Evolver (1995)

Science Fiction meets reality when a merciless robot turns a video game into a deadly hunt.

Genre – Sci-Fi

Producer – Walter Josten

Director(s) – Mark Rosman

Writer(s) – Mark Rosman

Cast – Ethan Randall, Cassidy Rae

Blue Rider’s Role – Producers

Distributor(s) – Trimark Entertainment, Marketing-Film

Release Date – 1995

Synopsis – A popular virtual-reality video game, Evolver, is brought to real life after Kyle hacks into the Cyber-Tronix mainframe and changes the results to ensure he is the winner. He then gets the opportunity to play against a little robot version of the arcade game, when the shooting robot arrives at his family home. However, Evolver is programmed to evolve greater and greater intelligence, eventually learning to use deadly force to be victorious, so the match between Kyle and Evolver gradually becomes a frantic struggle for survival.

Critics’ Kudos:
Chris Hartley, Video Graveyard: “Evolver is a fun piece of cheese that exhibits a surprising level of competence in its direction–competence rarely seen in Sci-Fi Channel movies, which have a reputation for being low-budget disasters.

“The movie attempts to make the idea of the Evolver robot believable–an attempt that works quite well. The robot exists to play a game that is essentially laser tag, with the human participants using laser guns to shoot at targets on Evolver’s chest while Evolver himself shoots Nerf balls at the players. The movie’s creators understand what the look and feel of the robot should be, and were completely successful in creating a functioning robot that looks and acts like something you could purchase in a Radio Shack.

“While the material is presented somewhat intelligently, it doesn’t take itself too seriously, and it gives in to the corny fun that is the very soul of its premise. Imagine a scene where Evolver drops a car on one of his victims before menacingly saying ‘Game over,’ and you understand the level of entertainment this movie succeeds at providing.

“The movie has some decent performances, and none of the actors embarrass themselves or the movie during any point of the running. This is a small wonder, especially given the silliness factor that the actors have to carry on their backs. John de Lancie, who you may recognize as ‘Q’ from Star Trek: The Next Generation, especially does a good job as Russell Bennett, the obsessive designer of Evolver.

“Of course, the Evolver robot itself is the star of this movie, with much credit due to the people who designed and built it. Some due credit must also be given to William H. Macy for giving Evolver his charmingly robotic voice.”

Chris Notte, Jeff’s Robots: “Evolver was originally billed as a Sci-Fi Channel original movie, but that was the edited-for-cable version. The uncut version includes some minor profanity and brief nudity, but on the whole is a fairly well done film. Acting credits in the film include Fargo’s William H. Macy who provides the voice of Evolver, as well as John de Lancie (“Q” from Star Trek) as the maniacal creator of Evolver who we find out used deadly military technology to develop the robot’s intelligence. All of these ingredients can mean only one thing: disaster. Overall, Evolver is an enjoyable film, if one is willing to suspend disbelief a little beyond the norm. The acting is good and the robot is impressive, with realistic and plausible mechanics, except of course for its intelligence chip. I left the movie asking ‘Where can I get one?’ Too bad they don’t sell them on e-Bay!”

Viewers’ Ratings:
As of March 8, 2007, 284 adults had evaluated Evolver and the demographic group that liked it best was women 18-29 and women 45 and older (both of which rated it 6.5 out of 10).

Major Cast and Crew Credits and Awards:
Directed by Mark Rosman (A Cinderella Story, The Perfect Man, State of Grace, Spot Marks the X).

Written by Mark Rosman (The House on Sorority Row, Dead in a Heartbeat, The Blue Yonder).

Stars Ethan Randall (Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, That Thing You Do, Sweet Home Alabama, Empire Records, Timeline, Vegas Vacation; won 1992 Young Artist Award for Dutch and a 1993 nomination for All I Want for Christmas) and Cassidy Rae (Extreme Days, Lying Eyes, Crowned and Dangerous).

Cast includes John de Lancie (Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Onion Field, Saving Private Ryan, The Fisher King, The Thorn Birds; two Soap Opera Digest Awards and another nom for Days of Our Lives; 35 other films and TV projects); William H. Macy (Air Force One, Jurassic Park III, Wag the Dog, House of Games; Oscar nominee for Fargo; 25 other awards and 27 other nominations for works including Door to Door, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Seabiscuit, The Wool Cap, Bobby, A Slight Case of Murder, The Cooler, Stealing Sinatra, State and Main, Focus, Homicide, Oleanna, Pleasantville and Happy, Texas; 89 other films and TV projects) provides the robot’s voice; Cindy Pickett (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Night Games, Hot to Trot); Paul Dooley (Insomnia, Runaway Bride, Sixteen Candles, Waiting for Guffman, A Mighty Wind, Slapshot, Popeye, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine; won National Board of Review Best Supporting Actor Award for Breaking Away; Emmy noms for The Practice and Dream On; 56 other films and TV projects); Nassira Nicola (Fudge, Fudge-A-Mania, The Ben Stiller Show) and Chance Quinn (Stand By Me, Trial by Fire).

Visual Effects Supervisor: Adam Howard (Titanic, War of the Worlds, Mission Impossible III, Batman Forever, Van Helsing, Titus, Flubber; won four Emmys and five Emmy noms for Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Enterprise; 79 other films and TV projects).

Executive Producer: Mark Amin (Frida, Eve’s Bayou, Kicking and Screaming, Leprechaun 3, Chairman of the Board and 59 other films and TV projects).

Producer: Henry Seggerman (Progeny, Leprechaun 3, The Paper Boy, Witchboard 2: The Devil’s Doorway).

Cinematography by Jacques Haitkin (A Nightmare on Elm Street I and II, Wishmaster, Mom and Dad Save the World, The Hidden, St. Helen’s and 54 other films and TV projects).

Production Design by Ken Aichele (Night of the Demons, Night Angel, Leprechaun 3, Witchboard 2: The Devil’s Doorway).

Art Direction by Candi Guterres (production designer on Chasing Papi, Pinocchio’s Revenge, Attack of the 60 Foot Centerfolds).

Special Effects by Geoffrey C. Martin (The Astronaut Farmer, The Mask of Zorro, Spy Kids, Fools Rush In, Cyborg, Rosewood, Beerfest, The Longest Yard).

Special Robot Effects: Steve Johnson (Spider-Man 2, Predator, The Abyss, Species II, Leviathan; The Howling II-VI; won Emmys for The Shining and The Stand; won two other awards and six other nominations for works including Species, Highway to Hell, The Outer Limits and The Cat in the Hat).

Release Data:
Evolver aired and the Sci-Fi Channel and was released on Laserdisc in 1995.

Romanian Title: “Jocul Virtual”

Internet Movie Database entry for Evolver