Robot Revolution (2015): How could the robot special effects in this MST3K mock-worthy movie cost $3
Robots: Androids, a sinister UAV, an overly complicated floor cleaning robot, and invisible nanobots
What it gets right about robotics: nothing
Recommended watching: with a lot of sci-fi aficionados drinking beer, ready to go all Mystery Science Theater 3000 on a bad movie. Maybe as a double feature with Plan 9 From Outer Space in order to decide which is worse.
“This is worse than Sharknado,” my college sophomore son declared. A bit unfair to Sharknado given that Sharknado was under no illusions it was anything but a bad, bad movie. Robot Revolution on the other hand seems to be a sincere, though misguided and incompetent, attempt to make a John Carpenter style sci-fi B movie. As one reviewer said: Don’t buy this movie because if they make money, they may make another one.
There really isn’t a Skynet-like robot revolution in the movie, more of an uprising on a floor of a slummy apartment building. The movie is set in a RoboCop world where a blond female detective with an eye patch is paired with an android that looks like a combination of a Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtle and a Stormtropper. There are service robots such as a surveillance UAV and the apartment complex’s floor cleaning robot. The CGI for the cleaning robot has to win some sort of an award for creating the most complex and useless looking robot ever—the robot is the size of a golf cart, has both legs and wheels, an insect head with mandibles (why?), and a small floor buffer. The other robots in the movie are nanobots that are accidentally released in the ventilation. Since everybody over 18 has an identity chip, the nanobots can hack a person’s chip and turn them into zombies (yay zombies!). Or more correctly flesh puppets, not zombies, as the nanobot’s creator keeps explaining as if anyone in the movie, or audience, really cares.
Why nanobots? Well, they’re invisible so they cost the production nothing. No, why are nanobots needed for the plot? Ok, that’s less clear. Why do you want to hack people? How does hacking an identity chip turn someone into a flesh puppet? Wait- can I hack my dog’s identity chip? Fido- come here! Don’t worry, the movie is so slow you’ll have plenty of time to ponder those, and many other, questions.
Indeed the slow pace and everything about Robot Revolution sets it up nicely for MST3K commentary from the audience. The movie is saturated with ideas and images from other movies, RoboCop, Terminator, Bladerunner, Minority Report, etc. The movie cuts to exterior views of the slummy apartment building that is in a complex of identical buildings (and by identical I mean identical down to the lights being turned on in exactly the same windows in each building) that begs for Godzilla to take it out. The movie is so bad, the appearance of even the 1998 version of Godzilla with Matthew Broderick would be welcomed. The irritating sound track demands that watchers talk over it.
Robot Revolution would be great to watch with a crowd because there are so many dimensions to pick on. One person can concentrate on the ripoffs of other movies (no, we can NOT call it homage), another on the bad staging of shootouts and deaths (not up to the standards of a fraternity Halloween horror house), and another can create a drinking game for every time a different angle of the same set is used as a different apartment. The costumes don’t stay on or in place and I’m pretty sure the way-too-large eye patch that the detective wears is made from a black bra cup. It’s worth watching the movie just to ponder how it could have possibly cost the $3M reported in IMDB.
Let your inner Joel, Tom Servo, and Crow T. Robot have a shot at Robot Revolution. But please don’t pay full price for this turkey.