Heavy Gear [1997]

Part gladiator battle and part Japanese giant robot demolition derby, rock 'em, sock 'em Heavy Gear puts the "extreme" in extreme sports. Slickly produced in the CGI style of Roughnecks: The Starship Troopers Chronicles, this TV series, about a mechanical whiz kid who wants nothing more than to be a Heavy Gear ace, is based on a hit video game and it shows. The premise of battles between warring "platoons" on a far-off planet, played out as a series of bread-and-circuses arena games, is a tad absurd. For sheer spectacle, however, these robot wars are like a wild fantasy of professional wrestling, right down to the colorful good guys, the villainous bad guys, and the screaming crowds hanging on every ground-shaking pile-driver punch. Though originally shown on TV, the series has been rated PG-13 for "pervasive action violence." The mecha-violence is bloodless but almost nonstop at times and does put characters in life-threatening situations, so parents of younger kids should be wary. --Sean Axmaker

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