It was supposed to be a game
Meet Evolver, the ultimate toy for the Cyberpunk generation, a virtual-reality game brought to fierce, three-dimensional life. With each battle, Evolver lives up to his name. He becomes faster, smarter and deadlier. Meet Kyle Baxter (Ethan Randall) the teenage video game whiz who wins the first ever Evolver robot. Suddenly, some fatal accidents begin to happen. With help from Jamie Saunders (Cassidy Rae), a beautiful rival game player, Kyle digs up a terrifying missing link: Evo was created from a scrapped U.S. Defense Robotics Department. Designed to infiltrate enemy encampments, he has the capacity to adapt to any situation, and he's programmed to leave no survivors. By the time Kyle and Jamie discover this, Evo has evolved to his most advanced and dangerous state and will stop at nothing until he annihilates the young man who is his one undefeated opponent.
Evolver is a nugget of B-movie gold mined from the deposits of the mid-90s. The premise of the film is not terribly complicated. Boy wins a contest and receives new robot toy. Robot toy is designed for a “combat” laser tag type game. The robot follows a less-than-loose definition of “combat”, not programmed to know its just a game, and carnage ensues. There is a bit more to it than that, but the titular Evolver quickly progresses from Woody scaring Sid Phillips to an R-rated version of Small Soldiers. The movie starts out like a family film and then Evolver is dropping F-bombs and rolling around town murdering people.
This is one of those sci-fi movies that is made with just a pinch of sci-fi. Plot-wise, Evolver is somewhere in-between Small Soldiers and Hardware. Character-wise, this is very much a teen movie. The main characters are mainly teenagers who find them in a somewhat ridiculous but very much life-threatening situation (think Gremlins or WarGames). Thinking about it, Evolver (the robot) is fairly similar to Joshua (the computer) in WarGames. A machine made for a particular purpose that grossly misunderstands its creator’s intentions because that is how machines work. Except more murder-y.
The film works well because the cast and crew clearly knew what type of movie they were making. This is by no means an A-list movie its creators were fully aware of that. A B-movie that is self-aware of its status can really shine bright for what it is. Going in with those intentions often makes for a fantastic experience (looking at you Sharknado). Occasionally you wind up with a B-movie that was not intended to come out that way, but they are rare. Basically, anything that feels like it would be a Syfy Original if it was made today is a top B-movie.