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MOVIE REVIEW : Sci-Fi 'Apex' Clanks Along

March 07, 1994|CHRIS WILLMAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

"Them boys gonna be up to their ass in robots. Huh!" declares a crusty codger in "Apex," watching the film's 21st-Century rebel warriors march off to do battle with a contingent of testy terminators.

Bring your waders, sci-fi fans.

"Apex" is another tiresome "T-Too" in which a future hero leapfrogs the space-time continuum to get a jump on the mechanical bipeds that have it in for humanity. It also has moments that play like a laugh-less "Back to the Future" derivation, though even that comedy had a consistency to its fantasy plotting that director/co-writer Phillip J. Roth can't muster here.

In 2073, a scientist (Richard Keats) makes a quick visit to 1973 and, on his return, finds the world gone to apocalyptic hell, thanks to a mistake of a few minutes and/or 100 years prior. No, he didn't accidentally destroy the master tapes of "My Love"; his fateful tear in the '70s time fabric was leaving a trace of a fatal disease that all those robots would later be designed to bloodily eradicate.

Soon he's got a cadre of soldiers together to trade endless rounds with all the armor-plated automatons, while he plots his return to his alternate alternate reality, one where there's no robots, no plague and his smoochy spouse (Lisa Ann Russell) isn't a cranky mercenary. This is initially confusing, but comes clear by the 19th or so voice-over of "I have to stop the paradox from ever happening!" or "In this world, she's not my wife!"

The script lacks an internal logic to explain its contradictory time-travel twists. (In one alternate reality, our time-tripper slips right into his doppelganger's body; in another reality, there are two of him briefly bumping noses. Huh?) But it does at least have a moral.

"Time is a strange thing," muses the wiser hero at the close. "No matter what happens, no matter what you do, things change, and they can never be quite the same."

With friends like "Apex," the theory of relativity doesn't need any enemies.

'Apex'

Richard Keats: Nicholas Sinclair Mitchell Cox: Shepherd Lisa Ann: Russell Natasha

A Green Communications and Republic Pictures presentation. Director Phillip J. Roth. Producer Talaat Captan. Screenplay by Roth, Ronald Schmidt. Cinematographer Mark W. Gray. Editor Daniel Lawrence. Robot suits and makeup effects Altered Anatomy FX. Music Jim Goodwin. Running time: 1 hour, 41 minutes.

MPAA-rated R.

Times guidelines: Profanity, lots of shooting, a little bloodshed.

* In general release throughout Southern California.

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