Anyone who saw British sci-fi horror Grabbers back in 2012 will have a pang of excitement to hear that the director, Jon Wright, has taken his visual and tonal qualities to a film titled ‘Robot Overlords’, and anyone with any interest in things that sound cool will have their ears prick up at the words ‘Sir Ben Kingsley Is In A Film Called Robot Overlords’. These are simply human instincts to elements that sound really cool, and Robot Overlords sounds really cool.

Robot Overlords takes place in the future, where robot aliens have taken over Earth and forced humans to obey curfews and live in homes forever, lest they be destroyed. When a group of youngsters discover a way to turn off their tracking implants, they begin to have a childhood, and start the revolution.

The secret to Robot Overlords is that it isn’t a big action thriller about a colony fighting evil robots, but it’s a family film about a group of young people mixing mischief with destiny, playful that leads into powerful, and the film handles the successive tones well. The film plays out with a lot of grinning from the audience, plenty of laughs and some big surprises, and finds ways to tighten the emotional core throughout the film until the third act hits home in ways you wouldn’t expect given the first twenty minutes. The young cast, Milo Parker, Callan McAuliffe, Ella Hunt and James Tarpey all work well leading the film, bringing strong moments of humour along with heart, whilst Kingsley, Gillian Anderson and for a brief appearance from Tamer Hussan, also play well in the world that is well established early on, and throughout.

Robot Overlords is a British film that has bigger ambitions than many, and deals with the limits of CGI as best it can, focussing so much on the humans that any time you see something that looks a little fake there’s a character you’ve connected to alongside it, letting the suspension of disbelief begin, but more than that come the last half hour the film goes into overdrive and brings in some great concepts that make the action and adventure exciting, entertaining and imaginative in the best ways possible.

Robot Overlords doesn’t outstay its welcome, it doesn’t rehash boring things seen in bigger blockbusters, it plays within a world with established rules and a history, it plays with characters who have clear goals and chemistry, and it has a lot of fun in the process. It’s a well-handled sci-fi adventure, the kind they refuse to make too often for fear of being not-focussed-enough on explosions and CG creations to engage an audience.

A film for older children and people young at heart, Robot Overlords is a really enjoyable slice of cinema.

Here’s the author and screenwriter Mark Stay on the film,