For a low budget independent film, "Beta" asks a lot of serious questions within its eighty four minute length. Age old questions that now, in modern times are quickly moving up the ladder of importance. What does it mean to be human? Do you require flesh and bone? Mobility in a real world setting? If so, does that mean once you die the "not human" title must be handed down to you? Must you disregard that persons life because they are no longer a person? Or do you continue to remember them as human beings? What about artificial intelligence? Sure. Right now it's easy to answer with a big fat no. But what about in twenty years? Once advanced A.I. housed in whatever becomes available, is able to reason, decide and possibly empathize... would it then be possible to say: Hey. This is a living computer. It can think. It can communicate and it can do this stuff more or less the same as we can. When an artificial unit possesses the same traits and abilities we do as humans, and is self aware, will we still consider it a thing? At what point does the line truly blur? All these questions are front and center in "Beta" from writer, director Layton Matthews. Sure. We've seen or read numerous stories such as this, so it may not be all that original... but... "Beta" goes a step further with it's impossible questions. What if a true human mind was copied and placed into a machine. What then? Would they be considered human? If humanity is defined by being self aware, and by the life experiences of the person in question, would that mean an artificial host loaded with a fully functioning human mind is still, dare I say... human? It may seem like I'm dancing around and around with these questions, and I am. That however, is only because "Beta" does the same thing. It's one big mind fu*k. The fact that philosophies this deep are even attempted by an indie film is impressive. The fact the film actually pulls it off... even more impressive. This is a movie that truly makes you think and question, all the time keeping you entertained and involved. Full of excellent references and "what if" scenarios, don't be surprised to find your mind wandering a little, during some of the dialog heavy moments in the film. This isn't really a bad thing, since the film always manages to pull you back in. But it's one of those movies you may end up watching twice, to see what you probably missed during the first run. Technically, although clearly an indie flick, "Beta" is one that shows well. I loved the small details, such as the different color styles for the "real world" and the "virtual" one. The only less than stellar thoughts I had were of the "spawning" special effect used in the movie. I kept thinking that it looked "off" every time it was featured, until finally, I realized why. There was no shadow as the character "spawned" into the world. Then, one just appeared. Such a small thing, but it really made the effect feel weird. What's more however, is why the effect was used at all? When the characters teleport from location to location, they just vanished and popped back into view at their new destination. This was quite effective, and smart considering the budget. So why wouldn't it have been the same when the character first entered the world? Why the 1980s inspired effect for a spawn, and a quick vanishing act for the teleport? Why wouldn't the two look the same since essentially, the same thing was happening? I also found myself asking why a cutting edge company would even "have" a spawning effect that looked the way it did? Straight from the 80s or the classic "Tron" film. The cast, which is actually quite numerous for an indie film, really did an excellent job. Maybe at times the acting felt a little scripted or awkward... but it still fit perfectly in the film. Best example would be some hollow feeling dialog from the computer programmer. You may think that me writing that, is slightly insulting towards the actor... but it's not. This man in the film... this programmer, spends most of his time with computers and not people. So the fact he's a little awkward makes perfect sense right? My point is that each actor brings something to the table that makes sense character wise. If parts feel a little off, to someone who happens to simply tune in, that's just fine. They won't understand the character. For anyone watching from the start of the film, the cast feel perfectly fitted for their respective roles. It was quite easy to simply follow along with these people, forgetting along the way they were actors. One thing to note is that this is a dialog heavy film. At times, the conversations may have become a little tech driven. Which is OK considering the story. My point, is that even during these scenes, the cast managed to pull an electronic rabbit from their hats. Keeping us watching even if we couldn't quite understand some of the lingo. Some really nice work. In the end, "Beta" manages to take a common Sci-Fi theme and add just enough new ideas to keep it familiar yet fresh. An excellent script brought to life by some good people. Layton Matthews, with his cast and crew, end up delivering a surprisingly entertaining indie flick. One that has a little something for everyone. This title is available now, and well worth a viewing. Why not treat yourself?