UK Release date: Out now
Director: Christopher Hatton
Starring: Zoe Naylor, Graham Sibley, Edward Foy, Lani John Tupu, Jourdan Lee
Running time: 81 mins
Reviewer: Adam Wing
While a group of reporters are covering the unveiling of a high-tech industrial facility run by robots, one of the machines short circuits and goes haywire. The TV crew are forced to fight for their lives, battling an army of Metal Mickey’s that are threatening to wipe out the whole of mankind. Christopher Hatton takes charge on this one, with Zoe Naylor (The Reef), Graham Sibley (Days Of Our Lives) and Edward Foy (Standard Action) doing their best to keep up with the ropey dialogue, dubious special effects and terrifying screenplay.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one. A team of TV news reporters are covering the story of a small town test facility where humans and robots live together in perfect harmony. A world in which man and machine co-exist, working together to build a better future. Whilst reporting on a live football game - with a robot playing alongside human teammates - one of the humans has an argument with the ‘bird’, which retaliates by shooting him dead. If only Match of the Day were this exciting.
The reporters are devastated by the shocking turn of events, even if they do forget to tell their faces. Instead of checking on the fallen victim, they choose to keep filming. The player’s teammates however, who you’d expect to be screaming and yelling at this point, can’t even be bothered to run for their lives. They just turn and walk away, almost as though the referee has blown up for half time. The scene ends with the rest of the players returning to the field, not to help their injured friend or call for an ambulance, but to start chanting “Nobot! Nobot!” at the news crew instead. The reporters inform us that the machines have turned bad - well thanks for clearing that one up.
If that sounds like your kind of night in, you’ll find plenty to enjoy in Hatton’s low-budget sci-fi spectacle Robotropolis. There’s also the possibility you’ll be eating with plastic cutlery for the rest of your stay here. Robotropolis is a mess of a movie from start to finish, devoid of characterisation, decent acting and anything approaching tension. I spent the entire movie expecting Leslie Nielsen to show up, but as it turns out, Robotropolis has been pitched as a serious sci-fi movie with apocalyptic undertones. The Wayans Brothers don’t even make an appearance, not even Shawn.
Robotropolis dares to be different by depicting doom via live newsreels, TV anchormen and mobile phone footage, but it just doesn’t ring true. The performances are weak throughout, chief offender being Lani Tupu, whose billionaire entrepreneur fails to register in every conceivable way. Zoe Naylor proves to be the films only bright spark, but we’re talking about flashlight bright here, certainly not enough to brighten up your dark and dreary evening. None of the other characters make an impact, each and everyone of them let down by a weak script and the inability to walk and talk at the same time.
Some of the robot effects are competent enough, and a feisty forest dash almost hits home as our menacing (should that be mirthful) metallic mercenaries hunt down their prey like wild dogs. Unfortunately, most of the special effects lack credibility, and there’s more chance of ED-209 renting out the Penthouse Suite at The Bellagio Hotel then there is of a genuine robot upheaval. Having said that, there is a welcome dose of CG gore to keep things moving in the right direction, but not enough to keep the ravenous gore hounds at bay.
Everybody loves Robots, everybody loves robot movies, but Robotropolis will push your passion to the limit with a relentless parade of corny dialogue, woeful performances and zero humour. You know you’re asking for trouble when the human characters you’ve created have less personality than the robot rebellion they’re struggling to overcome, but Hatton’s biggest failing is the decision to take himself seriously. Lacking in chills, thrills, humour and passion, Robotropolis is to robot movies what The Terminator is to world peace.