04th Mar2014

‘Robot Wars’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Don Michael Paul, Yuji Okumoto, Barbara Crampton, James Staley, Lisa Rinna, Danny Kamekona, J. Downing | Written by Jackson Barr | Directed by Albert Band

robot-wars-bot

In the early 90s Full Moon dipped their toe into the giant-robot market with three films that, in the intervening years, have gained somewhat of a cult following – Robot Jox, Crash and Burn and this latest DVD release from 88 Films, Robot Wars.

Toward the end of the 21st Century two great powers dominated the world, a division that resulted from a 30-year war known as the War of the Hemispheres. The war came to an end with the creation of giant, indestructible mega-robots designed for military missions and balance of power. Recently, the mega-robot has become a tourist attraction and is used for tours through the wasteland. While on one such tour, the MRAS-2 is attacked by an extremely violent terrorist group known as the Murdaggians. Their leader turns out to be a frequent passenger on the mega-robot, Professor B. Wa-Lee, who hijacks the MRAS-2. The only hope to stop the Murdaggians is Lane Drury, the robot’s pilot…

Charles Band really knew how to milk footage and effects back in the day didn’t he? So much so that people often mistake the three “robot” movies Band made in the late 80s/early 90s as a trilogy. They’re not. In fact the only thing they have in common is giants robots.

As a kid growing up I ate up each and every Full Moon flick I could get my hands on, so even now – as an adult – they still hold a special place in my heart. And I can tell you exactly why. Practical effects. Plain and simple. In the case of Robot Wars, the titular ‘bots are a solid blend of puppetry and stop-motion animation. Combine those with some great model work and set design and you have yet another fantastic wannabe “sci-fi epic” on a low-budget super-small scale.

Like a lot of Full Moon movies of the time, Robot Wars is filled with familiar faces: Yuji Okumoto (Karate Kid 2, Inception), Danny Kamekona (who also starred in Robot Jox), Lisa Rinna (Nick Fury: Agent of Shield, Melrose Place) and disappointingly fully-clothed Barbara Crampton (Re-Animator) and a lot of familiar “Charles Band production” tropes – but don’t let that put you off though, this is another fun Full Moon flick.

With a brisk 71 minute runtime you’re never going to get bored watching Robot Wars. Just as long as you don’t go in expecting a precursor to Pacific Rim.

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