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DVD Review

DVD cover

Robot Overlords


Starring: Ben Kingsley, Callan McAuliffe, Gillian Anderson, Milo Parker, Geraldine James, Ella Hunt, Steven Mackintosh, Craig Garner and Tamer Hassan
Distributor: Signature Entertainment
Certificate: 12
Release Date: 10 August 2015

The adults lost the war and now the kids must save the world! Robots rule the streets and the people are locked in their homes. Stepping outside risks being vaporised by a hulking Sentry or picked off by a lethal Sniper. Through the ruins of Britain a group of kids set out to join the Resistance. Hot on their heels however is their old teacher turned robot collaborator Mr Smythe...

Three years after the robots invade Earth, they are still here. They claim they mean us no harm; that they just want to study us and when they are done they will leave us to get on with our lives. Until then they ask one simple request from us: stay indoors.

You have to remember that Robot Overlords is predominately a movie aimed at kids. It's a little like some of the the movies I grew up on (like The Goonies) but with slightly less focus on getting to know the child characters.

The characters do draw a little inspiration from those in The Goonies. Sean is like Mikey (in that it's his quest to find his father that sets them off on their adventure); Nathan is similar to Mouth in that he provides much of the comedy; Connor is like Data, in that he's the one who seems to be the most knowledgeable; and Alexandra, like Andy just sits in the background looking pretty.

It's odd that this movies hasn't progressed the cause of women in the past 30 years. Here the character of Alexandra doesn't do much other than provide a future love interest for Sean, which is a shame. Why couldn't she have been the funny one, or the knowledgeable one? Why is she just the girl who tags along. Everyone else does something in the movie to further their adventure. She just seems to be there for the ride.

There are issues not addressed with this movie (which aren't overly important, but would have provided a bit more of a back story). Like how, if no one is allowed outside, does food make its way into homes? It could be that the collaborators go from house to house giving food to everyone, but who provides that food? Are factories and businesses still open? What about electricity, gas and petrol (for keeping factories open and distributing food)?

The script is paper thin, not surprising I suppose, bearing in mind it was born out of co-writer/director Jon Wright's dream of being trapped in a house unable to go outside because of the robots. And so to add padding there seems a little too much borrowing of material from elsewhere. It's a little like a poor man's poorly executed The Hero's Journey.

It was a shame that we didn't get to spend a little more time with Wayne and Monique, as their goodbye seemed a little rushed - we hadn't really gotten to know the characters and so it felt a little less emotional as it would have if we'd stayed their world a little longer.

I was also surprised to see that both Sir Ben Kingsley and Gillian Anderson had agreed to star in the movie. Kingsley, no doubt doing it to support the British film industry, for which he's to be commended. It was also a nice surprise to see Roy Hudd make an appearance.

It was rather strange hearing Anderson with a British accent, but I think her most memorable scene was the one where she managed to get the keys to her cell from one of her ex-pupils, turned collaborator. Again, though, sadly she's another underused female character who doesn't actually do very much.

Extras include: Mat Zo - Robots Never Lie Official Video (3 min 48 sec); Cast Book Reading (1 min, 14 sec extract of the novelisation read by the cast); The Making of (23 min, 35 sec); VFX (6 min, 07 sec); MGM Comic Con - Cast Interviews (29 min, 18 sec tongue in cheek interviews conducted by James Tarpey, who plays Nathan in the movie).

Once again, I have to remind myself that this is a kid's movie, and with that in mind it's sure to be accepted by the younger generation. Just don't expect to take too much away from it as an adult.


Darren Rea

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