The aspect of film festival entries, even ones with specific focus, is the idea of vision but also of story structure. “Blood Machines”, a sort of music video/short hybrid shows that new thinking in terms of that structure can be done, especially in the streaming world. Narrative doesn’t have to restrict itself to 22 minutes for commercials. It is based in what the story needs. But it also needs to take into account the essence of discipline in that process. While there are some grand visions within “Blood Machines” with some exceptional images, it wants to be more “5th Element” than “Blade Runner”. But clear meaning in certain ways still needs to come across. The essence of a ship with a soul is established early on and that idea is clear but the basis of what the Captain of the ship does, his sexual hang ups and the impeding perception of Tracy within his ship are unclear and very broad.
Granted the “2001” star chase with a degree of sexual innuendo points to some interesting metaphors and reflexive moments, but it doesn’t quite hit the mark. The French filmmakers behind this definitely had evolution perceptions of Luc Besson and maybe a little bit of Jeunet & Caro. However again the motivations behind the stories are unclear. Not that art needs to be clear but it needs a sound basis. The character with the most intrinsic nature in the piece is a high priestess who has violet hair who maybe be a melding of Milla Jovovich’s Alice and the 5th Element mixed together. There is something undeniable in her and little acting touches on the ship work with this but once the story makes its way onto an asteroid, most of the imagery becomes disjointed leading up to a lurid and florid battle which is interesting in a certain way but doesn’t portend to any interpretation.
The ending of “2001” or even Disney’s maligned “Black Hole” have a fairly clear idea of what they are saying, “Blood Machines” in making a reflection that all machines in some way might have a soul is an interesting discussion but not brought to bear despite a glowing yellow cross of many of the “souls” of the ship who are naked women. One could connect this to “Blade Runner 2049”, which may or may not have inspired this. That scene in that film with Wallace (played by Jared Leto) ruminating that the one ting he has been unable to create was the ability for Replicants to procreate before killing a naked female Replicant that had been born for that purpose is telling. That is the central element of that film and even director Villenueve didn’t answer the question though he posed it in a very deliberate and yet absorbing way. “Blood Machines” is a different type, showing reverence to the sci-fi it loves with an EDM score mixed with John Carpenter vibe which gives it a feeling all it own. It just doesn’t quite show where it wants to go.
By Tim Wassberg