A private detective and her android partner track down a notorious hacker in the dark underbelly of a Martian metropolis in this superb cyber-punk-noir animated feature, packed with humour and action.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2023
At this year’s Cannes, the big discovery was this five-years-in-the-making, cyber-punk-noir animated feature from French director Jérémie Périn. This hard sci-fi creation of a colonised Mars shares genetic make-up in tandem with Métal Hurlant Magazine, Ghost in the Shell, I, Robot, Robocop and Blade Runner in a dystopian tale of a rogue code allowing androids to be jailbroken from their inbuilt (non-violent) hardline directives. The two P.Is thrown into this matrix-miasma are Aline—a human—and Carlos who is a ”backup”; an android replica of Aline’s deceased partner.
Both investigators go down a galactic rabbit hole in search of answers that start with a runaway cybernetics student who has discovered some strange coding while programming a robot. An ambitious space spectacle, Mars Express features complex world-building (with input from futurists, scientists and engineers) and attention to numerous clever details that will immediately immerse viewers and provide a rich hunting ground for repeat viewings. Noctis, the Martian capital, is a visual wonder of mecha-architecture and is the perfect environment for a clever script that intertwines a noir-ish robotic utopia alongside a tangled web of corrupt players at the highest echelon of Martian power. — Ant Timpson