CRITICAL ANALYSIS: UNCANNY (2015) MOVIE BY MATTHEW LEUTWYLER

Matthew Leutwyler’s Science fiction/drama film distributed by RLJ Entertainment and written by Shahin Chandrasoma, known as Uncanny (2015).The fiction movie deals with artificial intelligence where all the characters in the film have the motivation of pushing technology behold its limit.  The movie follows the life of a prodigy David Kressen who is an inventor. He is put in a life of seclusion together with his inventions with artificially intelligent robot named Adam.  David is put to work in a lab at a young age to work on an experiment regarding artificial intelligence.  Mathew pushes the production of the science fiction movies to another level. His integration of the human culture and science portrays an evolution that captures the attention of the audience from his special selection of main characters David, Adam and joy and how they develop the plot of the movie. Released just days after another fiction movie known as Ex-Machina and very similar in ideas and values, it is necessary for a critical analysis to evaluate significance and application of the film in relation to the cultures, social norms and values of the society.

 When Joy Andrews, a technology reporter, is granted access to this experiment for an entire week but has no knowledge of what is being experimented and is simply there to generate a report.  Through interacting with David and his human-like robot assistant Adam, she develops mixed reactions and feelings exhibited by the jealous and anger behavior of Adam towards her. Joy finds herself encircled in deception from which she seems not to easily understand the motives of everyone. This is specifically fueled by the reactions of Adam from her relationship with David. Joy talks to two men in the lab, one being the prodigy (David), and the other being his lab assistant, Adam Kressen. They show her around the lab and all the experiments and designs that were created. She is fascinated but questions how she is going to create a report based on creations that are not very extraordinary. David then points to Adam and explains that his work is better than he had ever imagined and said to Joy “you really don’t know do you?” Joy is confused, which is when he says that his lab assistant is his greatest experiment and the first artificial intelligence taking the form of a human.

Joy is amazed and talks to the robot consistently. Day by day Joy learns more about the robot (Adam) and analyzes his behavior. Eventually David and the reporter develop a strong relationship with on another and begin dating. Adam behaves oddly when David and Joy are always together and becomes jealous because Adam and David have never had anyone other then each other in their lives with one another. David is amazed to see that Adam is adapting to human behavior and developing human emotions. The final night Joy and David end up having sexual intercourse. Adam finds out and gets extremely angry with them and the two become scared and run away. Eventually David gets killed and Adam captures Joy and ties her up inside a room. She wakes up as Adam is dissecting David and she screams and begs him to stop. Adam then takes out a micro chip from David’s body and explains that she had sex with the real robot. Joy cannot believe this and is mind-blown. This makes the viewer question the behavior of the robot and the human since there is a plot twist confusing the two. It also makes the viewer question whether or not the assistant (which was the real prodigy) is a robot as well. In the end, we find out that both Adam and David were robots being monitored and funded by a mysterious man named Castle.

            An article from the web Magazine “Blood disgusting” provides an actual interview with the movie producer Mathew. He explains his first hand views on the movie and his inspirations while producing the movie.  According to Mathew, Emotions in relationships are a common experience but the ones resulting from Adam are quite fascinating. First, Adam as a robot invented by David but in a more human likes nature. Although David shows to be impressed by on how Adam is developing human emotions, they are incomparable to the norms of the natural society. On a symbolic level, the movie is an illustration on how the future might look like with technology where robots will have all the characters found in humans and even the capability to challenge their human masters (Coffel, web).

The ethos of the main characters is persuasive towards the audience to appreciate the power of artificial intelligence as it forms the central theme of the movie. For instance, in a contrasting twist of events, it becomes hard for joy to distinguish between the real human and the robot between Adam and David.  The confusion is especially made worse towards end of the movie when David dies and a microchip is removed from his body. Adam tries to convince joy that David was the a real robot bringing into focus how such technology may make it hard for humans to identify their real human partners from the human alike robots or replicas.

W.A. Senior’s article “Blade Runner and Cyberpunk Visions of Humanity” on EbscoHost, the article is based on the film Blade Runner directed by Ridley Scott (1982).

A quote from the article is “what does it mean to be human? what are the boundaries of humanity? how human or humane are humans? When android/replicas and humans meet, how can one tell them apart? How human are replicas, androids, or genetically designed wo/men? Blade Runner, like most cyberpunk fiction, establishes no apodictic criteria for humanity. Rather, it insinuates a wide range of constantly metamorphosing humanities from the regressive street rats to the superhuman replicas.” This article clearly represents the same argument present within the Uncanny (2015) film which is the question of what it really means to be human. Humans are unique but these films really question what makes them unique or different from other animals enough to define them as humans.

According to the senior’s article on page 6, he tries to establish what it means to be human using the quote from the the Blade Runner film’s character, Deckard, when he quotes that “Replicas weren’t supposed to have feelings, but neither were blade runners”.  “In science fiction the ultimate sign of the human” is the expression of “emotions and feelings” (Bruno 61). Similar to Uncanny, robots are not supposed to have emotions or feelings, but this robot developed the ability to adapt to different human behaviors. If what it means to be human is to express your emotions and feelings to others, then it is understandable that the reporter mistook the robot for a human. The interesting factor is that the real prodigy was very antisocial which is why he did not have a strong relationship with the woman and was able to create the illusion that he was the robot. So because the prodigy didn’t express emotions or feelings, but the robot did, it made the robot seem more human than the creator himself.

In the article invasion from the friendly movie robots by Sternberg (2015), he argues that the emergence of the fictional movies featuring robots is almost becoming a reality in the day-to-day life. In a question from the article, Sternberg asks” could the smart machines we are inventing rise against us and the obliterate humanity” (pg. 3). Drawing from the inspirations from the movie “Ex Machina” (released April 10 2015), the robots are either saviors or friends invented to save the humanity but in turn may be the cause of disaster by turning against their own investors. Sternberg also questions why the robots invented by the human should be more humane than their inventors should.  The article correlates with the Uncanny (2015) where the joy is unable to distinguish the robots between the robots that portray themselves as humans. The article features “Ex Machina” (2015) movie where the same fiction is applied like the “Uncanny” (2015) movie. In the movie, a similar robot is tested for its consciousness in comparison to humans. The task is assigned to one of the employees to perform the “turning test”. However, his fantasies fail to work as planned. The argument presented in the article is that the artificial intelligence as portrayed in the movies may mean an end to the human race. This is specifically the development of robots with human emotions as this is what a naturally distinguishes a human from a robot. If this boundary is eliminated, robots become like humans.

Sternberg’s reflections are clearly reflected in Mathew’s movie when joy when Adams gains feeling for the relationship between joy and David despite the facts it is a robot. The robot also ties her up after the incidence leading to David death and even tries to convince joy that even David was a real robot. The most surprising thing is that even robots develop human characteristics like death.  A consequence of overusing artificial intelligence technology in the creation of robots would integrate them to the human culture and races. This might even be more surprising that evens human will have sexual relations with robots if the occurrences in the movie are anything to go by.

In additional to entertainment, fictional movies are also important in promoting fictional science literacy. Michael Barnnet notes such movies like “Uncanny” (2015) provide a crucial link in helping people visualize the power of science through the scenes or episodes created in the movies. Mathew has made use of this feature from the choice of the characters and the setting of the movie. Joy is a reporter, a role that is real and applicable in the daily life activities. The use of David as a scientist kept into seclusion with his robot assistance Adam.  Irrespective of the fiction presented by such movies, they can be useful as a way of enhancing student’s literacy capacity in analyzing science related concepts. Barnett argues that fictional movies are useful as they provide a visual concept about science that students be expected to apply in the real world situations. In the movie, the David embarks on mission to test his knowledge on artificial intelligence through his inventions. These roles are crucial in engaging the student audience in science critiques as presented in the movie (Barnett, pg. 61).

The film won the Best Film Award at the Boston Sci-Fi Festival and made its International premiere at the 2015 Edinburgh International Film Festival. The movie has received positive reactions to be branded as the “a rare breed of thought that is confidently and meticulously crafted”. The movie also won the best film award in the Sci-FI festival, which is an indication that the movie has a good reception from the public.

From the news reviews magazine “THiNC” (web, 2015) the robotics professor Masahiro Mori expounds on the theories applicable in fiction movies in an article published in the movie magazine. He argues that human features, movements and responses can be as replicated in the movies portrays the acceptability that robots can be regarded in equality to humans. The presentation of the fiction though the visual features leave the audience to blend the ideas presented by the movie in the happenings of the real life situations. Mathew uses the characters appearance and conversation to portray to the audience the thoughts of integrating the future of fiction to the present of the facts.

In my views, the movie forms the right presentation of what may happen in the next future should the use of artificial intelligence rule the natural human race. However, the whole concept is fictional, conceptualizing it in the happening of the real life would imply that the thick distance between machines and humans will be eliminated. The uncanny (2015), creates a deep reflection on how the intended message can influence the cultural norms and values. In the society, we live in, the thought of human and robots existing as equals would unearth new imaginations that probably did not exist before. Well the idea of the fiction movies is entertainment and their applicability in the actual happenings on the current society is limited, maybe an assumption for the future in science learning but not practical life.

I would recommend the movie to everyone who has not yet watched. It is probably the best the best fictional movie since it was released based with the awards it has received and the public positive feedback on its reviews. The movie is also interesting and informative especially for lovers of science fiction. In addition to fun, the movie also stirs a debate among the audience on what it means to be human. How can we define the value of humanity in the current society and in the future society considering the movie to be the future? What kind of consequences can this kind of evolution have in the human race? The movie does not necessary provide answers to these questions, but it provides an excellent platform that the audience can expound on them.

Works Cited

Barnett, Michael, and Alan Kafka. “Using Science Fiction Movie Scenes To Support Critical Analysis Of Science.” Journal Of College Science Teaching 36.4 (2007): 31-35. Teacher Reference Center. Web. 25 Apr. 2016.

Coffel, Chris. Interview: Mathew Leutwyler’s on his newest film” uncanny”. Blood Disgusting magazine. Web. 2015.

Holmes, Taylor” movie Uncanny reviewed and explained”. THiNC. Magazine. Web. 2015

Senior, W. A. “Blade Runner And Cyberpunk Visions Of Humanity.” Film Criticism 21.1 (1996): 1-12. Academic Search Complete. Web. 15 Apr. 2016.

Sternberg, Don.” Invasion of friendly movie robots”. Wall Street Journal. New York. 2015. Accessed from Ebscohost databases. Web. On 25th April 2016