Stars: Alex Cardillo, Jim Bradford, Brie Barker and Howard Rosenstein
|This film was an official selection at the 9th annual International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival in Phoenix in 2013. Here's an index to my reviews of 2013 films.|
Before this happens, we see an old man, presumably actor Jim Bradford, with worried eyes and wildly receding white hair. After the change, after he's risen again like the phoenix of the title, we discover why he was really cast: we're not going to get to experience any more of him than his voice, which is perfect for the task, the sort that we intrinsically want to trust. 'It'll still be me,' he told young Ben, 'on the inside.' Now Ben has to adjust to that reality, as do we. I can totally buy into the concepts thus far, because, after all, we're already doing this to a lesser degree. What are pacemakers, hearing aids or prosthetic limbs, after all, if not primitive cybernetic replacements for faulty or dying flesh? I can also, having lived in the United States for the last decade with their reliance on health insurance, buy into a scenario where the rich get better care than the poor. What I don't buy is those two facts manifesting themselves here in Grandpa coming back in a Tron suit and a huge birdlike helmet with googly eyes.
There's a great movie somewhere in these ideas, especially now with the controversy over Obamacare prompting Americans to wonder why they're the last civilised country on the face of the earth without nationalised healthcare. Unfortunately that great movie isn't this one, which is relegated to the level of merely being promising. While I can't buy into this particular robot Grandpa, his rather stunning change of appearance does highlight well what writer/director Carmelo Zucco clearly aimed to do, which is to starkly contrast the before with the after to explore how little Ben reacts to the wild change. He asks all the right questions and Alex Cardillo, who plays him, carries a capable mixture of wary adjustment and youthful tolerance. With Jim Bradford's reassuring voice to guide him, it's a safe bet that Ben will find a way to deal. What isn't explored is how long Grandpa will, along with a whole heck of a lot more. I like the way that The Phoenix asks questions. I just wanted more and I don't agree with all the answers.