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‘Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. Bertolt Meyer will be the world’s first bionic man. Worse than he was before, if we’re being honest. Weaker and slower. But still, it’ll make for a totally rad Channel 4 documentary.’ And indeed it does – at least during the bits when Meyer, a telegenic Swiss psychologist with a prosthetic arm, travels as if by time machine to the forefront of robotics.
On one such trip, Meyer visits a Baltimore lab that’s building prostheses for the American military, and turns up the most advanced robotic arm to hit the screen since ‘Terminator 2’, to his and our genuine astonishment. But ‘How to Build…’ trips up on a gimmicky ‘subplot’ in which two sun-starved roboticists construct a worse, slower, weaker and infinitely less telegenic bionic version of Meyer. The whole unfortunate project is more contrived than Frankenstein’s monster.