(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
From the product packaging: “For ten years, inventor David Kressen has lived in seclusion with his inventions, including Adam, a robot with incredible lifelike human qualities. When reporter Joy Andrews is given access to their unconventional facility, she is alternately repelled and attracted to the scientist and his creation. But as Adam exhibits emergent behavior of anger and jealousy towards her, she finds herself increasingly entangled in a web of deception where no one’s motives are easily decipherable.”
Andrews (Griffiths) meets this cybernetically-inclined Odd Couple, and sparks don’t exactly fly. Because she’s established her credentials in the publishing industry as the ‘go-to’ gal for most things robotics, she’s naturally intrigued by what she learns Dr. Kressen (Webber) has achieved in the comfort and privacy of his own home/lab/condo: the all-too-obviously-named Adam (Rogers) might just be the real deal – the first walking, talking, fully humanoid Artificial Intelligence … suddenly starts to veer into creepy territory when Adam begins exhibiting some inclinations both ‘hot’ and ‘bothered’ for our lady Andrews. (Wink/wink: can’t say that I blame ‘im!)
From there, Shahin Chandrasoma’s smart script traffics in some far more conventional and bubbly territory (“Do androids dream wet dreams?”) as Adam’s fatal attraction starts to look more DEMON SEED than it does SHORT CIRCUIT. Sequences show him in his private time exploring live porn on the internet, and he even manages to cleverly position a webcam (of sorts) in Joy’s apartment, a development that earns both the android and audiences the welcome turn at Joy’s partial butt crack. (The things a robot does for love!) From there, his obsession grows, but – as cruel plot subroutines would have it – the reporter is drawn to the inventor’s more stoic and subtler genius (Webber is full-on channeling THE BIG BANG THEORY’S Jim Parsons at this point), and this is where UNCANNY draws much of its uncanniness for its final act.
Granted, this is the kind of film that nerds, geeks, and general SciFi enthusiasts will have a blast with (with, as a said, some reservations for its more ‘soapy’ elements); but it’s also the type of feature which might win the genre some crossover appeal: Griffiths and her suitors are all lookers, and UNCANNY might just turn out to be one of those unheard-of releases that finds itself the recipient of solid word-of-mouth.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. I’m a SciFi junkie, and that means there are parts of UNCANNY that I just couldn’t get enough of – the classic misdirect, the nuanced discussions of artificial intelligence, etc. Granted, I could’ve done without the JJ Abrams’ lens flare effects constantly peppering the screen and some of the more obvious potboiler elements could’ve been dialed back just a bit … but – in the end – I’m still left with a smart, excellently conceived, and well performed cautionary tale about what’s likely going on psychologically behind-the-scenes in the whole man-versus-machine smackdown.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Image Entertainment and RLJ Entertainment provided me with a DVD of UNCANNY by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review; and their contribution to me in no way, shape, or form influenced my opinion of it.