Robots sheds non-Pixar stereotype
March 21, 2005 —
When it comes to computer-animated movies, many critics will agree that "the best" refers to Pixar. Since the release of Toy Story in 1995, Pixar (partnered with animation supergiant Disney) has been king of family-friendly theater.
No other studio seemed capable of toppling the popular Pixar or even matching its success. Movies like Antz and Shark Tale enjoyed marginal success, but nothing like their Pixar counterparts A Bug's Life and Finding Nemo. Only Dreamworks' Shrek was able to hit it off with audiences.
Five years after Shrek – and a decade after Toy Story – 20th Century Fox has delivered Robots to theaters. Robots is the story of an underdog – a working class robot named Rodney Copperbottom (voiced by Ewan McGregor) who strives to leave his life of hand-me-downs and tedious labor to find success in the big city. When he gets to the city, he meets his idol Bigweld (Mel Brooks), but realizes that his dreams may never come true because Bigweld's robot-friendly corporation has turned evil thanks to Greg Kinnear's dastardly Ratchet.
The plot is pretty simple, but Robots makes the simple story work. Thanks to some clever writing and lots of spectacular scenery, Robots never drags or bores. From the makers of Ice Age, the movie possesses the same goofy humor as its predecessor while turning up the visuals. The robots live in a world that is a fantastic robot landscape filled with so many gadgets and exciting structures that it puts the barren terrain of Ice Age to shame.
Unfortunately, there is so much to see that at times it is difficult to take in everything on the screen. Some scenes even feel added to the movie simply for the stunning visual display they will create.
Luckily, the creators of Robots do not believe eye candy alone makes a good movie. While some of the jokes don't work, most of them hit their mark, and there aren't any jokes that are just embarrassingly bad. The characters are all wonderfully designed, and (except Robin Williams' Fender at times), are quite likeable.
If Robots has one major flaw, it is that it must always be viewed as a movie by the other guys – a non-Pixar film that struggles to be as good as the real thing. The surprising thing is, Robots pulls it off.