A medium-length post apocalyptic film set in the distant future. James is the last human on Earth. He is raised and protected by a humanoid robot, the Machine, who brings him up on a strange composite religion described in a handheld device called The Manual. The Manual’s teachings fuse aspects of old-world religion and incorporate robots as spiritual beings in the afterlife, alongside and equal to humans.
Ok… I definitely was not expecting that, but I’m sure glad I saw it! Although short, The Manual is one of the most thought provoking post apocalyptic films of the decade.
Man-Machine Relationship – This is the highlight of The Manual. Having the last human on Earth being raised by a robot is extremely interesting. Since James has only truly known himself and his robot, it is hard for him to distinguish what it truly means to be human and how The Machine differs from himself. My only wish is that there was more time to dive a little deeper into this theme, but given the length of the film, it was done perfectly.
Religious Doubts – While there are additional themes to The Manual, one of the biggest ones is having doubts with the established religion. Mankind’s biggest achievement is in discovery and since James’s world is so confined to a limited scope, he desperately want to know the truth of what he knows. And on that I note I wanted to learn more about what is contained inside The Manual. We learn a few of its principles, but I feel with more time we could have dived even deeper into them.
The Ending – This is where The Manual goes from decent to spectacular. I obviously can’t give anything away, but if this was a TV series, this ending would be the last 5 minutes of season 1.
I Want to See More – Speaking of a TV series, I wish this was one. There’d have to be some pretty significant conceptual changes, but I honestly could see something like this being a series. A society on the verge of collapse hanging onto nothing but themselves, their robots, and their manuals for survival. Then because of the end of season twist season 2 would be a completely different shift of the show. Having to deal with the knowledge of season 1 while trying to move forward in life. Oh… absolutely fantastic! Now admittedly, I’m no screenwriter, so this could be a logistical nightmare, but just the thought of it gets me giddy.
Potentially a Little Slow – This is where the length of the film is a benefit. The Manual definitely moves at a slower pace. While not bad, it does feel like a little more needs to happen. But just I was thinking that, something does happen and the movie ends. As I said, not necessarily a bad thing, just something I was thinking while watching it.
The Manual is an excellent post apocalyptic film that excels in giving the audience a lot to think on. From religion and emotions to life and existence all of these wonderful themes are discovered in The Manual.
Check out the trailer and visit the website to find out how you can see The Manual.