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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Tinkering With Death

Archive (2020) on IMDb

Plot Overview

Sometime in the near future, scientist George Almore (Theo James) has landed a three-year contract to conduct robotics research in a moth­balled facility in remote Yaminashi Prefecture, Japan, requiring him to deliver a proto­type at the end. His other­wise elated wife Jules (Stacy Martin) has misgivings about the company-provided “death in a box” plan that allows a surviving spouse to communicate with an archived dead one for up to 200 hours before she fades away. Before George can cancel it, they get in a fatal car crash due to George wanting to drive himself rather than put the car on the more agile autopilot—that he designed.

electrical panelA great deal of the movie is taken up with George traipsing around the research grounds to maintain its security fixtures. His boss Simone (Rhona Mitra) is most unhappy with his slow progress, which consists of a clunker bot that can't even talk. Unbeknownst to her, J1—equivalent human development 5–6 years—is a proto­type to her “sister” J2—equivalent human development 15–16 years—whom he keeps out of sight. In development is J3 who will be fully human, and then George plans to over­write her with his dead wife's soft­ware. He's violating a lot of laws to do this, but there's nobody around to check on him, and he's obsessed with security.


The opening scene, which occurs in medias res with George traversing a vast snow­scape, seems derived from an archetypal Noah starting a fresh adventure in a cleansed world. George keeps exhorting his bots to avoid getting wet, and it was rain that was the bane of Noah's old world. There's a wolf-dog in the compound that George chases out into the wild, and Noah dispersed all his animals from the ark. George gives J3 the Hello, Puppy empathy test (“You can tell a lot about a person the way they interact with animals.”)

puzzled ladiesGeorge's three robots who are “sisters” would correspond to Noah's brood: (Gen. 9:18-19) “And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan. These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth over­spread.” Siblings tend to pair up, and Shem & Japheth were a duo of the oldest, but Ham being the odd man out picked up his youngest son Canaan in the biblical narrative, who would inherit from him. In the movie J2 looks after her less mature sister J1 while J3 is set apart to eventually to be inhabited by Jules—who was pregnant at the time of the accident.

There's a funky family dynamic in the Bible. (Gen. 9:20-23) “And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the naked­ness of his father, and told his two brethren with­out. And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went back­ward, and covered the naked­ness of their father; and their faces were back­ward, and they saw not their father's naked­ness.” In the movie J1 and J2 kept a respectful distance from their progenitor, but J3 attempted inappropriate intimacy with George in bed.

In the Bible there were consequences. (Gen. 9:24-27) “And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.” Japheth was to be integrated with (to dwell in the tents of) Shem. From Shem come the Semites, of course. Writer Bodie Hodge holds forth that: “Generally, from the Middle East in the land of Shinar (modern-day Iraq, where Babel was), Japheth's descendants went north toward Europe and Asia, Ham's went toward Africa, and Shem's remained in the Middle East” (183). The servitude of Ham as passing to his youngest son Canaan also encompassed his eldest son Cush, see Gen. 10:6. Cush is Hebrew for black, whose descendants settled in Africa. Canaan is the youngest son of Ham carrying the curse on the whole family by a figure of speech called a synecdoche whereby a part stands for the whole. (Jasher 73:35) “For the Lord our God gave Ham the son of Noah, and his children and all his seed, as slaves to the children of Shem and to the children of Japheth, and unto their seed after them for slaves, forever.”

By movie magic J3 who represents Ham is whiter than white and she is “better,” i.e. more technologically sophisticated, than her two siblings. Yet any significant place for her in the world is readily dismissed (“Who are you?”) after her inappropriateness with her progenitor.

Production Values

” (2020) was written and directed by Gavin Rothery. It stars Theo James, Stacy Martin, and Rhona Mitra. Theo James and the supporting cast brought it. The robots seemed almost human and the lead some­what robotic for their long association with each other, but that's how it should be in this sci-fi world.

The movie is not rated at the time of this review, but I note that it contains the F-word, but no sex or nudity. A pistol appears briefly but isn't fired. George Almore likes maintaining cars and drives a vintage Lotus Esprit S3. The technology at the facility is pervasive and impressive. The scenic backdrop is an awe­some, isolated natural setting. There are some cool drone maneuverings. The CGI is seamless. The music includes appropriately themed vinyl.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

This sci-fi movie includes endearing robots with laudable aspirations to be all that they can be, and in one case more than she should be. It should appeal to sci-fi aficionados, but not action buffs as potential conflict never gets hot. It's more like a cautionary Twilight Zone tale exploring what happens when one tries to rip off the grim reaper.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: No action, scientific adventure. Suitability for children: Not rated but has nerd appeal. Special effects: Absolutely amazing special effects. Video Occasion: Fit For a Friday Evening. Suspense: A few suspenseful moments. Overall movie rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

The Book of Jasher. Translated from the Hebrew into English (1840). Photo litho­graphic reprint of exact edition published by J.H. Parry & Co., Salt Lake City: 1887. Muskogee, OK: Artisan Pub., 1988. Print, WEB.

Hodge, Bodie. Tower of Babel: The Cultural History of Our Ancestors. Green Forest, AR: New Leaf Pub., 2013. Print.