A.P.E.X. (1994) — Cylons got all fancy, apparently

“He would never believe me. He’s from this timeline.”

Justin’s rating: Come with me if you want a droll voice-over

Justin’s review: You would be forgiven for assuming that A.P.E.X. is nothing more than one of the countless Terminator clones that clogged up video rental shelves in the ’90s. After all, it has time travel, killer robots, and a future war, and that’s the totality of ingredients you need for a generic rip-off. Yet here we have a bit more thought put into a story that’s slightly different than the expected.

Kicking things off, it’s 2073, and the bright minds of that time figure that the best use of their technology is to send a probe back 100 years to survey 1973 America for… reasons. The drones are actually A.P.E.X. — Cylon-looking robots equipped with arm cannons and shoulder-mounted rocket launchers. You know, what all standard drones come equipped with these days. It’s like the future people were deliberately tilting the odds in the favor of creating a horrible paradox.

And so it happens. The drone pops back to 1973 and encounters people in the desert, which sends it into a killbot frenzy — as standard protocol, apparently. As the timeline starts to disintegrate, scientist Nicholas Sinclair also gets whipped back to the past and barely survives the attack. When he returns to 2073, the whole world’s transformed into a hellscape where A.P.E.X. units are everywhere and the survivors are enjoying deep discounts on military hardware and lingo. Also, there’s some unspecified virus that’s killing people, but this is such a vague plot point as to be disposable.

Sinclair finds that in this new timeline, he’s a soldier in a platoon full of very angry people who like to shove each other around and be all macho-like. They enjoy spending the day jogging around piles of rubble and killing the same one A.P.E.X. robot suit that this budget allows.

In an attempt to repair the timeline Sinclair and company hoof it over to the lab to stop the drone from ever going back, even though there’s no time travel program in this timeline. Padding out this trip are a lot of explosions (about 250% more than normal for this kind of movie), Cream of Wheat bland voice overs by Sinclair about the situation, awkward attempts by Sinclair to woo his former wife, and the occasional use of computer graphics that somebody back in 1994 must’ve thought was hip skippy.

Most of the soldiers are absolutely generic, save for perhaps Taylor. He’s a heavy weapons expert who freaks out over everything. Like, the slightest thing goes wrong, and Taylor’s screaming and running and shooting up sand dunes. Naturally, everyone loves having an unhinged man like this at his back.

While I honestly do appreciate the thought that went into the time travel plot, A.P.E.X. comes off as yet another one of those movies where the middle 70% is a group of armed people moving from Point A to B while stuff happens and a few of them get killed along the way. Lord of the Rings, this is not. It’s greatest sin is taking itself so dang seriously that it doesn’t realize how goofy it comes off.

It’s an OK movie in the Terminator genre. Just OK, but mind you, that’s still better than most of the roster.

Didja notice?

  • Title sequence brought to you by Generic Screensaver Effects Inc.!
  • Oh yeah, terrible voiceover narration!
  • “A101 Priority situation!” Expect to hear that a lot.
  • Seeing the world change in stop-motion was pretty cool
  • This is a movie that really, really likes its explosions
  • Yes, you can hug a robot to death
  • Watching Sinclair kiss in his memories is vaguely nauseating
  • Everyone posing with their guns with no firing effects going off
  • You can easily toss a combat knife about five inches straight into the skull of someone else from 10 feet away

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