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Thursday, April 6, 2017

ROBOT WARS -- Movie Review by Porfle

One of the early titles for ROBOT WARS (2016) was "Kill Box", which is much more descriptive since this movie does have something you could call a "kill box" but doesn't actually have any "robot wars" in it. 

We do briefly see two robots, one at the beginning and one at the end, but they don't do very much.  They certainly don't have any wars.

The "war" is what happens in the dystopian near-future after a ragtag corporate-espionage team infiltrates a rival company and steals their most top-secret project, then finds that they must battle their way back to safety through a barrage of enemy fire after their extraction helicopter fails to show up. 

The team of experts consists of head honcho Jules, a strict, no-nonsense company girl (Jennifer Sydney); her right-hand man Decker (Teddy Cañez); Decker's old pal Billy, whom he arranges to have released from prison to join the team (Ben Naasz); nervous electronics whiz Kyle (Aaron Moreland); and callow young Natalie (Faye Kingslee).

They're a fairly interesting bunch and the actors playing them give it their all.  What hinders them is the old convention of having everything we see consist of both security camera footage and, most extensively, the POV of each team member's special ocular implants that turn them all into human cameras with Terminator-vision. 

It seems at first as though this might be an intriguing approach, and during the initial infiltration and theft of the rival company's secret project (a box which two of the team must constantly lug around like a big, heavy stretcher) the old "Blair Witch" found-footage style does kind of work to an extent.

Plus, once we find out what's in Pandora's box (which turns out to be pretty interesting) I was looking forward to it leading to a slam-bang sci-fi finale.

As the story drags on, however, the POV thing--which is usually a mixed blessing anyway--gets increasingly haphazard and confusing to follow, draining a lot of the suspense and excitement from the almost non-stop action scenes in the last half-hour or so. 

Often, in fact, I could barely tell whose eyes I was supposed to be seeing out of or what was going on, especially in the numerous shots that take place in near-darkness.  The camerawork, as it is, alternates between extreme Shaky-Cam and what appears to be a bad first-person shooter game.

In its favor, the story does have a twist or two, including at least one traitor in the team's midst, and a couple of other interesting characters along the way such as Billy's old friend Clark (Willie Bingo), one of those nerdy computer hackers who seem to turn up in any movie with computers in it.  And, DIRTY DOZEN-style, we're kept guessing right up until the end who lives and who dies.

After a somewhat abrupt ending, ROBOT WARS left this viewer feeling that it was a case of having a lot of potential but coming up short of realizing it.

Buy it at
Release date: April 11, 2017


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