Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Shane Van Dyke, Bruce Boxleitner, Jennifer Rubin, Alana DiMaria
Directed by Scott Wheeler
A worldwide robot alien invasion lays waste to civilization as we know it forcing pockets of human survivors to seek shelter anywhere. The might of military powers prove impotent in their counterattack. The Russians manage to capture one of these robots and successfully tortures it into giving up its secrets. Small bands of resistance fighters try unsuccessfully to fight back. Survivors forced underground by a poisonous gas that has spread across the globe. There’s a hell of a movie going on in Transmorphers: Fall of Man; too bad most of it is occurring off-camera. We hear about it. We see little of it.
Say what you will about Leigh Scott’s Transmorphers; he deserves credit for even attempting to make an epic futuristic giant robot holocaust flick with an atmospheric look and serious sci-fi action tone given the tiny budget he had to work with. Was he entirely successful? Nope. But better to be overly ambitious junk than just a heaping pile of useless scrap metal, which is exactly what this present day Asylum mockbuster prequel is.
The first half possesses some camp value stemming from it being what I imagine a Transformers movie would have been like if Roger Corman had produced it back in the early Nineties when he was doing Carnosaur and that Fantastic Four film that never got released. A cellular phone turns into a robot spider, a dashboard-mounted GPS unit fires death rays, a satellite dish transforms into a Terminator-ish endoskeleton; by the time we’re watching Bruce Boxleitner in a car chase with a driver-less truck that turns into a robot and proceeds to unleash such tremendous carnage as lightly rocking the vehicle Boxleitner is driving, all I could think was this is pure 1990’s Corman.
To watch one of these transmorphers fly after a speeding SUV is to believe that somewhere out there in this vast universe lurks a technologically superior race of malevolent machines that look like anorexic Gundam and soar through the air with all the wobbly grace of William Katt’s “Greatest American Hero” in his inaugural flight.
The much crummier second half is even more of a mockbuster of Terminator: Salvation than The Asylum’s Terminators mockbuster from just two months back. There is such a dramatic leap from the outset of the invasion to survivors grouped together talking in the past tense about what just took place minutes earlier as if a much longer period of time had transpired I couldn’t help but get the feeling that a reel had been skipped.
Shane Van Dyke (Grandson of Dick, looking like a surfer dude version of Brian Krause) is an ex-soldier back from the war now working as a satellite repairman. Like all satellite repairmen, he carries a firearm with him at all times and isn’t nearly as stunned as one would expect upon encountering a shape-shifting c-band satellite dish at his ex-girlfriend’s house. We learn his specialty in the military involved artificial intelligence. Convinient, not that this skill ever comes in handy since most of his scenes involve running and standing around.
His ex-girlfriend’s father happens to be the local sheriff (old pro Bruce Boxleitner) and together the three of them go off investigating robot related deaths. They meet up with a Homeland Security X-Files agent (Jennifer Rubin, for this you came out of an 8-year retirement from acting?) from who they’ll come to learn that all modern technology was derived from the wreckage of the 1950’s Roswell UFO crash. What we didn’t know is that we were set-up and our technological devices have the ability to transmorph into robot attackers. Good thing Armageddon is at hand or else I can think of a slew of electronics manufacturing corporations that would be facing class action lawsuits out the yin yang for never noticing that particular design quirk.
Together, with assistance from the inept military, they set out to stop the transforming alien attackers from sending out a signal to their deep space brethren that will bring about an all-out invasion. You would think getting the signal out wouldn’t be that hard considering one of these robots can already transmorph into a rather large c-band satellite dish.
After a hard day of learning that extraterrestrials are real, doing battle with robots from beyond the stars and preventing them from signaling an invasion, not to mention getting orphaned by them in the process, what better way to unwind than with a beer at a local watering hole and night of make-up sex. Then you can awaken the next time to find out you didn’t stop them from phoning home after all and the end of the world is at hand.
They should have just ended the movie here and called it a day. Instead they insisted on a feature length film and that left a whole lot of time to fill and not much of a special effects budget to fill it with. The useless second half practically turns into its own sequel with Van Dyke’s soldier-cum-satellite repairman becoming the John Connor of the Transmorphers universe. As with Terminator: Salvation, the objective is to blow up an enemy facility. As with Terminator: Salvation, when the smoke cleared and the closing credits rolled, I was left sitting in my seat with a profound sense that nothing had really been accomplished by any of what I’d just wasted my time watching.
If nothing else, at least unlike a certain Michael Bay sequel, the running time of Transmorphers: Fall of Man clocks in under 90-minutes. Now if only they would have given us less running during that time.
1 1/2 out of 5
0 out of 5
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