• Robot Wars

    Released by: Full Moon Entertainment
    Released on: January, 2018.
    Director: Albert Band
    Cast: Barbara Crampton, Don Michael Paul, Lisa Rinna, Danny Kamekona, Yuji Okumoto
    Year: 1993
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    The Movie:

    A follow up of sorts to 1989’s Robot Jox, 1993’s Robot Wars once again transports us into the future where the United States has been divided into two sections: The North Hemi and the Eastern Alliance. Seemingly always starved for fuel, these two factions don’t get along so well but making matters worse are The Centros, a metal mask wearing, laser gun toting sons of bitches who are basically desert pirates out to take anything they can and kill anyone that gets in their way.

    With the two blocs of the United States no longer at war, the ‘mega robots’ that were previously used for combat have been put away save for one – the MRAS-2, which is now used as a transport vehicle that takes tourists to a 90’s era ghost town out in the middle of the desert. The MRAS-2 is piloted by Drake (Don Michael Paul) and his right hand man, Stumpy (James Staley). Drake’s a surly type, but he means well. However, when some evil Asian dignitaries turn out to be agents hellbent on stealing the MRAS-2 for their own nefarious purposes, the gloves come off. Meanwhile, a snooping reporter named Leda (Barbara Crampton) and her friend Annie (Lisa Rinna) start putting their noses where they don’t belong, uncovering the truth about what really lies below the surface of this supposed ghost town…

    Robot Wars is a bit of a misleading title. Why? Well, because there is no war. There’s one robot fight that takes place in the last ten minutes of the film, but it only involves two robots, which doesn’t make for much of a war. And note that the title uses WARS, plural, not war. But that complaint aside, this is perfectly enjoyable brainless entertainment. Directed by Albert Band, father of writer/co-producer/Full Moon Entertainment President Charles Band, the movie doesn’t overstay its welcome at seventy-one minutes long. If it doesn’t deliver as much robot on robot carnage as you might hope for, at least the build up to the finale is entertaining enough thanks to some occasional action set pieces and dopey comic relief.

    Don Michael Paul plays his Han Solo-esque robot pilot well enough. He’s got an attitude, but we like him. He looks the part and seems to be having a good time in the role. James Staley is fun to watch as Stumpy. Why is he named Stumpy? We don’t know. He doesn’t have any visible stumps. As to the ladies in the film, well, lovely Barbara Crampton does just fine here, spending the bulk of the movie in a regrettable nylon pink jumpsuit but still exuding that natural charisma and charm that’s made her a B-movie stalwart for a few decades now. Lisa Rinna is well cast as her friend, we have no trouble believing that these two would hang out in real life.

    The robot effects are the highlights of the movie. Handled by the late, great David Allen the stop motion set pieces are genuinely cool. There’s a lot of neat detail in the models that were used for these segments of the film and they move well – it’s just a shame that there weren’t more of them in the film to geek out over.


    Robot Wars debuts on Blu-ray from Full Moon in AVC encoded 1080p high definition framed at 1.78.1 widescreen and looking surprisingly good despite the fact that the feature takes up only 15GBs of space on the 25GB disc (the fact that the movie is only seventy-one minutes long probably helps here!). Remastered from the original 35mm negative, some compression artifacts do pop up here and there and there are definitely spots where some green screen and optical effects shots look a bit worse for wear, but detail is solid and colors look nice. There isn’t much in the way of print damage to note and black levels are fine.

    As is typical with Full Moon’s Blu-ray offerings so far, there is no lossless audio track but the Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo and 5.1 Surround Sound mixes sound fine for what they are even if they’re both a bit thin in spots. There aren’t a whole lot of obvious differences between the stereo mix and the surround mix to be honest, but the levels are well balanced and there aren’t any hiss or distortion issues. It would probably have been preferable to most fans to have axed the surround mix in favor of a lossless stereo option to take advantage of the added depth and clarity it can provide, but the audio here is fine if unremarkable. No alternate language options or subtitles of any kind are offered.

    The first extra on the disc is The Wizard Of Wars: Remembering David Allen in which Charles Band talks about how he came to work with the late special effects wizard who worked on this and a ton of other Full Moon productions. It’s a nice look back at his career. Also included is a vintage 1997 promo piece done by Full Moon to promote the movie, and a lengthy half hour long episode of Videozone that covers the making of Robot Wars and contains some decent behind the scenes footage that might be of interest to fans. Finally, we get a trailer for the feature and trailers for a few other Full Moon titles available now, animated menus and chapter selection.

    The Final Word:

    Robot Wars really should have delivered more robot war action than it does, but otherwise this is a perfectly entertaining way to kill seventy-one minutes in front of your TV. A fun cast and some impressive effects highlight the feature, which looks pretty good on Blu-ray from Full Moon Entertainment.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!