A very modern Prometheus tale on a budget, sci-fi wonder Puzzlehead creates more from less as it charts the evolution of a humanoid being made in the exact image of its creator -- a socially awkward scientist living in a desolate dystopian future.
Unlike Frankenstein's monster or even Edward Scissorhands, this being -- named Puzzlehead -- is a self-aware android of the Blade Runner variety born with its master's memory buried deep within its synthetic psyche. This implanted subconscious drives both the robot and the film. As the action unfolds through Puzzlehead's first-hand narration, the audience discovers the bare new world just as it does. These discoveries lead to conflict, jealousy and identity confusion when Puzzlehead's innocent bravery saves the life of a young woman whom his master secretly covets. Like a Tim Burton production hung by shoestrings, Puzzlehead makes monetary minuses into pluses, creating its lonely, futuristic world using nothing more than deserted streets, industrial wastelands and discarded everyday detritus. The atmosphere is all the more surreal for it. The ace production design makes up for the somewhat stilted acting. The same actor plays both Puzzlehead and his creator -- a conceit crucial to the plot -- and the demands often prove too great. Regardless, what Puzzlehead lacks in razzle-dazzle, it makes up for in originality, proving that ambition has no price tag. (PM) Grade: B+