Tuesday night I caught an early screening of the computer-animated film, Robots. Robots was made by BlueSky Studios, the folks who made Ice Age. I didn't really like Ice Age. I think I fell asleep watching it with my cousin. Because of this, I was very hesitant about Robots, but not very hesitant about attending a free screening at the Ziegfeld where they'd be giving out free drinks and popcorn.
Perhaps it was because I came in with such low hopes, perhaps it was because I was in a very easy to please mood, but I really, really liked Robots. In fact, I haven't really stopped thinking about it since Tuesday.
Robots is the tale of Robbie Copperbottom, a young inventor with big dreams who moves from his small hometown (Rivet Town, I think) to the big city (Robot City). Upon arriving in Robot City, he discovers that Big Weld industries (to whom it had been his dream to present his Wonderbot invention) has fallen into the hands of the dastardly Phineas Ratchet and that Mr. Big Weld, the "true" president of the company, has left to live a solitary Howard Hughes-like existence. Robbie falls in with a group of misfit robots lead by Robin Williams, who is almost not annoying as the robot Fender. Together they discover that Ratchet is just the puppet of his mother, Madame Gasket, who has an evil plan for Robot City. From what I could tell, her evil plan was to systematically kill all the other robots. Yes, Robots is 2005's first great child-oriented computer-animated film about genocide. Naturally, Robbie and his friends must work together to get Mr. Big Weld to care again and to stop Madame Gasket's plot to send all the robots into her furnaces. So that's the story.
Headed to Robots, I was afraid it was going to be an uninspired mess of pop culture references trying to pass as entertainment like Shark Tale or Shrek 2 (sorry, that's just how I feel). I was surprised to find it consistently clever and visually quite impressive. The characters and settings of the movie were quite innovative, unique, and (here's that word again) clever. In fact, all the different distinct robots with their different voices and actions reminded me of a Muppets movie. The movie was filled with action sequences, almost all of which were chase scenes, all sorts of innocent events after keep leading to intricate chases in this movie, it's very horizontal in that way, quite reminiscent of a side-scrolling 2D video game. But all in all, Robots is a very good movie to go see if you keep your hopes low. And the fact that the newest Episode III trailer is playing with it doesn't hurt, either (No, they didn't show us it.)
Miscellaneous Things I Liked from Robots: Robbie's first set of big boy parts. The Robot who dances like a robot to Chingy. Robot City public transportation. "I'm Piper, rhymes with viper." Dominoes. The little guard. "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?" "That wasn't what I was thinking at all." Wonderbot scared. Wonderbot fighting. The design of Mr. Bigweld.
Miscellaneous Thing I Didn't Like: Some very rough and jarring edits. Some (most) of the Aunt Fannie jokes.