Before I start, it is worth mentioning that I would prefer a million times over that an ambitious failure like this movie was made instead of Transformers 9 or another Sharknado. I refuse to watch Sharknado because it’s a ‘so bad it’s good’ film for people who don’t understand bad cinema. For me a ‘so bad it’s good’ film requires one thing the Sharknado family of films doesn’t have and that is unintentional laughs at scenes filmed in sincerity. Robot Jox has this along with some genuinely decent parts.
The story: the year is blablablabla the Cold War didn’t end and war is outlawed. Instead the countries have one on one giant mech fights for territory. Imagine Pacific Rim made in the late 80s and that’s exactly what this movie is. It’s not terrible but still falls short of being good. The plot follows the main hero pilot called Achilles and his nemesis the evil Soviet robot pilot, Alexander. Maybe it’s spelled Aleksandr. Irrelevant anyway.
The robot fights are quite cool, done in janky claymation, sometimes with people in front of a green screen so you know the robots are super big. If I was younger and less cynical I would have been captivated by this but when I saw this with friends I was yelling ‘BOOOOO’ at the screen and trying to get a chant of ‘Bad Pacific Rim! Bad Pacific Rim!’ Going but everyone else had fallen asleep.
This movie is notable because it was directed by Stuart Gordon, who has had a reasonably successful career. He made that movie Fortress I really like about future jail where the cell bars are lasers which got a sequel about space jail. I’ll come back to this another time. Robot Jox could easily have been elevated to great status with a different director. If Paul Verhoeven had taken the helm this would have been perfect. There’s a lot of opportunity for interesting satire that is never capitalised on, instead focusing on a Texan fat guy with a cowboy hat who wheezes out embarrassing one liners.
Favourite scene would have to be the indoor death playground. A subplot in the film is how Achilles is to be replaced by superhuman clone pilots called ‘tubers’ or some such. I think he fucks the main one, can’t actually remember. Anyway to test the tubers to find out which one should be the mech pilot they make them climb up a climbing frame to a hole in the ceiling. First one there wins! Unfortunately there are flashing red lights, an alarm and traps that couldn’t possibly be prepared for like bars that disappear resulting in multiple deaths. It’s as bad as it sounds. And that’s how they find the best tuber.
Entertaining enough. 3/5 stars.