Bicentennial Man

Robin Williams is incredible in
this role of Bicentennial Man.

Several decades ago I discovered science fiction. My first favorite authors where Bradbury and Asimov. They wrote more than science fiction, what they wrote was capable of touching something in my emotions. This first great love of literature was brought back as if new when I first watched Bicentennial Man.

Based upon a short story and book by Asimov it relates the tale of two hundred years in the life of a robot. This robot, Andrew (Robin Williams) is more than just what is programmed. He shows creativity, the capacity for friendship, and tenderness missing from many humans. As his life progresses he strives to be more human. Through various upgrades he becomes more human than those that created him. His affection for the family that purchased him grows through the years until he actually fails in love with the great grand daughter of his owner.

You may notice that many of the themes explored in Bicentennial Man where seen in Star Trek: The Next Generation in the character of Mister Data. Since this store precedes Star Trek it is simple to see that Mister Data is the descendant of the Bicentennial Man. While many reviewers panned this film I cannot agree. No explosions, foul language or explicit sex, this is a family movie in the truest sense of the word. A film that will provoke though and discussion that all ages can enjoy.

Robin Williams is incredible in this role of Bicentennial Man. He is one of the few actors today that can display true wonderment in the world. Like his film ‘Jack’ Williams shows a childlike wonder that makes us believe that he is Andrew learning about the world through fresh eyes.

‘Sir’, the owner, is played by veteran actor Sam Neill. His character grows through his long relationship with Andrew.

The best role is reserved for Embeth Davidtz. She plays the grown ‘Little Miss’ the youngest daughter and her grand daughter Portia, the woman that Andrew falls in love with. She does a nice job of separating the two characters and holds to different emotional nuances and interactions.

Character actor Oliver Platt is excellent as the son of the robot’s creator and business partner to Andrew. Together they embark on a journey to make Andrew human. In a great comic role is Kiersten Warren as Galatea, a female robot that works for Platt’s character. She is a dippy sort of a robot that is always getting on the bad side of Andrew. Real moviegoers will remember her as the stripper that gets killed in ID4.

Bicentennial Man reunites Williams and director Chris Columbus. Columbus knows his way around comedy, especially family oriented comedy. His staging is simple but well done. He contrasts the growing complexity of the world with the growing emotional depth of Andrew.

For a change the set does not take over the film but adds nicely to it. Columbus had a lot to take care of during the production and post-production of this film. The futuristic sets, the aging of the human characters ad the application of robotic prosthetics to Williams and Warren. Add to this a touching musical score and you have a film the director can be proud of, no matter what many critics have said.

The Bicentennial Man disc is well done. There are only minimal extras which includes a short (all too short) making of featurette. There is also a couple of trailers. The anamorphic video is in 1.85:1 aspect ratio combined with a Dolby 5.1 soundtrack. The rear speakers and sub woofer was under utilized but did work to enhance the mood. So buy Bicentennial Man, nuke some popcorn and sit back with your family to watch. One thing, if you are human at all you will laugh and cry during Bicentennial Man.

Review by Doug MacLean of

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