Reviews: Batteries Not Included

A nice replacement for Xanax

There is a reason why humanoid aliens/robots/anthros/whatever are so popular: the audience can relate with them. Spielburg seemed to have forgotten that when he created the little creatures of this film, because the beings he presents are absolutely indefinable. By the end of the film, we know about six things about them: They fly, they self-reproduce, they're mechanical, they make weird noises, they fix things, and they're innherently altruistic. None of these things are explained. It's justified on a technical standpoint (they can't speak), but certainly not on a storytelling one. The creatures are thus little more than plot devices, tools that the story wants you to care for, but have no reason to unless you're a sap that's into wide eyes.

Other than that, the story is incredibly mundane. A few people want to stay in an old-timey apartment building that's going to be knocked down for whatever reason, and the little creatures fix it. The only one who didn't feel vapid was the old woman, Faye, stuck in a dreamland of what she'd like the world to be. I feel like the character arcs could have been quite a bit more interesting had they spent more time on those than the hovering plot devices.

This works both ways; if they had spent more time on the creatures, those would have been more interesting as well. The movie tries to given them equal screen time and fails at making any of it interesting. And let's not forget to mention how contrived the ending is, one of the most blatant cases of Deus Ex Machina I've ever seen. There was a tiny bit of foreshadowing, but not near enough to explain everything that went on there.

And as for any other aspects, the production and special effects are as good as you would expect from Spielberg, and I don't personally remember any of the film's score.

Bottom line: Anyone who isn't an insomniac should stay away. You have been warned.