Robot World (2015)

This is a slow and subtle film, which (after a brief intro) builds its story gradually, showing us what happens rather than telling us what is going on.

Which, of course means that a lot of people won’t like it.

It is a fairly basic sort of story, in many respects: the all too familiar one about the space pilot stranded on an alien world.  He struggles to survive, to find a way home – and to evade the robot soldiers searching for him.

But, as familiar as that may sound, Robot World tells its story with a lot of attention to detail and an intense focus on its star, Ian Rowe.

This is one of those one-man-band movies which have become so common lately, with Neil Rowe writing and directing, with a little production help from his wife.  There are a lot  of other Rowes either onscreen or behind the scenes as well.

While the locations are spectacular and well-chosen, what is really impressive is how well done the CGI robots are – particularly the “mule” that becomes the stranded pilot’s only companion.  The animation a touch shinier than a big Hollywood production would have been, but it is still solid and convincing.  It’s amazing how far DIY special effects have progressed lately – certainly I’ve seen films on SyFy that looked far worse!

The end result is beautiful and impressive, with a nice, unexpected sting to what might seem a somewhat familiar ending.  It is also impressive to see how well Neil Rowe manages to carry off the exceeding difficult feat of making a film with only one character – and, I should note, avoiding the pitfall so many of these films get sucked into of eventually bringing in an extra character or two to liven things up (somehow one thinks of  The Quiet Earth, The Last Man on Earth, and Robinson Crusoe on Mars).

It’s a superb first film, and far better than a lot of the SF being churned out these days.

One just hopes Neil Rowe will be making many more.

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