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'Robotropolis': Not very ambitious

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With “Robopocalypse” on the horizon, “Robotropolis” is likely to get a lot more publicity. It’s a not-quite futuristic take on an automated world gone mad – with robots of course.

“Robotropolis” begins with a found-footage scene of a BURD-3 robot gone mad. This is not, as some reviews have suggested, the end of the plot indicating that humanity is doomed in some kind of Terminator-esque apocalypse. It is in fact test footage of a prototype that was covered up, indicating that the robot servants were a very bad idea to begin with.

With that grim scene setting the stage, we move to an island off of China and a demo-colony known as New Town. Mega Corp (there’s not a creative names in this movie) is planning to release these robots to the public in a civil capacity, despite the fact that up to that point they’ve been used primarily as war machines.

We follow Christiane Noveau (Zoe Naylor) as she reports on the action in real time, breathlessly taking in a playful soccer match between robot and human – and then something goes horribly awry. Mind you, there’s never any explanation as to why civilian robots are armed with everything from guns to chainsaws to flamethrowers, but it’s not long before a robo-revolution erupts and the BURDs begin exterminating tearing through the human population like butter.

Running throughout the narrative is a commentary on the state of media. Christine has a curious relationship with her producer, who guides every scene like an omniscient deity. He is opposed by millionaire inventor Gordon Standsh (Lani John Tupu, you may recall him from Farscape), who waffles between losing his temper and demanding everything be shut down to trying to salvage what’s left of his reputation.

The CGI robots are adequate for the most part. They become particularly terrifying when they resort to running on four limbs, more dog-like than humanoid, but in several scenes they seem very fake. And the slaughte3r is egregious – the robots seem to have an endless supply of weapons and ammunition, as likely to wear intestines like a necklace as they are to smash a man’s head.

Careful viewers will see that there is an explanation as to why the robots run amuck. It’s not necessarily a coherent reason, but it’s a reason, and once we find that out “Robotropolis” has nowhere to go, so it just ends. That’s right, this is one of those movies that knows better than to stick around after delivering on reams of robo-riots.

“Robotropolis” isn’t a bad film. It’s just not particularly ambitious. Fans looking for robot slaughter will not be disappointed.

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