Robo is a definite entrant to the Science Fiction Disasters Hall of Infamy. It's a slipshod film that forgets even the basics of filmmaking and that takes its audience for a night walk in the dark woods.
Barely into his teens, Kannan is a motherless single child, settled in the US with his dad. Robo is much more than a mere perfunctory machine to Kannan, who looks up at his dad's mechanical design as a playmate. On a vacation to Kerala after three long years, together with Kannan's friends they have a fun blast on the countryside unraveling mysteries and cracking baffling puzzles.
As much as the plot may sound interesting, Robo is no Enid Blyton meets H G Wells stuff. When you have a real kid walking around in a Robot costume, you pretty much get the idea as to how technically sound this one's going to get. It isn't long when the Robo starts its blabber in Malayalam and brings the local robber to book, consulting none less than Sherlock Holmes. When it isn't busy playing hide and seek along rocky terrains, you would find it caught up in the role of an Ayurvedic masseur. You don't shudder hence when the Robot seems to the only one around with the, ahem, brains, if you might excuse me the irony.
As the storyline revolves around some very scientific theories, a great deal of the film is spent in elucidation mode. We are repeatedly assured that there isn't a reason to be 'surprised' since in the US, these Robots 'are very common'. And of course, the fact that there are plenty of desi people around who almost drop dead at the sight of a Robot makes it all a bit too easy for the writers.
The acting is minimal in this ET-gone-all-wrong. The kids are all fine, but they are in the wrong playground. And in terms of execution, this is a film that's careless and unfocussed. I certainly didn't miss those satirical remarks on the environmental calamities or the long winding lecture on how science switches between the creator-destroyer roles. For one, we have heard them quite a lot, and for another, they are at the wrong place at the wrong time in the wrong film.
The music does deserve a special mention. It isn't everyday that you get to hear lyrics on a Robot fine tuned into a Thiruvathira song. There aren't any special effects, thankfully, just as we are spared of the agony of having to watch distressing visual gimmicks.
There are too many of those sci-fi clichés that have gone bad, that Robo is a film that looks straight out of the 80's. Its little engaging, a bit too long and as totally predictable as the tides. As much as it is an adventure movie, there are few conflicts, few crises and of course very few thrills in here.
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