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Ape vs. Mecha Ape (2023) Review

Not letting the success of Ape vs Monster go to waste, The Asylum is back with Ape vs.Mecha Ape. This time, they’ve brought in Marc Gottlieb to write and direct. While it’s only his second feature, the other was Cousin Howard back in 1995, and the first one for The Asylum he’s written several scripts for them including Jungle Run, 2025 Armageddon, and Aquarium of the Dead. Can he kick the franchise into gear after its dismal first film?

The film opens with a chemical weapons plant that looks like an old warehouse being attacked by what looks like the giant ape, Abraham. A few explosions later we see that it’s actually a giant, well-armed, robot which makes short work of the plant’s security. The real Abraham meanwhile is upset. A drone has gotten into his preserve and pissed him off. Sloane (Anna Telfer, Time Pirates, Planet Dune) has been called in to calm him down and the drone’s pilot, animal rights activist Joel (Jack Pearson, Attack on Titan, Shark Season) is being interrogated.

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Back in Volodrezjka, I guess Russia was too hard to spell, Pavla (Iris Svis, Stan the Man, Monday Coffee) is upset by the death of her son in the attack. And since his father Arnott (Xander Bailey, Bullet Train Down, Shark Waters) is a big shot in their foreign intelligence service, something will be done about it, and Mecha Ape will be the tool they use to do it.

With a title that recalls Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla and a plot inspired by King Kong Escapes, a recovered nuke and a high-tech spy Roomba, Ape vs.Mecha Ape is obviously meant to be taken with tongue in cheek. Given the highly variable quality of The Asylum’s output, the question is, which set of cheeks are we talking about?

On a positive note, this is better than Ape vs Monster. The first half of the film is still mostly talk, but the effects we do see are of a better quality than those in the original. Sadly, most of Mecha Ape’s rampage is off-screen, and we just hear about it and see the damage until the final act when it tangles with Abraham. Helping to offset that, the plot for Ape vs. Mecha Ape isn’t as eye rollingly ridiculous and the dialogue moves the story along at a decent pace, so at least it doesn’t get as boring as many of their films before the now nuclear-equipped robot reaches Chicago.

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Making his Asylum debut as Secretary of Defence Hamilton Tom Arnold (True Lies, Dead Ant), as expected, has few scenes with the rest of the cast. Oddly the way the script is set up the same holds true for most of the rest of the cast as well, giving Ape vs.Mecha Ape a cut-and-paste feel to it.

Sloane spends most of the film inside the robot trying to shut it down. The Volodrezjkain agents have no scenes with the other main cast. Joel, along with Pierce (Corbin Timbrook, The Unhealer, The Belly of the Beast) and Laura (Lisa Lee, Love at the Lodge, Megalodon Rising) have a few scenes with Sloane at the beginning and end of the film but are together through most of it and have no scenes with anyone else.

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When the title creatures finally do get to brawl, the Ape vs. Mecha Ape showdown is better than what we got in the first film. The effects are solid and there are more scenes of destruction, though still not as much as kaiju fans will be expecting. If it had included a couple of scenes of Mecha Ape vs. military action, this could have been a much better film. Instead, it doesn’t rise much above watchable, wasting an amusing plot and good effects in the process.

The Asylum has released Ape vs. Mecha Ape in a few theatres as well as on VOD and Digital Platforms. And if you want more kaiju action, FilmTagger can suggest a few titles for you.

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