- Published Date
- by Frank Wilkins
Since the beginning of the industrial age, humans have nourished a curious fascination with the possibility that machines might actually be able to emulate human tasks upon command. So, it was only a matter of time before the robot made its first creaky appearance on film in 1927 as Der Maschinian-Mensch in Fritz Lang's Metropolis.
With Real Steel waiting in the wings to knock our blocks off this weekend, we thought we'd give a go at listing our Top 10 Robot movies of all time. Don't see your favorite listed? No worries. Let us know about it in the comments section at the end of the article. Who knows, make a good case and we may add it to the list.
Here's our list of the best robot movies of all time.
Westworld - Though the film featured three distinct futuristic "worlds" in a high-tech amusement park called Delos, It was Yul Brenner's gunslinger that became the star of the show in Michael Crichton's 1973 Westworld. Delos becomes a chaotic hunting ground for vacationers when the park's robots go berserk in MedievalWorld, RomanWorld and, of course, WestWorld after a computer malfunction. "Have we got a vacation for you!"
Short Circuit - Wall-E before Wall-E was cool! Though Wall-E director Andrew Stanton claims he never realized the similarities of his waste-collecting robot in Wall-E to Short Circuit's Johnny 5, the resemblances can't be denied. Regardless, both films show that robot movies don't have to be void of all human emotion. In fact, we now know that robots are sometimes even more human than we... humans. And whatever happened to Ally Sheedy, by the way?
The Day the Earth Stood Still - The 1951 classic, not Keanu Reeves' 2008 mess. Gort, possibly the world's most well-known robot, doesn't speak, barely moves, and certainly doesn't put on display any endearing human characteristics. But when you piss him off by shooting little grenade launchers and missiles into his knee caps, the world had better be prepared for the deadly beam that projects from beneath his metallic visor. Come to think of it, Klaatu and Gort as ambassadors of goodwill in today's messed up world might not be such a bad idea. "We have come to visit you in peace and with goodwill."
Forbidden Planet - The only thing more fascinating than Robby the Robot in this timeless sci-fi classic are the precious minutes occupied by the late, great Anne Francis as the "farmer's" daughter, if you will, of Dr. Edward Morbius. The Class M-3 Model B9 robot, lovingly called "Robby" was created by the same designer of Lost in Space's robot. In fact, the two robots appeared in four episodes of the TV series together.
The Iron Giant - Brad Bird, the genius mind behind many of Pixar's greatest film's including The Incredibles and Ratatouille, was doing this even before he began plying his craft with the world's favorite digital animation studio. This one was a traditionally animated story about a nine-year-old boy who befriends an alien robot from outer space. Though it flopped at the U.S. box office, The Iron Giant went on to become a home video classic.
The Terminator - Set all else aside, this is the movie that spawned one of the most oft-quoted catch-phrases of all time. Most likely uttered at one time or another by nearly every person in the world, Arnold Schwarzenneger's line is included not only in our list of the best movie quotes of all time, but was also voted number 37 on AFI's greatest movie quote list. "I'll be back."
Metropolis - Coming in as not only the coolest looking robot on the list, but also the sexiest, is Maschinen-mensch (called Maria in the film), the shiny gold automaton that is reported to have been made in the likeness of her creator's wife. Who knows the truth? But what we do know now is that robots can have nice boobs too.
Star Wars - Features what are possibly the world's most popular pair of robots in C-3PO and R2-D2. What more can be said about the grandaddy of the modern sci-fi movie. [insert R2-D2 noise here]
Wall-E - This futuristic dystopia is cited by many Pixar fans as the worst movie the studio has put out. Still others claim it as their favorite. Whatever your stance, the love and affection Wall-E feels for his newfound love Eve, are unquestionably as human as they come.
Blade Runner - Loosely based on Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Blade Runner fought through negative critic reviews to become one of the most beloved sci-fi movies of all time. After all, who didn't love Harrison Ford at the time coming off his Han Solo characters? Well, besides critics. Mixes the classic bounty hunter premise with a cyberpunkish vision of the future to create a timeless Ridley Scott classic that filmmakers have been trying to emulate for decades. Oh, and it also includes one of the best soundtracks of all time as well.
Transformers - The first one. Not those horrid sequels. Being a Michael Bay film, we were initially reluctant to put this one on the list. Sure, it features tons of lowest-denominator robot fighting action, and originated from a kid's play toy for Pete's sake, but beyond all the clutter, is a heartwarming story about a boy and his first car. Well, maybe only boys will get it, but we're sticking to it.