Screen Reviews

Battle Bots

Starring Shawn Salisbury, Bill Dwyer, Bill Nye

Comedy Central

It’s heavyweight semi-finals week, and Ronim (the spiky cockroach with circular saw blade sprouting from its head) takes on DoAll (a sort of penis on miniature tank tracks) in this battle of independent engineering gone amuck. Battle Bots takes a recent technical school innovation, the robot battle, and crosses it with the hype and meaningless spectacle of wrestling, pro football, and the Oscars. A number of fairly handy people build remote-controlled machines that do battle in a techy Texas cage match. With a three-minute time limit, the arena provides a little extra help by popping up ten-inch carbide saw blades and spikes (tipped with curare, for all I know) to help spread the machine oil. There’s a complicated scoring system of slams, jabs, and hazard damage, but we can all pretty much tell who wins or loses.

And the big prize? A large, gold-plated hex nut, suitable for storage in the attic. You gotta love it.

It’s brutal, it’s bizarre, and best of all, it’s nerd heaven. Until Bill Gates hit the big time, engineering was the career with less pizzazz than any other, including accountancy. For the first time in several centuries, it’s cool to be smart in public, and these folks look like they’ve actually found a fun sport for those who can’t run a hundred yard dash, much less care about the time. There’s even a bimbo interviewer (Donna d’Errico), with a bad lip job and scientifically engineered titties who looks like she’d rather be doing the six AM cattle futures report from the Chicago stockyards (rest their memory) than asking these Dilberts about their operating systems. With the motto “When sparks fly, Bots die,” and a disclaimer not to try this at home without adult supervision, it gives the guys who did well in Calculus a reason to live. And the winner? Penis beats cockroach, 8 to 1.

Look out, Tokyo.

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