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Laramie Movie Scope: Robots

Imaginative animated parable

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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March 13, 2005 -- “Robots” is a whimsical, visually imaginative movie about a world entirely populated by robots who behave like people. The story is predictable, mediocre and clichéd, but visually, the film is marvelous. It is an OK film for adults, and probably much better than that for kids.

The story has a young robot, Rodney Copperbottom, who is inspired to become an inventor by a famous inventor, Bigweld, who lives in a far away big city. Rodney's invention causes trouble for his father, but his father encourages Rodney to go to the big city and pursue his dream anyway. He heads off to the city to show off his invention, wonderbot, to Bigweld at Bigweld Industries.

When he gets to the big city, he finds that Bigweld Industries has been taken over by the evil Ratchet and that Bigweld has disappeared. Ratchet has a plan to force all outmoded robots to buy upgrades from the company or be forced to the scrap heap. This is remarkably similar to software and computer industry strategies to force people to upgrade their software and computers by eliminating support for older products. Rodney needs to find Bigweld, the only robot who can stop Ratchet's plan.

Rodney and his parents are outmoded robots whose existence will be cut short by ratchet's evil plan. During his quest Rodney makes friends in low places, including the quirky Fender (voice by Robin Williams) whose body parts keep falling off. Rodney, who has a gift for repair works, hard to keep all the robots running, despite a lack of spare parts (part of Ratchet's scheme). This gains Rodney a lot of new friends, and a deadly enemy in Ratchet.

The visual imagination on display is dazzling. A memorable sequence has Rodney and Fender taking an amazing thrill ride through the city, being whisked along though a series of incredible Rube Goldberg-type contraptions. The scenes of Rodney's birth and childhood are interesting. The story has a clever way of explaining robot birth and growth through a series of assembly and equipment upgrade scenes.

The central message of the film to “follow your dream” is simple, yet true. The message is the same as the “follow your bliss” philosophy expressed by such diverse people as authors Joseph Campbell and Wayne Dyer and many others. It is more than just a philosophy, however, the story is also about having the courage to follow your convictions. It is a very positive and uplifting message. This is a good, solid family movie. It rates a B.

For more information on this film, including games, wallpapers, AIM icons, shots of bots (gallery), the ensemble line (cast and crew), nuts+bolts (story and production notes), upgrades (downloads), media station (video clips), get robots on your cell phone, and the tinny arcade (games), click on this link to the official home page of Robots.

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Copyright © 2005 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)