An unconscious soldier wakes up on a battlefield and discovers a strange device implanted in the back of his neck as he regains consciousness. The surroundings around him are unfamiliar, and according to the tag on his uniform, his name is Shane. Shortly after waking up, a loud horn can be heard, and a massive robot appears, trying to kill him! Shane discovers he’s not the only person around and meets a woman named Piper. The two decide to team up and work together to stay alive. Nearby, more people wake up. They discover that the robots try to use human voices to lure them out from hiding, and new recruits are dropped from the sky at least twice daily. However, not every recruit lands safely, and many die instantly.
As Shane and Piper continue to explore the abandoned town and battlefield, they make more discoveries. They realise that they are being used as lab rats to test a new line of battle robots equipped with the latest technology and weaponry. But who controls the robots? Thanks to an announcement from some speakers on the battlefield, the recruits learn that someone is working for the government and completely controlling the game. To make matters worse, some of the recruits among them can’t be trusted either. Now, Shane and Piper must stay alive, battle multiple robots, and uncover the private location of the person controlling them all.
Robot Riot is a sci-fi action film with some minor mystery, particularly in the opening. The film has a distinct B-grade feel, but the CGI and the robots themselves look great. The location, consisting of old run-down buildings, adds to the atmosphere. Behind the camera, you can feel the Director’s passion for creating a fun film on a low budget. Despite being a low-budget sci-fi film, I appreciated the efforts and results, even though the result is far from perfect. The opening intrigued me, especially when Shane confronts a giant robot shortly after landing.
One of the biggest issues in Robot Riot is the lack of character development. Many characters claim to have no memory of themselves, which continues for a significant portion of the film. Various characters fail to give audiences a reason to invest in them. Character deaths are handled in a silly manner, lacking impact or shock value, particularly when poor choices are made. The villain is another weak point, appearing cheesy and over-the-top- more insane than menacing or skilful. Some lines of dialogue feel wooden or unnatural, but this was somewhat forgivable given the overall fun factor. One factor that couldn’t be ignored is the frequency of massive robots surprising the main characters as if they were silent and capable of being sneaky.
Overall, Robot Riot presents some great concepts as a sci-fi action film. Despite its imperfections, you can sense the Director’s passion and dedication to creating an entertaining film, likely with a limited budget. The design of the monster robots and the setting is impressive. However, there are aspects that can’t be overlooked, such as wooden and unnatural dialogue, along with the villain who feels more childish than menacing. The third act also drags on longer than necessary. In the end, those seeking a mindless sci-fi experience will find some enjoyable aspects and appreciate it as a solid Directorial debut from Ryan Staples Scott.
Robot Riot (2020) is Available on DVD and Digital from July 5th!