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  Robot Overlords Rage Against The Machines
Year: 2014
Director: Jon Wright
Stars: Ben Kingsley, Gillian Anderson, Callan McAuliffe, Milo Parker, Ella Hunt, James Tarpey, Geraldine James, Steven Mackintosh, Tamer Hassan, Roy Hudd, Craig Garner, David McSavage, Sonny Green, Justin Salinger, Michael Stuart, Nicholas Farrell
Genre: Action, Science Fiction, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: It is the near future and Planet Earth has been invaded by robot aliens who have taken over within days to rule the globe, so now humanity must obey their every order while the aliens carry out their research with no explanation of what that may be or when it will ever end. One extremely restrictive aspect of these overlords is their demand for a curfew, so that no person is allowed out of their homes unless they have permission; if they do not, then they will be executed on the spot by the armed flying machines which patrol every country. One such region suffering under this oppression is a seaside town in Britain, and not everyone is coping well: take the father of young Connor (Milo Parker)…

He doesn’t last long, indeed he gets zapped to smithereens ED-209 style within about a minute of appearing, leaving poor Milo without a dad and the general air of a science fiction action flick that meant business if it was going to allow such a thing to happen within seconds of the movie starting. It wasn’t quite as badass as all that, however, as what the script by director Jon Wright and his cohort Mark Stay appeared to owe the most to was the strain of sci-fi out of the United Kingdom aimed at family audiences, or more likely, let’s face it, at the sort of kids who were gripped by Doctor Who and had 2000A.D. as their favourite reading matter. Both of those were referenced here, the comic in a direct manner (characters are seen reading it), but the longest running science fiction programme more obliquely.

That was down to the plot basing itself either intentionally as homage or simply because the Doctor’s adventures had been so much a part of British fantasy entertainment for so long that they affected everything that tried to stake out territory in the same fashion. Specifically it was the nineteen-sixties storyline of The Dalek Invasion of Earth that Robot Overlords adhered to, and notably its big screen adaptation Daleks' Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D., which luxuriated in a bigger budget that nevertheless was not exactly blockbuster level but at least was in full colour. The equivalent of that for twenty-first century audiences would be to see a movie with computer generated special effects, and they were present and correct.

Further proof, along with Gareth EdwardsMonsters, that U.K. cinema had splashy setpieces at their command if they found someone who was a dab hand at the computer graphics, this also had the benefit of some recognisable faces to bolster the cheap and cheerful air. Top billed was Ben Kingsley as the collaborator with the aliens, sporting a Yorkshire accent and coming across more conniving bureaucrat than raving evildoer, though in the all-important mum role was Gillian Anderson, herself no stranger to space invaders, and looking after her unofficial, thrown together brood of Milo and teens Sean (Callan McCauliffe), Alex (Ella Hunt) and Nathan (James Tarpey) who in reality were our Famous Five, only lacking a gallant dog to join their endeavours. Famous Four, then.

Anyway, after tinkering with electronics soon after Milo’s dad is vaporised, they discover a hitch in the aliens’ plans when Sean is jolted with an electric shock sending him halfway across the room. This causes the implant everyone has to wear to go dark, temporarily shutting it down and offering the kids the chance to try and track his father (Steven Mackintosh), a freedom fighter who disappeared in the line of duty, another allusion to a war movie set under a Nazi occupation, just like the Doctor Who story posited. This is only the beginning of some increasingly preposterous but fairly endearing events and twists, which see Roy Hudd having his brain drained and a grand finale where psychic powers play a major part, all a bit of fun really, though the audience who would find it the most entertaining would be the ones for whom the swearing in the dialogue may not be suitable. Maybe Wright and Stay wanted to aim for the teens, but you’d image the younger kids would be revelling in this yet their parents wouldn’t be too keen on the plentiful (mostly) mild-ish swearing. Music by Christian Henson.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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