Ewan McGregor voices Rodney Copperbottom in the very enjoyable animated feature, Robots. Rodney is an idealistic robot who also happens to be very good at inventing things. He goes to the big city to work for his idol Bigweld in Robot City but soon learns that things are not as they seem. As often happens with big business, new management has taken over and Rodney finds himself entirely at odds with it. Undeterred, Rodney sets out to make his inventions known, win the love of Cappy (voiced by Halle Berry) and be someone in the world.
While there is a lot about this story that we have seen before (the whole underlying idea of being able “to shine, no matter what you’re made of”), I have to admit that this movie touched me. I really cared about the characters and I wanted to see Rodney succeed in his endeavors. These animated creations are so full of life and express so much with their movements and facial expressions, there were times I had to remember that I was in fact watching a “cartoon.” Robots is one of those movies that really has something to say. The statements it makes about present day business and our society, while maybe a tad too heady for an animated film, is ambitious and something certainly worth viewing.
Great job Blue Sky Studios and Fox for making an intelligent, animated movie!
Commentary Tracks; Deleted Scenes and Blue Man Group Music Featurette
These commentary tracks, from purely just an animation standpoint, are awesome. As I am now in the post-production phase of my movie 1985-1986, I found Director Chris Wedge’s insights to be particularly helpful. Also, there is a separate track where you can hear from the Blue Sky Studios tech team, and it was really heartening to hear about what they had to go through to bring Wedge’s vision to life. Even with a good-sized budget, it’s still a tall order making a movie. The “Deleted Scenes” were interesting, simply because I think they were most likely excised for time reasons. I felt the “Blue Man Group” featurette would be good in this section, simply because I had no idea that they had created the music for this film. With their style it seems almost like a perfect fit for the soundtrack of Robots
Meet the Bots; “You Can Shine No Matter What You’re Made Of!” Character Inspiration; Robots
“Meet the Bots” takes us through all the robots who make up the world of this film. You get an analysis, you can see the robot in action and you even get to hear from the voice performers whose words bring life to the characters. The “Character Inspiration” piece is basically a “making of” styled featurette in which the creative team behind Robots dishes on where the ideas to make this movie and create these characters came from. While it may seem a tad redundant with all the commentary tracks, it is still very worth watching just because these guys are so engaging. The “Robot Test” shows us the initial piece that Director Chris Wedge and company did to “prove the concept” of the film in order to gain financing. I think when you watch this, you’ll realize that the success of this movie was pretty much a no brainer.
Interactive Games; Multi-Player X-Box Racing Game and DVD-Rom
The interactive games are Robot Dance, Invent-A-Bot and Fender Photo Shoot. My favorite out of all these was Invent-A-Bot. This is a really cool way for kids to test an idea. They get to create a robot and see if it works. I am beside myself with how awesome I think this feature is. I couldn’t play the X-Box Racing Game simply because I don’t own an X-BOX, but it’s just another extra on top of an already packed disc of supplemental materials. The DVD-ROM features “exclusive Hi-Definition clips” from the movie. Sadly, I couldn’t figure out how to get it to work on my Mac.
Anamorphic Widescreen. 1.85:1. This movie’s look is everything. Having just completed a feature length, 2-D animated film, I couldn’t even fathom bringing these types of things to the screen. It is simply out of my realm of comprehension, because this movie looks like a stop motion film. Everything looks tangible, even though it only exists in a drawing sense. Just a scene like when Rodney’s invention is throwing the plates around the kitchen. That looks amazingly real!! I can’t even postulate how they did that. Watching this movie on my crummy, 13” TV, really makes me wish that I A) had a larger television set or B) had caught Robots when it played in the theater.
Dolby Digital. English 5.1 DTS. 5.1 Dolby Surround. Spanish and French Dolby Surround. Subtitled in English and Spanish. There is a controlled chaotic vibe to the audio that does nothing but move the story along and underscore this films freewheeling feel. In many ways, Robots seemed like I was watching a documentary that filmmakers were rushing to keep up with. The audio on the film was excellent and even on my TV set, with only one speaker putting across everything, I don’t think I missed a thing. This isn’t to say I wouldn’t mind using my friends home theater systems so I could get the full “experience,” I found that I was able to hear everything, and I actually enjoyed the music of The Blue Man Group. What’s funny is, I never thought they did anything except just walk around in “blue face.”
This cover is full of life. It’s got 4 of the main robots emblazoned across the cover, with a large shot of the city behind them. It is so detailed and colorful that I don’t think it will have any problem grabbing people’s attention or money. The back features more shots from the film, a very tiny description of the movie, a HUGE special features listing, a credits list and of course technical specs. The inside of this clear, plastic DVD also features more characters from the movie as well as a larger shot of the city. This packaging is perfect and I think that alone should win an award.
While I think they may have gone slightly overboard in the extras department, this DVD is really a steal. Not only are we taken behind the scenes, but the creators of this disc seemed to go out of their way to leave no stones unturned. There really is something for everybody. Whether you want “technical know how,” animation tests, more funny moments with Rodney and his friends... you have it all on this disk.
At 89 minutes, Robots really moves at a solid pace. However, it doesn’t move so quickly that we as the viewers are unable to keep up or orient ourselves within the story. I especially took to the relationship between Rodney and Fender (voiced by Robin Williams), simply because in a weird way, I saw their relationship to be somewhat similar to that of Ratso Rizzo and Joe Buck in the seminal film Midnight Cowboy.
I am excited about adding Robots to my DVD collection.