Robots (Review)


Halle Berry as Cappy
Ewan McGregor as Rodney Copperbottom
Mel Brooks as Bigweld
Robin Williams as Fender
Greg Kinnear as Ratchet
Amanda Bynes as Piper

Let’s take a break from this Mars businesses to do a current movie. Robots is the new CGI film from Fox Animation. All CGI films are inherently superior to traditional animation, as evidenced by Pixar films. Except that statement is a lie, and believed only by morons. Pixar movies are popular thanks to good story telling, they could be animated by shadow puppets and they’d be blockbusters. This movie is mediocrity in action. After weeks of sitting through some cinema pre-show where the director starts yammering on about how he’s wanted to tell the story of Robots for a long time, I thought maybe it would have a good story. At least it would be visually interesting, right? And it was. Visually interesting, that is. The story is lame rehashing and zero character development.

Rodney Copperbottom is the generic farmboy headed to the big city to prove himself (this time via an invention that washes dishes) and meet Bigweld, the legendary figure from his childhood who meets inventors every day. Reality is, Bigweld has vanished, and Rodney is alone in the big city, with only other reject robots for company. If you want characterization on these robots, don’t bother. Most of them are just there for one liner jokes, except for Robin Williams as Fender, who steals the movie. Too bad he only got $0.99 at the pawn shop for it. There is a neat opening sequence when Rodney first gets to the city involving public transportation, which is one of the best parts of the film. Fender’s sister Piper is also around, played by almost underage Amanda Bynes, who thinks Rodney is cute, giving off pedo-vibes.

Bigweld’s company makes spare parts for the robots, so they won’t fall apart and rust away. Except now Bigweld has vanished, and his company is taken over by the evil Ratchet. How far Ratchet has fallen from his days as the Autobot’s medic. Well, it is 2005, he is supposed to die this year… Wait, different Ratchet, this one is Greeg Kinnear. He has made the decision to stop building spare parts and only build upgrades. Poor robots who cannot afford to upgrade will rust away. What happens when robots rust away? Well, sweeper droids pick up their discarded parts and send them to a giant furnice, which melts them down into new bricks or metal, for making new robots. It’s nice to know that these robots just accept that a holocaust is happening on the poor and the old, no one seems to care at all. It’s like those old issues of the Transformers comics with the Smelting pool on Cybertron. Ratchet’s mother runs the Holocaust machine here, so it’s all a giant plot to make mommy rich.

Rodney Copperbottom fights the power, and starts fixing robots who are falling apart, as well as searching for Bigweld. He also attracts the eye of Robot Halle Berry, for some reason not explained in the movie. There is ZERO reason for her to help him. She does anyway, they find Bigweld, who has become a crazy domino stacking man. They convince him to come back eventually, but Ratchet sends him to be melted down. The robots fight back, and win the day. Yee-haw, formulaic city. This movie was so boring and uninspired, my mind wandered while watching it and produced the following. This is what I shall discuss whenever the movie is brought up, as it’s more fun than the actually plot.

Robots, the new mediocre movie from Fox Studios, is in fact, a call to fix the Disney corporation. You can see the parallels early on:

Bigweld represents Walt Disney, the person. Bigweld hosts a show on TV where they go about the Bigweld factory and we see Bigweld showing of fantastic things, interacting with the public, and showboating. Bigweld’s factory is where robots from all over the planet dream of going to see. It has a gate with a giant Bigweld-face on it. Walt Disney hosted TV shows where he showed off Disneyland, and gave tours, showed off rides, interacted with the public. Bigweld produces spare parts for the population of Robot City, while Disney produces movies that bring people back to their childhoods. Bigweld’s face all over is Mickey Mouse’s face all over. The Bigweld gate is guarded by a toy soldier, who looks similar to soldiers from a Disney ride. When the character Rodney Copperbottom was growing up, he dreamed of going to meet Bigweld. When people here were asked where they want to go when growing up, everyone wants to go to Disneyland (or Disney World. But definitely not Euro-Disney.)

Modern day: Bigweld has disappeared, the company is run by an evil robot named Ratchet, who is hellbent on discontinuing the spare parts business and producing entirely upgrades. Ratchet’s mother owns a company that picks up the spare parts of society and melts them down into new reprocessed metal. Ratchet’s mother and her spare parts destroying factory is the memories of millions slowly rotting away about the past, as they get replaced by either new upgrades, or are killed. Bigweld’s disappearance is akin to the Death of Walt Disney. Since Disney’s death, the company has been in trouble several times. Michael Eisner went from savior to spoiler. The “upgrades” are the crappy movies Disney has been producing lately, most noticeably the direct to video sequels. Ratchet/Eisner is promoting these items as they are highly profitable. The lack of spare parts prevents good robots from continuing to live, and prevents good movies from being produced.

Rodney Copperbottom is the independent animator. Rodney Copperbottom fights the lack of spare parts by fixing robots himself. This shows that the only way to restore the Disney magic of old is to create your own, storytelling Pixar, Dreamworks, and Fox animation, as well as many young independent animators. Rodney Copperbottom is Pixar incarnate, a young upstart who singlehandedly gets the entire population of Robot City behind him, much as Pixar has captured our hearts at the box office by constantly producing good films. Copperbottom is a threat to Ratchet, and Pixar is a threat to Disney if not controlled. Since Disney cannot compete as they have lost their path, their only solution is to try to quell Pixar’s independence, thus keeping them under distribution contracts, keeping the rights to the characters, denying that sequels are official movies under the contract, and eventually driving Pixar away. Disney shuts down traditional animation, much like Ratchet shuts down spare parts making. Everything must be futuristic CGI, just like everything must be futuristic upgrades. At one point there was even rumors that Eisner was going to make an entirely CGI Pinocchio, upgrading it for modern audiences.

Robin Williams (who saves this movie from sucking) is a purposeful casting choice as one of the old worn out robots. As the voice of the Genie in Disney’s Aladdin, he represents the old guard who worked for Disney during a brief period of awesomeness, before greed ruined the once fine company. Robin Williams is now a cast out throwaway, a Disney refugee, much as his character is a cast out throwaway. Robin Williams represents the days when plot and story meant something, before the days of flashy visuals, CGI everywhere, and “keep rendering, we’ll dub in the plot later” philosophies. The fact all of this comes out in a CGI film put out by a rival studio is especially ironic. No one from the old old guard is still alive or well known, which is why we get Robin, who is still from an old enough film to be a good choice.

In the end of the movie, Copperbottom convinces Bigweld to return, though he faces a fight with Ratchet. Bigweld at the end of the movie is Roy Disney and his allies, as they try to save the company despite being forced out. In the movie they triumph and there is a happy ending, time will only tell if the House of Mouse will one day return to it’s days of glory, or if it will be slowly wasting away like a train passenger at Auschwitz. Bigweld may also represent a call for Disney to get their act together, and how the public in general should band together to force Disney to change. It took the combined might of Robot City to defeat the evil in this film, and it will take the combined might of America to get Disney back on track. If we band together, we can force them to go back to quality films, as anything not worthy will become a monetary loss. Some of that is in effect now, but the powers that be are delusional and think that the entire deal is CGI vs. cel animation. They shall soon learn the truth, and Disney will pay for their mistakes. Maybe one day someone with brains will get back in power there. I hope sooner than later.

This movie is one to talk, as it is pretty mediocre.

Rated 5/10 (Dishwashing Dad, Bigweld Industries Office, Lost My Head Over It, Walt Disney, the Ratchet who’s in a good movie about robots)

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