The Film (3.5/5)
Stuart Gordon started his career with a pair of H.P. Lovecraft adaptations. The Jeffrey Combs starring Re-Animator, and From Beyond. He immediately went from theater director to one of the most well known and respected names in the horror genre. After spending a few years with his producer Brian Yuzna trying to get the film that would become known as Honey, I Shrunk the Kids off the ground, he returned to directing with his third film, and at the time his most unique. Robot Jox, which took elements from the popular Transformers franchise and brought it down to an Empire Pictures level.
Robot Jox takes place in a future where war has been outlawed in it's place conflicts between countries are disputed by contest involving fighting mecha. These mecha are piloted by a person who controls every single movement aka a Robot Jock. The film follows the dispute between nations over the ownership of Alaska, the films second battle, depicts the famous Robot Jock Achilles losing a battle, and in the process having his mecha fall upon hundreds of spectators watching the event. This makes him want to stop battling, and he quietly retires. He is replaced by a jock that was genetically created to excel at mecha combat. Of course, when she is injured and they are left hopeless, Achilles heads back into the 'bot for a final battle.
Robot Jox is the most expensive film that Empire Pictures had ever made. However, even though the budget was large for an Empire film, the whole film has a low budget feel to it. That being said Gordon uses his budget to great effect with excellent stop-motion effects provided by the late great David Allen, who can be said was the real secret weapon in the Empire Pictures, early Full Moon arsenal. He creates battles that are absolutely fun to watch, for their action content, as well as their charming visuals.
The films script was a back and forth collaboration between screenwriter Joe Haldeman and director Gordon is indecisive in the direction it wants to go. The film does earn a PG rating from the MPAA, and feels like it is directed toward a younger audience, but certain elements seem out of place, and too mature for the film as is. These more mature elements are indicative of the darker more adult oriented film Haldeman wanted to make, which is in direct contrast with the slice of childnren’s sci-fi Gordon had in mind. Robot Jox, regardless is a fun all ages film from Gordon, though it should be said would probably me better enjoyed by those that skew younger on the age spectrum.
Scream Factory presents Robot Jox in a quite decent 1:85:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer. The film alternates between regular live action sequences, and stop-motion scenes that require optical effects, and the distinction between the two is noticeable, but expected. Detail is quite good throughout, as our colors, black levels are solid, but not spectacular. There is a nice grain structure present throughout the film.
The audio is presented with a DTS-HD 2.0 track in English with optional subtitles. The track is solid for the most part, with dialogue, score, and effects mixed nicely, and audible throughout. I did not detect any issues with pops, cracks, or hissing on the track.
Scream Factory has put together a nice extras package for their release of Robot Jox. The disc kicks off with a commentary track by Stuart Gordon, and another commentary track by the effects team behind the film. We ar then treated to a new on-camera interview the actor who plays Alexander in the film. This is followed by archival interviews, trailers, and galleries.
A true anomaly in Stuart Gordon's filmography, Robot Jox is a fun robot battling ride, that can be enjoyed by all ages. The Blu-ray looks and sounds quite good, and the extras offer some excellent background information on the film. RECOMMENDED.