Josh Bell


(2.5 stars)

Stars: Tamlyn Tomita, Sab Shimono, Wai Ching Ho

Director: by Greg Pak

Details: Opens Friday

"Thoughtful" and "Science Fiction" are not two terms that generally go together in Hollywood, even as sci-fi books and some TV series take intelligent looks at the future. Movies like Gattaca and Solaris, high-profile sci-fi films that emphasize thought over action, flop, while successful sci-fi movies are all about explosions and cool effects, with serious philosophical considerations merely an afterthought.

Which means that sci-fi is generally the purview of hacks who can drum up $100 million budgets, and for that reason alone Greg Pak's Robot Stories is refreshing. A series of four short films, connected only loosely by a theme of humans interacting with machines, it proves not only that you can make a sci-fi film on an indie-level budget, but also that thought isn't entirely dead within the genre.

While Pak shows promise, especially with the final segment, a meditation on the existence of the soul, his reach ultimately exceeds his grasp. He does remarkably well on such a low budget, evoking a feeling of the future with just some well-placed props, but the first and third segments are one-note concepts, and the film as a whole lacks cohesion. Still, with a more focused script and one of those $100 million budgets, Pak could very well make an impressive, thoughtful sci-fi film.

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