Review by Gordon Justesen
Ewan McGregor, Halle Berry, Greg Kinnear, Mel Brooks, Amanda Bynes, Drew Carey,
Jim Broadbent, Robin Williams
Directors: Chris Wedge, Carlos Saldanha
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1, French Dolby Surround, Spanish Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Features: See Review
Length: 89 Minutes
Release Date: September 27, 2005
was the last time you got oiled?”
I can’t really answer that in front of my kid sister.”
they’re Ice Age dazzled me more than
three years ago, I was wondering when the folks at Blue Sky Studios would
resurface with yet another visually dazzling animated piece. They have done so
in the form of Robots, which is
certainly one spectacular looking movie. The world its characters inhabit is
displayed in what I can only describe as animated perfection.
This movie does for
robots what Finding Nemo did for
underwater wildlife. An entire world unfolds before our eyes in the kind of
beauty that computer animation is capable of. This is a world inhabited by
robots that walk, talk and think like humans, only, they’re not humans. Funny,
The movie opens
with a male robot announcing to the citizens of Rivet Town that he’s going to
be a father. He gets home, and his wife tells him that he missed the delivery,
but to not worry, because making a baby is the fun part. No it’s not a dirty
reference; a baby robot is made through construction. It’s a clever joke that
sets the tone for the smart humor of the movie.
The baby robot that
is made is Rodney Copperbottom (voiced by Ewan McGregor). As Rodney grows over
the years, he is given additional “spare parts” for every year he gets
older. He finds a knack for inventing, and after graduating high school, Rodney
wants to become a renowned inventor at Robot City. Only he finds himself stuck
working as a restaurant dishwasher with his dad.
But Rodney is
determined to live out his dream, and to make his parents proud. His father buys
him a ticket to Robot City, and Rodney is soon on his way to hopefully make a
name for himself at Big Weld Industries, headed by wealthy tycoon Mr. Big Weld
(voiced by Mel Brooks). But upon his arrival, Rodney finds several difficulties
within the city.
The first of many
is named Fender, voiced by Robin Williams in a performance that does the
unthinkable; it surpasses his performance in Aladdin. Fender is a friendly, but motor mouthed con artist, who
quickly befriends Rodney, although Rodney would just like him to go away. But
then again, he needs someone who knows the city, especially after he is rejected
at the front gates of Big Weld Industries.
As it turns out,
Big Weld himself is missing from the picture at the workplace. A ruthless
replacement named Ratchet (voiced by Greg Kinnear), is hatching a plan to do
away with inventors and simply make a population of robots just like him, only
upgraded. Actually, Ratchet’s evil mother (voiced by Jim Broadbent) is behind
the scheme, as Ratchet himself is doing the dirty work.
Robots gets its entertainment value from visuals, incredibly funny jokes, and
occasional action scenes which are nothing short of astounding. The screenplay
by comedy vets Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel is filled left and right with pop
culture references, as well as sly spontaneous jokes. Example; Rodney, who
starts up a service of fixing up robots, says, “Who wants to get fixed?” to
which a robot dog reacts with horror.
And among all the
animated action sequences I’ve ever witnessed, this movie happens to contain
one of the most amazing. It involves a high speed chase down a metal freeway,
where Rodney is attached to a magnetic object controlled by Ratchet. Fender and
company speed up to catch up and save him.
Though the story at
heart is a mostly simple one, and the overall effect doesn’t match something
like The Incredibles, Robots
is still nonetheless a dazzling experience. The beautiful animation, blended
with the energetic performance, especially from Mr. Williams, make for a top
notch piece of family entertainment.
What we have here
is indeed a leading candidate for Best Video quality in this year’s DMC
Awards. The stunning computer animation shines even brighter in this outstanding
anamorphic presentation. The amazing detail in the film’s images result in
even more detail in the DVD format. Not a single image flaw in sight, which is
hardly ever the case in a movie like this. Fox has made quite an accomplishment
with this release.
Likewise for the
audio. The stunning 5.1 mix, offered in both Dolby Digital and DTS, provides one
amazing sound experience. All of the jaw-dropping technical qualities that come
along with a computer-animated movie are showcased in this presentation. All of
the channels get equal work here, especially in sequences of action, physical
comedy, and those set in larger than life settings, which this movie has plenty
of. A most marvelous job, to say the least.
Fox has truly
composed a disc of robotic proportions! Featured on this disc are two commentary
tracks; the first with director Chris Wedge and producer William Joyce, the
second is a technical director and animated director commentary. Also included
is a new animated short titled, “Aunt Booty’s Tour of Booty”, deleted
scenes with optional director commentary, two featurettes, “You Can Shine No
Matter What You’re Made Of” and a “Blue Man Group” featurette. Lastly,
there’s an exclusive Inside Look at the Making of Ice Age 2, an Xbox
Exclusive Multi-Player Racing Game, Set-Top Games and Character Bios.