The problem with a movie like Robot Awakening is that no matter how I describe it you you, it’s going to sound like something more interesting than it actually is. So, with plenty of hesitation, I’d describe the Israeli sci-fi/action/comedy thus: A cross-between Robocop and Scott Pilgrim, if it was directed by Woody Allen.
Yeah, I know, it sounds like something I’d love to watch, too. Unfortunately, the execution of Robot Awakening is nowhere near as exciting as the premise, quickly devolving into an uneven farce way too dependent on subpar CGI effects and video game karate that’s not even stylistically amusing.
Oh, and don’t let that snazzy title fool you. Robot Awakening isn’t a new film from 2019 at all, it’s actually just a renamed carbon copy of the 2015 flick OMG, I’m A Robot! As in, they’re the exact same movies, from start-to-finish, so if by some bizarre chance you saw that movie four years ago, you aren’t missing anything.
So, the movie revolves around this dork named Danny, who gets dumped by his gal pal and falls into a clinical depression for eight months. Not helping matters is the Russian janitor at work, who keeps telling him stories about his ex getting her face cut off by the KGB. Naturally, this all leads to our hero attempting to slice his own wrists open, only to find out, golly gee, he’s actually an ANDROID, complete with the very Iron Man-like ability to shoot plasma blasts outta his palms.
From there, Danny goes to a club and literally does that robot dance and uses his heat vision eyeballs to make dudes’ beers all warm and stuff. Then he uses his newly-discovered robo-powers to sneak into his ex-girlfriend’s roommates’ apartment (hooray for whimsical stalking subplots!) before a whole buncha robo-ninjas show up outta nowhere and make him engage in a little cyborg kung-fu.
OK, so far, so good, right? Well, here’s the moment where the movie doesn’t just jump the proverbial shark, it pretty much does a Triple Lindy into the swimming tool teeming with hammerheads. Apparently lacking the budget to hire more than five actors to appear on-screen at once, the filmmakers instead give us this long, dreadfully boring, poorly animated cartoon exposition scene on how all of the robot-babies were made, and honestly, the movie never recovers from the abrupt snag in pacing.
But what we do get after that is a subplot about a rabbi who makes a six-barrelled laser gun to celebrate Hanukkah, who keeps yammering on and on about his fear of pork-eating robots taking over Tel Aviv.
Then there’s one of the laziest, most low-energy laser gun shootouts in the history of cinema, followed by a startling revelation about the Russian janitor from earlier, and then, the whole thing concludes with our main character proving his undying love by engaging in a robo-death-battle with a dude commanding a mech suit that looks like something copy-and-pasted out of a PlayStation 1 game from 1995.
But let’s let the highlights speak for themselves, why don’t we? We’ve got one dead body. No exposed breasts or buttocks of any gender, homo sapien or android. Thirty-five dead robots. Hands roll. Gratuitous Space Invaders references. One exploding antique store. One exploding mech. Kung fu. Samurai sword fu. Power glove (but not that power glove) fu. And the thing more or less responsible for this movie existing in the first place — some of the most brazen retitling fu any of us have seen in a long time.
Starring Yotam Ishay as Danny Bernstein, the clinically depressed android who says lines like “but this is before I knew I was a robot”; Tzahi Grad as Goldschmidt, Danny’s boss/karate instructor who teaches him the ways of robo-warfare; Hili Yalon as Noa, Danny’s girlfriend who’s really only in the movie for like, 10 minutes; and, believe it or not, Rob Schneider as the voice of Robo Joseph, which is basically what would happen if R2-D2 was a Hassidic Jew.
Written and directed by the tag team of Tal Goldberg and Gal Zelezniak, who if nothing else, get bonus points for coming up with lines of dialogue like “those Germans know how to build a dog” and “fear the hand, Goldschmidt, fear the hand.”
As I was saying earlier, there is some charm to Robot Awakening, but the enticing concept just isn’t implemented well at all. There’s a couple of scenes that might make you snicker, but on the whole? This is one low-budget, indie sci-fi farce I’d recommend skipping — indeed, it’s so underwhelming, it makes that old Andy Kaufman dud Heartbeeps look like Terminator 2 by comparison.
Wicked Rating: 4/10
Director(s): Tal Goldberg, Gal Zelezniak
Writer(s): STal Goldberg, Gal Zelezniak
Starring: Yotam Ishay, Tazhi Grad, Hili Yalon, Rob Schneider
Release Date: December 3rd (DVD and Digital)
Studio/Production Company: Uncork’d Entertainment
Run Time: 75 minutes