Retro Review: Robots

It seems that PIXAR animation is the titan among the leading studios to produced 3D-animated films. But the bridge between PIXAR and the rest of the animation leaders is narrowing.

With the success of Shrek and its sequel and Fox’s Ice Age, other animators seem to be chipping away at PIXAR’s lead in the field.

Fox’s ROBOTS is probably the first example of how slim that gap is getting. From the same studio who conjured up Fox’s surprise hit, Ice Age, the animators at Blue Sky Studios seem to have hit it out of the park with their latest project.

ROBOTS tells the story of an ambitious robot named Rodney Copperbottom (Ewan McGregor), who embarks on a once in a lifetime journey to the big city to fulfill his dreams and get his invention seen by his idol, Big Weld (Mel Brooks), the father of robot society.

Upon his arrival in the Robot City, Rodney meets a down-on-his-luck robot named Fender (Robin Williams) who helps Rodney fit into his new environment.

As Rodney begins to learn the ropes he learns that his idol has disappeared and that a new robot is in charge named Ratchet (Greg Kinnear). Ratchet has a new goal in mind for the people of Robot City, upgrade or face the smelting pot. This makes him lock horns with Rodney who believes the way to save his world is through repairs because most of his compatriots can’t afford the pricey upgrades

Rodney’s only hope is to find Big Weld and stop Ratchet from changing the face of robot society, forever.

What probably makes ROBOTS so different than other 3D-animated films is that housed with in its walls still beats the soul a good old fashioned cartoon. The new breed of 3D-animated films try so hard to overcome the cartoon feel and become pseudo-real. I don’t think that for one moment ROBOTS attempts that feat because its feels firmly planted in a fantasy world.

The perfect example of this is the spectacular and craziness of the Robot City transit system. The transit system is basically a huge pinball machine and it is truly a sight to behold. It is imaginative genius.

The attention to detail and production design is rich and magical. The robots look a million versions of the Tin Woodsman from the “Wizard of Oz” and even the story has some things in common with that benchmark of a film.

I have always enjoyed films that emphasize the quest to fulfill ones dreams no matter what the cost. Sure the story has been told a million times before but I have always enjoyed that message especially in films aimed at children.

One of the low points of ROBOTS is the inclusion of so many celebrity voices. I really only recognized the voices of Robin Williams, Mel Brooks and Stanley Tucci. That is pretty sad when so many celebrities contributed voices.

This does beg the question do animated films really thrive from having celebrities attached to them?

I really think that ROBOTS is a great film that all families should go to. It is as much fun for adults as it is for the kids.

(4 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

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