Robots

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Rating: PG

Starring:
Ewan McGregor as Rodney Copperbottom
Halle Berry as Cappy
Greg Kinnear as Phineas T Ratchet
Mel Brooks as Big Weld
Drew Carey as Crank Casey
Amanda Bynes as Piper Pinwheeler
Robin Williams as Fender
Jim Broadbent as Madame Gasket
Jennifer Coolidge as Aunt Fanny
Paul Giamatti as Tim
Dan Hedaya as Mr. Gunk
Stanley Tucci as Herb Copperbottom
Dianne Wiest as Mrs. Copperbottom
Natasha Lyonne as Loretta Geargrinder
Harland Williams as Lug
Crawford Wilson as Rodney at 12

Special Features:
Commentary by director Chris Wedge and producer William Joyce

Commentary by technical director and animator

“Aunt Fanny’s Tour of Booty” animated short

Inside Look at the Making of Ice Age 2 – exclusive to DVD

Xbox Exclusive Multi-Player Racing Game

Discontinued Parts (deleted scenes) with Optional Commentary by Chris Wedge

The Original Robots Short (original short that sold the movie to the studio)

“You Can Shine No Matter What You’re Made Of” (character inspiration featurette)

Blue Man Group music featurette

Meet the Bots (interactive): Character Bios, Characters 3-D Turnaround, Character Interviews Profiles, Character Design Gallery

DVD Rom Link

Interactive games: Robot Dance, Invent-a-Bot, Fender Photo Shoot

Ice Age 2 Teaser Trailer

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.85:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
DTS 5.1 Surround Sound
Spanish and French Language
Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 89 Minutes

Synopsis:
The following is the description from the DVD cover:

“Fasten your seat bolts and gear up for a hilarious, heartwarming comedy.

With the help of his misfit mechanical friends, a small town robot named Rodney embarks on the adventure of a lifetime as he heads for the big city to pursue his dreams and ultimately proves that anyone can shine no matter what they’re made of.

Featuring an all-star voice cast and a groundbreaking visual style that pushes the boundaries of animated filmmaking, Robots is a dazzling, fun-filled feast for the eyes and a riveting good time for all ages!”

Robots is rated PG for some brief language and suggestive humor.

The Movie:
Blue Sky Studios – makers of Ice Age – does a wonderful job creating the magnificent word of Robots. From small town feel to rusty Rivet City to the heaving metropolis that is Robot City, the simple life and slick designs are well depicted from Herb’s dishwashing duties to the truly unique Robot City transit system. Given that – like all CGI animated movies – Robots started with a blank screen, it is quite an achievement. The voice work in Robots is solid with Williams bringing the laughs, an American-accented McGregor the cheers and Kinnear the jeers. Though the cast reads like a laundry list of Hollywood’s who’s who, it is this trio that carries most of the burden in the film.

The pacing of the film is good for the obvious younger target audience. Clocking in at about 80 minutes, it keeps your attention through the grand finale.

The story of Robots is as old as the hills – small town dreamer leaves to take on the big city. Oddly enough, the fact the story revolves around robots is likely the reason the plot seems flatter than usual. It has been purposely de-humanized, which results in a sterile and cold feel to the film.

Williams is his usual frenetic self as Fender, a bot destined for the scrap heap, but his performance falls short of his turn as the Genie of the Lamp in Aladdin – basically the same role. There are as many misses as hits with his barrage of one-liners and pop culture references. Now that we’ve had the Shrek films and the Pixar gems, a lot of the references seem played out and a bit moldy.

While the commercials attempt to lure you in with all of the big star names attached to Robots, don’t be fooled. Many of the celebs – including second-billed Halle Berry – have fleeting roles in Robots at best. Berry plays Cappy – a forced love interest for our hero – and might have a dozen lines in the film.

The Extras:
There are quite a few bonus features included on this DVD. Here are the highlights:

Commentaries – There are two commentaries included on this DVD. One is by director Chris Wedge and producer William Joyce while the other one features the technical director and animator. The one with Wedge and Joyce is pretty funny as the two joke around quite a bit. They also talk about how they originally started working together, where inspiration for the film came from, etc.

“Aunt Fanny’s Tour of Booty” animated short – This is a 5 minute video (1 minute of which is credits) featuring Aunt Fanny giving a tour of the local airport. You see various shops and characters and they act out a variety of physical gags. It’s funny, but very brief. And though Fender is in it a lot, he doesn’t utter a single word. I guess they didn’t want to pay Robin Williams more money.

Discontinued Parts (deleted scenes) with Optional Commentary by Chris Wedge – There are only three deleted scenes. One takes place at the gate to the company as Rodney is turned away. Honestly, I had a hard time telling what was deleted. The second scene is much more substantial and is in storyboard format. It shows Rodney getting to know the main characters as they hang out on the street. Each of the characters gets a much more extensive introduction and there are a few more jokes. The third deleted scene shows Rodney and Cappy going out on a date.

The Original Robots Short – This short film featuring a robot actress and a robot director fighting with each other was used as test footage to convince Fox that they could make a CG movie based on robots. It’s a convincing piece of animation, but there’s a little bit of innuendo that seems inappropriate for a kid’s movie.

“You Can Shine No Matter What You’re Made Of” – In this featurette the creators go into great detail about how they designed the characters and environments from the film. It’s very interesting at first, but it turns dry over time and gets a little bit boring. You see the engine and the VW van that inspired the look of Rodney Copperbottom.

Blue Man Group music featurette – Blue Man Group are highlighted in this feature. You see them making the music for the movie and they discuss the inspiration for the music in the various scenes. They use some really interesting instruments to get unique sounds.

Meet the Bots – This feature highlights all of the main characters from the film. In it you’ll find Character Bios, Characters 3-D Turnaround, Character Interviews Profiles, Character Design Gallery. You’ll also find interviews with the cast members like Ewan McGregor, Halle Berry, and more. Surprisingly, the interview with Robin Williams is very brief and he comes across as being very nervous. Anyway, it’s good stuff.

Interactive games: Robot Dance, Invent-a-Bot, Fender Photo Shoot – Three games are included. Robot Dance allows you to pick dance moves and a robot does them on the screen to music from the film. Invent-a-Bot has you search for appropriate parts for a robot, assemble them, then turn it on and see if it works. Each step requires the player to use some logic and scientific know how. It’s a lot more educational than I was expecting, but it was fun. Finally, Fender Photo Shoot has you look at pictures for 5 seconds, then answer questions about what was in the picture. This one could be quite challenging at times.

The Bottom Line:
Robots features some great animation and production design, but the performances and story are only mildly entertaining. Kids will enjoy it more than adults, but it is certainly tolerable for parents. The extensive bonus features are also good.

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