By >RENO J. TIBKE
Top 4 Robot-Themed Short Films of 2013 (thus far)
2013’s Top 4 Robot Short Films
Japan’s yearly Golden Week, a 10-day stretch of spring garnished with national holidays, tends to shut down almost every industry save tourism & travel. Of course this includes J-robotics movers and shakers, so in this week’s feature we’re going straight-up international fiction and presenting 2013’s best robot-related short flicks to date.
This narrow window of but 4 months gives us a nice, fresh selection, but there’s definitely a huge pile of noteworthy pre-2013 robo-centric shorts out there. It’s difficult for any lone robotics geek to keep a handle on them all, so if you’ve got a favorite you’d like to introduce please let us and other readers know in the comments below.
We’ll get back to Japanese robot sci- next week, but today it’s all -fi. So, go ahead and downshift your thinking cap and enjoy these fine British, German, Malaysian, and Honk Kongian offerings:
The Film: ABE (8m:22sec – Live Action/CGI Hybrid)
Writer/Director: Rob McLellan; England
Chosen Because: Looks great; Explores pitfalls of narcissistic amoral robot self-awareness.
What’s Going on Here: Death by robot. Semi-Inverted Love Allegory vis-a-vis Homicide.
Quote from the Robot: “Maybe this time, I will get it right. Maybe this time, I will fix you.”
ABE is not exactly light viewing. Be warned that it’s morbid and disturbing… but, it will be so mostly in your own head. Which is part of the hook. The blood & guts are only implied, and aside from a few obscured b-roll shots here and an occasional stain there, the viewer’s imagination is what renders the robot-perpetrated gore.
The Film: R’ha (6m:26sec – CGI/Animation)
Writer/Director: Kaleb Lechowski; Germany
Chosen Because: Behold the power of one motivated animator with some sexy software. Plus, AI robots and aliens.
What’s Going on Here: AI/Robot Military Runs Amok on what Appears to be the Evolutionary Eventuality of Sharks.
Quote from the Robot: “Insanity is a neurologic dysfunction. I don’t suffer such weaknesses.”
R’ha gets straight to business with a biological captive, a robotic interrogator, and some backstory on the apocalyptic shenanigans of warbots gone all kinds of murderously self-deterministic on their creators. The content is clearly formulaic, but R’ha is likely more of open-letter resume than exercise in storycraft. That one 22 year-old student wrote, directed, and animated the whole thing just might show proof of concept.
The Film: Changing Batteries (5m:33sec – CGI/Animation)
Creators: Shu Gi, Casandra Ng, Hon JiaHui and Bahareh Darvish; Malaysia
Chosen Because: Lightly explores a possible/likely scenario. Very effective non-verbal communication. Robot.
What’s Going on Here: Isolation; Bonding with Machines; Mortality and Immortality.
Quote from the Robot: N/A – All non-verbal communication here, but expressed well.
After exploring robo-insanity and robo-revolution, the melancholy Changing Batteries actually lightens the mood a bit. While predictable and rather saccharine, it kinda does explore tolerance, acceptance, and bonding with the “other,” in this case embodied by grandma’s little robot helper. Slightly cheese coated, but still a touching, well worth the watch, and well-made final project by a team of 3D animation students – and probably the most relevant to reality of the lot (aging societies will need robots!).
The Film: Modin (2m:50sec – CGI/Animation)
Creators: Lam Ho Tak & Ng Kai Chung Tommy; Hong Kong
Chosen Because: Very good animation, very good music. Slo-mo robots.
What’s Going on Here: Scathing commentary on resource depletion. Or, just two robots fighting over a found battery.
Quote from the Robot: N/A – But lots of mechanical grunting.
Wrapping the top four, Modin is a brief, playful showdown between two equally matched and equally drained robots who perchance across a battery in the barren wasteland they roam. Can they just share, or will it be M.A.D.?
Thanks for Watching!
Remember, if you’d like to get us or other readers hip to an older robot short or one from 2013 that we might have missed, let us know down below.
Reno J. Tibke is the founder and operator of Anthrobotic.com and a contributor at the non-profit Robohub.org.