What is it with movies about giant robots always sucking?
Robot Jox sucked. Robot Wars (The sequel to Robot Jox!) sucked. Robot Holocaust sucked.
“But wait!” you say. “Gunhed is Japanese. The Japanese invented giant robots! And it’s a Toho movie! Toho are the undisputed master of movies about giant stuff!” You’d be mostly correct: Toho has all the pedigree to make a totally awesome giant robot movie. Here’s how they screwed up:
- There aren’t any giant robots until the end
- The giant Robots don’t do anything
- The rest of the movie is really dull
The whole film is a vast sea of decisions meant to reduce entertainment. Every scene is accompanied by grating Casio music, except senes featuring a little girl named 11- who is mute. That’s right, every scene featuring this little girl is totally silent. The rest of the cast is whittled down, which you expect in a horror-action thriller, but which happens so fast here that we barely get to know them. Since the hero doesn’t meet Gunhed the big robot until near the end of the movie, and other giant robots don’t show up for Gunhed to fight until Gunhed is around to fight them, the main threat is a dude in a bug costume. Yeah, that’s right. Homeboy looks like Insector-Z with circuit boards glued to his eyes.
So, much like Robot Holocaust, what is billed as a robot action film is really a “dude runs around a factory being chased by guys in bad costumes” movie. There’s no character development or chemistry at all.
Gunhed itself is kind of a letdown. Designed well, the Gunhed puppet just doesn’t move convincingly. It turns into a tank (of course) at which point it becomes slightly more believable since it’s just driving around. The gunhed scenes are basically just it rolling around shooting sparks and cartoon lasers at a big robot scorpion. The big robot scorpion is also limited to rolling. It’s pretty dull, and considering the mechanical articulation the Robocop films achieved with the same technology as this film, pretty inexcusable.
So, Gunhed is a dull, lifeless hunk of plastic. I mean that both in terms of the DVD of the film, and the robot itself. The characters are similarly unlikable, and you won’t miss them when they die, which most of them do.