Sweet Jesus. Imagine if Robocop had a straight-to-video sequel. And it was directed by Charles Band. I could repeat those two sentences using either Maniac Cop or The Terminator as the operative title, and it wouldn't be an off-base illustration of the film that I watched a few hours ago. R.O.T.O.R. can't decide which action-packed genre jewel it wants to rip off. The plot follows Coldyron (pronounced "cold iron"), a scientist who spearheads a project to engineer a robotic army of law enforcers. The official name of his department is Robotic Officer Tactical Operation Research, hence the acronym. Can you guess what happens next?
Of course you can! Coldyron doesn't take kindly to unreasonable deadlines, so he resigns from his position. In his absence, a faulty prototype absconds with a gun and a motorcycle thanks to bumbling half-wits who were left in charge (more on these goons later). A messy, improvident killing spree ensues. Now, in order to fully appreciate R.O.T.O.R., you need to meet some of the characters. We have the rough-hewn Coldyron, a manly man who grunts every single line through his teeth. You won't be able to count all of his one-liners. This is one epic motherfucker. How epic? Chuck Norris checks his closet for Coldyron before he goes to bed, and if he sees a monster, he tells it to keep an eye out for Coldyron.
Then there is Dr. Steel. She's supposed to be a woman, but her face and her physique say otherwise. Like every other player involved, she knows karate, and in certain situations (like when she is pistol-whipped by T-Cordell Murphy), she isn't afraid to use it. I could mention the Native American whorehound ("Once you go red, you stay in bed" is my new favorite quote), but I'd rather talk about the goons that I alluded to earlier. The first goon is a human. He isn't terribly interesting. The second goon is a robot named Willard that brings Wall-E and Short Circuit to mind. All joshing aside, Willard is genuinely likeable. He is given the best dialogue, and I actually gave a shit about him. That should speak volumes about his warm, flesh-colored co-stars.
The script is driven by all of these quirky characters. I doubt that this was director Cullen Blaine's intention, but R.O.T.O.R. works as a comedy. It falls flat as a sci-fi/horror hybrid, though. The body count is shockingly low, the badass cop droid on the poster is a no-show and there are hardly any special effects. Budgetary restrictions are no excuse. If the makers of Octaman could put a charming creature suit together in 1976, then the makers of R.O.T.O.R. could have figured something out in 1988. The bottom line is that this isn't the most enjoyable b-movie on the planet, but it's still worth a rental. I think I might dress up as Willard for Halloween.
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 8:39 PM