Robots! Despite cinema telling us over and over that once we build them, they’ll become our mechanized overlords, hell-bent on wiping out humanity — we can’t shake them. It’d still be really cool to have them around to do the dishes, our homework, vacuum, and pay our bills now and again. Right? Our fascination with robots have long been a subject of film, and here at ScreenCrave, we’ve decided to put together a list of our 10 favorite machines. From murderously insane cyborgs, to robotic friends, to well…more murderously insane cyborgs, it’s a grouping of our favorite humanoid creatures.
Note to nitpickers: Before you complain about certain absences, please note that Hal 9000 is a computer, not a robot; Data is primarily a TV show character; and the Transformers…well, those movies are terrible. They won’t be on here.
Check out our list below… (Warning, movie spoilers ahead!)
10. Ash (Alien, 1979)
It takes an amazing and threatening performance to be memorable in an Alien film, when you’re not playing an alien. That’s exactly what Ian Holm did in the science fiction classic. He created a character who at first seems like an ineffectual snob that later reveals himself as a murderous android! He was determined to sacrifice his human crew members in order to bring a dangerous alien species to Earth for study. Aside from his psycho methods, he also bleeds a milky white goo, and that’s just spooky.
9. WALL-E (WALL-E, 2008)
This is a robot that’s designed to make your eyes wet, forcing you to shout there’s just something wrong with your contact lens. WALL-E is the star of the 2008 Pixar animated film of the same name. He’s a garbage disposal robot left behind on an abandoned and uninhabitable future Earth. Within the 98 minute feature, we discover that WALL-E’s developed sentience, a heart of gold (no, not literally), falls in love with another robot, and pretty much saves humanity. Not bad for a guy whose look rips off the bot from Short Circuit.
8. Robocop (Robocop – Robocop 3, 1987 – 1993)
OK, it’s a cop who was killed, then had his face and memories grafted to robot body that stomps around, taking a bite out of Detroit crime. He also finds time to wipe out the greedy corporate overlords who created him. Do I really need to say anything else to justify Robocop’s placement on this list?
7. T-1000 (Terminator 2: Judgment Day, 1991)
The T-1000 is a cold killing machine sent from the future to murder a boy. The year’s 1991, and the kid will grow up to become the leader a resistance against the machines. Therefore, the T-1000 would have made it onto this list by that fact alone. Director James Cameron came up with the idea of a machine comprised solely of liquid metal (meaning it’s a big pile of shiny goo that can replicate anyone/anything it touches) and made it totally believable. However, it’s Robert Patrick’s hyper-precise, blankly menacing performance that truly makes this robot memorable.
6. The Iron Giant (The Iron Giant, 1999)
A 50 foot metal eating robot, the Iron Giant is without doubt the greatest animated robot of all time. A tribute to the metal machines of Cold War-era cinema, the Iron Giant is a walking destroyer of words, who with the help of a young boy’s friendship and some Superman comics, learns the value of heroism over destruction.
5. Robby the Robot (Forbidden Plant, 1956)
Remember Shakespeare’s The Tempest? It’s about a deposed Duke/magician who lives on a deserted island with his daughter, a monster, and an angelic spirit. Now imagine that story being retold as a 1950s sci-fi film, set on a distant planet, and Ariel the spirit is now Robby the Robot. Seriously. Guided by Asimov’s Three Law’s of Robotics (don’t injure a human through action/inaction, obey all human orders that don’t lead to human harm, and protect its own existence as long as humans are not harmed), Robby has appeared in numerous sci-fi films and TV shows, remaining one of the most strangely memorable bots in pop culture.
4. Gort (The Day the Earth Stood Still, 1951)
As a 7” tall robot sent by aliens to wipe out humanity (if we don’t start behaving ourselves), Gort may be the most instantly recognizable of all “classic” film robots. Also gals, he is the reason sci-fi nerds will whisper “Klaatu barada nikto” to you and hope that it has an effect.
3. Roy Batty (Blade Runner, 1982)
One of the most powerful, intelligent and dangerous replicants (androids built to serve humanity) in the future of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner is Roy Batty. He rebels against his human masters after he discovers his built in life span of only a few years. Wholly sentient, he returns to Los Angeles to find the man who created him and demand, simply, more time. When he discovers that he cannot extend his life, he elects to “revel in his own time.” And that’s when the madness really begins.
2. The Terminator (The Terminator – Terminator: Salvation, 1984 – 2009)
Built by SkyNet, a self-aware missile defense system of the future convinced that the destruction of humanity is the way to go, The Terminator is a mass-produced cyborg designed for one thing: killing us. In the first Terminator film, one model is sent back in time to kill Sarah Conner, whose son John, will one day lead a resistance against the machines. Portrayed by Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Terminator is a brutal killer, who’ll stop at nothing to find and kill its target. However, in the first sequel, a Terminator model is reprogrammed by John in the future, and sent back to save him as a child. Now programmed to protect and learn, the Terminator not only rescues John, but over the course of a few days, learns the value of human life. (And then two more sequels showed up that sucked. The less said of those, the better).
1. R2-D2 (Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope – Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, 1977 – 2005)
Come on, how could R2 not be number one? Somehow managing to talk to everyone in the Star Wars franchise by saying “bee boo baah buuh beee booo bee” or screaming “whaaaaaaaaaa!” whenever something goes wrong, R2 somehow manages not be annoying; rather, in the increasingly ridiculous films, it eventually becomes one of the most likeable, and surrounded by wooden performances — human characters in the entire franchise.
What are your favorite cinematic robots?
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