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Review: 'Life Like' proves that even pretty robots can be bad

Posted Tuesday, May 14, 2019 at 3:45 PM Central

by John Couture

Look, I get it. If we are going to create cyborgs or robots with artificial intelligence, it makes more sense to model them after the best specimens among us and not say Jack Black. That's nothing against Jack Black, he's incredibly gifted, but if I had a choice between having my robot look like him or Alicia Vikander, I'm choosing Alicia every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

But, the idea of beautiful robots has run its course and Life Like is just the latest example of why we need ugly AI robots in the future. Or at least ones that don't have quite an active libido.

In Life Like, a young couple played by pretty people themselves in Drew Van Acker and Addison Timlin, purchase a lifelike robot to help them around the house. You know, cook and clean and fulfill even your most taboo of desires? Naturally, the robot conundrum ramps into high gear when his AI kicks in and the robot begins to question its own existence.

Remember the Jetsons? Not only did they promise us a future that included flying cars, but they also showcased Rosie as the undesirable anthropomorphic robot. Since then, we've given up on the idea of the flying car and our conceptions of cyborgs have taken a decidedly more attractive route.

No longer is it enough to simply have a robot that can think freely, but it must also be one that is beautiful to look at and oddly oversexed. I'm not quite sure what that says about us as a species, but the film Ex Machina was a great SciFi movie that not only covers much of the same ground as Life Like but does so more effectively.

I suppose my main problem with the film centers on the whole idea that everyone in it has to be from some sort of Stepford Wives utopia where everyone's body fat index is in single digits. And yes, I'll probably be name-dropping more SciFi robot classics as we go because let's face it, this is a problem that we have been addressing in these type of movies for a long time and there really isn't a good answer.

To that end, Life Like does meander a bit more on the emotional impact of bringing a cyborg into a couples' life and the ramifications of such a move. Of course, the lingering is brief before the plot devolves into the banal and it leaves you wanting more for this aspect.

Again, it's easy to feel jealousy or attachment to a beautiful object, but would these same emotions come into play if the cyborg looked more like D.J. Qualls than a swimsuit model? Although, I will give Life Like credit for taking the unconventional road and choosing a male robot. It seems that we've seen the fembot angle a few too many times and it is a bit refreshing to see the reverse angle, even if the results are still pretty predictable.

At the end of the day, Life Like is a film that doesn't stray too far from the many SciFi films that blazed this trail. In fact, you could say that I was hoping for a surprise twist at the end simply to make it a little less tedious. As it stands, there are far better options in this genre that deliver much more satisfying results.

Of course, if you simply want to look at beautiful people and their pretty robot, then Life Like is just what the doctor ordered. Life Like is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.