DVD Review – A scowling John Cusack isn’t enough to save ‘Singularity’

Cover art for the 2018 DVD release of Singularity

Genre: Sci-Fi
Certificate: 12
UK Release Date: 7th May 2018
Runtime: 89 minutes
Director: Robert Kouba
Writer: Robert Kouba, Sebastian Cepeda
Starring: Julian Schaffner, Jeannine Wacker, John Cusack, Carmen Argenziano
Synopsis: Decades after the human race is wiped out by an artificial intelligence, scattered descendants of survivors attempt to find the mythical safe haven of Aurora.

 

 

Do you remember after the release of the first Hunger Games movie in 2012, when everything created for girls featured a badass woman with a bow and arrow? That spirit is still alive six years later with sci-fi thriller Singularity, which features a Katniss Everdeen clone running around a forest for much of its running time, while a malevolent male puppet master watches her every move. The difference is that, this time, the lead is a boy again. This is why we can’t have nice things. Although, in many ways, that slightly backwards attitude is the least infuriating thing about the movie, which is a tedious and unimaginative tale.

The film is set in the aftermath of a cataclysmic event. Tech entrepreneur Elias Van Dorne (John Cusack) has created hugely advanced robots, which humanity has of course used to make warfare even more advanced. Disillusioned by the way humanity “doesn’t value all we have given them”, Elias and brother Damien (Carmen Argenziano) create Kronos – a powerful AI that promptly decides to kill off humanity, turning the Earth into a world of machines. Almost a hundred years later, the descendants of human survivors seek the possibly mythical safe haven of Aurora, with Andrew (Julian Schaffner) and Kalia (Jeannine Wacker) joining forces to find the ‘promised land’, but is it all just part of the plan for Elias, who lives on as part of the AI he created?

Yes, it is. In fact, the film makes it impossible to ever forget that because it cuts back to John Cusack roughly once every five minutes to show him standing in a dark room scowling at a computer like he’s just found out that an ex has blocked him on Facebook. Cusack only shares scenes with one character and he’s only ever in the same location, so he obviously did just a couple of days, but writer-director Robert Kouba seems determined to use him as much as possible. Almost as annoying as Cusack is the constant exposition delivered through voice-over. ‘Show, don’t tell’ is not a maxim with which Kouba is familiar.

The exposition is leaden, but that’s nothing on the wet fish chemistry between the two leads. Julian Schaffner is a bland reaction shot brought to life, while Jeannine Wacker is entirely hamstrung by the fact she has been designed to be a Katniss Everdeen clone. She’s even called Kalia, which is such a tribute act name that I expected the movie to reveal her surname was Everglade or something. Both performances are very poor, though they’re grappling with a script that doesn’t give them anything meaningful to chew over en route to a conclusion that is telegraphed pretty early in the story.

There’s nothing about Singularity that works. Its adventure narrative feels slow and bogged down even within the confines of a very slim 90-minute running time and the characters are plagued by lead balloon dialogue throughout. The concept could have been intriguing with a bit of thought, but there’s no such thought in Kouba’s story, which limps through with Hunger Games rip-offs and Cusack’s one-note, scowling expression. There’s even a sequel tease, which is at best hopelessly optimistic and, at worst, depressingly over-confident.

 

Special Features

Just the movie’s trailer on the disc I had for review.

 

Pop or Poop?

Rating: Poop!

Exhausting and poorly executed sci-fi is nothing new, but Singularity is perhaps the most tedious example of the genre released in a very long time. It’s a combination of poor performances, a limp story and some bizarrely incompetent filmmaking that combines to make something that’s entirely dull and often a chore to watch.

 

Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.

Singularity is available on DVD in the UK now, courtesy of Thunderbird Releasing.

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