Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Oh, Sure, It Looks Impressive; but Animated Film Lacks Depth of Genre's Best

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Oh, Sure, It Looks Impressive; but Animated Film Lacks Depth of Genre's Best

Article excerpt

Byline: Matt Soergel, The Times-Union

I, Robot. You, robot. Everywhere you look, a robot.

And, when the computer-animated Robots slows down enough to let you see them, they look great. The gleaming new ones are impressive enough, but even better are the ones pitted with rust and scars, put together of mismatched parts.

Too bad they don't have personalities to match.

The minds behind Robots have created a fine-looking robot world, stuffed -- even overstuffed -- with details and visual gags and action scenes.

And they've come up with one terrific, imaginative sequence, a trip across town in a Rube Goldberg device/amusement park attraction involving slingshots and hammers and big highways that look like a Hot Wheels track grown to immense life. A surfing scene set on a sea made of thousands of dominos (don't ask) is also pretty effective.

But perhaps the filmmakers shouldn't have tried so hard.

Many of Robots' best moments are in the few quiet spaces between the hectic, gag-filled action scenes, when there's time for a joke or a sentimental moment to sink in.

Most of the movie, though, is as manic as Robin Williams, who's doing his thing as the voice of Fender, a robot whose various parts keep falling off. He's quick to befriend Rodney Copperbottom (Ewan McGregor), a small-town 'bot made of hand-me-down parts, who comes to gigantic Robot City to make his dreams come true.

Rodney soon uncovers a corporate plot to corner the market in spare parts, which will force all robots to buy shiny, expensive upgrades. Those who can't keep up will be deemed outmoded and -- gulp -- sent to the ovens.

Pretty heavy stuff, that.

Robots is from Blue Sky Studios and director Chris Wedge, who made the charming Ice Age a few years back. It's not as good as that, but unlike, say, Shark Tale, it's at least entertaining. In the best CGI movies (those from Pixar), the visuals are a bonus; the story and characters are the heart of the movie. …

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