolutionary change only to launch a series of weapon attacks that bring society down. 97 years later after Van Dorne’s giant robots have wiped out most of humanity. Andrew Davis, who was present at the original attack, is one of the few survivors. He is searching for the mythical sanctuary known as Aurora where humanity lives freely. He falls in with Calia and the two are attracted during the course of their journey. What they are unaware of is that their every move is watched by Van Dorne who is wanting to find the whereabouts of Aurora so that he can send his killer robots to destroy it.

Singularity is the directorial debut of Swiss director Robert Kouba who has made a handful of short films before this.

I was intrigued by Singularity. It has a name star John Cusack who has done more than solid work elsewhere. The title suggests some big science-fiction concepts. Although the term singularity has uses in other fields – in physics it has come to refer to the demarcation line of a black hole where the laws of the rest of the universe start to break down. In recent years, The Singularity has also come to refer to a theoretical point in the evolution of artificial intelligence when machines will surpass our ability to understand them any longer.

Alas, Singularity proves a dismal playing out of whatever promise it might have held before one sat down to watch. It is no more than another Machines Take Over the World scenario that we have had ever since The Terminator (1984) – and with nothing imaginative to offer, There are some so-so effects scenes with the giant killer robots and cliches of humans on the run. Not to mention the cliche of the character who discovers partway through that he is an android and the even greater climactic cliche where he overcomes his programming with the realisation of human love (something that only emerges when he is about to be disassembled not actually led up to through any of the interactions of the two characters). Jeannine Wacker’s Calia is a blatant copy of Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games series. There is no imagination to the depiction of the devastated world either – one of the questions you keep thinking is how houses left open and exposed, how items like books, photos and matches are still untouched and in working order after a century of abandonment when in reality they should be overgrown or mildewed and mouldy.

One of the big questions that hangs over the film is – what is a respected name like John Cusack doing in such a piece of hackwork? Moreover, it is Cusack, an actor who is known for his wry, quirky and individualistic roles, giving what is essentially a super-villain performance. Not to mention, one that makes no real sense – he is an industrialist who for no clear reason decides to turn around and obliterate humanity, hunting every single one of them down. Nor for that matter do we ever learn how Cusack manages to live unaged for nearly a century. Even then, Cusack overacts the part badly while giving the impression he is delivering it through grated teeth wondering why he was dragged to Switzerland, forced to deliver the atrocious lines he has been given while only ever confined in a darkened room filled with display screens.

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