Cast: Margaret Trigg, Richard Geisswein, Jayne Smith
Special guest review!
By Jason Alt
What could be
better than a film that features a virtually indestructible robot
designed by the police to fight crime? Said robot would be armed to the
teeth with the latest breakthroughs in weaponry and conveyance, and
would be able to see perpetrators in any kind of light. And it would be
able to fairly judge and deal with criminals in a timely fashion. But
it wouldn’t be Robocop.
Yeah, that doesn’t
sound very good to me either.
made in the wake of 1987’s Robocop isn’t very good at
all, in fact. It hurt me badly to watch it. Then it hurt me badly to
rent it so I could watch it again. It hurts me badly to write about it,
because I have to remember watching it. It hurts me to tell you about
it. It is a very painful movie all around.
was penned and directed by Cullen Blaine, the mastermind behind such
brilliant films as The Mighty Ducks and Belle’s
Magical Adventure. It seems that R.O.T.O.R. is
the only non-Disney film Mr. Blaine has done. If there are others, I
couldn’t find them. He couldn’t possibly have anything to hide; I doubt
he (or anyone else for that matter) could have made anything worse than
this film. Except when you consider the fact that he has recently
resolved to play the part of art director on films like Hey
Arnold instead of pursuing a lucrative writing career.
The movie starts
out by showing two motorists who come across the slumped figure of a
woman in the road. A bandaged man crawls out of a ditch, and indicates
that the motorists need to call the police. Then a random yokel steps
out of the shadows, points a shotgun at the man’s head and agrees that
the police need to be called as the man in bandages has killed a
motorcycle cop. Motorcycle cop? Hillbilly? Couple in the car? Are they
important? Do we ever see the couple again? (No.) What is going on in
this film? Mr. Blaine decided the best way to go about explaining was
to show the bloody man being interrogated. He tells us absolutely
nothing, instead deciding to allude to events from a few days earlier.
then decide that at this point we want to see some credits and a cowboy
drinking coffee. They also feel we want to hear an overly peppy 1980’s
love song. How did they know? We’ve seen Mr. Cowboy before; he is the
same man that is being questioned. Not only is he a coffee-drinking
cowboy, he also comes equipped with an internal monologue. He explains
without talking that in addition to his cowboy duties (goofing off), he
is an important scientist at a lab in downtown Dallas. This doesn’t
really explain why he is being interrogated. It doesn’t explain why he
is a cowboy. It really explains very little. He is still soliloquy-ing
away, and we are supposed to assume that what we are hearing is his
conversation in the interrogation room at the police station. He is
filling in background information to catch the two cops up to speed,
but when you consider what he is telling them, this makes no sense. He
begins mentioning things that are not important at all. He talks about
his farm duties, which include using explosives to remove tree stumps.
In order to keep up the motif of him being a complete goof-off, he
ropes the stump with some prima-cord, and blows it up that way. Most of
the stump is left standing, and he says something like “I should stick
to plain old nitro.” Is he saying this to the men questioning him? If
the monologue is really his conversation with them, why does he keep
telling them useless information? Maybe it is better just not to ask.
cowboy, he heads off to work at the lab. The phone rings and the spotty
dialogue ensues. The cowboy’s superior calls to tell him that he needs
to have the ‘R.O.T.O.R’ prototype ready in 60 days, or he will be
fired. Apparently this is somewhat an unreasonable request because,
according to Dr. Cowboy, R.O.T.O.R. would not be ready for the
prototype phase in even 60 months. Our cowboy protagonist decides that
the best way to get his point across is quit immediately, placing the
project squarely in the incapable hands of his inept assistant (and his
assistant’s smart-ass robot side-kick). The two of them decide that
even though 60 days is completely unreasonable, they are going to try
anyway. The best way to go about it, they decide, is to run tests. This
is a common film device; the phrase “we need to run some tests” is
completely scientific sounding while simultaneously nondescript. This
is one of the reasons that the script is so awful; do the filmmakers
think us so dumb that they can’t explain what kind of tests are being
done? Like it is above out heads? Anyway, they run their “tests.” This
is when we learn that R.O.T.O.R. is a robot designed to fight crime.
Then, right when you think you are about to learn more, the film
disappoints you (get used to it!) Meanwhile, a janitor is hitting on an
attractive female scientist in another room. He puts his walkman
headphones between two electrodes, and apparently this action supplies
enough power to bring the ridiculously underdeveloped R.O.T.O.R. to life.
As implausible as a
robot being brought to life with Walkman batteries may seem, R.O.T.O.R.
does just that. He is awfully sophisticated for a robot that would not
be ready for prototype phase in the next 5 years. What exactly was
going to take 60 months? Couldn’t they find the “on” switch?
He awakens and
inexplicably knows the location of his motorcycle and his way around
the building. It seems ridiculous that he is fully functional even
though everyone involved with the project said he wouldn’t be ready for
years. What is even more ridiculous is that he has been given the
instruction to “judge and execute” but isn’t told that it is excessive
to shoot people in the head for jay-walking.
out and, um, shoots people for jay-walking. (Actually it is for
speeding that he shoots them. But it would be funnier for my purposes
if it were jay-walking. But at this point, I am used to
disappointment.) A couple is driving down the road. The attractive
female is fighting with her asshole boyfriend about their impending
wedding. I am not sure which was more believable to me; R.O.T.O.R.
coming to life and killing people for no reason, or the fact that this
woman was planning on marrying a jerk-off like her boyfriend. He yells,
pulls over, and threatens to leave her on the side of the road before
finally speeding off to take her home. R.O.T.O.R. pulls him over, and
instead of issuing a ticket, he produces a desert eagle, and blows a
hole in his cranium large enough to put his hand through. He then
spends the rest of the movie trying unsuccessfully to capture the
woman, and kill her (I guess for riding shotgun in a speeding vehicle.)
thing about this movie is not that R.O.T.O.R. is able to function at
full capabilities five years early. What is really hilariously bad
about this film is that R.O.T.O.R. operates based on technology that is
not available today, was definitely not
available when this movie was made, and will probably never ever be
available. When R.O.T.O.R. wants to see where someone that he is
pursuing has gone, (he moves very slowly), he uses something called
“Sensor recall”. I know that this is what it is called because every
time he used it, I would see “Sensor recall” on the screen. Sensor
Recall is the most asinine thing I have ever
seen in a movie. Basically, R.O.T.O.R. can see exactly where someone
has gone even if he was somewhere else at the time. He can look at a
parking lot and see someone get out of their car and run across said
parking lot exactly how it happened, even if it happened 15 minutes
before he got there. It is like he is looking at security camera
footage even though there is no camera and he wasn’t there when it
happened. How he can see all this is never explained (apart from being called “Sensor recall”.) I shook my
head in despair at the film's inept attempt to appear scientific. It
made me wonder what else R.O.T.O.R. could do that wasn’t physically
possible. Can he walk through solid objects? Turn himself invisible?
Move an ice cube tray without spilling? Shake exactly two aspirin out
of the bottle?
Sensor recall is
not the only thing R.O.T.O.R. uses to battle crime. He also knows….karate! He uses karate to battle three unruly men in a
diner who help our female protagonist escape. I guess large men are in
the habit of helping strange women run away from motorcycle cops. They
wait patiently to attack R.O.T.O.R. one at a time, and he hurts them
very badly. I think he punched one of them in the junk. Apparently this
is standard police procedure in the United States; I had a Michigan
State trooper tell me he had once punched a man in the groin who had
him pinned and was going for his gun. But R.O.T.O.R. was winning the
fight easily, and should not have resorted to such juvenile trickery.
Of course he shouldn’t whack people for speeding either, but that is
neither here nor there.
When was the movie
made? It could not have possibly have been made after 1975.
Everyone dresses like they are trapped in an episode of Laverne
and Shirley. If you watch carefully, you can see all of the
following things in the film:
- Feathered Hair!
- A cowboy jacket
with leather pads on the sleeves!
- A “Hang in there
baby, Friday’s coming!” coffee mug!
- A large knife in
your own hand that you don’t remember picking up, but have a strange
compulsion to blind yourself with!
- Alf! (Not really)
music is really bad too. Not even Richard Glass is this incompetent
behind a synthesizer. The music sounds like it was cut out of a porno
soundtrack. Don’t play dumb; I know you know what that kind of music
film does have merit, however. The technology behind R.O.T.O.R. is
based heavily in scientific fact, and is much more realistic than even
that used in the movie Robocop. While Robocop
featured a cyborg cop enhanced by robot parts, R.O.T.O.R. is all ‘bot.
He works based on the property of some metals that, when electric
current is passed over them, they will change shape. He is basically a
metal exo-skeleton wired all over. Electrical impulses tell different
parts of his body to move, and he can eventually move independent of
some impulses due to the metals’ kind of “muscle memory’; the metal can
remember what functions require which impulses, and eventually ‘learn’
to do those functions on its own. This technology actually exists,
although it is purely theoretical. It wouldn’t surprise me if a robot
similar to R.O.T.O.R. were introduced within the next five years. Then
again, it wouldn’t surprise me if a robot similar to R.O.T.O.R. were
not introduced in the next five years.
Disclaimer: I criticized
this movie. I criticize all
the movies that I review. I am very critical, although I am not a
critic. This movie was Blind Fury.
This is just not true; I
liked that movie immensely, and I still watch it whenever it is on
television (every day.) R.O.T.O.R. is no exception. It
was very very bad, but I really got a kick out of watching it. The
thing about this movie is that it is not entertaining because of
kick-ass special effects and an all star cast. You’ll want to rent a
movie like The Matrix if you want that. This movie was
great to watch because it made no sense, the dialogue sucked, the jokes
are corny and you are completely unable to develop any sort of
attachment to any of the characters at all. It’s so bad that it is a
lot of fun, especially with a group of friends (or enemies, I don’t
care what you do at your parties.) It won’t be your favorite movie, I
can guarantee that. But it is entertaining, and that has to count for
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