W.I.S.O.R.

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W.I.S.O.R.

A not-so-epic tale of engineering wizardry far too tedious to be a work of fiction, W.I.S.O.R. devotes 75 of the longest minutes in cinema history to the conception and development of the titular contraption, a semi-autonomous robot welder designed to fix the steam tunnels of New York. Compelling documentaries have been made about drier subjects, but W.I.S.O.R. will likely bore even the hardiest robot-welder enthusiast. The concept of using high-tech 21st-century technology to solve the industrial problems of the 19th century is potentially intriguing, but director Michel Negroponte (Jupiter's Wife) is unable to convey the mission in ways that are even remotely watchable, let alone interesting. A big part of the problem stems from the W.I.S.O.R. engineers. Negroponte clearly sees his protagonists as heroic pioneers in the field of robot technology, but the film's interchangeable, largely anonymous collection of pasty, shabbily dressed, workaholic, all-male computer geeks does little to disprove the stereotype of scientists as boring, asexual eggheads. In a desperate attempt to compensate for the shortage of human drama, Negroponte piles on the film-school tricks with heedless abandon, speeding up and slowing down the film at seemingly random intervals, and inserting a generic techno score that runs the gamut from distracting to grating. Even more injudiciously, Negroponte has W.I.S.O.R. mock-narrate a large portion of the film, using a faux-robotic voice seemingly modeled after the wisecracking hero of Short Circuit, and the manufactured 'tude of a fifth-rate Bart Simpson knock-off. The time has never been riper for a heartfelt, engaging tribute to the unsung heroes who help make New York function, but, unlike its subject, W.I.S.O.R. isn't up to the task.

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