Movie review: “Bicentennial man”

Bicentennial Man (1999) is based on the novella of the same name by sci-fi writer Isaac Asimov. (Trailer here.)

It tells the story of an unusual android by the name of Andrew (played by Robin Williams) who is bought by the Martin family in 2005 (which was the future in 1999!) in order to help with housekeeping duties. Richard Martin, the father (played by Sam Neill), is fascinated by the android, while his wife – referred to as ‘Ma’am’ (Wendy Crewson) – is more apprehensive, clearly unsure whether she wants a robot in the house. The two little girls are very different to each other – the older Grace (addressed as ‘Miss’ by Andrew) is resentful and dislikes Andrew immediately, whereas Amanda (addressed as ‘Little Miss’) is more open and affectionate towards him.

All four are surprised when Andrew begins to respond on an emotional level, because androids are not supposed to have feelings nor are they able to acquire human qualities. Andrew does, though.

“The film follows the evolution of the NDR series robot Andrew Martin from his introduction into the Martin family and interaction with them through three generations: discovery of his emotional and creative abilities, development into an artist and inventor, evolution into an android, his fight to win legal recognition for his humanity, and ultimate destiny.” (Wikipedia summary)

Over the 200 years of his life, Andrew becomes more and more human, even falling in love and marrying. But despite all his attempts to fit in and to be fully accepted as a human being by society, those who have the authority to declare him a human, refuse to do so.

Ultimately, he has to give up his immortality as an android, and to accept death, which is the fate of all human beings. It was a beautiful, emotional, sad ending. Parts of the movie tended towards the slapstick (unfortunately typical of Robin Williams) and the overly sentimental (i.e. Hallmark moments), but it was still a good film.

3 thoughts on “Movie review: “Bicentennial man”

  1. We’d also seen this when it first came out, and liked it then too, but we couldn’t remember exactly what happened, so that’s why we took it out again.

    I don’t mind watching some movies more than once – one’s always in a different space or a different mindset, and I find that one sees more the second or third time around.

    Given the exorbitant costs of watching a movie in the theatres, though, it’s usually not worthwhile to go twice – unless it’s a Harry Potter instalment, of course!

    But the great thing of DVDs is that you can take them out as often as you like – well, or as long as they’re still on the shelf, and your family doesn’t object, “Oh no, not THAT one AGAIN! We’ve already seen that! Like a dozen times!” (when you’ve actually only seen it twice. ;-))

  2. Pingback: “Bicentennial Man”: About the robot that loves… « Radu presents: The Movie-Photo Blog

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