Written by Ankit Ojha
What to Expect
If there had to be a real honest answer for that, it is this: nothing.
Not that there’s necessarily a lot to expect from. We’ve got a very limited pre-release promotional kit to browse from, really. Directed by Jon Wright, who rose to fame with the Irish-British monster flick Grabbers, this seems like a rather unlikely move from him, considering even his debut was closer to horror. Anyone would naturally have expected him to hone his skills in the genre.
Besides, with a title like Robot Overlords (subtle much?), little is left to your imagination. Couple that with the rather literal trailer and you’re basically left with exactly how the movie would actually run if you saw it.
Well I did.
What’s it About?
Robot Aliens have taken over. They’re here to study the Earth, and mean no harm (actually they mean a LOT of harm); except the humans are imposed a curfew (ha!), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
A few youngsters find a way to get through this, and the movie happens. It just happens.
Seriously. Not even an ounce of my soul is kidding here.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
The film is inherently entertaining; that’s a done deal here. Should you go with a preferably large group of friends, you’re going to have an absolute ball; except for there’s one major hitch.
It entertains for all the wrong reasons.
Made on a relatively tighter budget for the ambition the movie attempts to attain, the main aspect that suffers the most in is visual effects. Right from the terrible compositing of fire to the modeling of the giant cubes, despite the apparent effort, the end result is nothing but unintentional hilarity. If any of you mid-range motion-graphics designers and visual artists have been a fan of Andrew Kramer’s Video Copilot, you’d know where a lot of those lens flares come from.
And that’s really just the beginning.
All else, from the music to the production design to the cinematography, looks like it’s all been picked out of one big preset tried-and-tested-for-success template. Which is great, except nothing in the template’s changed, really.
Couple that with writing decisions that are as old as the Lois Lowry novel The Giver, and you’re presented a “sumptuous” young-adult post-apocalyptic dystopian thriller that’s as generic as a film adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks book (except explosions, so give us your money, yay!). Character arcs are cookie-cutter, to say the least. There’s your standard hero-who-is-the-one-never-mind-if-that-reminds-you-of-The-Matrix, there’s the love interest and the comic relief. There’s the mother (because emotions) and there’s the villain (because big bad people). Also there’s the revolutionary group (because humanity and stuff). You could practically invent a drinking game out of spotting all the cliches the movie has; by the end of it, I assure you’ll come out very “sloshed” (for utter lack of an appropriate term here).
To Perform or Not to Perform
Callan McAuliffe pitches in a tolerable performance. That, unfortunately, doesn’t mean he’s any good. Ben Kingsley is alright, and so is Gillian Anderson. That, however, doesn’t mean they’ve performed with any bit of an earnestness that we as viewers would have deserved from a film as generic as this. James Tarpey seems to be the only one who’s having a ball working in the film – and it shows. His humor sometimes goes out of his character’s template to find a few chuckles. Ella Hunt is alright – no great shakes. So is Tamer Hassan. His character follows a template and if that’s how people were accredited for, then every single performer does a good job. The others are just as sans-passion as the main group of characters are.
Despite reeking of a very clear template, this film had an inkling of potential to click. What it does, however, is reek of a lot more than just that. Keeping a clear understanding of budget constraints on the look of the film aside, I’ll have to stress on the fact that any and every visual effects composited shot needs to have a certain sense of realism and uniformity, which I’m pretty sure the limitations completely ruin. That aside, the lazy writing, half-baked direction and performances turn it into a film that makes Divergent look like an award-winning socio-political piece.
But I’m not going to lie: this film is as enjoyable as it gets. While it doesn’t reach the levels of bad-brilliant that the cult film The Room is currently (dubiously?) honored with, it’s pretty much an awful enough film that mandatorily requires a large group of people to watch with. Once you’ve got that covered – keeping along the lines you know what you’re getting into – you’re going to have a blast!
And what’s more, you might have such deep conversations like the one a friend and I had as the credits rolled off into its’ own oblivions:
“So the question to ask ourselves here would be: who were the robots here?”
Star Rating: 1 / 5