Tetra Vaal

Tetra Vaal


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Everybody loves Robocop, but with all that expensive technology, he's very much a US prestige item. What if yours is just an ordinary, underfunded police force operating in a third world country? Then you need the discount version. Just as there are knock-offs of most other showy Western weapons, there's a robot available for patrolling the slums in this smart little spoof advert from District 9 director Neil Blomkamp.

Slimmed down and without the glossy packaging, this robot looks considerably more realistic and closer in style to the real life robots working in laboratories today. Its distinctive feature is its pair of rabbit-like ears, which preclude taking it too seriously but are believable enough in an item designed for functionality, not fashion. Its primary function, we're told, is reconnaissance, but we also see it shooting. Battered and dusty, it looks curiously natural wandering around a shanty town where some people glare suspiciously - it represents the police, after all - but most just ignore it.

Copy picture

The style of the advert may look unrealistically rough to UK viewers but will be familiar enough in other parts of the world. It's less convincing at the point where we see the robot damaged - it's not clear why the manufacturers would want this included - but otherwise it's a successful satirical swipe at a style of marketing only slightly different in tone to that Robocop (and the likes of The Running Man) spoofed so well.

Blomkamp has stated his intention to expand parts of Tetra Vaal into a feature, so no doubt this short film will have increased status in years to come. For the meantime, it has enough personality and wit to make entertaining viewing in its own right.

Reviewed on: 13 Jun 2013
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A short advertisement for a third world Robocop.

Director: Neil Blomkamp

Year: 2003

Runtime: 1 minutes

Country: South Africa


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