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  Robotech The Movie
 
1987 | Cannon Group Inc.
battle for moon station Dallos celebrity just for kids

It can't be? That's right the infamous Robotech movie aka "The Untold Story". I was lucky enough to find this when I was a teenager and little did I realise just how rare a find it was.

Having no knowledge of it's existence I was fortunate to see it with an unclouded mind. Are the fan's angry comments true? Is their unconditional hatred justified? And just what are the trailers before the main feature? Read on...

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The animation for the main storyline of Robotech: The Movie is a 1985 OAV titled Megazone 23. It tells the story of average teenager Shogo Yahagi whose life is irreversibly changed when he is given an unusual motorbike called the Garland. As a result he is embroiled in a Government Conspiracy and not only his life but those of his friends are put in danger. Shogo must uncover the truth, with the help of singing idol Eve Tokimatsuri before it's too late.

Due to interference from the producers footage of the 1984 TV series Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross was also added. Southern Cross had already been used as the basis for the second saga of the Robotech series.

The animated series Robotech had premiered on TV screens in 1985. American creator Carl Macek, who would go on to found Streamline Pictures the company responsible for bringing, amongst others, Akira, Venus Wars and- this movie's basis- Megazone 23 to the west, assembled Robotech from three previously unrelated Tatsunoko series; Macross, Southern Cross and Mospeada. It was a huge success with all ages and brought anime to a new generation.

It's success was enough for middleweight movie producers Cannon, who churned out most of Chuck Norris and Charles Bronson's 80's output as well as the He-man movie, to approach Macek with offers to fund a full length feature. Due to the tight deadline restraints put in place by the company new animation was out of the question. Carl settled on re-editing Megazone 23 which was by the same company as Macross giving it a similar look and feel to his TV show. Problems began when Tatsunoko wouldn't allow use of reference to Macross elements due to slim possibility of the Macross movie, at that time showing in Japanese cinemas, making the jump to a large scale US distribution and spoiling it's success.

The first cut of movie was premiered to Cannon heads Menahem Golan and Yorum Globus. The story ran closer to that of the TV series and concerned the cover-up of the SDF-1's disappearance. Their feelings, now Robotech legend, was that it "Wasn't a Cannon movie". It had too many girls and not enough guns, action and robots. They also didn't like that it bear slim visual resemblance to the series and decided that Southern Cross footage should be added to help tie the two together. Lumbered with these demands Macek reedited the movie, completely changing the original cut's story and altering it's place in the overall Robotech timeline.

This new version was shown to Cannon's heads, along with the new ending, it too changed on request due to the first one, a more or less direct translation of the OAV original's, being too down beat. This additional 12 mins was commissioned from Japanese studio who animated Megazone 23. Finally Robotech the movie was deemed a "Cannon Movie" and it's early screenings took place in Texas in 1986.

The film ran there for around month. The fan verdict was lukewarm but positive but was nowhere near enough for a nationwide release. 1986 was also the year of the Transformers Movie and the producers wisely thought of going up against a merchandising juggernaut like that with a crudely pieced together cartoon to be a bad business decision and the film's nationwide release was shelved permanently. After that Robotech the Movie was never officially seen in the US again but was saved from complete obscurity by a VHS rental release in Australia, the UK and europe. Apparently it was also a big box office draw in Argentina!

 
 
Megazone 23 and...
 
Southern Cross
 
 

Before the main feature starts we are treated to trailers for two upcoming Cannon/Rank rental releases. The first is a dower looking family picture called "Lightning, The White Stallion" (imdb rating 4.2) with extra 'h'. Faded child star-grown-old Mickey Rooney coaches an oddly accented girl to ride a legendary pony to victory in whatever contest horses compete in that isn't a race. Wooden acting and soppy sentiment aren't the only things stopping me from tracking that one down. The lesser of these two evils is the second film "My African Adventure" (imdb rating 2.5) starring Dom DeLuise and Jimmy Walker (I've no idea who the second guy is but the narrator repeats his name several times so I'll go ahead and assume someone does). It appears to be a cracking comedy of zany xenophobia as two mismatched, mixed race men encounter wacky natives and enjoy hilarious hi jinks in the South African wilderness. A midget in a gorilla suit joins the fun and you don't need to see the film's title spin out of a hippo's yawning mouth to know that this one's gonna be a blast! Also it was written by one of the Cannon heads so it certainly can't miss!

lighting the white stallion my african adventure

On to the feature. The movie begins and narration over scrolling, Star Wars-style, text fills in the basic background to the Robotech story. Apparently the Robotech Masters are still spoiling after their defeat at the hands of the Earth Defence Forces and have hatched a new plan for revenge. Their space fortress that crashed on earth contains the Memory Matrix "the greatest storehouse of information in the universe" and they want it back. Too smart to re-use a losing strategy the Master's plan to capture a human and create a 'simulant' of him and then use this clone to retrieve the information. This plan and the ensuing battle which leads to the capture of Colonel Andrews, we are told but never shown, is played out with the first of the recycled Southern Cross animation. With a useful human in their hands the Masters prepare to put their terrible plan in motion.

The story now moves to earth and, as the on screen titles inform us; "Central Province, Far Eastern Sector". Where exactly is this? Well, we'll have to rely on the clues given out during the movie. From all the Japanese writing on the street signs and shop fronts it would be a safe bet to say Japan but let's not jump to conclusions just yet. Any way the far superior Megazone 23 footage takes over. The newly cloned Colonel Andrews appears on the TV and states that reports of aliens taking over are completely fictitious, but we know better. As does Todd Harris a close friend of the story's hero Mark Landry, whose name was banded about in the opening Southern Cross action to make us believe that he was actually taking part in the battle. Mark receives a call from his army buddy while at work at 'Bob's Repair Shop', his head for the most part obscuring a poster of a topless girl which couldn't have gone down well with the parents in the audience. Todd urgently needs his help and insists upon a mysterious late night meeting at a parking garage. Things don't look good as some shady looking goons in sunglasses, and parked not far from the Tokyo Tower, are laying in wait.

Mark rides in to find his pal in possession of a futuristic looking motorbike. Todd explains it's called a Modat-5 and that it's not what it seems- in fact it's a small part of a super computer and also some kind of super weapon developed during the Robotech war. Words like 'Eve' and 'the Colonel' and 'cover-up' are used but he doesn't have time to explain further as the sinister men show up and start shooting. Todd attempts to escape on Mark's bike while Mark takes the Modat. He's also far more successful with his escape than his friend who is seen crushed under the wreckage of his vehicle in a pool of blood, a scene that must have been fairly shocking to an unsuspecting audience. Mark takes his new bike back to the Repair Shop where his equally bewildered friends help him re-spray it and hide it.

The next morning our bike riding hero tears across town, weaving dangerously through traffic to meet his girlfriend Becky who he's taking to a dance audition. Although she's annoyed at his tardiness she accepts the lift and tells him that there's a part for him in her friend Kelly's new movie. Upon arriving at her destination she tells Mark Kelly's phone number and leaves for the audition. Our next clue to the movie's location: Kelly's phone number! Becky tells Mark "Klondike 26553". So this is set in America? If this is Texas then why are all the signs in Japanese? Maybe all the early 90's paranoia of the far east taking over was true!

Meanwhile, in Southern Cross... the Strategic Air Command launch a pointless assault on the Master's mothership that simply ends up wasting the lives of their pilots, but does bump the running time up an extra two and half minutes. Back in Megazone Colonel Andrews learns of this failure and is satisfied that it will only strengthen his proposal for the United Earth Government to turn over all the development and coordination of military strategising to the EVE Super Computer, in order to prevent further lose of life. Of course his real motives are to allow the EVE to willfully lead Earth's defence forces into harm's way and keep them there until they are all wiped out and the planet is free for the Masters to do with as they wish. Over in Southern Cross World the United Government debate these controversial plans and inevitably decide in Andrews' favour much to Commander Emerson's dismay. The whole IT department is turned over to Colonel Andrews and he wastes no time replacing the current staff with his own personnel. His first order as IT Manager is to have the entire Memory Matrix transmitted to a disused satellite as a "warm up exercise", but we know what he's really up to! That's right, no sooner has the database begun being innocently uploaded into space than the Masters begin downloading it into their space laptops!

Meanwhile Mark is busy filming his parts for Becky's friend's movie. His role seems to involve little more than showing off his new motorbike, which doesn't seem too smart seeing as how it's already been the cause of one murder. While filming a dialog seen in what seems to be square outside of Shinjuku station a pop video, broadcast on a giant TV interrupts. Kelly recognises the singer as top pop idol Eve (singing what appears to be pro military propaganda). Upon hearing this name Mark remembers what Todd told him that fatefully night and wonders if this is the Eve he should contact. Learning from Becky that the singer hosts a TV call in show he decides to give her a call, live on air, and see what happens.

Although it's night time while Becky and her two room mates play back the newly shot Modat footage it is bright daylight at the phone box from where Mark calls up Eve's show. No sooner does he mention Todd's name to the host then he is taken off air but doesn't realise this and continues to tell Eve everything unaware that the Colonel's goons are setting him up. At Eve's suggestion Mark heads for the TV studios but it's not long before he's intercepted by military thugs. Mark engages them in a high speed battle along the express way, constantly trying to evade capture. Finally, a truck explosion gives him the cover he needs to escape. A quick glance over at Southern Cross informs us that the data transfer is well under way but Earth's painfully slow modem connection is holding them up.

Mark sneaks into the TV station disguised as a Janitor (well wearing a gray cap and pushing a cart). He soon discovers Eve's shocking secret... she's actually just a computer simulation and not a real person at all! Confused and angry he leaves but before he can drive away Eve contacts him on the Modat and tells him everything. She is the human face of a powerful computer which the owners have traveled "across the Cosmos" to reclaim. The planet has been invaded by these aliens and the government is covering it up. Todd knew the truth and stole the Modat in order to expose this conspiracy. She goes on to tell him that someone has begun transmitting her data and it won't be long before the enemy has what they need and the Earth is destroyed. Eve needs Mark's help and skills at piloting the Modat if the invaders are to be stopped.

The Modat is programmed with Eve's location and it's not long before Mark arrives at the subterranean base. Mark barely has time to get close to where the Memory Matrix is stored before he comes under attack from Colonel Andrews and his men. Andrews, who has an odd habit of calling everyone "friend", is rescued by Mark after he is pulled into an anti-gravity simulator during their battle. Outside, Mark demands answers. Andrews tells him a convincing story about Todd being delusional and mentally unwell. He claims this story of alien invaders is pure fiction and he just wants the Modat-5 returned. No longer knowing who to believe our confused hero leaves the Colonel alive but without his prized Modat.

Fearing for Becky and her room mates safety Mark meets with his girlfriend and tries to explain what's been happening. After a nice walk in the park she invites him to her dance rehearsal (she passed the audition) later that day. What follows is pure 80's magic. 1980's through and through- to it's very core! A power-pop ballad fills the air as Becky and her fellow dancers leap and sweat their way through the routine. Leg warmers! Sweat bands! Sky blue leotards! It's Flash Dance all the way! The choreography's not that hot as the moves soon starts to repeat. In fact the frequency with which clips reappear is quite startling! After the rehearsal Becky gives Mark the brush off in favour of Roger the show's sleazy director.

Mark tracks down the hotel that Roger booked for the girls and, using the Modat's heat-vision capabilities, searches for Becky. His snooping pays off as sleazy Roger is in Becky's room, putting the moves on her as she leaves the shower! Mark busts in, in the Modat, and saves her from his less than subtle advances. Surprisingly frank sexual harassment in a kid's film? Not a known family favourite! They ride off together in the brisk night air, Becky wrapped in a bed sheet. The overly observant in the audience would notice that when her ordeal began she was wearing a bath towel... now she's hiding her modesty beneath a sheet? I think we're not being told the whole story! The scene ends when Mark drops her off somewhere safe (we're not told where).

Elsewhere the Earth Defence Force launches yet another attack on the alien mothership, this time under the guidance of Eve. It's not long before Commander Emerson realises there's something wrong with the computer's decision making and attempts an override. It can't be done so he's left with only one option- a dangerous space fold. Back on Earth Colonel Andrews receives the news that the EDF overrode Eve's programming. His night doesn't get any better when one of the computer technicians expresses concern over transmitting the Matrix data into space suggesting that maybe the aliens are intercepting it. Too many questions are being asked... it seems as if Andrews has little choice but to prepare Plan B...

The next night Mark meets Becky to apologise for his actions (yeah, I know he rescued her, but he's still in the dog house!) and they go on a date. A montage of Eve singing, the couple's evening and some unnecessary snippets from an excised sex scene (how much more can the parents take?) are the background to the real action- a military coup! While Eve sings of being "saved by science" tanks role on the streets. The continuity goes haywire as tanks advance in daylight while Mark and Becky get friendly late at night. The nighttime setting wins out as Kelly spools through footage of the Modat and the Matrix crew contact the Minister of Science, father of one of Becky's roommates, concerned at the Colonel's dismissal of their fears. News of the data transfer's shut down is the final straw for the alien simulant and he and his Military forces lay a violent and bloody siege to the Government HQ and the Prime Minister (of Klondike's) mansion. Heavies also break into Kelly's apartment and destroy the film. Kelly is shot dead for good measure. For the parents that let their kiddies stay despite the previous gory death, attempted sexual assault and glimpse of bedroom activity this too was possibly the final straw! What kind of cartoon is this anyway?

Andrews must be an incredibly fast mover as he is now at the Prime Minister's home and demands that all resistance to his overthrow of the Government be stopped. Apparently the Prime Minister of Klondike wears a traditional Japanese Kimono- perhaps the Colonels regime is a good thing as it seems the Japanese have infiltrated their way to the very top! Of Klondike. The new Prime Minister orders the data transfer be recommenced.

Becky, Stacey and Mark return home to find Kelly murdered. Mark vows to end this once and for all and heads off to find Colonel Andrews and end his evil plans. Stacey receives a call from her father, the Minister for Science, who tells her they are leaving this mixed up country and heading for Alaska, to stop the transmission at it's source. A car comes and picks her up, heading for the air port.

Eve guides Mark back to the Robotech Research Centre despite the Modat's dwindling energy supplies. Andrews sends his men to stop Science Minister Embry from leaving the airport and heads to the research centre to stop Mark personally. It's action all the way as Mark and Andrews battle in Modats at the centre while, in Southern Cross Eve guides the attack on the Alien Mothership. Andrews leaves Mark for dead and heads to the airport. Of course Mark hasn't expired but his Modat's power virtually has. The newly animated footage starts as, a for some reason naked, Eve urges Mark to go on and guides him to a spare convertible fighter within the centre's grounds. Mark steals the fighter and blasts off to the airport as the military overrun it and take Embry into custody.

Back in Southern Cross the Defence Force troops are led to the Mothership's weak point. It seems Star Wars never reached the Robotech Master's home world as this chink in the armour turns out to be a shaft hidden within one of the trenches. One rocket later and a chain reaction tears the giant ship to pieces and the alien menace is neutralised. All that's left now is for Mark to stop Andrews.

The Colonel once again faces our angry young hero in a Modat and shoots the fighter down. Unharmed Mark walks out of the flames in his own Modat and the battle nears it climax. The two machines slug it out until Andrews is over powered and Mark delivers the final, ambiguous, fatal blow. With the Colonel Andrews simulant killed and the alien Mother Ship destroyed the battle is finally over. Todd and Kelly's deaths are avenged and Becky runs into Marks arms on the smoldering run way. The movie ends abruptly with a song from Eve taking us into the credits.

Robotech the Movie, due to it's troubled production and extreme rarity, has gathered a negative reputation with fans. In truth it's nowhere near as bad as others make out. The Megazone 23 and Southern Cross footage, which had already been seen as episode 42 of Robotech- 'Danger Zone', don't gel at all. The two differ in style and quality so much, the later being extremely washed out and dated looking, that I find it impossible to see them as one movie. There are also a whole number of continuity problems with the main series that fans can easily spot but ignoring these issues as a whole the 'Untold Story' is perfectly watchable. The new soundtrack is enjoyable, and the Robotech incidental music adds atmosphere. Also the Megazone parts, leaps of logic aside, are fairly engrossing. Not too mention- how many kid's cartoons contain sexual harassment subplots and graphic death? Don't take it all too seriously and you'll enjoy it.

 
Missing videos
Missing videos

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If Idid put it up Carl Macek would probably sue my ass off

I know you want to see it
but I'd rather not go to jail.
And you'd likely hate it anyway.

 
Enjoyably silly story
 
Unexpectedly adult themes
  Solid voice acting
  Great '80s tunes
  Megazone 23 is well animated
 
Not really Robotech
 
Badly clashing animation styles
  Eve is a singer, TV host and alien computer??
  Might have killed the franchise

As a Robotech movie it doesn't work but as a reworking of Megazone 23 with the additional superfluous Southern Cross footage, it's a perfectly enjoyable 80's movie.

Sure it's full of holes but soak up the nostalgia and enjoy the fun!

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