In the distant future, a war is waged on a mining planet over the control of a powerful substance that has eliminated mankind's energy problems. Realizing that he and his men have been left out to dry by their commanders on Earth (turns out the war was already won 2 years ago , but the soldiers haven't been told because the government doesn't want them returning home and telling everyone how awful the war was. And we thought Bush was a shithead), a commander (Peter Weller) leads a group of soldiers over to the enemy base to make peace. The problem? The wasteland between the two bases is overrun with "screamers," vicious little robots that hide underground and kill anything with a pulse, designed by the "good guys" to help win the war. The screamers are crafty little bastards, scavenging corpses for raw materials (harvesting methane from their rotting flesh, using their vitreous jelly as gear lubricant) and worse, they are learning how to upgrade themselves, building new models, becoming smarter.. evolving, if you will.
No surprise this is based on a Philip K. Dick story ("Second Variety," which I haven't read), with its dark humor, deeply cynical point of view, and twisty turny plot that questions the nature of humanity. Screamers is top notch sci-fi/action/horror for about 90% of it's running time; engrossing, exciting, well-written (co-writer credit goes to Dan O'Bannon, who I mentioned in my Lifeforce post) and with an agreeably sardonic performance from Weller. The finale is something of a god-damn shame, even if it contains the film's best line ("you guys are moving up in the world - you're learning to kill each other"), shoehorning in an inappropriate romantic angle and ending on a stunningly anticlimactic "twist." Still, like I said, 90% of this movie is imaginative, exciting stuff, and although I can't say personally how close it follows the original story, it's one of the most faithful PKD adaptations I've seen in terms of tone.