Friday, 18 August 2017

Robot Wars (1993)



In 2041, only one of the great mega-robots - titanic armoured fighting machines - is still operational.  This is the scorpion-like MRAS-2, which defends the "North Hemi" from the rebellious "Centros".  Economic times are tough in the west, though, so the giant war machine also doubles as a tourist transport!

North Hemi authorities plan to trade their way out of the financial doldrums by selling "mini-megs", smaller versions of the mega-robot, to the Eastern Alliance.  Given the history of adversity between the Alliance and the Hemi, this strategy carries lots of risks, but the economic situation is bad enough that they're pressing ahead despite the objections.

Of course, the Eastern Alliance might not be satisfied with just a mini-meg, and could have plans of their own ...

Robot Wars comes from Full Moon Productions, who are probably best known for their direct to video series such as Trancers, Puppermaster and Demonic Toys.  They specialised in cheap genre films at a time when expensive genre films simply didn't happen.  We live in a different world now, cinematically speaking.

Robot Wars is pretty standard Full Moon fare: a simple story, acting that varies from poor to adequate, and pretty basic set and costume design.

That's some real 2041 style, happening there

The bulk of the time, effort and money has clearly been kept back for the stop-motion mega-robot sequences (just as it was for the stop motion puppet sequences in Puppetmaster).  These are pretty good, on the whole.  Nothing to scare Ray Harryhausen, mind you, but David Allen and his team have done solid work, especially given the likely budget they had.  Unfortunately, while the work is solid, there isn't enough of it.  We see quite a bit of re-used footage, and the film's climactic battle is somewhat short and underwhelming.

This is a workmanlike relic of a simple cinematic time, but unless you're a nerd of a certain age, as I am, you can safely skip this and go watch Pacific Rim again, instead.

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