08th Mar2019

Movies You May Have Missed: ‘Robotropolis’

by Phil Wheat

Welcome to the latest installment in our regular Movies You May Have Missed series here on Nerdly, in which I highlight some of, what I think, are the best movies that have flown under the radar of many or have been “forgotten” in the intervening years since its release. This time round its the action sci-fi Robotropolis.

robotropolis-movie-poster

Stars: Zoe Naylor, Graham Sibley, Edward Foy, Lani John Tupu, Jourdan Lee | Written and Directed by Christopher Hatton

Official Synopsis:

A group of reporters are covering the unveiling of a new facility that is completely maintained by robot prototypes. When one of the robots goes haywire, the reporters find themselves not just reporting on the malfunction, but fighting for their lives.

My Thoughts:

Aussie actress Zoe Naylor, who you may remember from creature-feature The Reef, takes the lead in the second full length feature from writer-turned-director Christopher Hatton, and like his previously film Avatar (no, not THAT one) the film is yet another future tale, this time based on the age old sci-fi cliche of robots – built for servitude – rising up and attacking their human masters.

Robotropolis takes place in a South East Asian community called New Town, a futuristic utopia built buy a global oil conglomerate to home the workers at a large petrochemical platform, where robots carry out the many mudane and often day-to-day tasks, including help run the oil platform, in a complete integration of man and machine. When a GNN news crew are sent to report on the idyll that is New Town the stumble across the first robot killing; realising that they are in the middle of a robot uprising the crew must both report on the story and stay alive. Yes, you guessed it, this is I, Robot all over again.

Shot with a blend of news footage (as if you’re actually watching the story unfold live on TV) and traditional filmmaking, Robotropolis at least looks really good. For a low budget movie the CGI looks, apart from a couple of dodgy scenes early in the film, fantastic and the movie has an almost ethereal visual style to it – probably to hide the low budget trappings, but which, along with the aforementioned CGI, also makes the film stand out amongst its direct to DVD competition.

Like the Hatton-scripted Avatar, the film features an international cast and crew, and is a true global production with actors from Australia, the UK and the US. Interestingly the international cast works to make the GNN news crew seem that much more believable. Of the cast it’s Zoe Naylor who is the real stand out, giving an OK, if a little two dimensional performance as news front woman Christiane Nouveau. The rest of her crew, including Graham Sibley and Edward Foy, as Christiane’s cameraman and producer respectively, are little more than stereotypes – as are the rest of the films characters, which for the most part are played in lacklustre fashion by actors I’ve neither seen or heard of before, some of whom give the most forced, wooden performances I’ve seen in a LONG time. But the real problem with Robotropolis is that we’ve seen it all before, done with a better script and a bigger budget, in films like I, Robot and the Terminator franchise.

Despite its shortcomings I did enjoy Robotropolis for the most part. It’s cheesy fun – that is, if you have a high tolerance for low-budget sci-fi, worth tracking down.

Where to Find It:

You can buy Robotropolis on Blu-ray in Germany, otherwise the film is available to rent or buy on Amazon Prime.

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