2038: George Almore is working on a true human-equivalent AI. His latest prototype is almost ready. This sensitive phase is also the riskiest. Especially as he has a goal that must be hidden at all costs: being reunited with his dead wife.

Thought-provoking science fiction, when done well, is one of my favourite genres, and Gavin Rothery’s directorial debut ‘Archive’ is an excellent new addition to the genre. The film is set in 2038 and focuses on George Almore (Theo James), a scientist who is working to advance artificial intelligence in a compound in the remote Japanese wilderness. His research for a shady corporation (is there any other kind in sci-fi?) masks another purpose he has set his mind too – bringing his wife back from the dead. It’s a twist on the Frankenstein story and it gives off major ‘Ex Machina’ vibes, with a good splash of ‘Moon’ thrown in there as well (which Rothery worked on), and I thought it was excellent.

It is revealed early on that George’s wife Jules (Stacy Martin) died in a car crash when he was driving, and the guilt he carries from his survival and her death has plagued him ever since. He takes advantage of a new piece of technology known as ‘Archive’, which is a system that allows people to interact with their deceased loved ones for a limited period of time after they have passed in order to achieve closure. As an intelligent scientist with tools and knowledge at his disposal, George wants to go further and use the ‘Archive’ system to transfer his wife’s consciousness into a new prototype robot, with his iterative approach landing him with three robots, all at different stages of development.

One of the things I really liked about ‘Archive’ is that it has a wider focus than it appears to have at first, particularly in the time dedicated to the second robot George has built, more advanced than the first (the second can talk, the first can’t), but less advanced than the third, which will be the intended home for Jules. This leads to friction between George and his second creation and I felt there was as much emotion mined from this complicated relationship as there was between George and his wife. Does being the creator of something give you the right to do with it as you wish? One of many big questions raised and intelligently dissected by this film.

As always, I’ll avoid spoilers, but suffice to say ‘Archive’ has many pleasures for the viewer to discover and I thought it was very well crafted with emotionally engaging performances from Theo James and Stacy Martin. ‘Archive’ is existential science-fiction at its best, exploring big themes and delivering satisfying answers and I really liked it.

Rating: 4/5

Directed By: Gavin Rothery

Starring: Theo James, Stacy Martin, Rhona Mitra, Peter Ferdinando, Richard Glover, Hans Peterson, Lia Williams and Toby Jones

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