In Review: Robot Overlords

by Maryann O'Connor on 27/03/2015


Fans of robots and of British Sci-Finery must gather in cinemas to behold the glory of Robot Overlords! In a slightly obvious but great tribute to the teen adventure films of old, kids who have been suffering under the oppressive rule of an Earth-invading robot ruling class find a way to leave their homes and strike a blow against the machine. Gillian Anderson, Sir Ben Kingsley, and other assorted adults either help or hinder the crusaders, who are led by Callan McAuliffe in a quest to free human kind. Or just to leave the house for a while.

The robots are reminiscent both of Robocop and the later Terminator films, different robots for different dastardly tasks (flying ones, scuttling spider-like ones, stampy ones) and all looking like mega-bucks have been spent on their seamless production. The appearance of the sentry robot in the opening sequence, policing a hapless citizen who dared disobey, is genuinely heart-stopping. The robot action is all quite daring for what is being touted as a family film.

The story is a little trance-breaking at times but equally often is attention grabbing, drawing on the best of british humour and Northern Irish seaside while celebrating the history of youthful rebels on film. Director Jon Wright (Grabbers, 2012) can definitely now boast considerable form in producing a good yarn of a film. Gillian Anderson plays dippy mum character Kate but even she gets to take part in the rebellious, castle-wall storming behaviour. The figurehead of the robot oppression is extremely creepy, employing easily tapped-into mass revulsion; a cringey credit to the special effects people working on the film. Ben Kingsley as robot collaborator is also very creepy, no effects needed. Kingsley’s Gandhi (1982) co-star Geraldine James pops up in an unlikely role, as part of another splinter group trying to circumvent the the nasty robots. Another box ticked. Callan McAuliffe is cutely rebellious but slightly upstaged by group little’un Milo Parker as Connor.

The resolution is entertaining but feels borrowed from other films from the same genre, so not quite as euphoric as it may have been and there is not much in the way of subtext. Still, massively good fun and great quality film-making.

Maryann has awarded Robot Overlords three Torches of Truth

three torches

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