W.I.S.O.R.

"Bad"

W.I.S.O.R. Review


What a tough sell this film must have been: Documenting the development of an engineering device that would automate the fixing of broken steam piping underground at the flip of a switch. Set against the backdrop of other advances in technology, with a focus on what robotics has done for humans so far, W.I.S.O.R. may be smart, but does anyone care?

Of course, we're supposed to care. After all, steam pipes burst all the time, flooding streets, exploding buildings, killing innocent people, and causing nasty traffic jams. These pipes date back to the early 20th century and it's time they got updated to the rest of civilization.

So ConEdison (purveyor of gas and electricity in New York City) set Honeybee Robotics to the task of creating a device that would weld ruptures in underground systems with help of a human interface. It's no small feat, as it's never been done before, so there are no predecessors to work from, and even the schematics of the underground systems are questionable. It's a seemingly impossible task, even for a large corporation used to building robots for IBM. But it will happen, and the end result will be W.I.S.O.R., or welding and inspection steam operations robot.

Michel Negroponte, who came to understandable recognition after his successful debut with Jupiter's Wife, tries to make this subject interesting. It starts out with gusto, a short energetic cartoon of what W.I.S.O.R. will eventually do, brief shots of the men making it possible, and some horror scene news footage that prompted ConEdison to take action. But not halfway through the film, it is difficult to stifle a yawn. The engineers bounce scientific theories back and forth, prove themselves frustratingly wrong, and get back on the horse time and again. To make matters even more annoying, the robot they are making is given a voice that mimics them.

The archival footage that is interspersed to break up the development of the machine has some interesting historical perspective. However, the voice over is a condescending one, as if it were speaking to mere 5-year olds (who of course would never sit through a film like this).

Visually speaking, it doesn't matter which section of the "robo-welder" they are working on, though each piece gets an exhausting length of time. Again, Negroponte tries to make up for this in shifty camera work mixed with slow and fast motion, but all this creates is an eyesore. For some reason, the screen also changes from black and white to color at random.

The redeeming values are few and far between. It's respectable that Negroponte would try to teach the masses about such a subject and that the subjects aren't portrayed as perfect geniuses of noble personality. The structure of the film is pleasantly tight; none of the scenes are particularly over-extended. But while it is human tendency to turn to technology to fix things, and some of these advances are fascinating, W.I.S.O.R. just doesn't make the grade.

Arming the missile.



W.I.S.O.R.

Facts and Figures

Run time: 75 mins

In Theaters: Friday 22nd June 2001

Distributed by: Cowboy Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5

IMDB: 4.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Producer: , Jane Weiner

Contactmusic


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