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Robots is alluring!

By Arthur J Pais
March 11, 2005 21:52 IST

A still from RobotsOkay, it lacks the emotional punch and inventiveness of a Shrek 2, and the warmth and imagination of The Incredibles. And it is a bit loud at times. And sure, Robin Williams, who appears -- or rather, his voice appears -- in an animated film after more than 12 years, isn't as impressive as his previous outing Aladdin.


But then there is no denying Robots is anything but mechanical and offers a decent amount of fun. If only there were better and more one-liners, a smashing theme song and really inventive plot twists…


For those who believe every kid movie ought to be a parable, there are many lessons to be learned from Robots, especially the value of self-esteem, and the harm wrought by greed.


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Viewers may even think the film is worth it simply for its dazzling look, especially the masterfully conceived and enormously thrilling trip its hero Rodney takes on the Robot City's awesome public transport system.


The film is on some 5,000 screens across North America. At least for the first few days, theatres are going to be filled with ecstatic fans who could give it one of the best openings for an animated movie.


Even when some of that excitement comes down in a few days, Robots should be able to welcome not only latecomers but also repeat audiences.


Though there are occasions when Robots drags a bit, it's still bright and fast-paced for the most part, and offers a vibrant computer animated amusement ride for more than half its duration.


It could become one of the most profitable films of the year when DVD and video sales and rentals are counted.

A still from RobotsWilliams gives voice to, with considerable energy and charm, Fender, a skid row bum, who loves to talk endlessly. In a world filled with robots, he is not the only colourful character.

There is the idealistic Rodney Copperbottom (Ewan McGregor) who fixes robots with problems, is convinced that nothing is impossible and hopes his inventions will make him valuable.

Master inventor Bigweld (Mel Brooks) encourages Rodney's everything-is-possible theory. However, the beloved Bigweld is no match to the ambitious and greedy Ratchet (Greg Kinnear). 

With a huge ego and the misplaced notion that only perfect robots should surround him, Ratchet goes on his evil spree. He's helped by his equally ambitious, mean and selfish mother (a terrific Jim Broadbent) and sets out to rid his city of 'outmodes.'

Rodney learns quickly that it is not easy to sell his invention, thanks to Ratchet and his mother.

A still from RobotsSo Rodney, with the help of Fender and a colourful gang of well wishers, sets off to outsmart the greedy villains. The good folks are joined by an alluring Cappy (Halle Berry) -- and you can guess where she is headed.

The good folks, of course, have to triumph. But how one wishes the last one third of the film could have had better situations, language and some really funny scenes.

Yet, as one leaves the theatre, it is difficult not to recall the alluring visuals, several well-edited action scenes and the voices of Williams and Broadbent.

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Arthur J Pais