Silicon Docks Movie Review (Spoiler Free)
What happens when ten tech giants meet outside their Irish HQs, amidst the pandemic? This is a crazy, laugh-out-loud, satire!
Genre: Animation / Comedy
Director: Graham Jones
Cast: Grace Power, Shane Lynch, Gerry Cannon, Bobby Calloway, Fiona Bawn-Thompson, Brendan McDonald, José Naghmar, Rob Smith & Matthew McMahon.
Run Time: 83 min.
US Release: 01 October 2022 (YouTube)
UK Release: 01 October 2022 (YouTube)
German Release: 01 October 2022 (YouTube)
Irish independent director Graham Jones is at it again! After his eerie 2019 true crime documentary Rainy in Glenageary, Jones presents us with a new hilarious animated comedy, developed amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, as a means to break the solidarity of isolation. With limited resources at hand, the director, together with animator Kasia Wiśniewska, created a damn good-looking little flick, available for free on his YouTube platform. I will put up the link at the end of my review, for anyone interested.
Marissa Mayer calls upon the most prominent tech moguls to meet on a rainy afternoon in Dublin, as the EU is about to pass a new agreement. Debating whether to sign it or not, the group decide to go on a pub crawl, during a nationwide pandemic lockdown.
Graham Jones explains that the idea came to him as he was passing through the area of Silicon Docks, which is now riddled with big U.S. tech corporations like Google or Facebook. It made him reflect on the everyday smartphone user, as well as our modern, internet-reliant society. The result is a bitter-sweet socio-political critique, in which the biggest names of the internet and tech industry are thrown into the real world, clashing with their inaccessible personalities. The subject of the pandemic is used as a background setting.
The jokes are subtle, with the story taking its time to unfold. The driving force of the narrative is a new EU bill that is about to pass, which makes these innovators come together to discuss a unilateral decision to support it or not. Sadly, due to COVID regulations, as well as internal security risks, they are not allowed to meet in each other's buildings, effectively leaving them nowhere else to meet but on the streets of Dublin. Things escalate mildly, as their bickering and competitiveness don’t allow for harmonious discussions.
Further subjects that are picked up and satirised, are the lack of control over fake information spreading through the different platforms, the abuse of social media by political figures, the trolling and cyber-bullying, plus the benefit these people obtain from avoiding tax payments in the EU. It is hysterical to see how each one tries to justify one of those points, searching for excuses. That said, there is a part around the 55-minute mark, playing in a park, that could have been wrapped up a little faster.
The dialogues are well written! Obvious research has gone into the development of conversations to make them sound realistic, while also comedically exaggerating them, without crossing the line of ridicule.
Every one of the voice actors did a brilliant job at picking up speech patterns and mannerisms from these grander-than-life personas, turning them into entertaining caricatures that have no sense of direction in the analogue world.
Internet tycoons like Mark Zuckerberg are being made fun of, exposing the Facebook (now Meta) CEO, as the narcissistic, immature and unstable personality that he is. The writing goes even further, portraying him as being so self-obsessed that he still is completely obnoxious as to how his platform influenced the 2016 elections, or how users are still spreading misinformation through it. It is a sharp zing that, while amusing, packs a lot of truth.
The two rivals Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are also not spared from criticism. Their squabble is partially picked up, ridiculing how both just try to outbid each other, while personally trying to make the exact opposite decision from each other, it is a paradox in itself. The best, however, is the visual euphemism used for their genitalia, during a urination scene. Further, Bezos is being roasted by a Dublin local as to why he is not paying taxes. Meanwhile, Musk is playing around with a useless gadget that gives him an Irish accent, at the cost of sounding unnaturally robotic.
Then there is Jack Dorsey, former CEO of Twitter, who is portrayed as this zen-like master, although it quickly becomes apparent that it is only a facade. Under all that balanced personality, is a pit of anger and borderline alcoholism. Dorsey is probably among the most humorous characters.
Cinematographically speaking, this is a beautiful-looking movie, with long, elongated scenes that have a desired cynical effect. The background setting is taken from real-life footage of Dublin, which has been changed in post-production to look like cell-shade animation. The lighting is mostly kept to look as natural as possible.
The animation by Kasia Wiśniewska is gorgeus! She created brilliant cartoon replicas of these real-life personas. There are moments where the 3-D background clashes with the two-dimensional animated people, however, it is a minor nitpick given that the resources were limited. One could even argue that it is a metaphor for the character’s shallow personalities, unable to realise how their inventions are contributing to societal deterioration.
Verdict: Graham Jones’ newest movie, is another great entry in the director's filmography. Never holding back on his opinions, the filmmaker makes it abundantly clear what he thinks of these tech giants. Presenting the facts with a lot of humour and sarcasm, the story makes its fair points when it picks up topics like tax avoidance, misinformation on social platforms, cyber-bullying, though most prominent the pseudo-intellects of these so-called visionaries. The voice acting is on point, not only replicating speech mannerisms perfectly but exaggerating them for comical effects. The cinematography and animation are beautiful, even though the two-dimensional cartoon characters can disrupt the experience slightly. Silicon Docks is worth a watch, absolutely deserving an 8.5 out of 10.
If you are interested in watching Graham Norton’s satirical animation, it is available for free on YouTube. Just click on the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cG8gwP3kQfE