Speculative Fiction Saturday: Robot Overlords

Robot OverlordsOkay, I’m not certain why I have never heard of a film known as Robot Overlords, but what do you think a film like that would be about? If you said that a bunch of robots take over, you would be right!

If you are wondering why you have never heard of this film, I am guessing it is because it probably didn’t have a big release. That’s actually too bad, because this film isn’t really that bad. Don’t get me wrong, it is Terminator 2, but it has just enough to take seriously, yet is just enough fun.

The film opens with a creepy kid who is apparently a robot. He says that robots have been sent from who knows where to study the people of Earth. There is apparently only one rule, which is humans stay inside while the overlords study them. This is an interesting concept, but there are some things that raise a lot of questions. If these Robot Overlords wanted to study humans, shouldn’t they be just watching while humans are doing their thing? I mean, if a group of scientists were to study some lions in the jungle, they wouldn’t tell them to stay in certain parts of the jungle.

Also, if people are inside all the time, how do they get food? Do their Robot Overlords deliver them pizza every night? Anyway, he film shows that humans have these tracking devices affixed to them, and the beginning shows a father just going nuts. He ventures outside his house, and a Robot Overlord vaporizes him. The film then focuses on a group of kids who one day shock themselves, which shuts off their trackers.

The kids take advantage of the broken transmitters and have fun in the city. From there, they decide that they want to form some kind of resistance against the Robot Overlords. Okay, I’m really getting tired of title-dropping here. Spoilers after the jump.

Okay, this film has a good set-up, which is reminiscent of alien invasion movies. The issue with many alien invasion films like Signs or War of the Worlds is how easy the aliens are dispatched in the end. It is some deus ex machina like water or germs that makes humanity the victors. In this case, it is discovered that one of the characters can control the robots.

The question I have is why? Also, this is the film’s Achilles heel, as this character can control a lot of other things related to the…Robot Overlords. If they would have explained how Sean (the character’s name) was able to do this, then maybe I would have bought this. However, the plot twist comes out of the blue, and eventually, there is just a matter of time before the controller character just takes control of all the robots and the film is pretty much over.

I can’t believe that Ben Kingsley of all people is in this film. This man won an Oscar about 35 years ago for playing Gandhi, and he’s been in Schindler’s List. He also has a lot of awful films on his resume. He plays a human/robot collaborator, and at first the audience has a lot of sympathy for him. Then, he kind of becomes a jerk, and suffers a bad fate. I kind of wished that the film would have explored the robot/collaborator angle.

Robot Overlords feels like it was adapted from a YA novel. In fact, it probably would have made a great one, and maybe it would have had pages to explore some of the plot-holes and developed the characters, this could have been very spectacular.

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