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Rated PG-13
Copyright 1978 Koala Films
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 11 May 2010

The Characters:  

  • John Boyd - He's a chump. The only thing that he does right is vaporizing his b***h of an ex-girlfriend.
  • Julie - She is a woman, but looks more like a teenage boy than her actual sex. You know, like Brigitte Nielsen or Ricky Schroeder.
  • Kuba - He is bald and his skin is shiny. He's an aaaaallliiiiieeeeennnnn!
  • Herb - I bet that whenever he goes home to Texas his brothers tease him about his perm.
  • Roger, Jack, Sonya, and Paul - Other members of the spaceship Trissa's crew. Some die. Some don't. I don't know who is who.
  • Professor Carr - He thought that being smart would net him a hot girlfriend. You idiot! The sole solace of being a brainiac is knowing that you are far superior to the legions of hot women who would never give you the time of day.
  • Lois - She lied to John, cheated on him, and threatened to conquer the Earth, but he still loves her. It is only when she threatens to kill John's new girlfriend that the hero finally blasts her to atoms, and even then he hesitates. Was she really all that, John?
  • The Robot Army - Warriors from the planet Anthor. They still look like Lady Gaga's male fan club gone wrong, they still use laser swords, and they are still ineffective at doing anything besides dying in droves.
  • The woman at central control who needs to put on a bra and change into a uniform that does not make her thighs look like sides of beef - Well, yeah.

Buy It!

The Plot: 

Before this review gets rolling, I need to warn you that everything in "War of the Robots" lasts five times longer than it should. In any other film, including (correction: especially) mediocre efforts, a scene might last four minutes. In this grandiose space opera, the same scene is twenty minutes long. Quentin Tarantino can pull off that sort of thing, especially when the scene abruptly comes to a violent and bloody end (and a Nazi's balls being shot off never hurts). However, stretching things out past the normal limits of human endurance is not a good idea when you are basically replaying the same action over and over and over and over. That is what "War of the Robots" does, and it does it often. Something happens, and then it happens again, and again, and again.

And again...

Do you get the idea? You might feel that I am harping on this point, but if you watch the movie once, you will realize that I am actually letting the film off lightly.

Where to start? There is a brilliant scientist named Professor Carr. He has invented all kinds of egghead miracles. Two stand out as superhuman feats of science. First off, he has successfully created a machine that can create life - any kind of life that he wants. He is in some respects equal to God. Well, that is just peachy, so long as the good professor does not use his machine to create mosquitoes. I still don't understand why God made mosquitoes. Anyway, the second crowning achievement in the art of science that Professor Carr achieved is building an experimental reactor. The one drawback of the new reactor is that only Professor Carr can keep it from going critical and destroying the city.

I humbly submit that Professor Carr's contribution to the field of job security might equal his achievements in physics and biology.

The problem arises when Professor Carr and Julie are unexpectedly kidnapped by the wig-wearing robots. There is a reason for the shanghaiing of the scientist, besides making all of the personnel at the base worried about the reactor exploding, but you will not learn why Professor Carr was kidnapped until much later, and will find that you don't care anyway. What does matter is that the space command orders Captain John Boyd to rescue the scientist from the mysterious kidnappers.

The Trissa quickly catches up to the three alien saucers. Unfortunately, in the ensuing engagement, the Earth ship is badly damaged. In order to effect repairs, John lands his ship on an asteroid. Background radiation on the hunk of space rock is high, so the captain tells everyone to wear their anti-radiation suits. Those things look extremely uncomfortable; I think that they are made of lead-impregnated vinyl. Not only will they protect the crew from radiation, they will also sweat off any extra pounds. Unfortunately, the suits do not come with helmets. The men and women of the Trissa will all be filing disability claims for brain tumors after they retire.

Firing on the enemy spacecraft is an obvious bad call by Captain Boyd. What if either of the two ships that the Trissa destroyed were carrying the kidnapped scientist? "Oops, sorry, I just obliterated the only chance we had of saving the city from nuclear disaster. Somebody hit reset and I'll try that again." Landing on the asteroid and then walking around looking for trouble, instead of fixing the ship, is John's second glaring error in judgment. The crew is quickly captured by Kuba's people, who mistake them for the Anthor robots (I don't know how; besides wearing lots of makeup and wigs, the humans look nothing like the robots). Fortunately, the real robot slavers show up and take Kuba and his bunch of asteroid freaks prisoner. That gives Captain Boyd and his crew an opportunity to rescue the asteroid people. Much zap-zap ensues. After the robots are defeated, Kuba helps with repairing the ship and then joins Captain Boyd's team. He knows the planet that the kidnappers came from.

You might feel I am overly critical of Captain Boyd. He is not a bad chap, but his status as the mission's commander really puts a twist in my knickers. Yes, he leads from the front. Yes, he treats everyone fairly. Yes, he is a swell guy. However, he rarely makes good decisions, and he consistently lets Lois pull the wool over his eyes (more on that later). Why the others all treat John like he is God's gift to spaceship captains is a mystery. My opinion of John is not helped by the fact that he has an ugly chin.

Most prints of this movie that I have seen have the same problem: bad frame cropping. This means that the characters' heads are cut off just above the mouth. If it weren't for John's uniquely-colored jumpsuit and Kuba's skin tone, half of the time I wouldn't know who was talking to whom. All I can see is chins and blue jumpsuits. If two blue jumpsuits are talking, I am in trouble. Great, everybody wears a blue jumpsuit except John. Neither of those chins are Kuba's. What else can I use to differentiate them? Okay, the person on the left is a woman. Splendid, there are three or four female members of the Trissa's crew. I have no clue who these two chins belong to.

Finally, after the few, but extended, travails, the Trissa lands on planet Anthor. What they discover is that Professor Carr and Lois are not helpless captives. The reason the rulers of Anthor ordered their robots to kidnap the scientist is that they are afraid of death. Professor Carr is the only man in the universe who can make them immortal. In the center of the underground city, the professor has constructed a massive immortality machine, with lots of blinking lights, giant buttons, and even a cotton candy maker. I tell you, I miss the days when computers had lots of blinking lights on them.

Meanwhile, Lois is now the Empress of Anthor. I guess the rulers chose her because she is an attractive young woman. In fact, she is the only young woman on Anthor, meaning that her selection as Empress was pretty much fait accompli. Even though the really old people treat her like the best thing since buttered bread, Lois wants John. She double-crosses Professor Carr (who thought that Lois had the hots for him), and helps the Trissa's crew to escape. Well, Lois does not only want John. What she really wants is to rule the universe; the fact that a hunky space captain like John is a part of that same universe is, to Lois, "added value." The Trissa is boarded by robots, and two separate battles for control of the bridge take place; the humans finally win the day. Lois puts on a spacesuit and jumps out of an airlock to be rescued by a flying saucer. An invasion force from Anthor is following the Trissa through Earth's defenses! John immediately orders his crew to their battle stations. The Trissa and her compliment of fighters is the only thing standing between Lois and space command.

Now it is time for the climatic space battle! Keyword TIME. The makers of "War of the Robots" wanted the film to end with a grand space battle, but did not actually know how to create one. So, what the engagement lacks in excitement, it makes up for with duration. The battle consists of laser sounds, little wedge shapes chasing circles on the radar screens, and shots of the fighter pilots in their cockpits, and it goes on forever. Have you ever read The Forever War? Pretty long war, right? This one is longer.


I have a fond memory involving "War of the Robots." It was shown at B-Fest 2010, and besides me, I do not believe many people had seen it before. When the final battle took place, the audience was not ready for its magnificence. As I said, scenes last five times longer than they should, and the big space battle is easily twenty-five minutes of pure tedium. It took ten minutes for the first wave of enemy flying saucers to be defeated, and when the last was destroyed the audience cheered. I stood up, turned around to face the audience behind me, and yelled "Now for the SECOND WAVE!" People looked back at me in surprise. I sat down, and then the second wave of Anthor spacecraft attacked. Several minutes later, the last of those saucers disappeared in a flash of low-budget special effects. I stood up, turned to face the audience behind me, and yelled "Now for the THIRD WAVE!" People looked at me with a combination of anger and disbelief. The space battle continued for long minutes. Once the last Anthor ship exploded, the B-Fest crowd erupted in applause since now, surely, the film had to be over. I stood up and turned around. The cheering stopped, the clapping ceased, and everyone glared at me. I yelled "And now for the FINAL BATTLE!"

Let me tell you, those people looked pissed-the-hell-off.

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • Gravity is a byproduct of oxygen.
  • The future of space travel involves a lot of berber.
  • Asteroids are covered with foam insulation.
  • Everything is going well until it goes wrong.
  • Explicit: ex-plic-it (ik-splis-it) adj., 1. When a woman is sexually promiscuous.
  • In space, nobody can hear paint drying.
  • Women make good wingmen.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • 6 mins - "This beat is sick. I want to take you for a ride on my Italian space opera schtick."
  • 14 mins - Which north? Magnetic north? Grid north? True north? Galactic north?
  • 25 mins - This is riveting.
  • 27 mins - Incredibly compact wrist translator gizmo alert!
  • 32 mins - When I was a child I had a toy ray gun. It was more convincing than those.
  • 56 mins - Is that a 1957 Mickey Mantle?
  • 94 mins - "Fantastic, you should invent one so that we can use it during the next big space battle."
  • Ending Credits - There is a credit for wigs. Hehehe!

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

Green Music Note warrobots1.wav Droopy Woman: "The professor would have communicated the results of his recent studies only after the last experiment, which is still continuing in his laboratory's atomic reactor."
Officer #1: "Yes of course, the atomic reactor. When they went it was still functioning, but I understand that the professor made several modifications and uh..."
Officer #2: "And?"
Commander #1: "No one else is able to touch it. Dr. Wilkes always maintained that without the professor, an uncontrolled reaction would destroy the entire city - space base included."
Green Music Note warrobots2.wav John: "We come from a very far away planet called 'Earth.' We were on the trail of some alien kidnappers when two of their ships attacked us. They managed to damage our ship. We just want to repair it."
Kuba: "Stop lying! You are men and women of Anthor. You need not hope to escape; I will crush you like insects!"
Green Music Note warrobots3.wav Herb: "Wait! I have an idea!"
Kuba: "Yeah, what?"
Herb: "Torpedoes. They contain hundreds of energy grenades that all explode simultaneously."
Kuba: "Why haven't we been using them?"
Herb: "They were intended for use in atmospheres. I'll have to modify the explosive system."
Green Music Note warrobots4.wav Lois: "John, there isn't any choice. I have to kill Julie! I have to, in the name of Anthor!"
John: "Get out of the way. Disappear and you'll be safe, Lois!"
Lois: "No! You'll have to decide. You have two seconds. I've got Julie in my sights, John."
John: "Julie, what do you think?"
Julie: "It's your decision. You make it."
Green Music NoteTheme Song Listen to a clip from the soundtrack.

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 


 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Clipwarrobots1.mpg - 12.6m
This goes on for about, oh, thirty minutes.

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