|Star:||Klaus Kinski, Don Keith Opper, Brie Howard|
|Cert / Year:||15 - PG / 1982|
Max 404 is an Android who works as a lab assistant on a remote space station for Dr Daniel the station's only other inhabitant. While Dr Daniel try's to create the perfect female android Max dreams of visiting Earth and of meeting a real girl. Their quiet lives become more complicated when three on the run convicts land there. Max finds himself torn between his programmed duty to Dr Daniel and growing feelings for one of the convicts Maggie. It is a love that will put everyone in danger.
Not many people know that there are two films based on Philip K Dick's book "Do Androids dream of electric sheep". The first is the classic Blade Runner, but there is also this smaller budget offering from the Roger Corman stable. Ok so its not a direct conversion of the book but it takes the concept of the fear of technology (Androids in particular) and weaves it into a rather interesting story. Unlike Blade Runner Android tells the story from the Androids point of view, and bizarrely this proves to be a rather more human tale.
This is a film that hides its low budget background by concentrating on the central performances. Don't get me wrong the effects and sets are not bad at all (in fact Roger Corman was re-using sets from Battle Beyond the Stars), and they certainly don't let the film down. However this is an intimate story of six people, and as such a lot is riding on the performances of the central cast and that of Don Opper who plays Max in particular.
Don Opper is a writer\actor who is probably most well known for his role of Charlie McFadden in the Critters series of films. In this early role in his career he really excels. He gives Max an air of naive clumsiness and yet still manages to convey a non-human side to the character. His attempts to learn how to fit into society by watching films and educational tapes is truly moving, so we can't blame him as he begins to rebel against his programming in attempt to leave his slave like status. It is a mark of respect that such empathy is gained for the character and it allows us to understand his actions when Max's fate his revealed. It is a great performance that is nicely countered by the rather eccentric screen presence of Klaus Kinski.
Where the film Android works is that it really does have an intellectual message. It does explore the fear we feel for technology, with the nice twist that it is the Android that is being replaced not the humans. Yet it is also manages to explore our fears of that robots may be living with us and we couldn't tell, what happens when we can no longer control our slaves, and when do machines that have emotions have rights as a sentient being. This is all good stuff and it's well done. It's just a shame that the script occasionally drops below its lofty concepts and descends to a more puerile level. Examples of this include the rather badly acted violent criminals, and blatant sexual content (a robot that is activated by having sex near it, oh please). These sections just don't sit well with the rest of the piece.
By coming at the Androids \ human story from the opposite angle and with a strong central performance Android has a lot to recommend it. Yes it has a low budget and is sometimes a little trashy, and yes some of the bad guys are truly bad, but this is a film that gives the sci-fi fan lots to think about. It is worth plowing on through its more down market moments as the ending contains some nice plot twists. Android is a largely forgotten gem and one that those of us who like our films to have a good story will really enjoy.
Much more than human
|16:9 Anamorphic||Clear and colourful but small amount of grain and some printdamage is noticeable.|
|Dolby Digital 5.1||Clear but due to the age of the original and the talky subject matter it isn't spectacular|
|Production Photo Gallery|
|Klaus Kinski biography|
|DVD ROM hundreds of screen capture jpegs|
|DVD ROM movie script|
|A pretty good transfer for such and old film, and a big shock inclusion of extras. These represent a degree of care missing from many back catalogue releases.|