Replicas Parent Guide
This isn't a great film, but it is a gateway to better films and a substantive discussion of complex ethical issues.
Parent Movie Review
William Foster (Keanu Reeves), a talented researcher in a biotechnology company called Bionyne, is trying to implant a human consciousness into a robot. With the help of colleague Ed Whittle (Thomas Middleditch), he comes close, but the consciousness always seems to reject the synthetic body. After one failure too many, Ed loans William his boat for a family weekend getaway. However, on the way to the marina the family gets caught in a terrible storm and William crashes the car. When he comes to, he finds that his wife, Mona (Alice Eve) and their children Matt, Sophie, and Zoe (Emjay Anthony, Emily Alyn Lind, and Aira Leabu) have all been killed in the wreck. In his grief, he turns to Ed, and coaxes him into helping him implant the consciousnesses of his family members into the cloned bodies. But, as Ed points out, human cloning is illegal, and even if it wasn’t, no one has have successfully done it. Will William be able to bring his family back to life? And if so, at what cost?
Replicas is certainly making a bold move by addressing such a controversial issue, and to its credit, the film devotes a fair bit of dialogue to discussing the objections to human cloning and transhumanism. But, like in every other Frankenstein story, the characters then ignore both ethics and sense and race full steam ahead into scientifically and philosophically muddy waters. Unfortunately, Replicas doesn’t seem to have the screenwriting or directing chops to make any of this plausible. While some dialogue is interesting and thought-provoking, most of it is awkward and uncomfortable. Character motivations are clear but sadly two dimensional, and many interpersonal conflicts seem to just vanish without significant attempt to address them beyond bringing them up in the first place. On the effects end of things, the computer-generated assets are downright goofy. With a hard-to-swallow plot and many technical flaws, Replicas isn’t a good movie by any definition.
In terms of content, parents have little to be concerned about except for some profanity and violence. Regarding the latter, violence on the part of the main characters is usually either accidental or defensive. Really, the most disturbing thing in the film is the cavalier attitude of most characters to established professional ethics and scientific procedure.
Replicas is not a great film in its own right, but it can serve as gateway to better films and a more substantive discussions of ethics. That said, if you enjoy bad films, you could definitely give Replicas a look. It’s kind of fun in its own way, and short enough that the pacing chugs along at a good clip. Added to which, since leading man Keanu Reeves was discovered to be secretly funding children’s hospitals (when he isn’t giving up his seat to strangers on the subway), you can rest assured that at least part of your ticket cost will be going to a good cause.Directed by Jeffrey Nachmanoff. Starring Keanu Reeves, Alice Eve, and Thomas Middleditch. Running time: 107 minutes. Theatrical release January 11, 2019. Updated January 11, 2019
Watch the trailer for Replicas
Rating & Content Info
Why is Replicas rated PG-13? Replicas is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for thematic material, violence, disturbing images, some nudity and sexual references
Violence: On two occasions, deceased men are shown with some blood on their clothing, but no graphic injuries. On several occasions, characters have large needle inserted into their eyes. A character is impaled with a tree branch through the abdomen, and other characters are drowned in the course of a car accident in bad weather. Their bodies are shown. A security guard is shot off-camera. An individual is shot in the head. Several characters are tossed around by a robot, and an individual is choked. A man sees firearms pointed at his family. Men are shot on a few occasions and one victim is shown with blood on his face. Men shoot at a robot. A robot attacks men and chokes one of them. A woman and her children are kidnapped.
Sexual Content: None. There is brief, non-graphic nudity in a medical context.
Profanity: Approximately twenty uses of mild and moderate profanities and ten terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adult characters are shown having a glass of wine with dinner, but not shown drinking it. Drugs are injected into subjects in a medical setting.
Page last updated January 11, 2019
Replicas Parents' Guide
How do you feel about human cloning? What are the ethical concerns about it? Do you think it is ethical to transfer someone’s consciousness into a machine? Do you think that will be possible in your lifetime? How can we respond to technological developments that we find frightening or don’t understand? What kind of oversight do you think biotech companies should be subjected to? Do you think it is in any way acceptable for them to relocate to South America to take advantage of less strict legislation surrounding medical ethics and practices?
Read books about Replicas
Perhaps the most obvious choice is Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s Frankenstein, which explores the ethical complications of attempting to create or modify life. Several Michael Crighton novels also explore the dangers of technologies we don’t fully understand, including The Andromeda Strain, Next, and of course, Jurassic Park. Arthur C. Clarke’s novel adaptation of 2001; A Space Odyssey is also a classic, containing the same themes as the film but with significantly more clarity. Many stories by Phillip K. Dick discuss human nature in the context of science, especially in the context of artificial intelligence.
Related home video titles:
2004’s I, Robot is a good film for teens and adults, following Will Smith as a detective who must determine how human artificial intelligence can be.
Jurassic Park (1993) shows the consequences of biotech companies relocating to South America and meddling with dangerous science.
For adults and older teens, Ridley Scott’s 1982 classic Blade Runner explores the societal relationship with artificial intelligence.
Audiences with a longer attention span will certainly appreciate Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) which explores those themes along with the nature and limits of humanity.