on 22 December 2013
ROBOTS  [Blu-ray] [US Import] From The Creators Of ‘Ice Age.’ Thrilling! Funny! Terrific! The Ultimate High Definition Experience!
Fasten your seat bolts and gear up for a hilarious, heart-warming comedy that's "fun for the whole family!" says Clay Smith of Access Hollywood. With the help of his misfit mechanical friends, a small town robot named Rodney embarks on the adventure of a lifetime as he heads for the big city to pursue his dreams and ultimately proves that anyone can shine no matter what they're made of.
Featuring an all-star voice cast and a ground breaking visual style that pushes the boundaries of animated filmmaking, Robots is a dazzling, fun-filled feast for the eyes and a riveting good time for all ages.
FILM FACT: The film was nominated for many awards in the category of best animated film, as well as awards for character design, best animated character, voice casting, and sound editing. However, it only won one, the MTV [Mexico] Movie Award for best song, "Un Héroe Real" [A Real Hero].
Voice Cast: Ewan McGregor, Halle Berry, Greg Kinnear, Mel Brooks, Robin Williams, Amanda Bynes, Drew Carey, Jennifer Coolidge, Harland Williams, Jim Broadbent, Dianne Wiest, Stanley Tucci, Natasha Lyonne, Paul Giamatti and Dan Hedaya. Cameos: Brian Scott McFadden, Jay Leno, Lucille Bliss, Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson, Ryan Seacrest, Al Roker, Stephen Tobolowsky, Randall Montgomery, Tim Nordquist, Lowell Ganz, James Earl Jones (archive recording) and James Brown (singing voice, archive recording)
Directors: Chris Wedge and Carlos Saldanha [co-director]
Producers: Jerry Davis, John C. Donkin and William Joyce
Screenplay: Babaloo Mandel, David Lindsay-Abaire and Lowell Ganz
Composer: John Powell
Video Resolution: 1080p
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French: 5.1 Dolby Digital, French: 5.1 DTS, German: 5.1 DTS, Italian: 5.1 DTS, Spanish: 5.1 Dolby Digital, Danish: 5.1 Dolby Digital, Dutch: 5.1 DTS, Danish: 5.1 Dolby Digital, Norwegian: 5.1 Dolby Digital, Catalan: 5.1 DTS, Swedish: 5.1 Dolby Digital, Czech: 5.1 Dolby Digital, Icelandic: 5.1 Dolby Digital and Hebrew: 5.1 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, German, Arabic, Catalan, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Greek, Hebrew, Icelandic, Italian, Norwegian and Swedish
Running Time: 91 minutes
Region: Region A/1
Number of discs: 1
Studio: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: ‘ROBOTS’ falls into much the same trap as that minor 2002 computer-generated effort. Simply put, 20th Century Fox's animated unit, Blue Sky Productions, cannot keep up with the incendiary heights of PIXAR, that is slightly paling in comparison in the story and character departments and lacking the much-needed heart that makes a passable family film great. With that said, ‘ROBOTS’ is a frequently dazzling eye-opener that is worth seeing just for its visuals of a bustling, futuristic metropolis presided over by a population of mechanical beings.
The hero of the story is Rodney Copperbottom [Ewan McGregor], a talented aspiring inventor who leaves his parents [Stanley Tucci and Dianne Wiest] and small-town existence to make his dreams come true in Robot City. Once there, Rodney's hopes of meeting famed bigwig inventor Bigweld [Mel Brooks] are dashed when he discovers the company is now lorded over by the tyrannical, money-hungry Phineas T. Ratchet [Greg Kinnear]. Instructed by his dastardly, androgynous mother, Madame Gasket [Jim Broadbent], Phineas has made it his mission to sell high-priced parts to the faltering, fading low-mode bot residents. If they are not able to afford it, as is the case with the high-energy Fender [Robin Williams], sweepers are sent out to destroy them and store them in the junkyard. Not one to take such unethical behaviour lying down, Rodney teams up with Fender, Fender's kid-sis, Piper [Amanda Bynes], beautiful company exec Cappy [Halle Berry], and the rest of the low-modes to put a stop to Ratchet's plan and right the wrongs of the Bigweld company.
‘ROBOTS’ screenplay is by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel [‘Where the Heart Is’], who cook up a fair share of ingenious comedic fodder as they put a robotic spin on the actual human world. For example, in the robots' world, going into labour means mantling the spare parts of a mechanical baby; public restrooms are divided not by male and female but by input and output symbols; and maps to the stars' homes features celebrities such as Britney Gears. Whereas 2004's mediocre ‘Shark Tale’ suffered enormously by its flash-in-the-pan pop-cultural references, the ones in ‘ROBOTS’ are more original and appropriate, including funny uses of Britney Spears' "...Baby One More Time" and Chingy's "Right Thurrr."
Director Chris Wedge and screenplay by Babaloo Mandel, David Lindsay-Abaire and Lowell Ganz have the humorous aspects of ‘ROBOTS’ down to a fine art, especially handling the plot and the ensemble characters. The storyline is a little muddled; zooming at 150mph when 55 mph would have been fast enough. The frenetic pace will enrapture the children in the audience and they, after all, will like anything this fast and colourful, but director Chris Wedge is always so determined to get to the next scene that he loses sight of his ragtag protagonists. They are all likable enough, but, save for the quick-witted Fender, are terminally forgettable and underdeveloped.
Halle Berry, as Rodney's sort-of love interest, Cappy, shares top-billing with Ewan McGregor for no determinable reason other than that she is a big name. Berry is barely there and her Cappy is not humanized enough to understand the character's objective. The team of low-modes are voiced by Amanda Bynes, Harland William, Drew Carey, and the invaluable Jennifer Coolidge. They are energetic enough in their performances, but stand around looking for something interesting to say that they never find. This is one case where an all-star cast in an animated picture is extraneous. The voices too often call attention to them and keep the viewer from believing in the robots as genuine characters. Only Robin Williams calls attention to himself for the right reasons, bringing a zany lovability and warmth to the indomitable Fender that only Williams could achieve.
‘ROBOTS’ is entertaining, no doubt about it, a gorgeously computer-animated family film that will win over children and has enough slyly mature humour to bring favour to grown-ups. A thrilling sequence in which Rodney and Fender ride a public transportation contraption that catapults them through the air and over cliffs is a rollercoaster ride-like highlight. Ultimately, it is on the basic screenplay level where ‘ROBOTS’ suffers slightly next to the superior heights of something like ‘Finding Nemo,’ ‘Shrek 2’ or ‘The Incredibles’ which those are modern animated classics that transcend the rapidly evolving animation format, meticulously developed and thought out and emotionally resonant. ‘ROBOTS’ is slightly creakier, slighter and more indifferent, as much in need of an oil change as its heroes. Until 20th Century Fox and Blue Sky Productions match PIXAR in the monopoly of computer animation, audiences will have to make do with ambitious but flawed productions like ‘ROBOTS.’ It does not sometimes contain a whole lot to grasp onto and take away with you, but it's pleasurable, bright and inoffensive while it lasts. That's honestly not such a bad place to be at. The only thing that would make this animation film soar to greater heights, is if they had finally got round to doing a 3D Blu-ray conversion, especially with the technology available in turning a 2D animation film, into an amazing 3D Blu-ray presentation, as that would indeed be a mind blowing experience.
Blu-ray Video Quality – Cut straight from the digital source, ‘ROBOTS’ looks absolutely stunning with its 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation. For lack of a better term the image quality here is nearly flawless with really nothing to complain about. The colours remain vibrant, the video is crystal clear and aside from a few moments where it becomes soft the picture is very sharp. There is so much attention to detail in this robotic world that I found it a little daunting at first but it took my breath away. Compared to ‘Ice Age,‘ this animation film is not only designed better, but it receives a much better transfer, compared to the NTSC DVD I had in my collection, that I was glad to get rid of.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – With two English audio options we get the best of both worlds with this release. Depending what you’re set up allows for and what you prefer there are 5.1 Dolby Digital and DTS tracks available here. Both sound absolutely remarkable and make some intelligent use of speaker set up although the DTS sounds a smidge better. The directional audio is great with the main sound effects and workings of the robotic world, music and dialogue pumping from all angles. The sound is ultra-crisp and cleans with no real noticeable distortion or flaws and is on par with the visual aspect of the disc.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Audio Commentary by Blue Sky Productions: Nine members of the Blue Sky Productions animation team offer up their insights in this technically-minded free-for-all, exploring the particulars of lighting and animation.
Special Feature: Aunt Fanny's Tour of BOOTY  It is a five minute tour of the Robot City train station. It's more like a comedy reel with a lot of hilarious bits without much story behind it. Definitely watch this when you're done with the film and want some more laughs at the expense of Fender and company.
Special Feature: The Voices of Robots  [7:28] A promo documentary about the all-star voice acting team. With eleven characters under the microscope there are clips of the voice actor talking about their character for each one with the exception of Diesel who doesn't have a voice of his own. Every character also has a selection of design sketches that show the progression of the design up to the final material and there is a 3D turnaround model showing the final product in motion.
Music Video  [4:08] An extremely out dated-looking music video by Sarah Connors. Yeah, I've never heard of her either.
Deleted Scenes  [7:56] Three short deleted scenes with optional commentary by director Chris Wedge. The first involves Tim the gate guard and shows how his conversation with Rodney really ended. This was unnecessary and was understandably cut from the end product because it breaks the illusion that Tim is a hand puppet. The rest are some more character interactions that feature incomplete animations and in some cases conceptual sketches to display the sequences.
Finally, Visually ‘ROBOTS’ is absolutely stunning and the film is remarkably detailed in every sense. The NTSC DVD that was in my collection was okay, but this Blu-ray disc has an even more fantastic digital transfer, some wonderful audio quality and a slew of quality extras. My only issues with this release have to do with the animation film itself because it definitely has some slight flaws. The story may be rich with interesting characters and many funny situations but the simple fact is in this case the plot was second place next to the concept of the film. Children will enjoy it more than adults will, thanks to some very immature humour and gaudy pop culture references. Even so this is a good watch for the whole family, but will not give you the emotional connection that something like a PIXAR project would, but despite this I am really love this beautiful animation and I love all the characters, especially the mad cap and inventive Robin Williams, who has now sadly departed from us all, and the team that put this projector together, did a fine job and should be very proud of themselves and I am so lucky to add this to my Blu-ray Collection. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom