Review (SPOILER): “The Untold Story”
What you should know first is that Robotech: The Movie is an adaptation much like Robotech the TV show was. Most of Robotech: The Movie’s animation is lifted from the Japanese OVA Megazone 23 but the editing has been profuse so don’t expect to find much of the original’s plot in this film. Just in case you’re wondering, no, Megazone 23 is not related to Macross, Southern Cross, or Mospeada in any way so far as plot is concerned. Megazone 23 does take some of its inspiration from story elements in Macross but that’s about as far as you’re going to get if you’re trying to make method out of Macek’s madness. We’re not here to talk about Megazone 23 (although it is recommended viewing as a somewhat influential film), we’re here to talk about Robotech: The Movie (R:TM). In order to talk about R:TM though, you should probably know what happens in it and since it never really got an official distribution, I’m going to present a very thorough plot summary for everyone. I don’t recommend spending any amount of money on this film since it hasn’t seen a legitimate release. If you buy this DVD online you’re going to get a DVD-R of a grainy VHS conversion and it’s going to cost you as much as the best new Hollywood releases… that just doesn’t make any sense. So don’t buy it (maybe get Megazone 23 instead), heck, my copy doesn’t even work in all DVD players. Here’s the summary:
The movie begins with the scrolling of text handled EXACTLY as it is done in Star Wars… I MEAN EXACTLY. Here’s how the text reads:
“In 1999, An alien spaceship crashed onto the Earth. Hidden on board were the secrets of a unique science known as ROBOTECHNOLOGY. Databanks found in the ship were transferred to Earth’s Robotech Computer Complex.
In 2009, an alien search party arrived from hyper-space to reclaim their lost databank. The United Earth Government was forced into intergalactic war. Earth forces were able to win the first battle… but at a great cost, the planet was virtually destroyed. New population centers grew out of the ashes.
It is now 2027, a second armada sent by the aliens is nearing Earth. They have come to recapture the secrets of their lost technology… and then destroy the Earth.”
This text is followed by the opening theme we’ve all come to know from Robotech set to images of the cosmos. Next we are treated to a discussion by the Robotech Masters. They have unfolded near Earth and the dialogue tells us that they must obtain the Memory Matrix, the universe’s greatest store of knowledge, in a way that will not risk harming it. The dialogue also informs us that this is the second group of Masters to visit the Earth so apparently there’s quite a bit of re-working of the existing Robotech continuity. In the movie, there never was a race known as the Zentraedi, there was a first assault by the Masters in 2009 that ended in a purely military failure and now the events being witnessed (you could interpret it in a manner where the Zents were the first failure I suppose). A plan is devised, the Masters will attack Earth, kidnap someone who has access to the Memory Matrix, create a clone of that person, and then have that clone replace the person and assist the Masters.
If you’re familiar with “The Masters” portion of Robotech, you’ll recognize most of the imagery from the ensuing battle from various episodes. The Masters succeed in kidnapping various civilians and at least one soldier by the name of Colonel Andrews. A simulant of Andrews is created and placed back on Earth. What happens next is a bit of a rough transition. Various characters are shown watching TV and Colonel Andrews is giving a press conference saying that there was no battle that just happened; all the commotion was actually military training. Huh? The animation shows many civilians being kidnapped and a huge battle where Colonel Andrews himself was supposedly kidnapped but now he’s on TV telling people that none of that happened? He was just kidnapped… if he suddenly reappeared wouldn’t he be in debriefing or a medical ward or something? Wouldn’t people notice a neighborhood is missing?
Enter Mark, our young hero, who receives a phone call from his buddy Todd Harris (who we know to be a soldier from dialogue in the opening battle). Todd’s in trouble and needs Mark to meet him. Mark meets him and is introduced to the Modat5, the MObile DATabase terminal (aka Garland from Megazone23). Todd reveals that Andrews is lying about the battle that supposedly didn’t happen and so Todd stole the Modat5 in some effort to get the truth out. Apparently the Andrews simulant has already developed his own secret police as they show up to take the Modat5 back. A skirmish ensues and Mark gets away with the M5 and Todd gets killed. All Mark knows is that he needs to make contact with someone named Eve.
The Earth military decides to strike back against the Masters using the animation from the first battle in the Robotech episode DangerZone. If you’re familiar with the episode you’ll know that Emerson says the battle is a bad idea, Leonard insists it’s necessary, and the human troops get absolutely slaughtered. It’s kind of odd to think the military can get that bad of a beat down within the atmosphere and still keep the war a secret. The disastrous failure of the human military gives the simulant Andrews an opportunity to seize power by proposing himself to be put in charge of the Robotech Computer Complex under the guise of using the alien technology housed their to come up with a new battle plan. Emerson protests that Andrews be given charge and that alien technology be used to combat aliens but Leonard noisily rebuffs him.
Andrews replaces as many of the Robotech Computer Complex personnel with his own goons as feasible and then orders that the computer begin beaming all of the information in the memory matrix to an abandonned satellite. The Masters immediately begin intercepting the data but we learn it will take several days for it to all be downloaded and the information is useless unless they have every last bit.
Mark films a movie with his quasi-girlfriend and while doing so he sees a video for pop star Eve and puts 2 and 2 together and determines that must be who Todd was talking about. Mark calls Eve’s TV talkshow which allows Andrews’ goons to hunt him down. The goons arrange a big scene and try to steal the M5 away from Mark only to eventually just go ahead and send in some serious military equipment to try to take it by force. Mark evades capture and ends up at Eve’s studio where he learns she’s nothing but a computer program.
Mark leaves disgusted but Eve contacts Mark through the M5 to let him know he’s in trouble. We learn Eve is an acronym for Enhanced Video Emulation (aka The Mother Computer utilizing the Memory Matrix) and Eve guides Mark to the complex she’s housed in. Mark then fights with the security personnel, probably kills a bunch of them, nearly gets killed a bunch of times, then fights with Andrews himself. After defeating Andrews, Mark saves Andrew’s life in exchange for some answers. Andrews tells Mark a bunch of lies to confuse him. Mark takes the M5 totally confused and flees.
Afraid for his friends’ lives Mark warns them all to lay low. He uses his bike’s capabilities to spy on his girlfriend, rescuing her from a near rape. Meanwhile the Earth forces use EVE to develop a new attack strategy to use against the Masters. The Masters simply download the battle plan from the transmission being sent to the dead satellite and start annihilating the humans. Most of this animation is from Robotech episode The Hunters although a good chunk is also from Megazone23. By ignoring EVE Emerson is able to do a hyper-space fold and salvage the surival of some of the Earth forces.
Mark goes on a date. Some of the computer techs think that Andrews might be allowing the Masters to have the data by transmitting it into space. They contact some government officials and stop broadcasting the signal. An emergency government meeting is called to discuss Andrews’ behavior but Andrews shows up with his goons and pulls a coup killing everyone that was previously in charge. Somehow Andrews has just about the entire military on his side. They kill everyone EXCEPT the definitive expert on EVE, a man named Emery (whose daughter Stacey is another of Mark’s good friends). Andrews’ goons even kill Mark’s friend who filmed the M5. Andrews orders the transmission of the data to the dead satellite to re-commence.
The Masters lose faith in the Andrews simulant now that the data stream has been halted once. Mark sees his friend dead and decides he’s going to use the M5 to get even with Andrews and his goons. Andrews learns of his failure to kill the EVE expert and orders Emery held and killed but when Mark shows up at the computer facility and starts wrecking everything Andrews heads there to stop him. Andrews beats Mark down and leaves him for dead heading for the airport to head off Emery before he catches a flight to the safety of a base in Alaska (that would also grant him access to the only other EVE terminal in existence).
Eve is increasingly becoming self-aware and she awakens Mark and guides him toward a super secret prototype space fighter and helps him steal it. The Masters get nervous as the data transmission becomes more erradic as it nears being completely downloaded. Eve starts helping the human military as much as she can and further makes the Masters nervous. The Masters radio Leonard to gloat and tell them that they’re going to destroy Earth. The battle begins in space but the Masters push it into Earth atmosphere.
Meanwhile, at the airfield Andrews moves in to try to kill Emery. Mark, in the super advanced prototype, flies to the airport in an attempt to save Emery.
The battle with The Masters wages on. This time, with Eve’s help, the humans are succeeding. The animation here is almost entirely from the second battle shown in Danger Zone. The crashing of the Masters flagship here seems to indicate total defeat of The Masters in this movie as the rest of the fleet immediately retreats.
Mark fights Andrews and his troops at the airfield and single-handedly defeats all of the goons saving Emery and Stacey in the process. He hugs his girlfriend (who ran to the airfield during the battle) and the credits roll.
So that’s the synopsis of what happens in Robotech: The Movie. Honestly, it’s not very good at all. It contradicts Robotech the TV show frequently and uses the exact same animation from a few of the episodes which will just bother most Robotech diehards. Since it’s only available in horrible bootleg fashion you won’t notice the difference in quality between the Megazone23 footage and the stock Southern Cross footage like you would if this was a professionally remastered DVD since everything looks so bad. Those of you familiar with Macross Plus might see a few similarities between EVE and Sharon… as well you should. The Mark character also reminded me a bit of Macross2’s Hibiki (in spirit). The end of the story just gets too disjointed with the battle with the Masters happening simultaneously with the battle at the airfield. It really seems like Andrews should have been too busy in a military capacity to be running around trying to kill scientists. It’s also a bit difficult to conceive of a scenario where a random motorcycle mechanic (Mark) would take on the entire military… and win. I definitely do not recommend this film.