Android Apocalypse (2006)

Hi all, Nate here. This spring Iíll be working my way through a stack of DVDs that Iíve had in a box for a while, bought cheap when my local Blockbuster store closed a few years ago. First up is this Sci-Fi Channel Original Movie (yes, yes, I know) about humans fighting back against being replaced by Androids in a semi-apocalyptic future.

But, much to my surprise, thatís not what itís really about. Itís about illegal immigration and dem dirty Mexicans crawling across the border and stealing our jobs (FUCK YEAH íMURICA!!!). The setting is Phoenix, Arizona, currently ground zero for the illegal worker debate, and throughout the first quarter of the movie we are hammered with scenes of Androids putting hardworking humans out of jobs because greedy businessmen donít want to pay wages and benefits. The Androids are even showing up in boxing rings and professional wrassliní matches, further proving that no American is safe from their insidious designs on our paychecks and our womenfolk.

The Androids look just like humans.

The security forces are all Androids, which is bad.

Our filmís hero, some redblooded hilljack construction worker named Jute, has just been canned by his boss so that some beaner Android can take his dignity, and while drowning his rage and misery in a few Budweisers down at the local bar, accidentally-on-purpose ďkillsĒ an Android who looked at him the wrong way. This is a terrible criminal offense in Phoenix, as the Androids are seen as necessary labor devices and seemingly have more rights than the humans. Jute is condemned to be sent to a faraway prison camp to do hard labor until he dies. To add insult to his injury, on the truck ride there heís handcuffed a malfunctioning Android who is going away for repair. Oh, his pain and suffering knows no bounds.

Juteís last day on the job.

Watching the fights.

And then the movie completely flips into a really good, small-scale character-driven road movie. The truck is ambushed by some rogue robotic drones and Jute and the Android find themselves alone in the desert, hunted both by the out-of-control drones and by Phoenixís Android police force who want to kill them both off before anyone else finds them. And so we have about 30 solid minutes of the two of them interacting, fighting, yelling, talking, understanding, forgiving, helping, caring, and eventually sacrificing for each other in ways that are quite heartwarming and genuine. Jute slowly comes to see the Android as his friend, and vise-versa, and realizes that heís just trying to survive and have a better life, just like any human would. These two characters are perfectly cast, Jute by some random guy with a beard and the Android by former teen heartthrob Joey Lawrence, and they do a fantastic job of making what is really a terrible spec script into something intense and personal. Their budding friendship never seems forced or rushed, the film gives them a surprisingly huge chunk of screen time to slowly, painfully, haltingly develop first a grudging respect and then a real affection for each other. Thereís a few action set-pieces in there, and maybe a bit too much fist fighting in the beginning, but for the most part itís just two dudes (literally) bound together trying to understand each other better so they can both survive.

Talking after punching.

A lot of emotion with these two.

The message, of course, is that the illegal immigration issue is not just about jobs and welfare checks and White Male Entitlement, but about real people with real emotions and needs and desires. Mexicans arenít monsters, they arenít subhumans, no matter how different their language or customs are from us Americans. Having lived in the Southwest for many years, I can tell you that demonizing people of a different race and culture is an extremely easy and satisfying to do, but ultimately turns you into a bitter, hateful person who can only see things in white-and-red. Itís subtle, and I canít believe Iím saying this, but Android Apocalypse does a pretty excellent job of pointing out the folly of such narrow-mindedness and prejudice in a setting filled by bad CGI robotspiderthings and yellow lens filter deserts.

Peace offering accepted.

Damn, Robot Joey Lawrence is handsome.

And then the movie falls apart in the last 30 minutes as the director seems to have lost focus completely, probably because the studio told him he had to have more explosions and less talking if he was going to get paid. Jute and the Android are captured, Juteís wife shows up for some reason, theyíre all forced to shovel dirt in some abandoned salt mine, some Android boss wants to take over the world and kill off the humans, thereís some brain fluid draining, some ball punching, some overly-dramatic monologing in true Bond villain style, and in the end everything explodes in a badly photoshopped wall of flame. After such a wonderful first 60 minutes, the last act is such a crushing letdown that I strongly suggest you not even watch it. Seriously, just turn the movie off right after Jute and the Android are captured and walk away, donít ruin what is a pretty good thing like I did.

The humÖoh god I donít even care anymore.

The End.

Written in January 2015 by Nathan Decker.

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