Robot Over­lords Die, Robot

Five things you need to know about…

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Red Alert -

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.”

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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

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a robot to ap­peal to us in a child­like way – only they got it very, very wrong…”

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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.”

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Robot Over­lords the book is pub­lished on 12 Fe­bru­ary. The film opens on 27 March.

Come on, you’re wear­ing a Vik­ing hel­met – fight!

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