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Sunday, 6 November 2016

A review of Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter (2016)

A winner of numerous critical accolades and festival awards, not just for the film itself but also for the quite remarkable performance of its leading lady........ mention upon mention of the film in the various 5D social network timelines over the past couple of months....... the news that none other than SONY has picked up the movie and a franchise is planned together with moves for a proposed TV series......... 

Yes, in the time-honoured fashion of hanging onto the coat tails of those far more talented about myself it became abundantly clear to me that something had to be done about this situation - I had get involved. In other words, it was about time that I watched Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter for myself to see just exactly what all the fuss was about.

The previous blog article here at 5D featured an in depth (OK, in other words I waffled on a lot) interview with the producer and leading lady herself, Tracey Birdsall. If you want to see for yourself a fascinating insight into Tracey's mind-set then you could do worse than read it RIGHT HERE

If you feel that actually you could do much better than read anything that I put together (and just who would blame you?) then I will simply say that Tracey is a wonderfully entertaining, gracious and refreshingly honest interviewee. The rumour that we here at 5D are more than a little smitten with the gorgeous, talented geek that she is would be something I couldn't possibly comment upon........ :-)

However, my abject and fawning method of "tell me why you're so fab" line of questioning didn't seem to put her off too much and she was in fact very complimentary on my article. I know what my regular reader (yes I do have one) is thinking, that Tracey was probably just as shocked as anyone that I had managed to get at least some of my spelling, grammar and basic factual information nearly correct. Well, if that suggestion wasn't probably harsh but true I would be contacting my legal team to counter that remark with threats of legal action, though they would probably tell me that I was once again onto a losing case...

Nonetheless, Tracey did indeed like the article, so much so that she suggested that I may wish to see the finished product of Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter for myself on a super secret online screener....... and so watch it I did.

ROGUE WARRIOR: ROBOT FIGHTER is a complex science-fiction actioner described as Mad Max meets Star Wars. Written by Neil Johnson, the science fiction film is set in the distant future depicting the overthrow of humanity by artificial intelligence on Earth and other worlds. Starring are Tracey Birdsall, William Kircher (The Hobbit), Daz Crawford (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”), Stephen Manley (Star Trek III), and Marilyn Ghiggliotti (Clerks).

I will admit that I was more than a little apprehensive before watching this film - What if I didn't like it? How much of a negative review might I have to write? Would Tracey Birdsall never talk to me again?......

Thankfully I never needed to answer any of those questions because Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter is quite simply a triumph, it is in fact a genuinely scintillating slice of Sci-fI cinema.

On the face of it there is apparently little new to the narrative themes within the film, it's clear that the makers wear their inspirations firmly on their sleeve as influences abound with the likes of Terminator and Mad Max. 

However this is not a criticism, because while the concept of the rise of machines and technology threatening the very existence of humans may seem familiar, the treatment here means that there is a freshness and sincerity to the production that otherwise may have just been another by-the-numbers tale of technological armageddon.

For a start, the film looks great, making the full use of some stunning locations both in the States and down-under in Australia. Some of the panoramic aerial shots in particular are incredible and fully utilise the use of drones (a genuine boon for any low-budget filmmaker) to provide a richly textured and fluid look to the movie. If you add to that some inspired lighting and taut direction, the result is that unlike other films of a similar nature in terms of limited finance. It all serves to provide the viewer with a genuine sense of planetary and interplanetary scale. The irony that a film that deals with the notion of technology becoming dominant beyond belief in fact benefits from the increasingly complexity of technology, such as drones, is rather amusing methinks. This movie is quite simply a delight for the visual senses,

Of course, the true heartbeat of Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter is the producer and the woman who plays the lead character of Sienna, Tracey Birdsall. In her interview with me she talked about rejecting the cliched 'screaming gorgeous blond woman' often seen in mainstream scifi and horror in favour of the force of nature that is Sienna;  " I’ve never been a screaming blonde. No thank you very much. I very much lead with my talent in everything that I do. What you look like just gets you in the door. A movie like Rogue Warrior (any movie to me actually) can’t be cast on looks. When you watch a movie, you have to be drawn into the character and that’s not a reality with looks........Whether you’re male or female (we’ve found out), you will relate with Sienna’s character: you will cheer for her, laugh with her (and at her), cry for her, have angst for her and revel in her."

Do you want to know something? She isn't wrong. I really don't want to come over all hyperbolic and fawning (for a change) but it is safe to say that her complex performance with varying undertones of determination, strength and vulnerability would clearly explain the plethora of awards and future plans for expansion of the Rogue Warrior universe. Yes she looks stunning, mouth-wateringly so in fact - however she skilfully manages to avoid falling into blonde bombshell cliche by making her nuanced character the main focus of audience attention.

Perhaps one of the only niggles with Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter is the use of the fine ensemble supporting cast. Yes this film is quite clearly driven by Birdsall's character, Sienna, though I couldn't help feeling that the fine performances from the other cast members could have been even further utilised. The likes of Stephen Manley, Tim McGrath and William Kircher are equally good, whilst the character of the wonderfully named 'Skullcrusher' played by the excellent Daz Crawford, could also have been further employed in the narrative.

However, this is but a minor negative and in only in a slight way detracts from what is a genuinely exciting and intelligent science fiction story. It could well be that there are plans to further expand on the story arc of the cast in future, an opportunity that arises after the recent announcement that not only has Sony picked up the film for distribution with an option for further franchise plans, but also that there are also plans now afoot for a TV series.

I'll leave it up to Tracey herself to have the (almost) final say............."Rogue Warrior is a journey - a complicated, exciting, excruciating journey… The relationships are deep and multi-layered, every cast member is skilled and on point, most of the film is practical including the effects where possible (and most of the robots), the arcs and the curves of this film are very much a deep drama delved into a science fiction film - like you’ve never seen before in this genre."

I just cannot argue with those sentiments. I think it's safe to say that the future of Sci-fi looks pretty safe in the hands of Rogue Warrior.

This article can also be found via the 5D website There you can find a veritable feast of blog articles, news items, pictures and and other mouth-watering salutations to the gods of the geeks and the nerds. We have now inherited the earth, you know.

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