30th Jun2014

Ten Best: Movie Robots

by Phil Wheat


Cinema has a long and complex history with robot characters. From being bionic buddies to metal menaces, from silver servants to all-powerful automatons, robot characters have equally awed and terrified cinema-goers. To celebrate the release of Transformers: Age of Extinction here’s a look at some of the best robots committed to celluloid.

10) The Fix-Its – Batteries Not Included

The Fix-It (so dubbed by the characters in Batteries Not Included) are a family of adorable little robots who look to make things better in a Brooklyn building, due for demolition. The community within the building all take to the little metal fellas, and both humans and Fix-Its work together to prevent their home from being knocked down by industrious fat cats.

9) Hal – 2001: A Space Odyssey

Hal, the all-seeing, all-knowing operating system aboard a space ship headed for Jupiter. The apparently infallible computer appears to make mistakes, causing the ship’s crew to doubt his abilities and attempt to shut him down. What’s a highly intelligent computer to do? Er, try and shut the crew down, as it were. As scary as the killer bot might be, it’s hard not to sympathise with HAL when David tries to switch him off. “I’m scared, Dave.” Bless…. But seriously, shut it down.

8) Wall-E – Wall-E

A robot on a mission to save humans from themselves? No, this time it’s legit! This cute and compact computing contraption spends all its time cleaning up a totally trashed earth, that is, before he gets whisked off to a spacecraft run by fast food-addicted humans. How can a little robot that only squeaks out its own name and a few other noises carry an entire film? Pixar must have programmed him that way.

7) Sonny – I Robot

Did you think it was possible to teach a robot to dream? Sonny, a robot with a few human tricks up his metallic sleeves, teams up with a skeptical Will Smith to uncover a robot-wide conspiracy. Sonny’s softly programmed voice comes across a bit creepy, especially when he tries to reassure Will Smith, “I did not murder him.” But his mechanic tone balances out Smith’s cut and dry sarcasm as the two save the day from a computer that must be related to HAL.

6) Marvin the Paranoid Android – The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

He’d explain to you why he’s on this list, but our simply human brains wouldn’t be able to fathom or interpret the sheer reasoning behind his brilliance. So he’s just going to sigh and contemplate his existence instead.

5) The Jaegers – Pacific Rim

In a film that may as well have been written by an 8-year-old (in the best possible way because it’s as fun as anything), the Jaegers are giant robots, which are primarily used to wail on giant alien monsters. Yeah, it’s as awesome as it sounds.

=4) C-3PO – Star Wars

The entirely proper gentleman droid of Tattooine, C-3PO is burdened with a lot more anxiety than you’d expect in a robot. Fixed up by Anakin Skywalker, C-3PO is quickly paired up with our other Star Wars robot friend R2-D2 as two of the most iconic movie robots (despite the fact that the actors who played them reportedly didn’t get on).

=4) R2-D2 – Star Wars

Well you can’t have one without the other, can you? The Teller to C-3PO’s Penn, R2-D2’s communication is often undecipherable to everyone except to C-3PO. R2-D2 always has a gadget when you need it, and is equipped with a much cooler head (or circuit board?) than his taller, shinier friend.

3) The Sentinels – X-Men: Days of Future Past

The Sentinels are from the hugely popular Days of Future Past series in the X-Men canon, and reared their heads in the recent film. While in the comics they were fairly scary, in the film they’re equipped with Mystique’s ability to adapt and mimic other mutants, making them downright terrifying and seemingly impossible to beat.

2) Bumblebee – Transformers

Everyone has their favourite Transformer, and there are plenty to pick from in Transformers: Age of Extinction (giant dinosaur anyone?) but Bumblebee is the one who everyone has a soft spot for. Optimus Prime may be the leader of the Autobots, his trusty right-hand robot Bumblebee has bags of kindness and courage. Plus, he transforms into a Chevrolet Camaro, so he must be cool.

1) Data – Star Trek Generations

So many brilliant characters in the Star Trek canon, but few so beautifully reflect humanity than Data. He wanted more than anything to learn how to empathise with his fellow human, and his questions about human interaction often highlighted the best and the most ludicrous traits of the species. Let’s not forget the tearjerker moment when Data experiences emotion for the very first time, upon finding his lost cat, Spot. We’re welling up just thinking about it!

Honorable Mention: Fembots – Austin Powers
These gals are deadly, baby! The seductive femmes, Powers’ only weakness, turn out to be his most deadly weapon. Not only are they foxy ladies, but they also have the ability to shoot bullets from their, well, ‘breastal areas’. Groovy.

Transformers: Age of Extinction hits cinemas on July 5th.


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