Director – Phillip J. Roth, Screenplay – Phillip J. Roth & Ronald Schmidt, Story – Phillip J. Roth & Gian Carlo Scandiuzzi, Producers – Gary Jude Burkart & Talaat Captan, Photography – Mark W. Gray, Music – Jim Goodwin, Robotic Effects – Altered Anatomy FX, APEX Robot Design – David Douglas, Production Design – Grant Fausey & Blake B. Jackson. Production Company – Green Communications/Republic Pictures
Richard Keats (Nicholas Sinclair), Lisa Ann Russell (Natasha Andropov/Sinclair), Mitchell Cox (Shepherd), Marcus Aurelius (Taylor), Adam Lawson (Rashaad), David Jean Thomas (Dr Elgin)
In the year 2072, the exploration of time is being conducted by robotic Advanced Prototype Exploration (or Apex) units. However, this is having an unforeseen effect in that the Apexs are creating viruses in the past and so robotic sterilisation units have been created to eliminate them. An energy discharge accidentally throws technician Nicholas Sinclair back through the time portal. When he returns to 2072, Nicholas finds that, as a result of a time paradox, he is now in a timeline alien to him where humanity is engaged in a pitched war with the sterilisation units.
Among the tiresome run of virtually interchangeable B-budget direct-to-video clones of The Terminator (1984), Apex was one of the few to exercise something in the way of imagination. It is a distinctly low-budget effort, particularly in its cut-rate effects. However, the time paradox storyline definitely holds interest and adds a different level that the usual 1990s science-fiction/action film never reached.
That said, Apex is not a terribly sophisticated variation on the time paradox story. One can pick all manner of holes in it – it is never clear how the story can progress from one person going back in time and destroying a rogue sterilisation unit to an entire army of sterilisation units engaged in a war against the human race – where did all the other robots come from? Nevertheless, the time paradox storyline is reasonably well done and the characterisation is better than average. There are some effective moments, particularly during the scenes where the hero suddenly has to step into an existence he has never known before – discovering for the first time the details of a life as he enters his room, searching out his wife but finding her a different person to the one he knew in his timeline.
Apex is also similar to director Phillip J. Roth’s earlier but less interesting Prototype X29A (1992), which had a similar decayed future look and a plot where humanity was engaged in a last ditch war against two different species of robots, one created to destroy another type of robot that had gone out of control.
Odd trivia note:– If one looks carefully in the background of some of the alternate future scenes they can see the old Landmaster vehicle from Damnation Alley (1977) cruising about.
Director Phillip J. Roth is a prolific director of direct-to-video sf/action films. His other genre contributions include:- the aforementioned Prototype X29A/Prototype (1992); the android amok film Digital Man (1995); Darkdrive (1996), which concerned a virtual prison; the Virtual Reality film Total Reality (1997); the intergalactic heist film Velocity Trap (1997); Interceptor Force (1999) and Interceptor Force 2 (2002) concerning an alien-hunting squad; Falcon Down (2000) about a hi-tech weapon; Hyper Sonic (2002) about a hi-tech plane race; the giant prehistoric snake/future prison film New Alcatraz/Boa (2002); the killer sharks film Dark Waters (2003); Deep Shock (2003) about a submarine crew against a monster; Dragon Fighter (2003) about genetically-engineered dragons; the asteroid collision/extreme weather disaster movie Maximum Velocity (2003). Roth also heads United (sometimes Unified) Film Organization (UFO) and has acted as producer on their other genre films, which include:- Darkdrive (1996), Total Reality (1997), Interceptors (1999), Storm (1999), Deep Core (2000), Epoch (2000), Falcon Down (2000), Mindstorm (2000), Python (2000), Lost Voyage (2001), Shark Hunter (2001), Antibody (2002), Dark Descent (2002), Hyper Sonic (2002), Interceptor Force 2 (2002), Pythons (2002), Dark Waters (2003), Deep Shock (2003), Dragonfighter (2003), Maximum Velocity (2003), Warnings/Silent Warnings (2003), Boa vs Python (2004), Darklight (2004), Dragon Storm (2004), Phantom Force (2004), Post Impact (2004), Alien Siege (2005), Crimson Force (2005), Locusts: The 8th Plague (2005), Manticore (2005), Path of Destruction (2005), S.S. Doomtrooper (2006), Reign of the Gargoyles (2007), Copperhead (2008), Ghost Voyage (2008), Doomsday (2009), Ghost Town (2009), The Grudge 3 (2009), Star Runners (2009), Arctic Predator (2010), Elimination (2010), Lake Placid 3 (2010), Triassic Attack (2010), Cold Fusion (2011), Miami Magma (2011), Morlocks (2011), Rage of the Yeti (2011), Super Eruption (2011), Super Tanker (2011), Black Forest (2012), Boogeyman (2012), Lake Placid: The Final Chapter (2012), True Bloodthirst (2012), Wrong Turn 5: Bloodlines (2012), Deadly Descent (2013), Invasion Roswell (2013), Jet Stream (2013), Robocroc (2013), Super Collider (2013), Crystal Skulls (2014), Firequake (2014), Wrong Turn 6: Last Resort (2014), Lake Placid vs Anaconda (2015) and Roboshark (2015).
Film available online in several parts beginning here:-