Amelia 2.0
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Amelia 2.0

Unfortunately, our bodies are made of materials currently with expiration dates. We all want to live but mostly resist the idea of growing old. This self-contradictory concept is easier to you understand once you manage to accrue several decades. We wear out over time, frequently accelerated by disease, circumstances or heredity. An imaginative solution that has been considered many times is to replace the worn-out part or augment its declining function. From crude replacement limbs to eyeglasses and hearing aids we do our best to stave off the inevitable decrepitude. With the explosion of technological progress, we can replace and improve many parts of our bodies. Cybernetic devices can replace not just limbs but an increasing number of organs and functions. As kids, we used to marvel at the television while watching the science fiction/adventure series, ‘The Six Million Dollar Man.' The idea of manufacturing high tech replacements for arms, legs ears and eyes were impossible in real life, but as fans of the genre we held on to its possibilities. As a result, a scientist brought this concept from fantasy to articles in lofty academic journals. Naturally, as technology advanced the filmmakers imagine greater things which in turn was realized. The film under consideration here, ‘Amelia 2.0’, is the latest in an ever-increasing movie number of films addressing this topic. As an ardent fan of the genre, I have watched a lot of these movies, so I fully expected to see much of the same as before. To my pleasant surprise, I found this story to have a decidedly novel and imaginative twist that was previously not been explored to this extent or degree of emotional connection. The fundamental premise is as simple as it is familiar. A young woman who as result of brain injury is left in persistent, noncommunicative state. The only hope that her husband must regain his wife allows a cutting-edge technology firm to use her as a test subject for a revolutionary and controversial procedure, upload her mind into a synthetic body.

Young married couple, Carter (Ben Whitehair) and Amelia (Angela Billman) are in love with their futures stretching out before them. Like most people of that age, the furthest thing in their minds is the possibility of a major catastrophe, a staggering event that instantly derails all hopes and plans. Literally, like the preverbal bolt from the blue Amelia is struck down. Rendered unconscious the young woman is brought to the hospital where the doctors examine her. The results are given to her husband, Carter; Amelia suffered from the effects of a cerebral aneurysm. The result was a terrible condition, ‘Locked In syndrome.' Her mind is active, self-aware but trapped in her body which is unable to use any voluntary muscles. She will remain in that condition as her physiological systems slowly degrade ending only with her inevitable death. Carter visits her, holding her still hand, considering her face as it stares off into space. His only hope is found in a notice that the Wesley Enterprises was searching for test subjects to participate in an experimental procedure. After the lead scientists, Paul Wesley (Ed Begley Jr.) and Dr. Ellen Beckett (Kate Vernon), choose Amelia for the first subject.

The procedure is explained to Carter. After her demise, they will take body removing and preserving her brain. The brain is mapped in minute detail recording every synapse thought and every aspect of what makes Amelia a unique individual. Carter is torn by the gravity and peculiarity of the situation. Finally, he agrees. Under the watchful eye of Dr. Beckett, Amelia is processed. The painstaking procedure is undertaken with the lead scientific researcher, Max Parker (Eddie Jemison). The process is slow requiring a considerable amount of of the first significant change in the typical details of the story is the particulars of the procedures as shown t0 the viewers. In most instances, the actual procedure is condensed to a short montage containing only a superficial overview of the process. In this movie, the audience is shown the trial and error inherent in such an experiment. The minor successes interspersed with setbacks is portrayed demonstrating the emotional investment permeating the researchers. The newly created body for Amelia is given the download, but it requires many attempts before the first sign of it working, her brainwaves responding correctly to her name. Carter is introduced to the new Amelia and is understandably stunned. She looks exactly like his late wife but what truly convinces him that Amelia might be ‘in there.' She asks Carter about the location of her wedding ring. Carter removed it just after she passed.

The story unfolds with a significant emphasis of the emotion arcs experienced by the characters. This applies not just to the ‘subject,' Amelia but is expanded to encompass Carter and Dr. Beckett. The Doctor’s emotional state is finely crafted emphasizing the fragility of human nature. She lost her daughter in such a fashion that this procedure would have saved her. Dr. Beckett also represents another potential group that would greatly benefit from a synthetic body. She has paraplegia, confirmed to a motorized wheelchair. These elements of the story are subtly resented allowed to infuse into the story organically. This attention to the construction of the narrative is what differentiated this film from the myriad of others. The technology is presented as a form of the classic plot device, the MacGuffin. The scientific procedure is necessary within the context of the story but can be considered secondary to the effect on the audience. The characters become embroiled in the legal, moral and political ramification such a breakthrough would inevitably arise. There are politicians, religious leaders and members of the media each representing the concerns of those they represent. In an interesting choice of casting the central member of the televised news, Adah Allen is portrayed by Debra Wilson, a woman best known as a member of the sketch comedy TV series. ‘Mad-TV.' This is part of s growing trend where established comedians are reinventing their careers as serious actors.

There is a pragmatic reason behind the degree of emotional veracity and a pervasive sense of intimacy. Before its release as a film, it was a plant named ‘The Summerland Project.' Furthermore, many of the principal cast are reprising their stage performances for this production. Assisting the familiarity felt by the cast and crew, the set used for theater shown in a flashback to Amelia and Carter was the same theater had hosted the stage play. By utilizing many of the same props and set pieces they used on the stage. This allowed the tight knit unity that is indicative of a troupe of stage actors. This conferred a feeling of familiarity and unity that elevated this entire experience a synergy that has pronounced effects on the audience. This allows the story to connect deeply with the viewer with is especially crucial to the gravity of the contained themes. A topic that includes the exploration of the redefinition of humanity is no longer the prevue of science fiction; we are rushing headlong to meet this uncertain future. The source material the seminal classic by Philip K. Dick, ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.' That was also used as the foundation of some of the first serious considerations of cybernetic that would eventually have culminated in androids and other advanced simulated life forms. This movie will have you thinking about its themes long after the final credits have rolled. Other treatments of these issues have certainly been more intense, capable of exhibiting the potential horrors of the singularity but none have had the heart as does this movie. It is the first feature length film for director Adam Orton, and with this opus, he has already made a mark on his art form.

Posted 08/29/2017

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