It feels like all the movies up this point in Enter the Asylum have just been practice for this, the first true “mockbuster” of The Asylum, Transmorphers. Coming out about a week before Michael Bay’s first Transformers movie, Transmorphers also features transforming robots but that’s about where the similarities end.
Man, still no slumming B or C list actor?: Yeah, doesn’t it seem like there should be a Michael Ironside or Lance Henriksen as the grim general leading the human resistance? Instead there’s Eliza Swenson, who I believe was the crazy forest witch from Dragon and Matthew Wolf, who feels like the poor man’s Paul Blackthorne.
So what’s the plot of this thing?: It’s actually much more like The Matrix or Terminator than Transformers. Humanity sends out a message of peace into space and it’s answered by an evil race of robots who almost instantly destroy 90% of the population and changes the atmosphere and climate to perma dark and rainy (which is an important plot device and not an attempt to hide the terrible CG and lack of sets). 300 years later, humanity is living underground but they have a shot of finally taking out the robot overlords with a plan to upload a shutdown command into a captured “Z-Bot” and then having it go back to the central mainframe and upload the command to all the other bots.
That seems like a solid plan, why did it take 300 years to implement?: Because humanity was too busy stockpiling leather jackets and SNES super scopes and forming convoluted councils that run the various elements of society. They also arrested and cryofreeze anyone who suggested they fight the robots.
Wait, what?: Yeah, it makes no sense to me either, our main hero, Mitch, was court martialed and given the Demolition Man treatment for even suggesting they try to fight the robots but then, when the robots finally decide to attack the main human base, everyone is suddenly all gung ho about it but there’s also people like crazy flight team leader Xandria, who seems like she was always on board to fight the bots but for some reason was never arrested or frozen.
Worst catfight ever: Agreed and that’s just a small sampling about how incredibly awful the acting is in this movie. They went all out with the special effects but apparently had no money left for actors who could actually, you know, act.
So I take it those are the Transmorphers? Yup, or Zeta Bots as they are called in the movie. I will give The Asylum credit on this one, the bots are all over the movie as opposed to the last movie I watched, Dragon, where the titular dragon was in the movie for maybe five minutes. They also actually transform as well, which they could have easily copped out on. They are still super clunky and terrible looking, but you can tell that The Asylum at least put in some effort on this one and possibly all of their budget for the year into it.
What kind of things do they transform into?: Well some are jets but most of them are able to transform just their hands into buzz saws, which are never used in any hilariously gory fashion and some of the bigger bots transform into rocket launchers or tanks.
So does humanity actually beat them?: Yup, it turns out our main hero Mitch is actually a robot designed by a scientist who is trying to channel the Dean from Community and takes the fuel cell with the shutdown command into his body and leads an assault against “The Tower” command post of the bots. He puts himself in a weird tube and the command is sent out and the bots all shutdown, also instantly clearing up the clouds and rain as well. It’s a pretty low key ending for The Asylum, especially when one of their movies ended with a giant snake eating a train and then getting sucked into a magic tornado.
What if I want to learn more about complex mythology that has been built up? You’re in luck, because there’s a sequel called Transmorphers: Fall of Man that is a prequel detailing the initial attack by the bots.
Transmorphers is in a weird space because it’s kind of close to being a competent, low budget sci fi movie but it also doesn’t have enough ridiculous moments to be “so bad it’s good”. It just sits in the mediocre middle ground but might be worth checking out if you are properly lubricated (I’d recommend whiskey or scotch).
Next Time: Whoever wins, we lose when Alien takes on Hunter.