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A war between two separate factions on a mining planet in deep space reaches a stalemate, whilst another war, that of the evolving robo-weapons against all human lifeforms, wages unchecked.


It's hard not to think of Screamers, in which robo-weapons turn on humanity and manufacture androids to infiltrate and destroy their former masters, as a rip-off of the Terminator movies.

Actually, it is based on Second Variety, a short story by Philip K. Dick which was an acknowledged source for James Cameron's films. However, this programmer from the direct-to-video auteur of the Scanners sequels doesn't have the budgetary muscle, the effects genius or the star power to make it a top-rank sci-fi action film.

On the mining colony of Sirius 6-B, a war between the Alliance (miners and scientists) and the New Economic Block (capitalists and soldiers) reaches stalemate. The NEB, harassed by burrowing robot bugs, tries to initiate peace talks, but Alliance commander Hendricks (Weller) discovers there are very few enemies left to negotiate with, and at least one of them is almost certainly a robot out to destroy humanity.

Traipsing around a snowy alien desert, Hendricks and gung ho recruit Ace (Lauer) find a teddy bear-clutching child who turns out to be a new model killer robot, and attempt to save the day by hooking up with some NEB survivors, led by Rubin.

Dick's story is near-perfect 50s paranoid sci-fi, and this adaptation is far closer to the text than such higher-profile adaptations as Blade Runner and Total Recall, but the characters are mechanical enough even before the robo-teeth start sprouting and Duguay is just an action man director. Edgy, entertaining and sometimes surprising, this, nevertheless, will seem happier as a video item.

Edgy, entertaining, paranoid sci-fi flick that doesn't quite have the effects and action sequences to mark it a classic.