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When I was a kid, and HUGE fan of the Robotech series, I kept hearing a
promise of a Robotech Movie. Because I didn't live in Texas, I never got
The film was screened in one city in Texas, tested poorly, and never heard from again. Later, Robotech's creator, Carl Macek, denounced the film in his writing and interviews, saying he'd wish everyone would just forget it ever happened. But, I wanted to judge for myself.
They released a comic book adaptation of the film in 1996 which was honestly quite bad, and it wasn't enough to quench my appetite. I even found a copy of Megazone 23, the film in which this is edited from, but I still wanted to see the actual movie.
This has only been released on video Europe and after paying 30 pounds (around 50 dollars) I finally got my hands on it. My friend was able to dub it for me from the Euro format to the US format, but unfortunately it was transerred without any color. Oh well, at least I got to see it.
And, I can tell you that everything you've heard is true. The movie is filled with inconsistencies, bad dialogue, bad storylines, you name it. It should have never been made.
The only thing that bothers me is that had this film been readily available, I might have seen it once and dismissed it. But just because it's SO hard to find (it pops up on online auctions about two or three times a year) I felt compelled to hunt it down.
A good comparison would be the "Star Wars Holiday Special." You want to see that one last chapter of a series you love, yet the payoff is not worth the hunt.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
There 's going to be spoilers, so just realize that up
I liked the TV show. I really did. I was sixteen, and somehow G.I. Joe and the Thundercats weren't cutting it for me in the entertainment department. For what it was, Robotech was way ahead of its peers.
Robotech the Movie might've been okay in concept, but the actual execution was awful. "A" Robotech movie, maybe, but not THIS Robotech movie. With the original show, the three series that comprised it were seen in succession. Here, we have two unrelated anime intercut, and it shows. One of the components, Megazone 23, was shot on 35 millimeter; the other, the Southern Cross series, was on 16 millimeter. The design sense was radically different between the two anime, as well, and of course characters from the two shows never interacted, even though Harmony Gold had about ten minutes of new animation made for the ending-since Megazone had originally ended on a cliffhanger, and its sequel had completely different character designs, they needed to wrap things up somehow, after all. You'd think-or wish-that they'd had the sense to make some new footage bridging this gap. (Note: the english dub of Megazone part 2 that was dubbed by Harmony Gold for the japanese market and has been floating around for ages contains this extra footage at the beginning, even though it cannot possibly fit into the continuity of the original story.)
It could be expected that the resultant film would bear little or no similarity to the original Megazone 23, but it also utterly fails to fit into the continuity of Robotech. Supposedly taking place between the Macross and Southern Cross series, we have the Robotech Masters showing up five years before they "finally reach earth" AGAIN at the start of Southern Cross. The fact that one of their ships is brought down on earth and the Masters themselves speak to the head of the earth military makes one wonder how our heroes manage to completely forget that they've met, fought, and defeated these same enemies when they show up again. We also see Southern Cross fighters that aren't invented until halfway through the SC series showing up in this alleged prequel, and the same stock footage used for the "cloning of Zor" bits dropped into the later Macross episodes gets used again for the "cloning of B.D." part of this film.
Yes, that's right, the fascist militant antagonist B.D. from Megazone is now a good guy who is captured, cloned, and sent back as a saboteur, using the Zor Prime/Marlene plotline from the show YET AGAIN. What's hilarious, however, is that we never see any of this take place onscreen. The "good" B.D.'s voice is heard coming out of a mech early in the film, though we never see his face, and we never see anyone getting kidnapped at all. We hear one of the other pilots yelling, "Look over there! They're kidnapping the commander!" without seeing any of it happen, since there was no actual animation depicting this wholly made-up plot point. And while all the events onboard the space-travelling city in Megazone are now transposed to earth, they managed to leave in the part wherein the hero punctures the hull of the ship and drifts out into space without explaining what the hell just happened.
This film is best viewed the way one would view Plan 9 From Outer Space; no other way is likely to be enjoyable. I'll point out in closing that while Robotech's creator Carl Macek has in interviews denounced the preposterous way in which the voice actors in the film constantly go "huh?" and "wha?" and "eh?" throughout the whole film, the anime he's dubbing in present times (up through 2003) still contains this obnoxious approach to voice-over. Some folks never learn.
In the mid 80s, Successful animated series like G I Joe and
Transformers were getting theatrical movie releases. Naturally a
budding franchise like Robotech would want to jump on the band wagon.
The tumultuous production of this Robotech movie, otherwise known as
"Robotech: The Untold Story", resulted in a complete mess of a show.
All that need be said is unreasonably demands from the Japanese anime
studio and the distributor forced a lot of changes to be made and
limited the story that could be told. What was to be a straight up dub
of the "Megazone 23 part 1" OVA modified to fit into the Robotech
Macross Saga time-frame became a horribly edited mish mash of Megazone
and Southern Cross because Tatsunoko prevented Carl Macek from using
elements from Macross saga and the distributor, Cannon Films, demanded
more action footage.
"The Untold story" (now relegated to secondary canon, thankfully) tells the tale of the Robotech Masters' first attack against earth and its subsequent cover up (hence why the characters featured in season 2 of Robotech were not aware of this first invasion attempt). During a skirmish, they capture a high ranking military officer Col B.D Andrews and create a clone of him to cover up the actions of the Robotech Masters. While The clone keeps the public unaware, the Masters seek to hack into the earth forces' computers and recover the information stored within the "Memory matrix" that was on board the SDF-1 when it first crashed to earth decades ago. On the ground, a young biker punk named Mark Landry discovers a transformable Robot vehicle with information about the cover up conspiracy. Now hunted by the clone Andrews, Mark must make contact with E.V.E and uncover the conspiracy before the Robotech Masters succeed in their plans.
If the synopsis did sound coherent here, it is 10 times less so in the actual movie and the clashing animation styles only serve to enhance that fact. The quality of the artwork, from a high quality OVA and a mediocre TV series respectively, do not blend at all and is highly inconsistent. Slip shod editing rendered the narrative very difficult to follow as well making the entire movie feel like exactly what it was: two separate shows edited together with little effort to make them blend. For fans who have watched the original Robotech series, the Southern Cross stock footage would easily baffle many. Hilarity would ensue when they hear a deep male voice coming from Dana Sterling's Veritech (there is even a brief shot of Dana yelling in a male voice ordering a retreat) or when a characters who are obviously Louie Nicols and Angelo Dante refer to each other as Todd and Nick respectively.
Barring the drastic changes from its source material, Megazone 23, the film would fare no better even if one does not compare it to Megazone. The characters in the Robotech movie are two dimensional good guys or bad guys but thankfully Mark Landry does get a decent character development arc going from hot headed irresponsible punk to a genuine hero.
One positive point could have been the number of catchy songs that were written specifically for this movie. They remain among the best songs ever in the Robotech soundtrack; even famous Rock band "Three Dog Night" contributed a piece. The conspiracy storyline was well plotted and effective at keeping you guessing but, as mentioned earlier, both positive points were also marred by horrible execution. The songs were used in conjunction with the most inappropriate scenes as if the creative team just inserted the songs to fill in long gaps of silence.
Movies that were hastily re-edited at the last minute would forever remain exactly that. Robotech: The Untold Story suffered that fate and the disappointing result clearly shows. Would harmony gold have produced a better movie if Tatsunoko and cannon films had not imposed their restrictions? that is hard to say as the original concept never went beyond a film pitch. But lamenting a movie that could have been does not change what something is. And Robotech: The Untold Story is a story that should be left untold. A disappointment so bad that even the original creator denounced it.
Contrary to popular belief, this title , to me at least, is not so very
bad. In fact. I regard it as a favoured film of all time. The welding
of stories wasn't structured too well when you consider the differences
between the series, however despite all this, you can watch it quite
happily. For a feature film of its day, the scenes are well
proportioned and the characters remain consistently believable.
The sound/audio track is a personal favourite of mine. Nearly everything has a correct sound effect and many of the voices suit the characters much better than their, now badly cast US dub, counterparts. The sync is perfect in every shot. I had a few issues with the casting for the 'alien' voices (please forgive the crude naming, it has been a while since i've seen it). Otherwise however, the cast seemed perfectly balanced. I feel and believe in the characters of this movie. Dubs are often a subject i rarely agree with from so long ago. I loved the OSD's from back then but the castings often let series down.
At this point i would like to add that this was one of the first anime i saw in my life. It has historical value to me, but even after seeing the original Megazone 23 it remained stronger and more watched in my collection.
To my knowledge the title only ever made it to the US in Texas. Personally i think its a big shame. Had the correct audience been subject to it, i think Robotech the Movie would have been accepted and not tarnished over the years. I am involved with anime each day of my life and everyone i have shown this movie thought it was a nicely put together title.
Watching the film after its separate components will allow the viewer to notice the evident plot holes between shows. However, without seeing the originals, a viewer wouldn't really notice. Since the animation is identical in style, there was no reason to question it back in its day. The UK had very limited access to anime. Laser discs were the most productive media. Personally i like the way Carl had the balls to at least push the genre. I mean Harmony wasn't going to put up the cash for the series to get publicised.
Despite the few picky faults people have had with this film, The eighties feel of it keeps me in love. If you watch Megazone 23 now, to its original Japanese audio, or the new dub, i believe you will be greatly disappointed with the OSD. Cast your minds back to the original Bubblegum Crisis Dub soundtrack and imagine new eighties audio to E.V.E.
Saying all this. This film's popularity nowadays is most likely down to its rarity on the open market. Personally, it spawned a collection for me. I'm now scouring the world for merchandise from the three components that made it up and if i ever get to meet Carl Macek, ill shake his hand for the effort, and buy him a pint or a crate for getting me into anime.
I've been a fan of the original Robotech TV series since it first aired
on KBHK channel 44 in the Bay Area back in the spring of 1985 when I
was a little girl.Watched it all the time after school. Back when I saw
an ad for a Robotech:The Movie in a comicbook ad in 1987 I was really
excited but unfortunately it never got released.
Fast forward 27 years later to this year 2014. Thanks to an invention called Youtube,I finally get to see this film today! So after watching it just now, I feel I really need to write a review...
To be honest,I have mixed feelings.
Huge laughable plot holes and major continuity problems....
How the hell can you explain the Robotech Masters and the Megazone 23 animation/characters exist in the same universe?!?!? LOL!!!!!!!!!!!! I just didn't find that very believable... First of all they are completely two different character designs!!!!!!!!!! Might as well splice footage of Southern Cross with Akira and call that a movie. I found it funny how they tried to explain they were in the same universe by just mentioning the character Eve throughout the two obvious different animated universes of Southern Cross and Megazone 23. I found that kinda cheap actually. It's like if someone spliced both scenes from The Smurfs with say The Gobots,and had the scene with The Gobots mention Gargamel or Smurfette and have that as an excuse that they both exist in the same universe. You never get to see these obviously two different animated universes interact with each other either which makes the plot even more unbelievable. The Southern Cross stock footage is edited in rather shoddily. They never fully explain what happens to the Robotech Masters. So all of a sudden they just vanish? LOL And why the Robotech Masters? They're lame!!! Why couldn't they have not used say The Invid instead?? (The Invid are much cooler antagonists).. A movie where the hero and antagonist never really meet face to face is rather awkward. Was Mark Landry even aware of the Robotech Masters? What's the point???? In the original TV series this faux pas was excusable since the three different series happened decades apart from each other. Yet here they attempt to splice two completely different animated series together at the same time,in the same feature,and try to pass it off as a single story. Not only that the colours in the cel paintings are obviously totally different.
Secondly, the soundtrack could be a little better. I am a big fan of the original 1985 Robotech TV series soundtrack(I even air the music on my own radio show broadcasting in Canada),but their blatant use of it for the film version is rather too much imo.In some scenes it works,but not for the entire movie! Made me feel I was watching an hour long made for TV movie than an actual film that's supposed to be released in theatres. Was the budget that low that they couldn't hire more music groups,writers to write an actual movie soundtrack? Comparing it to real classic anime soundtracks like Bubblegum Crisis or even Tranformers:The Movie, which had original music that rocked,it just falls a little short. Here in Robotech:The Movie,the music isn't all bad,like I said I love the TV series soundtrack,but I felt the soundtrack would've been better if they used some more rocking type original songs and derived less from the TV show. The original songs are very corny 80's dance music. I love that style but kinda boring if that's the only style. A little more diversity in the soundtrack would've been cool.Some heavy metal songs would've been nice.I've heard better anime soundtracks than this like Project A-Ko,Akira,and Bubblegum Crisis. I like Three Dog Night but heard better output from them also.
Now I've actually met Carl Macek (R.I.P.) in person a few times at anime conventions back in the 90's. He was a very kind man. But now I can see why he didn't release this. Although had it been released back in the 80's I'm sure I would've watched it regardless. I think my impression would've been different then,but still not as good as some 80's anime classics like Urusei Yatsura Only You....
As far as the positives, it is somewhat entertaining. I did sit through it til the end,but gotta admit during some parts I felt like I was gonna fall asleep. I can see on a certain level why some people like this,but compare it to more classic anime films like Akira and it's not that good. I think it would've been better without the silly subplot with the Robotech Masters. It actually isn't a bad dub of Megazone 23,but the adding of the Southern Cross scenes felt really awkward to me. However that does give it a Turkish Star Wars feel to it. Splicing different films and music that really don't belong together,but supposed to tell the same story is kinda funny. I guess this is a really good b-movie if you put it in that perspective.
Is it better than Macross:Do You Remember Love? from 1984 though??
I think it's slightly more entertaining(in a so bad it's good b-movie kinda way) ,but the continuity in the Macross movie is more genuine(although I've always found it redundant that the Macross movie is just a condensation of the TV series,making it kinda boring). I definitely will watch it more than the Macross movie. Also compared to the English dub of the Macross movie (i.e.,Clash of the Bionoids) however it is far way better.
Another positive...I also did feel it was tons better than Robotech II:The Sentinels,which I've always thought sucked really bad!!!!!!!!!
Overall this movie is indeed bad lol,but it's a "so bad it's good" type laughable b-movie. Good for 80's nostalgia and for die-hard Robotech fans only.
I saw his movie in Dallas, Texas when it came out in 1986. I remember them giving out prizes for showing up to see the movie. After seeing the movie I can see why. The movie was not bad, nor was it great. The problem with this movie was that it tried to tell a side story. They created a new story, new characters and tried to wrap it around the Masters Saga. My biggest complaint is that the plot is about a second wave of Robotech Masters attacking the Earth. They even used the same scenes from the Master Saga but with different dialogue. As a kid, I loved the movie. But unfortunately I haven't seen it as an adult and can't give a better review. Looking back I was disappointed but now I would love to see the movie and re-evaluate my stance on it. That being said, will someone please release this movie for the whole world to judge? I love Robotech and can't wait for The Shadows Chronicles.
This is an hybrid creature born at Carl Macek mind. With Robotech the second generation (Robotech Masters) and Megazone 23 into one miserable movie, that have no logic! The story is very, very bad, and you cannot forgive the action of Megazone when have nothing to do with Robotech. If this movie have so high rank is for the TV series and not for itself!! I did said it, the name cannot save this!
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