Hulu’s ‘Mother/Android’ Is a Grim, Unoriginal Take on Dystopian Parenting
2/5 robot butlers.
There’s never been a worse time to be a dystopian drama. After four years of a soul-destroying presidential administration, a global pandemic, and the seemingly endless existential despair afflicting Americans, few have an appetite for grim, relentlessly dark dystopian fiction. Obviously, certain films and series continue to hold their appeal (see A Quiet Place Part I and II, AMC’s The Walking Dead universe), but other shows like HBO Max’s Station Eleven and FX’s canceled Y: The Last Man struggle to attract an audience that is already weary and worn down from surviving the past few years.
The odds then, are stacked against Mattson Tomlin’s (Project Power) apocalyptic parenting drama Mother/Android, which centers on collegiate couple Georgia (Chloë Grace Moretz) and Sam (Algee Smith) who discover that Georgia is pregnant just before Christmas. An unplanned pregnancy is unsurprisingly stressful, as the couple are already on shaky ground. But before they can even discuss their predicament, their world is upended by the robot apocalypse.
Sentient androids, who look human and serve as butlers and glorified assistants, become corrupted thanks to their latest software update, which affects the droids as well as smart cars, the electrical grid, drones, etc. As America collapses, the film cuts to 8 months later, where we find a heavily pregnant Georgia and Sam desperately seeking shelter and a safe place to give birth.
The pair are welcomed into a military outpost, one of a handful of safe zones left in the United States. They plan on heading to Boston, a safe zone surrounded by a No Man’s Land, with promises of ships taking survivors to Asia, which is apparently safe from the robots. Why Asia evaded the robot apocalypse is one of many plot points that isn’t explained and quickly tossed off.
Also unexplained is what exactly our humans are up against. The android look and sound human, but occasionally have glowing blue eyes. And while they seem to be stronger, faster, and smarter than their human counterparts, some are easily destroyed via baseball bat to the head, while others can take several bullets to the face and keep on ticking. The mechanics of the robots are frustratingly opaque, as is their directive beyond world domination and killing humans. Who is leading them? What do they want? Are they simply mechanical sadists, as a robot torture outpost would suggest? Or are they fighting for something greater than robot liberation?
Similarly frustrating are their human counterparts, who continue to make baffling and illogical choices at every turn. Every zombie film or dystopian drama features humans making dumb choices, but Sam and Georgia repeatedly put themselves and their unborn baby at risk in ways that simply don’t track with their characters. After they’re booted from yet another safe haven, you start to wonder how in the hell these two made it this long.
Tomlin’s film is clearly an allegory for the refugee crisis, inspired by his own parents’ struggles during the Romanian revolution of 1989. And much like Children of Men, the film focuses on the hope that Georgia and Sam’s baby symbolizes, and the importance of new life amidst so much death.
But despite a solid message and compelling performances from its leads, Mother/Android fails to flesh out enough details to make for a coherent storyline. And this mess of a film pales in comparison to the Terminator series, which deftly handles both the emotional arcs and the action set-pieces you’d expect from a movie of this genre.
With go-nowhere twists, confusing plotting, and a frustrating lack of clarity as to any character’s motivations, Mother/Android leaves audiences with one of the most emotionally punishing and implausible endings in recent memory. If you’re looking for a more entertaining Chloë Grace Moretz film where she plays a pregnant woman in peril, I’d recommend the silly, pulpy Shadow in the Cloud instead.
Mother/Android is currently streaming on Hulu.
(image: Seacia Pavao/Hulu)
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