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Metal Shifters


Mildly enjoyable hunk of junk, literally.

Rod Lott February 6th, 2012

Originally broadcast on Syfy as "Iron Invader," "Metal Shifters" examines an heretofore unknown problem related to our nation's housing crisis: a 17-feet-tall, 1-ton, killer-robot statue made of junk.

metalshifters
Two brothers (Kavan Smith, TV's "Eureka," and Colby Johannson, "Final Destination 3") who work in construction in the depressed small town of Redeemer, Idaho, see a downed Russian satellite crash into a nearby field. The object’s pieces are covered in some sort of green alien slime that looks like Silly String and moves like The Blob (and, perhaps in tribute, immediately takes out an inquisitive old coot).

The cash-strapped sibs take the wreckage to sell to local junk man Earl (Donnelly Rhodes, "TRON: Legacy"), who has assembled an iron golem for the town centennial. While Earl's busy welding, the slime causes the scrap metal to scurry over to the golem, which assembles on its own accord and comes to life.

This sculpture — a metal shifter, one might say — kills a long-haired redneck listening to baseball on the radio ("Yeehaw!"), an old lady in her robe, and even one of the aforementioned brothers. The remaining one gets over his grief quickly because his high-school sweetheart is back in town, soon-to-be-divorced science teacher Amanda (“Cube” cutie Nicole de Boer).

He reports his brother's death with the astute observation, "It shook the frickin' building!" In all instances, the metal man's presence is announced by porch lights flickering on and off. Amanda even tries to warn the sheriff as she breathlessly relays the news of her aunt's untimely expiration, "Something infected her! A huge machine! Like a robot!"

Answers the sheriff, "What it'd look like?" (Ummm, a robot, Einstein.)

Writer/director Paul Ziller ("Ice Quake,"  also new to DVD and Blu-ray) shot the film in a very orangey look, perhaps with some Oompa-Loompa filter. Other than that, production values are of your average made-for-Syfy movie: perfectly acceptable for a no-brain enterprise. On the behind-the-scenes featurette, Smith talks some nonsense about the "reality of the characters," but we all know metal mayhem is the only reason to devote 90 minutes to such a thing, and Ziller obeys by getting right into it.

This lowbrow hunk of sci-fi junk is easier to sit through than any entry of the overblown “Transformers” trilogy. My 7-year-old loved it; I gladly tolerated it. —Rod Lott
 
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