In Blade Runner, the Tyrell Corporation’s motto was “More human than human,” and their goal was to create replicants who were so convincing than even a trained android hunter like Deckard (Harrison Ford) would have a hard time telling them apart from the real thing. That’s all well and good, but what about the poor schmuck who has to take “more human than human” from expectation to reality? How do you replicate all the things, big and small, that make a human, well, human? I have to imagine that’d be a thankless gig that attracted bitter misanthropes. And that’s certainly the case with the weary protagonist of Drew Mylrea’s science fiction short Lisa, which examines the unhappy life of an android engineer for whom perfect is never quite perfect enough.
Here’s the official synopsis for Lisa:
There is a new boom in the technology sector: Robotics. Humanoid robots have replaced most retail employees in major chains across the country. What sets these robots apart is how well their personalities are designed — how charming and helpful they are, how human they are perceived.
Few people in the world can design such a robot. It is an art — it requires a deep understanding of both humanity and technology. Our story focuses on one such individual: ANDERS OHM.
Lisa is a great example of how you can do a lot with a little. It’s got a couple of nice effects reminding us that this is at some undefined point in the future — big floaty ships outside the window! — and that these are androids he’s working on, but what really makes the short succeed is the writing and the character work. I love the notion of an engineer obsessed with creating “perfect” androids, but blind to the fact that all our little quirks and imperfections are what make us genuine humans interesting in the first place.
That’s all the more amusing in light of the fact that Anders himself is clearly himself a mess, an unhappy recluse whose has whittled his life down to the fruitless pursuit of an ever-retreating goal. Plus, he works for a guy who clearly doesn’t share his high standards, and who even refers to the androids as “toys,” a slight I’m sure damn near gave Anders an embolism.
But don’t worry, he’ll get the next one perfect. You’ll see.
Lisa was created for The Continuum, Stage5TV’s anthology series of short films encompassing “fantasy, science fiction, comedy, drama, animation, live-action and everything in between.” You can find more of their shorts right here.
Lisa was directed by Drew Mylrea, and written by Mylrea and Ellen Drosdick.