Hulu’s Mother/Android is very clearly the kind of sci-fi that wants you to care more about the characters than the setting. At various points in the movie it actually succeeds, thanks to outstanding performances from charismatic actors. The problem, of course, is that the setup feels too studied, too much like a collection of cliches, for us to truly connection to it.
Plus, of course, there’s the fact that the thing they’re struggling against is not just a little undefined. No, even worse than that, it makes very little sense, in the grand scheme of things.
The story isn’t all that confusing, particularly for fans of high fantasy or science fiction, something we’ve seen adapted much more in recent days. Foundation is about 75 times more confusing than Mother/Android is, so the problem isn’t that we can’t follow the story. Instead, the main issue is that, despite the movie giving us enough information to establish the android’s intelligence, we still never fully understand their plan, much less feel any emotional connection to their plight.
And yes, we can feel emotional connection to artificial intelligence. Enter Isaac Asimov’s The Biccentenial Man, as a great example of the fact that making robots the “bad guys” doesn’t inherently means there has to be a detachment. We can still care, and we can even understand. After all, we live in the world of humans, and we are all intimately aware of how much humans suck at times. We just need a little more to go on than what this movie gives us.
In some ways, I respect the decision to not make everything easy for viewers, to leave some things for the imagination. As an avid consumer of fanfic, I can vouch for the power of that imagination. However, I can also vouch for the fact that, for a property to truly connect with its audience, things still have to make sense. They don’t always in this movie. And the fact that we spend more time thinking about why they don’t than we do about the characters is a problem.
What are the androids? Are they mindless killing machines? They shouldn’t be, otherwise we’d just be watching a zombie movie. Instead, it should all be about a higher purpose. It’s just that we never truly understand what that is, if it even exists. We’re only here to follow Georgia, Sam and their baby as they make us feel things we really don’t want to feel.
Or at least Georgia does.
It’s truly inconvenient to invest in only parts of a movie. But I admit that despite my previously mentioned issues, I invested enough in Mother/Android that I was both genuinely happy at times, and genuinely upset at others. That’s probably a good sign that, even if some things don’t quite click, the movie is still worth a try. In the end, what we want from entertainment is to feel, isn’t it?
You’ll get that. You’ll also probably get more questions than answers. But if you don’t mind that, you might still find that there’s something in Mother/Android worth thinking about.
Set in the near future, “Mother/Android” follows Georgia (Chloë Grace Moretz) and her boyfriend Sam (Algee Smith) through their treacherous journey of escape as their country is caught in an unexpected war with artificial intelligence. Days away from the arrival of their first child, they must face No Man’s Land – a stronghold of the android uprising, in hopes of reaching safety before giving birth.
The film stars Chloë Grace Moretz, “Georgia” (SHADOW IN THE CLOUD, KICK-ASS), Algee Smith, “Sam” (JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH, EUPHORIA), Raul Castillo (WE THE ANIMALS).
Mother/Android is available to stream on Hulu.