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Earth has been conquered by robots from a distant galaxy. survivors are confined to their houses and must wear electronic implants, risking incineration by robot sentries if they venture outside.
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Earth was invaded. By robots. Who won the conflict in a matter of days. Humans have been forced to live indoors. Whilst the robots study our species. An implant keeps people tracked and under control. And brings death to those who don't follow the rules. The only people who can go outdoors are members of a special corps that keep society going. Such as one time schoolteacher Mr. Smythe [Ben Kingsley]. These folks are viewed as collaborators. They think they're just trying to make the best of it.
Sean [Callan Mcauliffe] wants to find what happened to his father. When a chance occurrence gives him and three other kids the chance to get outside without being detected, it's the start of a race for survival. Answers. And resistance at last...
This gets all it's exposition in quickly at the start with captions, as many such films do. But it doesn't overload you with it so you're right up to speed quickly and never confused. It's very well directed, because it uses it's low budget and British settings so well that it never looks cheap. But ultimately it is all about the characters, and it delivers here.
The four main leads are basically hero, strong willed girl, would be funny guy, and younger kid. One to appeal to all sorts of youth. But they all work as characters, down to strong performances from the actors. Funny guy and younger kid could be irritating, but they're not. Ben Kingsley makes Symthe a wonderfully three dimensional villain, not someone who is just being evil for the sake of it. And Gillian Anderson as Sean's mother is also a strong presence.
It moves at an excellent pace, with never a dull moment. There's good logical plot development all the way. The right amount of jeopardy. And a good little bit of moral food for thought as well. Leading to an action finale that is very satisfying.
Watch for a superb performance as well from the actor playing the robot mediator, a very creepy looking robot who is meant to look like a child. He really convinces at being a very alien machine.
Although designed as a family film, it does have occasional mild adult references and a couple of bits of mild language, thus it has a 12 certificate.
A film that sets out to entertain, and delivers. Worth a watch.
The dvd begins with several trailers, but these can't be skipped. Although you can fast forward through them.
The disc only has English language. And it has no subtitles.
Robots never lie music video: a pop video, just using clips from the film, for the music on the end credits.
Cast book reading: one minute of the cast reading a scene from the novelisation of the film. Which is well worth reading if you like the film, as it does add a lot of depth and detail.
Making of: a documentary of the kind that you used to get on dvds. Rather than being a short featurette, it's twenty three minutes of detailed and good interviews with cast and crew.
VFX: Six minutes about the special effects.
Comic con cast interviews: twenty eight minutes of one cast member touring a London convention and interviewing other cast and crew. Good interviews, and manages to succeed at being funny when it tries to do that.
The premise is basic but has many possibilities - three years ago the Robots invaded Earth and the human populace are now quite literally confined indoors. People who venture outside are met who strict instructions to return to their home or face annihilation (ED209 style). An intrepid group of youngsters aim to fight back and it's their story we follow - a strange mash up of Falling Skies and The Goonies without being as satisfying as either.
The young cast are solid enough, supported by the likes of Ben Kingsley (ace) and Gillian Anderson (underused). The effects are good for this kind of fare with the robots themselves looking pretty impressive and carrying an air of menace. The general exuberance and imagination carries things through even though it's sometimes difficult to know exactly who this is aimed at - being often rather juvenile for an adult crowd while at others being slightly adult for the younglings.
Ultimately it's worth a watch for a decent slice of sci-fi fun whilst perhaps not living long in the memory.
As usual I like to make a couple of observations: Ella Hunt who plays Alex seems to bear an uncanny resemblance to a young Katie Holmes; if everyone had been made to stay in their homes all day by the Overlords who was doing all the shopping, farming, and all the other hundreds of jobs which make the world go round even to the limited degree shown in the film?
So silly, family friendly fun, a bit like an extended episode of Dr Who.
Just to be clear, this is not a Hollywood blockbuster; it's not Transformers or Terminator or anything of that ilk.
What this film is, instead, is a relatively low budget British sci-fi movie with a few big name actors and a plot inspired by a number of other sci-fi sources.
It would easy to imagine it as having been made by a British TV channel as the pilot movie for a new Saturday night TV series.
There's nothing particularly bad about it - other than perhaps a lack of scale: a fightback against the global invasion of enormously powerful alien robots by three unaided teenagers living on in the Isle of Man is, at best, a bit silly.
However, I suspect that I'm rather older than the target audience for this film. I think my ten year old self would have been more forgiving of its short comings and enjoyed it a lot more.