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What to give your robot mother on Mother’s Day?

Jung_E, the big budget 2023 scifi movie, suggests a robot mother will appreciate freedom. Baring that, a novel wheel-leg hybrid mechanism.

An upcoming Science Robotics article will discuss how the robot science, particularly the hybrid wheel-leg arrangement used in the real-life DRC-HUBO robot that won the DARPA Robotics Challenge, is particuarly interesting from a robotics viewpoint.

But how does Jung_E stack up as a movie? Much better than the reviews suggest.

In  Jung_E,  the last memories of war hero Captain Jung Yi  have been preserved and 35 years later instantiated in a nearly exact physical replication. Her death in battle orphaned her young daughter,  Seo-hyun. Seo-hyun has grown up to be a leading roboticist,  ostensibly tasked to find why Jung Yi failed in her last mission in order to create a more perfect combat robot that will win the war, but secretly is trying to reconnect with the mother she dearly loves but barely remembers. Jung_E does not remember her life before the last battle- or does she? As bonus for roboticists, the emotional drama is accompanied by a range of  morphologically interesting combat robots and plot points probing ethics (or the lack of them) in robotics.

Why the hate for the movie? I suspect the biggest source stems from the movie trying to be more emo like Blade Runner and edgy ethically like Ex Machina or HBO Westworld rather than maintain a constant action of Transformers or Pacific Rim.

The is a lot of action, but there is a lot of recycling from other movies- Visually, about the only thing shot they missed was a Forbidden World Krell/Interior of the Death Star shot of some sort of command center.

  • There is a The Edge of Tomorrow/All You Need is Kill Groundhog Day repetition of a key mission,  in this case against a bunch of superior robots. 

  • There is a “find the hidden robot in the army of motionless robots in formation scene” almost identical to the shot in from I, Robot

  • The ubiquitous drop ship launching robots scene last seen in The Mandalorian 

  • Androids are tested using a variation of he Voight-Kampff test in Blade Runner

  • Seo-hyun has a male boss that makes the one in M3GAN look reasonable 

  • Plus the HBO Westworld ability to stop a robot and swap them between sentience and de facto teleoperation 

So yes, there is some recycling- but at least it’s from good movies and the visual effects are well produced.


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