Monday, 6 February 2012

The law isn't what's important to me right now. What's important is you.

Screw your billion dollar budget and racist, homophobic worldview and contempt for women and jews, I go and got me a straight-to-video - yes, video, these films are that old - marathon when I want to get me some giant robot action going on.

Crash And Burn has a giant robot in it, which is a great start, but the giant robot has the face of Marvin from the BBC version of Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which is a terrible follow-through on an initially great premise. The robot only shows up at the end, too, with the bulk of the film being about some people staying the night in a building that has a robot in it that looks like a human and who's a bit angry at one or possibly more of the regular humans and chases them about until the end when the giant robot shows up to lift some trash out of the way of a car so the humans can drive away and the film can end. A young Megan Ward is in it, playing about with her baps and pouting at the viewer, and fair play, that's what I'd have her do, too, seeing as there's nothing much else going on to keep your attention until the stop-motion giant robot turns up.
It's clearly a product of its budget and that's presumably why the SFX only really appear right at the end as a money shot, but what there is that isn't dependent upon giant robots is competently done stuff, if uninteresting and often let down by poor acting even from Ward, who went on to not exactly be a new Glenn Close but did at least show she can acquit herself with the right material in such opuses as Joe's Apartment (where she played The Girl) and Dark Skies (where she played The Woman). It's not the best low-rent Terminator riff I've ever seen - something like APEX which goes full-on to entertain you is a better bet - and while I've seen worse, I wouldn't really recommend Crash And Burn to anyone except lovers of lo-fi post-nuclear film, giant smashy robot fights and/or stop-motion FX.

Robot Jox is actually quite charming for all the disappointing FX and lo-fi sets, and there's a bit where bit-of-a-prick leading man Achilles is locked in a room and I was going "why doesn't he just go through one of the walls? They're made of paper." and I was not actually being sarcastic, the walls are clearly made of paper in a pseudo-oriental style - then it dawned that I was supposed to be suspending disbelief and thinking they were something else entirely. I was watching the film wrong, but it's easily done when you have Gary "the human from Alien Nation" Graham giving a career best performance - yes, even better than in Enterprise when he was cast as the Vulcan who screams "WE ARE NOT EMOTIONAL BEINGS!" within five minutes of the start of the pilot episode creating a real mystery as to why Trek fans hated that show - and despite the cheapness, the terrible acting and the FX (despite being poor and occasionally underwhelming in their execution, a lot of the FX are clearly the product of a great deal of time and effort), this is still an entertaining movie. Dumb as heck and not one original thing beyond "giant robots smash the ugly off each other and we don't care how it looks" happens, but entertaining it most certainly is, with some decent ideas padding out the space between robo scraps, particularly the dystopian world in which normal human beings reside being cheaply realised but interesting enough to show that giant robots are a massive sideshow to distract the populace from their lot without spelling this out for you at any point. There's plenty going on to keep you amused even if it is delivered in an unconvincing manner now and then, and it's definitely one of those films that they invented "so bad it's good" as a critique for, with failings mostly in ambition falling short of execution, because this is a film about blokes piloting giant robots in arena battles that ends with - SPOILER - sworn enemies fist-bumping. Don't go in expecting great things, just go in knowing at the end of it you won't hate yourself as much as you did at the end of Transformers 1, 2 or 3.

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