Man….who loves science fiction that doesn’t love robots?
Here’s a list, in no particular order, of the best robots of Science Fiction Films!!
The only real rules on this list are, a) I’m going to stick to just robots. No androids (an easy excuse to not actually create a robot for the film, or save money by just having an actor walk around claiming robotness) or cyborgs (with one arguable entry). Also, I’m going to leave Star Wars droids off this list because they’re just so incredibly well known that I feel their inclusion is a bit too obvious and as such, unnecessary.
1) Maria/Futura – Metropolis (1927)
The Robot Doppleganger Maria is THE film robot. For almost 100 years now her visage has been a staple of science fiction film and robotics in general. What I wouldn’t give to be able to live the emotions and excitement of an audience member in the 1920s seeing this creation come to life on the then still new movie image. That must have been the closest to rapture any geek has ever felt.
2) Maximillain – Disney’s The Black Hole (1979)
I was maybe 4 or 5 when I first saw this film. I was engulfed in it, the driving music, the setting, my gods, the Cygnus!!!! That ship still gives me goosebumps of excitement, but that’s another list. However, when we first encounter Maximillian, the design, the spinning blade hands, that deep, blood red death machine. That was a fright and a thrill brought to fruition by the chilling end of that film.
3) Hector – Saturn 3 (1980)
Hector, the giant, chrome beast from this odd, relatively obscure film has never left my memory. It’s inclusion and focus on the cover of most releases of this film alone ensured that. In addition to its frightening appearance, Hector’s true horror lies in that its processor relies on “pure brain tissue” from fetuses, and later takes the personality of a homicidal sociapath after undergoing a “brain link” (dangerously close to cyborg range here, but it can be argued that Hector is still just a robot).
4) Wall-e – Wall-e (2008)
From his operation, design, to noises, man…what a beautiful creation. I didn’t know what to expect walking in, however, by the time I left the cinema, I was in love. The dystopian connotations inherent in this film are for another conversation, but the heart of the story of a lonely little trash bot finding the robot equivelent of love is heartwarming.
5) Johnny 5 – Short Circuit (1986)
Ahhh Johnny 5, Number 5 if you’re nasty.
There’s a lot to be said about short circuit…Fisher Stephens romp in to what equates as Indian black-face, Steve Guttenburg as a scientist… But what you can’t say about it is that the made a bad robot. Johnny 5 is very close to being the most believable robot. I wouldn’t be shocked to see something like him made today. Awesome.
6) GORT – The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951)
Klatuu Barada Nikto! Gort, like Maria mentioned above, is an icon of sci-fi. I’d like to see it properly (*ahem*remake jab*ahem*) brought back.
7) ED-209 – Robocop (1987)
The viciously malfunctional ED-209 was brought to life with the nightmarish quality inherent in stop-motion animation. I don’t believe it would ever be animated thus nowadays, but that definitely lent to its frightening qualities.
8) Bubo – Clash of the Titans (1981)
You’ll notice a lot of the films on this list are from two decades (50s & 80s) where robots were a hot item. A movie about Greek mythology did not escape this fad, but it did give us the adorable and iconic automata Bubo, for which I’m thankful. Now, it could be argued about its entry here in the respect that it’s a magical construct, but I’m going to let it slide.
9) Jet Jaguar – Godzilla Vs Megalon (1973)
This Showa-Era classic is in my top 3 favorite G-films. Jet Jaguar was an obvious entry jumping on the popularity of Ultraman at the time, but I don’t care. He was awesome, had his own bitchin’ theme song, and was bros with Goji. It doesn’t hurt that this film became one of the best MST3K episodes ever, or that it included Gigan, my favorite Kaiju villian.
Every iteration. From the og, to Kiryu (yes, it could be argued that Kiryu was more of a cyborg than robot). Just…..yes.
11) Sentinels – The Matrix (1999)
Man, take insects, octopi, arachnids, and mash them together into a robot form and you have one of the most inventive and frightening robots to ever appear on screen.
12) Iron Giant – Iron Giant (1999)
Okay, so 1999 gave us both on of the most terrifying robots ever to hit the screens, but it also gave us one of most most wonderful. If you did not, or still do not cry or at least get choked up at the end of this movie, you might just be a robot yourself.
13) Robby the Robot – Forbidden Planet (1956)
Even without the inclusion of Robby, Forbidden Planet is one of the greatest Science Fiction films ever made. Regardless, Robby’s design, function, everything was so beautifully made and ahead of it’s time. I still want to get it as a tattoo. Another icon. Little known fact; Forbidden Planet found such success with the character of Robby, that the nowhere-near-as-good film The Invisible Boy was made as a sort of shared-universe film. Robby was supposed to have been brought back in time to Earth from Altair IV.
14) Robot – Lost In Space (1998)
I really, REALLY want to include the original TV Lost In Space Robot here, but I told myself I’d only do movies for this list. But since I already cheated once by adding animated robots (Wall-E & Iron Giant), which I said I wouldn’t do, why not here too.
15) Mark13 – Hardware (1990)
I get it, I’m one of the very, very few who remember this film. Of my circle of acquaintances, I’m likely the only one who’s seen it. That’s what working in video stores for 10+ years will get you. It’s a crazy, art-house cyberpunk film and that robot is frightening. If you can find it, watch it!
16) Chappie – CHAPPiE (2015)
Very cool design, reminded me of something from the old FASA BattleTech book, alas, a rather weird movie. Effectively a remake of Short Circuit. Might have been better if left Die Antwoord on the soundtrack and off the screen.
17) Sonny (N-5) – I, Robot (2004)
I absolutely LOVE this design. Probably the best part of the movie. Sleek, futuristic, beautiful. As an Asimov fan, I am still disappointed in the fact that no one yet has made a proper film version of the book (series), but there were a few nods here, and it was an enjoyable romp, so I’ll take it.
18) Both Robot Bill & Teds – Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991)
I mean….how could I NOT include them? STATION!!
So, that’s our list! Hope you enjoyed it. Are there any robots you particularly enjoy that you think we may have overlooked? Let us know in the comments!
One thought on “The Greatest Robots of Sci-Fi Cinema”
Amazing list, my friend!
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