[HanCinema's Film Review] "Hello Carbot Theater Version: The Secret of Island Omparos"
By William Schwartz | Published on
Prior to watching "Hello Carbot Theater Version: The Secret of Island Omparos" I had no familiarity with the Hello Carbot franchise of animated cartoons for children. There didn't seem to be all that much to get really. Earlier scenes in the movies show flashes of surprisingly distinctively Korean scenes, such as a setpiece revolving around coal briquettes. Another features the distinctive love shot style of downing alcoholic beverages.
But for the most part "Hello Carbot Theater Version: The Secret of Island Omparos" is just a movie that was fairly transparently made for the purpose of selling toys. And not even the toys that fans of the Hello Carbot franchise are likely to be familiar with, but completely new toys built around an animal theme. These particular transforming robots come uh from the future I think. To stop a volcano from killing a bunch of African animals that are just hanging out on the titular island.
The real problem ends up being these squid aliens who are provoking fissures in the Earth's crust for some evil purpose I couldn't follow. This was because I was too distracted by the obvious time paradox involved in having future robots save the world from being destroyed in the present day. What little exposition this movie provides is largely nonsensical, as the future robots end up fiddling around with rescuing local animal life long before they even realize the squid aliens are an issue.
All of this plot has nothing to do with our alleged main character Chatan (voiced by Lee Ji-hyun-III) or his family or friends. They stumble onto the entire plot by accident thanks to a prize they acquire in the cold opening, which is the only time we ever see the carbots from the original show. Human characters are not terribly helpful in epic battles involving giant robots and aliens, even if "Hello Carbot Theater Version: The Secret of Island Omparos" tries very hard to make a frying pan seem like a weapon of mass destruction.
As if that lesser well-known Disney riff wasn't annoying enough, you can probably guess what imagery is frequently referenced via the lion themed robot, which at one point inexplicably gains the power to fly. The lion robot also has an ongoing beef with the dinosaur robot. The dinosaur, for whatever reason, never properly transforms. It also has an outrageously cute-looking appearance because it's just a T-rex with smaller proportions and a bunch of guns strapped to its back.
The fight scenes in "Hello Carbot Theater Version: The Secret of Island Omparos" are similarly uninspiring. There's no real rhyme or reason to how the battles go. There's a very playground imagination quality to these skirmishes. The main big evil robot is dangerous because it has inexplicably overpowered shield and grabbing powers that just disappear once the good robots pull off their final transformation. "Hello Carbot Theater Version: The Secret of Island Omparos" is at best fun to riff on. In terms of objective entertainment value its unlikely to even impress literal children.
Review by William Schwartz
"Hello Carbot Theater Version: The Secret of Island Omparos" is directed by Choi Sin-gyoo, Kim Jin-chul, and voiced by Lee Ji-hyun-VII, Kim Yong-joon, Yang Jeong-hwa, Sa Moon-yeong, Hong Bum-ki, Lee Hyun-I. Release date in Korea: 2019/01/31.
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via email@example.com. He also has a substack at williamschwartz.substack.com where he discusses the South Korean film industry in broader terms and takes suggestions for future movies to review.