Robots (2005)

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Released 12-Sep-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Animation Trailer-Garfield-The Movie, Ice Age, Garfield And Friends
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Menu Audio
Audio Commentary-Blue Sky Studios Technical Commentary
Featurette-The Voices Of Robots
Music Video
Deleted Scenes-Discontinued Parts, With Optional Directors Commentary
Featurette-Meet The Bots - Character Bios, Design Gallery
Game-Robot Dance
Game-Fender Photo Shoot
Web Links
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2005
Running Time 86:06
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (55:48) Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Chris Wedge
Carlos Saldanha
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Halle Berry
Lucille Bliss
Terry Bradshaw
Jim Broadbent
Mel Brooks
Amanda Bynes
Drew Carey
Jennifer Coolidge
Dylan Denton
Will Denton
Marshall Efron
Damien Fahey
Lowell Ganz
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music Ian Ball
John Powell
Adam Schlesinger


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
English Audio Commentary
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    I recently reviewed the second Region 4 release of Ice Age, a great animated film, and accordingly I was keen to see this new film by the same directorial team of Chris Wedge and Carlos Saldanha.

    Robots is another in the long line of recent computer animated features to hit our screens, all trying to outdo the last. This one unfortunately fails to live up to the quality of films like Ice Age, Finding Nemo, Toy Story, Shrek or The Incredibles. It tells the story of a young idealistic robot, Rodney Copperbottom (Ewan McGregor), who leaves his small town and loving family to travel to the big city and meet his hero, Big Weld (Mel Brooks). Big Weld Industries is famous as a large corporation which encourages young inventors with their ideas regardless of their background.

    Rodney's family are not well off - his father works as a dishwasher (literally) and he has always had to use second hand robot parts as he grew bigger. In order to try to make his father's life easier, Rodney invents something called a Wonderbot which is designed to assist with washing up and other tasks. He decides to take his invention to show it to Big Weld, but unfortunately what he does not know is that Big Weld Industries has been taken over by Ratchet (Greg Kinnear), a robot with evil plans in mind. He wants to make more profit rather than stick with Big Weld's approach to business. Big Weld himself has disappeared.

    When Rodney arrives in the big city he quickly meets and falls in with a group of broken down old robots who are trying to survive any way they can. This group includes Fender (Robin Williams), Piper, Fender's sister, Crank, Lug & Diesel. They eventually band together to try to find Big Weld and restore order.

    Despite some fun sequences, some good jokes and a lively pace, this film just doesn't really come together. Personally, I found it hard to care about the central character and I felt that too many other characters were introduced in the fairly short 80 minutes or so of running time. The story was also unnecessarily complex for little kids and in some places quite scary, especially the scene in the chop shop. This was made worse by the choice of the song Underground by Tom Waits, which scares me! On the plus side there were quite a few amusing popular culture references for the adults.

    On the voice acting front, Robin Williams was a highlight as you would expect, but most of the other characters had little personality to their voices. There were some wonderful sequences such as the dancing robots sequence, the Singin' in the Oil sequence and the climactic battle. There were other sequences, however, such as the transport system in the city which seem to have been added just because they were 'cool' rather than adding to the plot. For those who find them annoying, this disc contains an anti-piracy message and advertisements (which may be skipped through) before the menu.

    Overall, considering the film's heritage it was disappointing that despite having some good elements this film just did not work as a whole.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is very good but not spectacular.

    The feature is presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio 16x9 enhanced which I would assume is the original aspect ratio.

    The picture was clear and sharp throughout although never what you would call crisp. Some light grain was visible in backgrounds from time to time and some noise/mild macro-blocking can be seen on the wall at 6:17. I would guess that these minor issues are as a result of a slightly low bitrate of around 5 Mb/s. There was no evidence of low level noise. Shadow detail was excellent as you would expect from computer generated animation.

    The colour was very good throughout.

    I noticed no artefacts other than those mentioned above.

    There are subtitles in English for the hearing impaired and for the audio commentary. The English subtitles were a little small and too far up the picture for my liking. The text was fine.

    The layer change occurs at 55:48 and caused a slight pause.
    

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio quality is very good.

    This DVD contains an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 448 Kb/s. This is a very competent and well constructed soundtrack which does everything required of it without really standing out.

    Dialogue was clear and easy to understand and there was no problem with audio sync.

    The score of this film by Ian Ball & John Powell is very good without being one you need to own to listen to in the car.

    The surround speakers were well used for things such as the Wonderbot, the party scene and the surfing the dominoes sequence.

    The subwoofer was not used too much but it was noticeable here and there adding bass to things such as the fart at 39:10.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    A reasonable collection of extras which feel like they are just there to fill out the disc rather than being of top quality.

Menu

    The menu included an intro, music, animation and the ability to select scenes, languages and subtitles.

Commentary - Technical and Animation Team

    Animation or film students will probably get something out of this commentary, however the rest of us will probably not. They discuss lots of technical tidbits and animation problems and challenges. They are very self congratulatory and talk about how cool things that were done are. Lighting and various animation techniques are also discussed mostly in technical jargon. Unless you are into the technical side of animation, give it a miss.

The Voices of Robots (3:42) 

    A fairly pathetic 'extra' which is a featurette about Australian children who won the chance to appear as voices in the film. Probably interesting for their parents.

Music Video (4:04)

    Sarah Connor performs From Zero to Hero which was only in the German version of the film!

Discontinued Parts - Deleted Scenes

    Three scenes in total with optional director's commentary. The most interesting thing about these scenes are the director's commentary which marks his only appearance in the extras. He indicates that they did a lot of rewrites and changes during production. The scenes included are:

Meet the Bots

    A collection of design stills and a text write up for each of the major characters, most of which include between 5 and 10 drawings. The characters covered are Rodney, Big Weld, Fender, Cappy, Piper, Crank, Lug, Diesel, Aunt Fan, Ratchet & Madam Gasket.

The Robot Arcade

    This menu provides access to two interactive games, as follows:

Weblink

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This movie has recently been released in Region 1 with more extras. The differences are as follows:

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 2 edition is somewhere in between in terms of extras as it includes a longer Voices of featurette which actually includes the voice actors and the Aunt Fanny featurette but also misses the second commentary and some of the other minor extras. Region 1 by a mile.

Summary

    A disappointing animated film from the same directors as the wonderful Ice Age.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is very good.

    The set has a reasonably sized but ordinary quality set of extras. It is also missing a lot of those included on the Region 1 version.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Friday, September 30, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersBose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)

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Comments (Add)
It might not be great for adults, but it's mesmerizing for kids. - Gavin Bollard (bio - updated 9 Nov 2005) REPLY POSTED
On soulless animation epics & celebrity voices - Neil REPLY POSTED
Ice Age was terrible - J Sebastian
Another factor in the R1's favour... - REPLY POSTED
Billy West Interview - Christopher
disappointing follow-up to Ice Age - John S (This is my bio) REPLY POSTED
Cell Phone trailer play before the movie? - REPLY POSTED