Better Than Us is touted as an original Netflix Sci-Fi series about Artificial Intelligent Robots set in a Utopian future time and some place in Russia. The main story line is about a family on the brink of splitting up who unwittingly become the owners of a cutting-edge robot named Arisa who is being sought by a corporation, homicide investigators and terrorists.
This is not really an original Netflix series but a Russian made series that has been dubbed into English. Which is made obvious since they kept some of the Russian titles and also when they are talking about money they say Rubles instead of Dollars or Pounds.
Here is in fact what my biggest problem with the movie is, not the money part but the translation at times is odd. I am sure in Russian it’s probably perfect dialogue, but sometime how people talk to each other just does not fit and comes across like bad dialogue writing and poor acting. It’s bad dialogue as for the most part the acting is solid. Except for the little daughter Sonya Safronova played by Vitaliya Kornienkowho who comes across as whining, which could be the fault of the person who they picked to dub the actress. I noticed that they used the same voice for a different girl when Georgy visits his girlfriend at the end of the final episode.
The first season is 16 episodes which finally is close to what they used to call a regular season of 24 episode back in the day. That before streaming services came along maybe in an attempt to cut costs who knows started trying to fool all of us by saying 10 and sometimes 8 episodes is a season. Those of us who remember watching network television shows in the 80’s and 90’s are not buying it, we know that you’re doing. But it was nice to see we nearly a full season for a change.
So the show at the start of Episode one has Arisa the new super-bot and first one that can kill a person arrive from China to the corporation Cronos much to the delight of the head henchman Victor Pavlovich Toropov played by actor Aleksandr Ustyugov. Victor wants his new super-bot to take over most of the working industry letting everyone retire early. But while Arisa is charging she is almost raped by a Cronos employee whom she does kill and then takes off hiding.
It is during this time we get to know more about Georgy and the Safronova family. They are in the midst of a family break-up and Georgy is separated from his wife but wants custody of his children from the estranged wife Alla Safronova played by Olga Lomonosova. Alla has an agenda of her own and tries to steal the children pretending to go on a vacation in Australia with her new boyfriend but really wants to move there permanently. Lucky for Georgy his young daughter spills the beans during one of his custody days with him.
This sets Georgy off and he revokes his permission to let the children go on vacation. Alla’s sister comes up with a plot to get the kids taken away and she pretends to leave for Australia with the boyfriend while plotting with her sister to prove that Georgy is a unfit bad parent. She does this by getting Georgy to stay with the kids at her place and wires the place with cameras.
Arisa still on the run hides in the apartment and is discovered by the little girl Sonya who she decides to make her main user. Sonya hides the fact that Arisa is there for a while and eventually she is discovered first by her older brother Egor Georgievich Safronov played by Eldar Kalimulin. Egor is bribed by Sonya not to tell their father Georgy otherwise she tell on him for skipping school and coming home early.
Arisa is eventually discovered by Georgy on his own and she makes him a user and proclaims now her family is complete. The rest of the episodes highlight a fringe group called the Liquidators that are against Robots taking over too much of society and not being real people. Their cause takes a side turn at one point when one of them accidentally commits murder while making their point.
Arisa continues to learn more and at one point performs a life saving surgery on Lara instead of accidentally killing her like Victor wanted Georgy to make her do. Victor once he gets Arisa back erases her memory. Cronos wins the contract to have Arisa massively produced. But Gleb Victor’s head of technology who wants to seize control plots to blow up the factor and blaming it on the Liquidators.
The final underlying message about the importance of Family and being united is the series best enduring message. Arisa, the robot may not be human but her sacrifice for Georgy and the family unit that she longed for should be what we all strive for. It is because of that, the top notch CGI and effects that we are willing to up the series rating overall.
We give Better Than Us – 3.75 stars out of 5.