With a title like Metal Shifters, filmmakers really should have stuck with the original “Iron Invader” dub. Like a Transformers-lite on a micro-budget, this movie about a macro-monster made of metal is actually entertaining-lite. Plus, it’s blissfully Shia Lebouf free. Score! The actors are ones I’m not really familiar with, but mostly mined from SyFy Channel original programming (stuff like Deep Space Nine, Stargate Atlantis, Sanctuary, Battlestar and Eureka pop up a lot in their IMDb credits), I liked their easygoing, friendly everyman looks and series TV line-delivery. The leads are handsome and pretty, but not in the too-gorgeous 50-foot screen style.
The story is your typical invaders from Mars goofball meteorite stuff – more along the lines of The Blob, say, than The Thing – where an unidentified life-form transforms our everyday objects into shapes of death and destruction. Mind you, we don’t actually see said death and destruction (this is a family show!), but after the extra terrestrial evil being infiltrates the metal frame of an art project -- a giant junk-golem parked at the local metal scrap-yard – all heck breaks loose.
Meanwhile, romance unfolds between Jake (Kavan Smith) and Amanda (Nicole de Boer), high school sweethearts who broke up after she moved away to live in the big city. Now she is back with her teenage daughter Claire (Merritt Patterson), in the process of a divorce, and piquing the matchmaking interest of Jake's younger brother Ethan (Colby Johannson).
As it turns out, the murderous metallic Martian isn’t without an agenda… and a cautionary message. In fact, there are the usual sociopolitical and environmentally mindful underpinnings one would expect from this genre and that’s a comfort. For something simple and adequately time-wasting, you could do worse than Metal Shifters.
Extras on the DVD include Metal Shifters: Behind the Scenes, which runs about 15 minutes long and has interviews with the actors and filmmakers. It’s rote and certainly EPK style in its affable blandness, but as I said, the actors are likable so it’s OK.
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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson