San Jose Mercury News (CA) - February 1, 1986

Author: GLENN LOVELL, Mercury News Film Writer

THE GoBots/transformer set should have a ball with "Eliminators," a comic-book action adventure that teams a reassembled man, a novice ninja, a resourceful woman scientist and a rowdy charter-boat skipper who is obviously patterned after Humphrey Bogart in "The African Queen."

A hybrid of "Terminator" and the classic western "The Magnificent Seven," this low-budget arrival was shot in Spain (the setting being Mexico) and comes from B-movie merchant Charles Band, whose sci-fi/ horror variations include last year's "Ghoulies" and the fun "Troll," which trundled into town last week.

Producer Band's production values, as always, range from neat-o to non-existent. He opens with a swirling-colors time- travel sequence that looks chintzy even by TV standards, but then he comes on strong with fun robot hardware and first- rate laser-gun effects (by John Buechler of "Ghoulies" and "Troll").

A nuts-and-bolts actor named Patrick Reynolds plays "John Doe," a pilot who crashed a year ago near the jungle lab of an evil, disfigured genius named Reeves (Roy Dotrice). Reeves collected what was left of the pilot and transformed him into a "mandroid" (half man, half robot), complete with one infrared eye and such interchangeable components as jet boots, torpedo-launcher arm and knockout-gas dispenser.

The joke is that most of these sophisticated accessories, including an attachable half-track mobile unit, keep misfiring, leaving our tin-man hero embarrassed and vulnerable.

Little wonder Reeves calls for his $6 man to be dismantled. John blows a fuse over this and flees the compound. On the road he teams with the pretty robotics technician Nora (Denise Crosby), a con man guide (veteran meanie Andrew Prine showing a real flair for comedy), and an uptight samurai (Conan Lee).

The kids should especially get a kick out of the klutzy bad guys and Crosby's whiz-bang reconnaissance robot, S.P.O.T., which is part Tinkerbell and part R2D2.

''Eliminator," in patches, is as campy and clever as the best "Superman" installments. We have director Peter Manoogian and especially writers Danny Bilson and Paul DeMeo to thank for this. Their wacky touches and the amusing Tin Man/Dorothy banter between John and Miss Fix-It deserve a more interesting and charismatic hero. Batteries and lubricant were obviously not included with the lockjawed Reynolds.

ELIMINATORS. Directed by Peter Manoogian; scripted by Paul DeMeo, Danny Bilson. Rated PG. (star)(star)

No comments: