Today I watched Albert Band’s Robot Wars (1993)
Despite the title, this film actually takes place after a series of devastating conflicts involving super robots. Much like in Robot Jox, the world here is split into two opposing factions vaguely representative of the Cold War powers, though the conflict between them seems to have cooled considerably. In this world only one giant robot remains active, acting as a glorified tour bus. It’s armaments still remain in use though as raiders frequently attack transports for resources. Our hero is one the pilots for this machine named Drake, a real surly bastard who is, of course, the best. The plot is pretty basic and concerns this final giant robot being hijacked, though the film certainly takes it’s time getting to that action.
This is just a blatantly lazy script, performed and executed with more passion than it deserves. The plot, as it is, comes off as mostly padding because of how undeveloped everything is. Furthermore the fairly basic story is interrupted by that all to common Hollywood crime, a shoehorned in love story. Robot Wars, at best, can be seen as a pretty simple showcase of early 90’s aesthetic and attitudes, though I would argue that neither of those are particularly good things, at least when presented this plainly.
The only saving grace of this film is in the performance of Don Michael Paul as Drake. With a better script his performance of the character could have been compelling, and he certainly offers more energy than it asks for. Sure he is a total prick, but he is an interesting one. He is a damaged character, a hot-shot pilot of a vehicle that is no longer in service, along with all the other baggage of being a soldier he is also fading into irrelevance. Not that the film picks up on any of this internal drama, it could have, but it doesn’t and that makes this into a mighty disappointing little film. 1/5