I’m very lucky that I don’t have any nostalgic connection to “Robot Jox.” I merely know it that that giant robot movie from Full Moon/Empire, and nothing more. Watching it without the rose colored glasses allowed me to appreciate it for what it really is. It’s silly, it’s unusual, but damn it it’s a lot of fun. I can see watching this as a double bill with “Arena.” We just don’t have nearly enough giant robot movies in America, and “Robot Jox” is that one movie that has its heart in the right place. It’s too big for its britches, but it utilizes old fashioned technology to depict a future where robots decide the fate of countries.
“Robot Jox” is brutally simplistic and based around genetically manufactured warriors known as “Robot Jox.” They’re qualified to operate the robots for each country and have mastered survival skills like martial arts and sword fighting. The world is split in to two fractions: The Western civilization and the Russian themed Confederation. They’re constantly at battle in these gladiatorial games that require pilots man these giant robots that help them win certain territories. The American fraction just isn’t winning lately and there’s a suspected spy in the Western ranks.
Who is the spy will come as no surprise; in fact much of what happens lacks any real punch, but that doesn’t subtract from the quality at hand. Despite the occasionally weak green screen, I really did enjoy watching the major scale world unfold with robots, and pilots, and soldiers battling for top ranking. I didn’t really enjoy the relationship between Athena and hero Achilles, mainly because it feels tacked on and incredibly forced. What counts as sexual tension is laughable, and the sub-plot kind of fizzles out by the end of the movie.
Nothing really happens save for a kiss or two, which is expected considering that the movie is primarily aimed to kids. Director Stuart Gordon really builds a unique and fun world here where viewers can really appreciate robots battling, dueling, and the future where the struggle for dominance is built around machines and futuristic soldiers. “Robot Jox” really should be appreciated by anime fans, and will certainly win over younger audiences that want to see robots beating the crap out of each other. It’s not a masterpiece by any means, but it certainly has a charm and enthusiasm that deserves a recommendation.
The Blu-Ray from Shout! Comes with the ten minute “A Look Back With Paul Koslo,” a good reminiscence with actor Koslo who plays Alexander. There are a series of archival interviews with Director Stuart Gordon, Pyrotechnic Supervisor Joe Viskocil, Associate Effects Director Paul Gentry, Stop Motion Animator Paul Jessel, Animation & Visual Effects Chris Endicott and Mark McGee. There are fourteen minutes of Behind the Scenes footage, and two original trailers. There’s a still gallery of on location shots and Illustrations. Finally there are two really good commentaries. There’s one with Director Stuart Gordon as hosted by Michael Felsher, and one with Associate Effects Director Paul Gentry, Mechanical Effects Artist Mark Rappaport and Stop Motion Animator Paul Jessel.