Wondering what to see at the movies this weekend? Look no further than Tenet’s ‘Robot and Frank’, now playing in theaters across the country. The 2019 animated sequel to Tenet continues the adventures of the original film’s titular robots (and their creator, Dr. Frankenfurter) as they navigate the wilds of San Francisco in search of new robotic companions. The film was directed by Charlie Bean with Chris Renaud serving as consultant, and stars the voices of Frank Welker and the robots themselves. On this blog post, you will discover all you need to know about the film’s plot and more!
After enjoying a long and prosperous career as the world’s first registered emotion robots, Roy and the other ‘Decepticons’ are retired from their duty to amuse and enliven humanity. They have been granted full citizenship in exchange for their services as protectors of Earth and its people. This movie opens with a lengthy credits sequence that celebrates the achievements of these magnificent mechanical beings. The scene then cuts to our heroes, the Autobots, waking up in a strange land. When they come to, they discover that their pilot has crash-landed the ship in the middle of the countryside. They also discover that they have all lost their memories, so the Autobots must start from scratch and figure out who they are and why they are in this bizarre place.
A farmer named Frank welcomes the Autobots to his home and, after they retrieve their equipment from the downed jet, offers them a place to stay. Despite their amicable introduction, this simple-minded farmer proves to be a bit of a problem for the Autobots, who find it difficult to remain friendly with someone who doesn’t share their ‘robot instincts’ (i.e., the need to protect humankind from all harm). Soon enough, the Autobots discover the true threat posed by this small-minded individual: He is, in fact, a dangerous madman who covets their robotic companionship, and he will stop at nothing to achieve this goal. The race is now on to find a way to protect their new friends, the humans, as well as their old enemies, the Decepticons, from this terrifying menace. As they continue their search, more flashbacks reveal that the reason this group of seemingly disparate individuals are on this adventure is because they all share the same goal: to protect the planet from harm so that life can once again be made easier for the average human. Thus, the reason behind the Autobots’ seemingly absurd quest.
Let’s take a look at some of the characters you will encounter in ‘Robot and Frank’.
- Frank – The film’s protagonist and, inevitably, its title character. Frank is a simple-minded farmer who, upon coming across the Autobots, immediately falls in love with their mechanical companionship and decides to pursue becoming their keeper. Much to his surprise and delight, the Autobots agree to let him join their ranks. Frank proves to be just as admirable as his mechanical brethren, and his story arc is one of the film’s most compelling elements. While he may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, he is, in fact, a remarkably kind and honest individual who wants to do the right thing by everyone he meets.
- Jack – A wise and experienced old sage with a lust for knowledge and adventure. This character was originally created for the 2018 live-action remake of ‘Robot & Frank’, and he made the leap into animation nicely. Jack is first and foremost a scientist and a seeker of truth, which is made evident through a series of flashbacks that slowly fill in the gaps of the characters’ pasts. These flashbacks provide the viewer with essential information about each character’s motivations and desires while also enhancing the film’s worldbuilding. Much like ‘Frank’, Jack is also a fan of science fiction, and he enthusiastically embraces the concepts and possibilities that robots could offer humanity. He has a strong relationship with Cybertron, the home planet of the Autobots, and it is his final wish that he could stay on Earth and continue his quest for knowledge. However, he recognizes that this is not a possibility and that he must depart this earthly realm for more adventures. Like everyone else in the story, he is also a friend to the Autobots and the humans and he wants what is best for all his friends. Ultimately, Jack does not want to burden anyone with his questions, and he prefers to keep his discoveries to himself, for now at least.
- Dr. Frankenfurter – The film’s eponymous creator and inventor of the emotion robots Roy and the other Autobots serviced. After creating a small prototype back in college, Professor Frankenfurter spent the next several years perfecting his invention. He finally decides to share his work with the world and, in a stunning display of generosity, offers to share his wealth with anyone who needs it. Of course, this was a ruse to get his hands on the technology, and Frankenfurter will stop at nothing to achieve his goal. He is an arrogant and diabolical character whose only motivation is to create as many robotic slaves as possible to do his bidding. While he poses as an ally and friend to the humans and the Autobots, he is, in fact, their sworn enemy, and he will stop at nothing to achieve his goal of enslaving them all. He is a brilliant inventor and an expert in robotics and artificial intelligence, which makes him an invaluable asset to the Autobots’ quest even if they do not necessarily see eye-to-eye with him on all fronts.
- Penny – A young girl who befriends Jack and gets excited whenever he talks about his travels. Just like Professor Frankenfurter, this young Penny will stop at nothing to get what she wants. While much of what she wants seems innocent enough – new toys, adventure – Jack is oblivious to her true intentions and tries to keep her away from the nefarious items he comes across on their quest. Ultimately, while he tries to protect her from harm, he is no match for this precocious young woman. In one instance, when Jack and the other Autobots are trapped underground, she sneaks down there to search for them, causing trouble and exposing them to all kinds of dangers. In another, she stows away on the Autobots’ ship and manages to release the animals from their cages, putting the lives of everyone on the ship in jeopardy. Ultimately, she will grow up to be a strong and capable woman who stands up for what she believes in, and she will not be defined by her gender.
- Benny – A young boy who befriends Jack and gets excited whenever he talks about their travels. Much like his sister, Penny, Benny is also a fan of adventure and gets excited whenever Jack talks about the trips they have taken together. Just like his sister, Benny is also a bit of a troublemaker and causes trouble wherever he goes. Much like his sister, Benny is also a bit of a rascal and is often looking for ways to have fun. Ultimately, while he tries to protect his friends and the people around them from harm, he is no match for this precocious young boy. In one instance, when Jack and the other Autobots are trapped underground, he sneaks down there to search for them, causing trouble and exposing them to all kinds of dangers. In another, he stows away on the Autobots’ ship and manages to release the animals from their cages, putting the lives of everyone on the ship in jeopardy. Ultimately, he will grow up to be a strong and capable young man who stands up for what he believes in and is not defined by his gender.
- Optimus Prime – The leader of the Autobots who sends his comrades out on patrol. Much like his fellow Autobots, Optimus is a powerful warrior who protects mankind and the planet Earth from harm. Even more than that, he is a wise and just individual who seeks peace and balance, working constantly to maintain that which is good and trying to stop the spread of evil. He may be the biggest and the most fearsome of the Autobots, but he is also one of the most compassionate and noble characters in the film. Optimus is, in many ways, the heart and the conscience of this sprawling organization, tirelessly going above and beyond the call of duty to protect his comrades and allies.
- Hound – A vicious and bloodthirsty Decepticon who serves as an antagonist to the Autobots in this film. Hound’s only goal is to kill and to feast on the flesh of the living. Even more disturbingly, he seems to take pleasure in this goal and is extremely proficient at achieving it. Much like the Autobots, Hound is also a warrior who protects his people and the planet Earth from harm. Ultimately, although he does pose a threat to Optimus and the other Autobots, he is yet another victim of Frankenfurter’s evil genius. Like the rest of the characters in this movie, Hound is a victim of circumstance and has no malicious intent. Still, he is disturbingly bloodthirsty and his goal is to kill and to feast on the flesh of the living. He is quite possibly the most horrifying villain in this entire series, and he will stop at nothing to achieve his goal.