[box cover]

Robots

Robots (2005) has a nice message for kids about believing in yourself and following your dreams, but that's not why grown-ups will enjoy it. For the post-elementary school set, the source of Robots' appeal is its shiny, cog-filled, insanely inventive setting. As imagined by director Chris Wedge (Ice Age), Robots' world is as vivid as the seascape of Finding Nemo and even more creative than the granddaddy of the computer animated genre, Toy Story. That said, both of those films, when considered as complete works of storytelling, leave Robots on the scrap heap. As engaging and entertaining as Robots is, the tale of eager robot inventor Rodney Copperbottom (voiced by Ewan McGregor) is slight and predictable at best. As a young, small town 'bot, Rodney grows up dreaming of working for master inventor Bigweld (Mel Brooks) in Robot City. But when he finally arrives, he discovers that manipulative corporate climber Ratchet (Greg Kinnear) has taken over Bigweld Industries, intent on leading the company down a new path that would put older, "outmoded" robots (including Rodney's dad) in danger. Outraged by Ratchet's plans — which fly in the face of the Bigweld motto that Rodney has always lived by — "You can shine no matter what you're made of" — Rodney joins forces with a group of misfit 'bots (voiced by the likes of Robin Williams, Drew Carey, Jennifer Coolidge, and Amanda Bynes) and sympathetic Bigweld exec Cappy (Halle Berry) to help set things right. Not exactly plot rocket science. But, frankly, that doesn't really matter; between set pieces like Rodney's journey through Robot City's Rube Goldberg device-like public transit system and the script's genuine humor, the film offers enough to look and laugh at that most viewers probably won't notice the lightweight storytelling. Fox's Robots DVD isn't quite as packed with features as the standard Pixar-issue platters, but it's got plenty to keep fans occupied. Coolidge's well-endowed character stars in a new animated short, "Aunt Fanny's Tour of Booty"; other extras include a pair of standard-issue commentary tracks (one by Wedge and production designer/producer William Joyce, the other by a gaggle of technical crew members), the original concept test short, three deleted scenes, an 18-minute character featurette, a quick look at the Blue Man Group's contributions to the movie's soundtrack, a well-organized character gallery that offers quick interviews with all of the major voice talent (as well as still galleries and 3D turnarounds), three interactive activities/games, an X-Box video game demo, Fox promos, DVD-ROM features, and a brief behind-the-scenes peek at the upcoming Ice Age 2. The crisp anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) looks great; audio options include strong DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks, as well as Spanish and French 2.0 Surround tracks and English and Spanish subtitles. Keep-case.
—Betsy Bozdech



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