COMPANY: The Asylum
RUNTIME: 85 mins
PLOT: A race of alien robots have conquered Earth and forced humanity underground. After a few hundred years, a small group of humans develop a plan to defeat the mechanical invaders in the ultimate battle between man and machine.
REVIEW: Even though The Asylum is very well-known for their small-budget rip-offs of big budget movies, Transmorphers is actually nothing at all like Transformers and is instead more like the future scenes from The Matrix or The Terminator. It takes place 400 years after an alien race of giant robots take over Earth, and the human resistance lives underground with the occasional trip to the surface for a mission under the cover of darkness. Very simple plot that has been done a half dozen times or so in the last decade alone, yet its a plot that never seems to get old. Much like with the Michael Bay movies, these large robots do transform, but unlike them, they only transform into giant futuristic weapons (and in one case, an actual building to trick the human soldiers), and that's about as close as it comes to Transformers. This movie was originally titled Robot Wars, but then Transformers was announced, so these guys changed the title so they could play off the sure-fire success of the upcoming blockbuster. I almost wish they never changed the title though, because it gets quite a lot of flak for being a Transformers rip-off, when in actuality it's only a Transformers rip-off in name only.
One thing you can always count on in an Asylum movie without fail, whether it be a mockbuster or an original piece, is the acting. It's always going to be bad, no matter how good the rest of the movie is, and I do believe that this one has some of the worst acting I've ever seen – Asylum movie or not. The acting is beyond atrocious, and I seriously doubt they could have found worse actors even if they purposely went out to find bad actors, and I feel acting can bring an otherwise good movie down, or an otherwise bad movie up. Unfortunately I feel it bogs this one down. Not that I expect good acting from this company, but something better then what I would expect from a Grade 3 school play would have been nice. Another low point of all Asylum movies are the effects – due to the massively low budget this company can afford to give to its movies, the effects are the next aspect to suffer after the acting. Movies made by this company tend to have the worst effects I've ever seen – yes even worse then most of the SyFy Channel Original movies – but I'm not bothered by that. For one, as long as I enjoy the story of a movie and can have some fun with it, I don't mind bad effects, and for two, you can't watch Asylum movies and expect CGI better then something your Stoner friend back in Grade 10 could do after smoking a few grams of weed - these ARE B-Movies after all, and bad acting and effects is part and parcel of that.
Now I'm sure it sounds like I'm giving the movie a lot of flak, and while its true that you can't review an Asylum movie without listing a novel-length worth of negatives, truth be told though I actually loved the movie and I ended up having a great time in the so-bad-its-good zone (After all, where else can you find a female military general being in a lesbian relationship with one of her soldiers with steamy make-out scenes to boot?), however if you hate these kinds of movies, or movies from The Asylum in general, then stay far away cause this one won't be any different. For those that plan to enjoy this movie for what it is though, be on the look-out for one hell of a plot twist about an hour in, that I can admit I did not see coming at all and I applaud the writer for throwing that in there. These movies tend to be as generic and predictable as they come, but this one threw in a pretty clever plot twist that I wish most big-budget movies would have the balls to do without giving it such a lead-up that a two year old could see it coming (Granted, the most recent Terminator movie did the exact same twist, but this came out several years before then, and did it in a much more subtle way).
Another point in favor of the movie are the characters. I was quite surprised at just how interesting and well-written these characters were - for the most part I actually cared about what happened to them, and I loved watching them on-screen. Whether it be over-acting scenery-chewing as someone casually tells off the General, or just friends standing around and chatting about the old days, or be it in the thick of man vs machine battle with explosions going off all around, I never once got sick of watching these characters, despite the horribly cheesy acting from those portraying them. Actualy if anything, the dreadful acting may have added to the entertainment value. The one issue I do have with this part though, is that the audio isn't very good on the DVD, as there were a lot of instances where people were either talking or out and out shouting at each other, yet you can't hear a single word because the volume of their speaking is very low, compared to the audio of the music soundtrack and explosions, gun fire, and other sound effects. I'd say a good 25% of the dialog in the movie is missed simply because you just can't hear what they're saying, and it's a shame that some of that includes dialog that's supposed to be important to the plot.
If nothing else, this movie is just filled with plain ol' fashion fun. Future resistance fighters blasting away at giant killer robots in a post-apocalyptic world is always fun to watch, no matter how good or bad the movie turns out, as you just know you'll get lots of explosions, swearing, violence, death, and everything else that makes post-apocalyptic evil robot movies fun. It also never stays slowed down for long. The movie starts with a giant battle that goes on for quite some time, then we spend about 15 minutes or so in the underground base to establish our characters (during which we get a 4-way cat fight between a bunch of hot military girls). And then it's back to the surface for another mission, which takes up the remainder of the movie and hardly lets up on the action.
So in the end, yes this movie is far from great, even by Asylum standards, but it is one hell of a fun ride if you don't mind low quality B-movies.
7/10 rooms in the Psych Ward