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Robotech: The Movie

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TheMovie
Robotech: The Sentinels
Production information
Format

Animated

No. of episodes

1

Run time

82 minutes

Attribution
Creator(s)
  • Ardwight Chamberlain
  • Jonathon Braun (Editor)
  • Yoshizaki Kenichi
  • Haruhiko Mikimoto
  • Nishide Eiko
Director(s)

Carl Macek

Executive producer(s)
  • Cannon Films
  • Toru Miura
  • Harmony Gold USA
  • Tatsunoko Productions
Starring
  • Kerrigan Mahan
  • Edie Mirman
  • Gregory Snegoff
  • Muriel Fargo

Robotech: The Movie was an attempt by Carl Macek to adapt Megazone 23: Part One for the American market, in cooperation with Cannon Films. Robotech: The Movie, also called Robotech: The Untold Story, was a 1986 American-Japanese science fiction animated film based on the Robotech TV series and Robotech franchise. The 1986 theatrical film used footage from part one of Megazone 23 spliced with Super Dimensional Cavalry Southern Cross and had only a tenuous link to the television series.

Plot

In the year 1999, the alien spacecraft Super Dimension Fortress-1 Macross (SDF-1) crashed on Earth, followed ten years later by the alien Zentraedi, seeking to reclaim the vessel for their rulers, the Robotech Masters. The First Robotech War erupted over the vessel, ending with victory for humankind, at the cost of the SDF-1 itself. Now, in 2027, the Robotech Masters themselves arrive in Earth’s Solar System, aiming to recover the ship’s still-functional mother computer, being studied at Earth’s Robotech Research Center in Japan. The Masters launch a covert attack on a small human settlement, killing Colonel B.D. Andrews of the Army of the Southern Cross (ASC) and secretly replacing him with a clone. Following a disastrous attack by the ASC on the Masters’ flagship, the Andrews clone proposes that the military take charge of use the mother computer to formulate a defense against the Masters. When his proposal is approved, he secretly begins beaming the contents of the computer’s database to the Masters, after which they plan to destroy the Earth.

Friends

One of these girls gets horribly murdered.

Suspicious over the military’s decision to hide the Masters’ existence from the populous, soldier Todd Harris steals the "MODAT 5" - a mobile terminal remotely connected to the mother computer in the form of a motorcycle - and seeks help from his friend Mark Landry, telling him to contact “Eve”. Troops under the Andrews clone’s command accost the pair, and Todd dies in an escape attempt before he can fully explain everything to Mark. Mark manages to escapes with the MODAT 5, but unaware of its true significance, winds up merely using it as a prop in an amateur movie being shot by Kelly, a friend of his girlfriend, aspiring dancer Becky Michaels.

Seeing a music video from popular idol Eve, Mark presumes that she was who Todd wanted to contact and telephones her talk show to tell her about the MODAT. The call is traced by Andrews’s men, leading to a freeway chase during which the bike automatically reconfigures into a humanoid mecha form to fend off Mark's attackers. Mark proceeds to sneak into the TV studio from which Eve’s show is broadcast and discovers that the singer is not a real person at all, but a holographic projection. Eve explains that she is the artificial intelligence of the SDF-1’s computer, and informs Mark of the Masters' plan. Eve leads Mark to the Robotech Research Center, where Mark engages and defeats “Andrews” in a mecha battle, but accidentally lets slip the existence of Kelly’s film footage of the MODAT. Escaping, Mark attempts to warn Becky, but his recent distractedness has alienated her, and it is not until he rescues her from being sexually assaulted by an unscrupulous dance show director that the pair reconcile.

EveConcert

The idol singer "EVE".

ASC forces under the command of Rolf Emerson stage another attack on the Masters’ fleet, and again meet with failure thanks to Andrews using the mother computer to feed them bad data and control their movements. When a concerned technician reports Andrews’s suspicious actions to Professor Embry, head of the Ministry of Computer Sciences, the computer is ordered to be shut down. Andrews stages a coup and takes control of the Japanese government, ordering the computer reactivated and the transmission of its database resumed. Amid the chaos of the coup, Kelly is killed by Andrews’s men and her film of the MODAT is stolen. Realizing the threat Andrews poses, Embry prepares to depart for Alaska Base, location of a secondary terminal that will allow him to take control of the computer, but is delayed by waiting for his daughter Stacy – Kelly’s roommate – to join him.

The Masters’ flagship descends to Earth and they deliver an ultimatum to the ASC, but in doing so, reveal the link between the computer and their vessel. Exploiting the link to discern a weak spot in the Masters’ defenses, the ASC is able to cripple their flagship, and when it crashes, the rest of the fleet retreats. Simultaneously, Mark, seeking revenge, attacks the research center to flush out Andrews. Defeated and left for dead by Andrews, who departs to intercept Embry, Mark is contacted through the wrecked MODAT by Eve, who directs him to commandeer a prototype space fighter that carries him to the airport just in time to save Embry and Stacy from Andrews’s attack. Transforming the space fighter to robot mode, Mark has one final battle with Andrews that ends with him killing the clone and triumphantly reuniting with Becky.

Production

According to interviews with director/producer/co-writer Carl Macek, the project had originally been intended to be more of a straight dub of Megazone 23 with dialogue and music changes to reflect the Robotech universe. As originally conceived, it was set during the return of the SDF-1 from Pluto with the protagonist Mark Landry, a relative of Rick Hunter, finding out about the government's coverup of the SDF-1's fate, and Landry fighting to make the information known.

Early Sentinels

Early Robotech II: The Sentinels Designs

However, at the time, Tatsunoko Production was involved in promoting its own Macross movie, Do You Remember Love, and insisted that Macek not use elements of the Macross story, so as to avoid possible confusion. Also, distributor Cannon Films felt there were "too many girls and not enough robots and guns," and did not like Megazone's downer ending, either. Thus, Macek rewrote the story to take place shortly before the Second Robotech War, cut segments of Southern Cross footage into it, and commissioned animation studio The Idol Co. to animate a new ending (which was later included on the laserdisc of Megazone 23, Part II). The new version involved the Robotech Masters kidnapping and replicating veteran officer B.D. Andrews to steal the memory core of the SDF-1.

Because Megazone 23 (an OVA) and Southern Cross (a TV series) were shot on different film stock, 35mm and 16mm respectively, the visual inconsistency was very noticeable on the big screen.

The B.D. Andrews character was named B.D. Edwards in the original cut of the Robotech movie. Taking place during in the Macross saga timeframe, it was the intention that he was to be a younger version of the Colonel Edwards that would later appear in Robotech II: The Sentinels which was in the planning stages at the time. Note in the attached early Sentinels character design guide that the characters who would become Jance, T.R. Edwards, Jack Baker, and  Karen Penn look like Robotech movie characters Eve, B.D. Andrews, Mark Harris, and Becky Franklin, their names in the early draft, with instructions to give Mark and Becky different faces and B.D. battle damage.  B.D. Edwards changed to B.D. Andrews, and he was made into a colonel of Earth's defense forces who would become abducted and replaced by a Master's simulagent.

Limited release

The movie disappeared from the United States after a failed test-run in Texas that lasted only a few weeks. One cause for its poor performance was believed to be poor advertising (commercials promoting the movie appeared only at 6:00am). In addition, the movie faced stiff competition from The Transformers: The Movie, which was released at the same time and with a much bigger advertising budget.

Landry

"Landry" in the cockpit of the MODAT-5.

However, the biggest problem by far was the disappointment of fans with the film's extremely tenuous connection with the original series. Another complicating factor was the film's adult themes, which (although not as graphic as in the original Megazone 23) reportedly led some parents to remove their children from theatres before the movie was finished, as many deemed the film's content to be inappropriate for young children. (For example: The main female lead, Becky, was nearly raped at the film's midway point, and there was considerably more violence throughout the film than in the TV series, such as the president being shot in the head on-screen and a man being shown crushed under a car with blood splattered out from underneath.)

In other territories such as Argentina and Belgium, it ran successfully in cinemas and had a VHS release in Spanish (by International Video Entertainment) and with Dutch subtitles (by Vestron Video), respectively. Harmony Gold relinquished its license to Megazone 23 after director Carl Macek washed his hands of the project, so home video releases were limited to the few VHS tapes that had been in limited circulation in Europe and Latin America.

Some animatics and other supplemental material were released as extras with ADV Films' Robotech DVD release.

In 2011, A&E Home video released, as a part of their Robotech: The Complete Series collection, a 29-minute version of Robotech The Movie. This version contains only footage used from The Southern Cross, with a disclaimer stating the film "has been edited for licensing and content." The plot focuses mainly on the battles between The Robotech Masters and the Army of The Southern Cross, with the main plot of B.D. Andrews being referred to mostly through dialogue. This version does, however, retain the end original credits of the film, crediting many characters and songs that never appear in it.

Current Status

After ADV Films acquired the home video rights to Megazone 23 in addition to the Southern Cross rights they already held, some fans discussed with their executive staff the possibility of recreating the released edit of Robotech: The Movie. Before anything concrete could be done with the potential project ADV Films experienced financial difficulties, Harmony Gold nor any film distributor has announced plans for a DVD or Blu-ray release of the film. Release of the actual film is unlikely since the film's original negatives were destroyed in a studio flood in the mid-1990s and no other copies are believed to exist in other Harmony Gold storage facilities; a release based on available vhs copies of the movie would likely be of very poor quality. Original vhs copies and blackmarket fan-burnt disc have been known to show up occasionally on auction sites while digital copies of the movie have made their way onto the Internet thanks to streaming and file sharing. One fan has even recreated both the released version of the film and his what if Macross era version extrapilation. Harmony Gold included an edit of the movie with only the Southern Cross footage portions as an extra in the last Robotech box sets. The events of the film are no longer considered part of the official Robotech timeline, although elements of the story remain in the first issue of the comic adaptation and the Robotech novel The Masters' Gambit.

Comic and novel adaptations

  • Academy released a comic adaptation of the movie in 1996 written by Benny R. Powell with art by Chia-Chi Wang. The book was a departure from the actual movie, at the request of the publisher. While the first issue borrowed heavily from the source material, the second issue was almost entirely new material. The two-issue series was originally intended to be a longer run, but due to the loss of the license to Antarctic Press, it was vastly condensed. It was among the last Robotech comics published by Academy before the license was moved to Antarctic Press.
  • Additionally, elements from the movie were used in the plot of the Robotech novel #20: The Masters' Gambit.

Gallery

External links


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