20th Century Fox’s animation studio was shut down because
it made a great movie that wasn’t marketed properly in
Now, 20th Century Fox has a new animation studio, one that seems
to care less about making great movies and more about just being
in the CGI race.
From the creators of Ice Age (a mediocre movie at best) comes
Robots, a movie seemingly put together entirely by producers.
It follows the story of Rodney Copperbottom (Ewan McGregor),
a “young” robot inventor who has dreams of making
it big with Big Weld (Mel Brooks), the so-called “greatest
robot in the world.”
So he leaves his family and heads to the big city, and quickly
meets Fender (Robin Williams) who shows him the ropes and unwittingly
introduces him to his band of misfits.
Unfortunately, as Rodney
soon discovers, Big Weld is MIA and has been replaced by Ratchet
(Greg Kinnear), a nasty robot who doesn’t have the same
affection for lesser robots that Big Weld does. Naturally, Rodney
and his misfit buddies must join forces and overthrow the bad
guys in order to save Rodney’s father (and thousands of
other robots) from becoming obsolete.
While not completely unenjoyable, Robots has problems aplenty.
The script features nary a laugh, chock full of jokes even kids
might not find amusing. The story and characters are as formulaic
as it gets, and in fact, we couldn’t help but notice that
Robots is, in many ways, the exact same movie as Shark Tale (which
was, in many ways, the exact same movie as Shrek). Little things
also plague the film, such as the romance between Rodney and
Cappy just sort of happening, rather than developing (and we
certainly don’t buy it). And animated films were more fun
when they didn’t focus on the voice talent. One of the
things we liked about Disney movies was trying to figure out
who was behind the character (and it was a lot better when they
used actors, rather than stars). In Robots, pretty much anybody
who contributes a voice gets a name in the credits (for example,
Jay Leno has two lines for a total of about seven words, and
he gets a credit at the beginning).
Certain things about Robots are fun, such as the robot equivalent
of a freeway, and that one robot who does the robot is hi-larious.
Credit must also be given to Greg Kinnear, who seems to be having
a great time voicing his character. It’s hard, on the other
hand, for Robin Williams to be Robin Williams with material such
as this backing him up. Robots is no Aladdin.
If you’re looking for a prime example of the fact that
studios and producers are having way too much input over the
final film products these days, watch Robots. Despite the fact
that (director) Chris Wedge would like you to believe he’s
wanted to tell this story for years, we see no evidence to support
that theory. It’s not a terrible movie, but it’s
a complete write-off at best.
The DVD presentation of the film is both excellent and pretty
lame. Presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen (a Pan&Scan version
is available separately), the picture quality is superb, with
rich colors and excellent detail.
CGI backgrounds are glorious, and there are no traces of foreign
objects anywhere to be found. Audio is also excellent, with a
fair number of surrounds and spectacular clarity.
Director Chris Wedge and producer/production designer William
Joyce provide an audio commentary, which is surprisingly bland
for such a colorful movie. They talk about the history of the
project, casting, blah, blah, blah and other stuff. There’s
another, slightly more interesting commentary by the visual effects
team, but probably only more interesting if you’re as big
a nerd as we are. The deleted scenes, which come in various states
of completion, can be played with or without commentary by Wedge.
None of the scenes are bad, but none are necessary.
The “Original Robots Test” is a two-minute short
that was made before any ideas were thrown around for the film
itself. It’s not really anything in particular, just a
sample for the studio. “You Can Shine No Matter What You’re
Made Of” is nearly 20-minutes of interviews and behind-the-scenes
footage that is actually quite interesting. “Blue Man Group” is
a short featurette on how the Blue Man Group helped with the
score. There are also some interactive robot profiles, an X-Box
game demo, some interactive games, and “Aunt Fanny’s
Tour of Booty,” an animated short that is less entertaining
than the film, and completely superfluous.
Robots, from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
89 minutes, anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) 16x9 enhanced, Dolby
Digital & dts 5.1
Starring Ewan McGregor, Halle Berry, Greg Kinnear, Mel Brooks
and Robin Williams
Produced by Jerry Davis, John C. Donkin, William Joyce
Screenplay by David Lindsay-Abaire and Lowell Ganz & Babaloo
Directed by Chris Wedge
Tell us at TechnoFile what YOU think