Friday, June 15, 2018

La guerra dei robot/War of the Robots (1978)

Certain things can be forgiven if a movie is at least entertaining.  I can overlook one or two factual mistakes.  Anachronisms can usually be let go.  Sometimes, a movie is so bad that the only entertainment value is in seeing how bad it is.  Take War of the Robots.  Does it have high production values?  No.  Does it have a coherent plot?  Not really.  Is the acting good?  It has its moments, but not many of them.

The movie starts with Professor Carr and his assistant, Lois, being kidnapped by a bunch of guys in blonde wigs.  Normally, this might not be a pressing issue.  However, the professor forgot to turn off his nuclear reactor and it’s going to blow in eight days if someone doesn’t enter a code.  No one on base can make heads or tales of it, so the good ship Trissi is dispatched to bring back the professor.

The good news is that the kidnappers went in a straight line, making it easy to find them.  The bad news is that it will take four days to catch up with them.  This doesn’t leave much room for delays.  Capt. John Boyd and his mostly unnamed crew manage to make it to an asteroid where they encounter a group of aliens led by Kuba.  Kuba doesn’t trust Boyd at first, but eventually agrees to join him in getting the professor back.

It turns out that the professor is being held by a group of immortal aliens.  Their immortality has come at a cost in that they can’t reproduce.  That’s why the kidnapped the professor; he’s perfected the ability to create life at will.  When Boyd encounters Carr, it turns out that he’s willingly working for the immortal aliens.  And Lois?  She’s been made their empress.

Either way, Boyd has to bring them back.  Unfortunately, the professor winds up dead before they can make it back to their star base.  Not to worry, though.  It turns out that Lois might know the code for the reactor.  It’s too bad that she gets killed in battle.  As luck would have it, Kuba grabbed the one memory card that happens to have the code on it.  This enables the ship to transmit the information back to the base and save the day.

Whatever plot the script has seems to serve stringing together a few cheesy fight scenes.  Of course, when I say fight scene, I mean a few of the good guys killing a bunch of the robots with laser pistols and laser swords.  I’m not even entirely convinced that there was a script.  I think that when Alfonso Brescia ’wrote’ and directed the film, he may have just been filming a scene and telling the actors what to do.  (“Ok, you…Um…say something about not hitting the target or something.”)

One thing that sticks out is that the professor left the nuclear reactor on at all.  I mean, if you’re going to kill the entire local population, why not kill them and get it over with?  I imagine that there’s some reason why the reactor is always on the verge of destroying itself.  Maybe it has to do with his work.  Maybe he got a cut-rate reactor.  I don’t know.  If leaving it on was unintentional, why not just give the code to the good guys just to make them go away?

It’s also not clear if the Carr and Lois defected.  It would seem so.  There’s no evidence that they were coerced.  Then again, no explanation is given as to what they were offered.  Carr and Lois didn’t seem to want for anything and no one seemed to make fun of them.  A little detail would have been nice.

As for the special effects, there are none.  The pistols don’t actually seem to fire anything.  A little light goes on and the enemy falls down.  The laser swords seem to be little more than aluminum foil and cardboard.  In one scene, someone has to float from one ship to another.  I’d say that he has a star field behind him except that you can just make out the stars on his space suit.

According to IMDb, this is the third of five movies in a series.  I haven’t seen the other four, so I don’t know what kind of connection there is.  There doesn’t seem to be a lot of overlap with the characters.  They might at least give some context, but I doubt it.  Speaking of which, I’ve never seen so many actors credited as something else.   (Writer/director Alfonso Brescia is credited as Al Bradly, for isntance.)

You know a movie is going to be bad when the dub varies and the camerawork is shaky.  In fact, the image was so shaky, the opening credits move relative to the background.  I wish I was kidding.  I was also wondering where the ship got it’s name from.  Apparently, uniforms were provided by Trissi Sports.  Ok.  That’s a bit unusual for product placement, but I can live with that.  However, did Lois reference a General Gonad?  Again, I wish I was kidding.

IMDb might have had this on their Bottom 100 list except that it has about a third of the ratings necessary to make the cut.  I think the ultimate sign that it’s a bad movie is that you can’t even get enough people to sit through it to give an honest rating.

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