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Bicentennial Man


by Vivian Rose

Robin Williams is a wonderfully talented comic and dramatic actor who has made some superb movies. But he's also made some real stinkers.

"Bicentennial Man" lies in the somewhere in the middle.

Williams is Andrew, a robot purchased by the Andrews family (this takes place "sometime in the not-too-distant-future"). "Sir", the father (Sam Neill), is impressed with Andrew's personality and other human characteristics. He encourages Andrew to read books and "learn" new things - including Sir's trade, making clocks. Sir's younger daughter, "Little Miss", also befriends Andrew.

As the years go by, Andrew's human family grows up - and eventually everyone dies. Andrew makes friends with Little Miss' granddaughter, Portia (although initially she disliked him), and goes on a search for other robots like himself.

After much globe- trotting, Andrew discovers another recently remodeled robot from his line - and a robotic research scientist, Rupert Burns (Oliver Platt). With Burns' help, Andrew secures a basically human body for himself - just what he's always wanted.

A major factor in whether you like a movie is whether you find the premise believable; I know a critic who said he couldn't get into "Face/Off", an excellent John Travolta film, because he simply couldn't get past the premise of two men swapping faces. Although I didn't have any problem with that story, I couldn't see Andrew as anything more than a robot, albeit the human qualities. It's difficult to predict what life will be like in the future, but a robot that experiences human-grade thoughts and feelings? I don' t think so.

On another note, the script lacked pep, and even Robin Williams couldn't manage to be lively while buried under the metal robot costume. "Bicentennial Man" isn't as mind-numbingly insipid and poorly written as "Flubber" (which I consider to be one of Williams' worst films), but it is hardly fascinating.

The best thing I can say for "Bicentennial Man" is that it was tolerable.

Rating : Rated PG for language and some sexual content.