A/V Room









Robots (U)

Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: 'Aunt Fan’s Tour of Booty' 4-minute CGI short. Discontinued Parts - deleted scenes with optional commentary by filmmaker Chris Wedge. 2 Interactive Games. Meet the Bots - Interactive 3-D Character Biographies. The Voices of Robots - Dubbing Featurettes. Audio Commentary by the Animation Crew at Blue Sky. Ice Age 2 Teaser. Ice Age 2 Sneak Peek. Robots Public Service Announcement.

THE spectacular success of Pixar's Toy Story and The Incredibles has paved the way for some equally impressive animated films in recent years, as the rest of Hollywood seeks to catch up.

The Shrek series, especially, has represented Pixar's biggest challengers so far, but now we have Robots, the new film from Blue Sky Studios, which is geared to raise the bar still higher.

Directed by Chris Wedge and Carlos Saldanha, the team behind Ice Age, the film is a consistently inventive, visually breathtaking joyride of an experience that is of equal appeal to adults and children alike.

Boasting a multi-talented vocal cast - including Ewan McGregor, Robin Williams, Halle Berry and Greg Kinnear - Robots goes all out to entertain and does so in spades.

The story centres around young genius inventor robot, Rodney Coperbottom (McGregor), as he travels to Robot City in the hope of finding fame and fortune by pitching his ideas to chief inventor, Bigweld (Mel Brooks), who proudly lives by his motto, 'you can shine no matter what you're made of'!

His hopes are quickly dashed, however, by the discovery that Bigweld has vanished and that his successor, Ratchet (Kinnear), has ceased production of robot spare parts and replaced Bigweld's logo with his own, far more sinister effort, 'why be you when you can be new'.

Hence, old robots are threatened with destruction unless they can fork out the spare cash for new parts.

Determined to overcome such a consumer-driven business ethos, however, Rodney resolves to fight back with the help of his unlikely entourage, the Rusties, led by the bumbling Fender (Williams) and the feisty Piper Pinwheeler (Amanda Bynes).

He also enlists the help of a sympathetic executive 'bot, in the form of Cappy (Berry), with whom he subsequently finds himself falling in love.

The ensuing adventure finds Rodney and co finding Bigweld and taking on the might of Ratchet, while inspiring their fellow robots on to greater things as well.

And it's rip-roaring fun, particularly in the way it seamlessly blends some weighty issues, such as corporate monopolies and plastic surgery, with plenty for the kids to enjoy as well.

Hence, while adults laugh along at the numerous double entendres and movie in-jokes, children will doubtless be enchanted by the colourful characters and the dizzying set pieces, which never fail to impress.

An opening gag involving the birth of Rodney sets the standard for what to expect, while several of the set pieces provide jaw-dropping highlights, such as Rodney and Fender's arrival in Robot City and Fender's take on Gene Kelly's classic Singin' In The Rain dance sequence (or lubricant, as the robot re-christens it).

Indeed, there is so much going on in virtually every scene that audiences will probably need to see it twice just to catch everything!

Performance-wise, all of the main players provide spirited vocal turns but the film belongs to Williams, whose zany energy and ability to ad-lib at any moment looks certain to provide him with another classic animated character to rival those he created for Aladdin and FernGully.

The only criticism is that Robots does eventually fall into the old Hollywood trap of becoming too sentimental.

But that's a small price to pay for a visual extravaganza that more than matches up to the sum of its impressive parts.



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