Robot Overlords film review: X-Files star returns to sci-fi

Can Ben Kingsley and Gillian Anderson salvage knockabout sci-fi adventure Robot Overlords?

It’s difficult to know what to make of Robot Overlords, especially in light of the hokey premise, out-there title and obviously micro-budget effects. Still, with director Jon Wright (Grabbers) at the helm, and the presence of Ben Kingsley and Gillian Anderson among the cast, there’s enough here to pique interest.

In the wake of the titular robot/alien invasion, Earth has been enslaved, with humanity under a permanent curfew until the invaders get what they want, assisted by various human collaborators. But after finding a way to escape their isolation, a group of kids stumble upon a way to not only save themselves, but all of humanity.

Owing to the ropey, CITV-style effects, alternately over/under-acting from the younger cast members and ill-timed soundtrack, first impressions aren’t great.

Tonally things get a bit jarring, with some pointless swearing interfering with the previously kid-friendly themes.

Yet it does improve. The younger cast members who carry much of the film (most notably Callan McAuliffe and James Tarpey) generally put in decent performances, anchored by a solid, if predictable, script. Anderson is brilliant, and Kingsley gives a few hints of his talent.

All in all, it’s fairly standard family-friendly alien-invasion fare. It won’t pull up any trees as far as originality is concerned, but it’s competent at least.