Robot Overlords Die, Robot
Five things you need to know about…
From the director of top horrorcomedy Grabbers, Jon Wright, Robot Overlords finds Britain under robot rule. Their only demand? Stay in your homes. It may sound like the set- up for a dreary dystopian tale but the story has been inspired by kid- driven Amblin classics. “Our biggest influences were those ’ 80s alien movies, because we’d grown up watching films like ET and always wondered why no one had set one in the UK,” says co- writer Mark Stay. “By using kids we thought we could take characters we know and put them in a situation that had a blockbuster feel to it.”
Gillian Anderson and Sir Ben Kingsley ( above), who plays a weasely robot sympathiser. “Ben Kingsley plays this wonderful character called Mr Smythe, a twisted geography teacher,” Stay says. “He’s someone who’s quite happy to betray all of mankind to further his own ends. Sean is offered that choice. He could turn to the dark side.” The robots who police the human population come in several shapes and sizes but have one common directive – incinerate curfew- breaking humans on sight. “They’re very efficient and design- specific,” says Stay. “So the Sniper is literally a gun on legs. The Drone is just a pair of wings and a gun like a bee sting. The Sentry robot has a psychology behind it. The idea is the robots studied us for decades before they invaded and discovered we were frightened by people with tiny brains, but big muscles. The flipside is the Mediator, where they created
a robot to appeal to us in a childlike way – only they got it very, very wrong…”
Unusually the film’s screenwriter has also turned his pen to the novelisation. “The problem with a lot of film tie- ins is they’re often an afterthought,” Stay explains. “It’s far from the golden age of film tie- ins, with Donald F Glut and Vonda N McIntyre. We had a week of rehearsals for the main kids in the film and Jon asked me to do the backstories for each of them. As I’m doing these backstories I’m thinking, ‘ This is the beginning of the novel.’ So I had a good six- to eight- month head- start on most tie- in authors. I was on set. I knew the actors. If they improvised a great line I gleefully stole that to make myself look good. And it came together really well. It’s a companion piece. You’ll see the film; you’ll read the book; and the two will complement each other perfectly.”
Robot Overlords the book is published on 12 February. The film opens on 27 March.
Come on, you’re wearing a Viking helmet – fight!