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What could be more sci-fi that making a better human, a theme long beloved in the genre? We’ve seen it a dozen times or more, not even including all the Frankenstein films to boot. Yet here we are again with Amelia 2.0, tackling the idea once more in an absorbing little sci-fi drama that has plenty of potential though lacks the urgency that it feels compelled to have, with a story more centered on the drama than the sci-fi.
Carter Summerland (Ben Whitehair) is a dedicated police officer and committed husband to Amelia (Angela Billman) looking forward to the future and raising a family when his wife is suddenly struck down by a brain aneurism putting her into a vegetative state with Locked-in syndrome for over two years. There is no hope for her until Carter is approached by an offer from a scientist named Paul Wesley (Ed Begley Jr.) who, along with his highly-advanced crew at Wesley Enterprises, including Dr. Ellen Beckett (Kate Vernon), are on the threshold of creating artificial life with a complete brain transplant. Agreeing to the procedure, Carter gives them Amelia and Wesley builds an anatomically perfect replica of her with the now dead Amelia’s mind but soon enough she entangled in a fierce public debate about the future of humanity.
Directed by Adam Orton, Amelia 2.0 rides on the back of many others, such as Blade Runner and Ex Machina, but is not quite in the same league with less attention given to the actual sci-fi and more to the implications, both on a personal and a global scale. The prospect of not only saving those whose lives are soon to be lost but in fact creating immortality to anyone willing to have their brains implanted into a robot is a very cool concept to wrap your own mind around and while Amelia 2.0 toys with bits of this, it spends much more time on rebuilding Amelia, finding errors and assembling old memories, leaving her in the hands of Max Parker (Eddie Jemison), the designer of her body and mechanics within, having to tell Amelia much about her possibilities and a few glaring limitations. Amelia just wants to be normal.
The film shifts to Carter’s questioning of what Amelia really is, having him run to the political side, getting fired up Senator Thaddeus (Chris Ellis), a God-fearing conservative involved, staging a massive debate about the ethics and such, while all Carter wants his is wife back. At the heart of it all is Amelia, who slowly regains her memories and the movie works best as a sort of amnesia movie of the week as she struggles with her new reality, one that sees her held like a captive with no rights, being the first of her kind.
These are all powerful themes but the movie doesn’t truly explore them as deeply as they should and the lack of momentum slows it down. Performance are all over the spectrum though Billman does well, as does Debra Wilson playing a television journalist trying to give Amelia a larger voice. Raising a number existential questions about humanity and its relationship with advanced technology, Amelia 2.0 is a curious low budget experiment that won’t be for everyone but holds its own in the genre.
Movie description: Amelia 2.0 is a 2017 sci-fi drama about a husband of a dying woman who is approached by a corporation pioneering a new program to extend life through robotics, getting caught in a public debate over human's relationship with technology.
Director(s): Adam Orton
Actor(s): Angela Billman, Ed Begley Jr., Kate Vernon, Eddie Jemison
Genre: Sci-fi, Drama