Movie Review: Low-Budget ‘Singularity’ Drowns in Lofty Ambition
In the new sci-fi flick Singularity, John Cusack plays visionary inventor and corporate CEO Elias van Dorne, who brings sentient artificial life upon the world in the year 2020.
Kronos, his Frankenstein’s Monster-like creation, instantly decides that humanity is a plague upon the Earth once it comes online, and launches missiles into skyscrapers around the globe.
97 (!) years later, Kronos is still trying to wipe out the last remnants of humanity, represented by Katniss Everdeen clone Calia (Jeannine Wacker) and evolved robo-boy Andrew (Julian Schaffner), who perished in the apocalypse but now rises from the ashes.
Cusack’s Elias, somehow still alive, watches the events of the movie from his God-like throne inside Kronos. Or something like that.
Only Cusack isn’t really there.
Created by (then) 20-year-old filmmaker Robert Kouba and financed by Kickstarter funds, Singularity began life as a low-low budget sci-fi film called "Aurora" that was shot in the Czech Republic and Switzerland during the summer of 2013.
Years later, scenes with Cusack were shot and inserted into the production (he only ever interacts with one other character, a cronie played by Carmen Argenziano) and the whole thing was polished off with extensive CGI effects.
While Cusack and the semi-proficient CGI work lend the film some credibility, viewers are going to feel hustled when, after 15 minutes, the actual film they find themselves watching turns out to be a dystopian Young Adult affair with production values beneath the level of a student film.
Yes, 80% of this movie is Wacker and Schaffner aimlessly walking around Czech forests (in place of a post-apocalyptic wasteland) in search for Aurora, the fabled last outpost of humanity that they don’t really know anything about.
The Road it ain’t: this is an outsider film through-and-through, a backyard-type production filled with continuity errors, poorly-ADR’d dialogue, and a rambling, thoroughly unconvincing narrative that, at best, reminds us of better movies. Ideas from The Terminator series, The Matrix, The Hunger Games, Transcendence, et al., get tossed around here with little concern for overall coherence.
Still, something like this can have a certain no-budget charm, and Singularity does, at least, have some nice location work in and around Černovice, a Southern Bohemian town about two hours south of Prague. That even includes some nifty drone footage of the genuinely appealing Czech countryside.
But every ten minutes or so there’s a CGI robot or John Cusack cutaway thrown into the mix, and whatever low-budget appeal the production may have had gets lost in the attempt to turn this thing into some kind of bait-and-switch cash grab. In the end, Singularity is the one thing this type of movie cannot afford to be: dishonest with its viewers.