Technology makes new leaps in Chris Wedge's animated coming-of-age yarn Robots. From the people who brought you Ice Age comes a fully realised and seductive futuristic world like the best Meccano Set ever imaginable. Ewan McGregor lends his voice to humble bot Rodney Copperbottom who negotiates the big smoke of Robot City to find his fortune. All the bells and whistles are in place, it's just a shame the story is as mechanical as the protagonists.
Robin Williams plays motor-mouthed sidekick Fender, who distracts from the narrative grind with trademark shtick, including a quirky riff on Gene Kelly's Singin' In The Rain. A husky Jim Broadbent is a more surprising and certainly inspired choice for the evil Madame Gasket who runs a Chop Shop to cleanse the streets of "outmodes" and insists, "I'm a woman!" Sadly other robots feel like spare parts. For instance Halle Berry's Cappy merely plays tagalong on Rodney's quest to save the city's broken-down population.
"DAZZLING SET-PIECES KEEP THINGS TICKING OVER"
Wedge stunningly captures the metallic tints and textures, but inside their burnished exteriors the characters are less shaded. Consequently the movie's underpinning message about "following your dreams" fails to inspire despite a buoyant performance by McGregor.
Thankfully dazzling set-pieces keep things ticking over, like Rodney being pinballed across town on giant catapults and down industrial chutes. There are lots of great gags too such as robots dismantling themselves to pass through a metal detector. Ultimately Robots is fully functional and polished to perfection - just as if it came off the conveyer belt yesterday.