Thursday, June 3, 2010

Automatic (1995)



Wired for action. Programmed to defend. Determined to survive

Back of DVD:

It is 2033 and every home should be equipped with the latest in home security devices, the Automatic J76. Developed and manufactured by RobGen industries, the J76 is a man-machine security guard, defender and handyman. When a female employee, Laura is assaulted at work, an Automatic prototype intervenes and accidentally kills her offender thus setting in motion a man-hunt for the machine and Laura throughout the Company's headquarters.


Movie Review:

After an effective though familiar introductory title sequence slowly panning around the body of a man with protruding cables, interjected with CG images of a metal skeleton, we are shown a scene of a father putting his daughter to bed. As he returns to the living room there is a droid that looks like the old Nintendo R.O.B. serving drinks. There's gun fire, the door of the house is shot in and some cliched gangster-type robbers begin tearing the place apart. A hilarious completely non-human looking silver android gets blown to bits and then... cut to John Glover (Daniel Clamp from Gremlins 2, and in a similar mock-advertisement in Robocop 2 selling the Magnavolt deadly car alarm) revealing that what we are watching is an advertisement. Phew.

Apparently he is selling something called an Automatic; a robotic personal security guard and general butler for rich people that need more than just a deadlock on the door and an Alsatian guard dog to feel secure. The same ad plays again but this time Olivier Gruner kickboxes the crims through walls, then apologises for the mess. He's quite thoughtful that way.

John Glover (playing RobGen CEO Goddard Marx) is actually showing the then 5 year old advertisement to his board members. His banker is not impressed and threatens to pull the pin on the company's outstanding loan. Goddard counters the threat by wheeling out a large box that slides open in a display of smoke mechanical sound effects. The banker is left in awe of its contents, but we the viewer do not see what is inside.



That's the intro anyway. The main crux of the movie is Olivier Gruner, playing Automatic number J269, stepping in on one of the company executives making unwanted moves on his secretary, Nora Rochester (incorrectly named Laura on the back of the box) played by the lovely Daphne Ashbrook. When he has her pinned down unable to breathe, J269 calmly asks that he stops. The exec gets his gun and takes a shot at him, hitting him in the shoulder, then points it at Nora. J269 kicks the gun out of his hand and swipes the exec so hard he cracks his head on a piano and drops dead. Shit! The I, Robot rules did not quite work out this time.

When Olivier and Nora explain to Goddard over the videophone (it's a 1990's impression of the year 2033 remember) what has happened, he orders in a group of mercenaries-for-hire to 'quietly' take care of the problem and kill both J269 and Nora (for having seen too much). This is pretty funny because the first thing they do is take out the side of the building with helicopter mounted machine guns. Not that quiet really. The rest of the movie is a mix of Olivier and Nora dodging and fighting the vigilante kill team (led by Jeff Kober), hiding in ventilation shafts and crawlspaces, and generally trying to escape. Olivier Gruner kicks a bit of arse in this one too. Presumably the Automatics receive weapons training as J269 is as handy with firearms as he is with martial arts.


This flick is a pretty good ride and has a few funny moments, Goddard's hat and cardigan being some of them. J269 has a few unintentionally hilarious heart-renching moments when he sobs that people call him Tin Man. Nora explains that the Tin Man from Oz had no heart. This upsets J269 so it's a relief later when he discovers that he does have a heart, of sorts.

I quite liked the various robots and gadgets in use in the movie and the computer screens have that nice 80's green-screen with wireframe graphics going on. In fact the whole movie feels a decade too late, this should have come out in 1985. It feels very Bladerunner too, which should help you work out how the story ends, and also what was in the box mentioned in the first paragraphs.

Olivier is typo'd as Oliver on the front of the DVD. I don't blame them; I wasn't familiar with Olivier Gruner's work so Oliver sounded correct to me, though having looked him up I will definitely be checking out Nemesis, Crooked and Interceptors in the future. Olivier is a girls name anyway. Snort.


The Video:

This is a cheap R4 release by RAAM Multimedia of whom I can find no mention of on the Interwebs. The picture is average but acceptable. The colours are bland and the overall image is quite soft. There is a little macroblocking during the fast scenes. Audio is okay but clips a little when people are shouting. Overall not spectacular but it will do, it is certainly better than VHS. It's presented in 4:3 fullscreen, the original aspect as far as I can tell.

Sourced From:

Dick Smith for $2 in the bargain bins.


More Screens:










  1. I think you'll like Nemsis better, though this one wasn't bad. I'm just getting into his films myself, and they can be really hit or miss; but he's almost always solid.

  2. Interestingly, one of the film's original promotional points was it takes place in real-time; like the TV series "24". So the entirety of the events transpires in just 90 minutes on film and in the real world.