Whoa! It’s that guy from “Blossom”, and he’s playing a cyborg! Whoa! Or, actually, Joey Lawrence (billed as “Joseph Lawrence”) plays a soft-voiced robot soldier who begins to develop feelings for humans, much to the chagrin of his ever-so-creepy Mad Scientist creator, who clearly has aspirations of megalomaniac proportions. “Android Apocalypse” is a Sci Fi Original movie, so right away you can expect a moderate to low budget film, stilted acting, a terrible and illogical screenplay, and a lot of good, unintentional laughs to be had at the film’s expense.
Which leads to my biggest problem with the film: it’s actually decent. This is, of course, thanks in no small part to Scott Bairstow, who co-stars as a disgruntled ex-human fighter (of what, I’m not entirely sure) with a grudge against the robots, one of whom has just taken his job shoveling coal into the furnace (I think). For you see, in the future humankind is nearly extinct thanks to our warring ways, and what’s left are living in domed cities while killer flying machines that used to be under mankind’s control, but have since been “corrupted”, awaits to pick them off in the desert outside. You would think this last part would make going outside the domed city a dangerous prospect, but not so much.
Trouble for our two future warriors arrive separately: for Jute (Bairstow), a fight with a robot played by wrestler Chris Jericho (in a much ballyhooed cameo) ends with the robot dead and Bairstow sent to a prison somewhere in the desert. He’s literally joined via metal bonds by Deecee (Lawrence), who has also been sent to the prison for “re-programming”, as apparently his overt like of the humans didn’t endear him to his Mad Scientist creator, who, in case you didn’t catch it the first time, has Eeeeeeeeeeeeeevil plans for the domed city. After a tussle with those flying robots, Jute and Deecee ends up in the desert, now being hunted by both the flying robots (who shoots metal darts, incidentally) and their fellow domed dwellers led by a Lara Croft wannabe hunter.
Obviously the premise (two antagonists end up bound together, eventually develops mutual respect) is nothing new, and the film’s only real innovation is its futuristic setting. (Then again, “Enemy Mine” already mined (har har) this particular setting in the ’80s, and with a much bigger budget.) And since “Android Apocalypse” is a moderately budgeted film, much of this “future” consists of the barren, generic desert. This also explains why everyone uses “futuristic” weapons like M16s and shotguns, drives around in old jeeps and rickety trucks, and “high-tech” prisons look more like rundown factories re-dressed to give the appearance of not being rundown factories.
The film’s computer CGI, the lifeblood of today’s sci-fi cinematic ventures, range from good to decent to cheesy, with the flying robots incredibly easy to kill. Basically a dozen random shots will blow these huge, hulking suckers up like the Fourth of July. And did I mention that these machines, despite being able to fly and one would think, have the upper hand, have just two deadly weapons: they either fire metal spikes at their victims or they get close enough to drill you. No, seriously. Although patterned after Skynet’s Hunter-Killers from the “Terminator” movies, these flying hunks of junk in “Android Apocalypse” doesn’t stack up, although their many explosive demises (I told you they were easy to destroy) scattered throughout the film are done surprisingly well.
For those beyond the genre’s fandom, “Android Apocalypse” is not a whole lot to look at. It’s made on the cheap, and if not for the always excellent Scott Bairstow, who I have been a big fan of since his “Lonesome Dove” days (“The Outlaw Years” being the standout of that brief 2-year run), the whole thing would be embarrassing. Joey Lawrence, back from the dead after “Blossom”, does fine enough as the emotionless android who longs to be human (think Mister Data from “Star Trek: The Next Generation”, minus the pale yellow face paint and charisma). He doesn’t excel, but does manage to sell the action scenes just well enough. The film’s rumble in the desert between Bairstow and Lawrence early in the film ends with a nod to similar scenes from other “tough guy” movies, and is probably the movie’s highlight. After fighting and rolling down a hill, Deecee turns to Jute and asks, “Are we done?” Now that’s good writing. Sort of.
The film does lose a lot of steam once the two cons are re-captured and sent to the prison, which just happens to be run by the Mad Scientist. There is about 30 minutes of padding here, where the Mad Scientist goes the long route to explain his plans to anyone who will listen, followed by a lackluster finale that almost completely leaves Scott Bairstow out of the action, while Joey Lawrence’s one big scene is a mano-a-mano fight with the aforementioned Lara Croft wannabe. But despite all that, “Android Apocalypse” is still quite the guilty pleasure, even if the second half does seem to evaporate into endless talking and sequences where the film’s spartan budget rears its ugly head.
Paul Ziller (director) / Karl Schiffman (screenplay)
CAST: Joey Lawrence …. Deecee
Scott Bairstow …. Jute
Chris Jericho …. TeeDee
Shannon Jardine …. Joy
Mike Fleischhaker …. Batter
Amy Matysio …. Rachael