Robot Overlords ***Dir: Jon Wright. With: Gillian Anderson, Ben Kingsley, Callan McAuliffe, Geraldine James. 90 mins. Cert: 12A
Director Jon Wright here follows his enjoyable Irish monster movie Grabbers with what resembles a Children’s Film Foundation offering updated for the JJ Abrams era: we now get substantially better VFX, lashings of lens flare, and Roy Hudd as a kindly grandpa. The battlelines between the robots oppressing a Manx backwater and schoolmarm Gillian Anderson’s rebellious charges are economically established; only during the second-act runaround does it start to seem a little underpowered when set against its American competition. Still, it’s brisk enough, and Wright’s fondness for types sustains it: there are well-judged contributions from Ben Kingsley as a snippy collaborator and Tamer Hassan as the guvnor of a pub operating on permanent lockdown. Never less than amiable, and rather more spirited and non-conformist than the Transformers movies that have occupied multiplexes of late: the strategic deployment of a WW2 Spitfire suggests it may hold symbolic value for our newly confident industry.
Robot Overlords is now showing in cinemas nationwide.