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T3: Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots

In honor of last weeks release of Wall-E, I thought I’d do a T3 of the best appearances of robots (or androids) in movies. I based it mostly on how memorable they are and how much of a place in pop culture they have, and basically just how awesome they are.

10. The Iron Giant
From “The Iron Giant”
One of the most endearing robots from recent memory is brought to life in Brad Bird’s animated story of a boy who befriends a giant robot. Also, Vin Diesel’s insanely deep voice works perfectly for the Iron Giant.

9. The Gunslinger
From “Westworld”
Yul Brynner gives a very menacing performance as a robot who is designed to entertain but eventually goes haywire and becomes set on killing Richard Benjamin’s character in Michael Crichton’s directorial debut. You could definitely say that this character is in many ways a precursor to The Terminator.

8. Wall-E
From “Wall-E”
It might be a little early to include Wall-E on a list like this, but I think the film Wall-E will become an instant classic and therefore its protagonist will probably become a very memorable character. Wall-E’s a fairly distinctive robot in the sense that he doesn’t look very human at all, but he seems to display a wide range of human-like emotions.

7. Roy Batty
From “Blade Runner”
Rutger Hauer gives a great performance as a “replicant” which is essentially as about as human-looking as a robot can get. However, the fact that Roy Batty is so similar to a normal human is really what makes him such a compelling villain. I guess I also could have put Deckard on this list, but I guessthat depends on where as stand on the whole “Deckard is a replicant” theory.
6. C-3P0 and R2-D2
From “Star Wars Episodes I-VI”
Certainly not the coolest robots around, but they’re still the most famous “droids” from what is undoubtedly the most beloved sci-fi franchise of all time. Plus, basically the whole bulk of the Star Wars story is scene through their eyes.
5. Robby the Robot
From “Forbidden Planet”
Even though he’s only in a handful of scenes from 1956’s Forbidden Planet, he’s probably the most memorable thing about the film. Also, his complex robotic appearance is very impressive for it’s time. He later went on to have cameos in a number of TV shows including The Twilight Zone, Gilligan’s Island, and Lost In Space, and I just found out that he can be seen as a piece of junk in Watto’s Junk Shop in Star Wars Episode I.
4. Gort
From “The Day the Earth Stood Still”
Another iconic figure of 50’s sci-fi, Gort was played by 7’ 7’’ tall actor Lock Martin, in what is one of the most revered sci-fi movies of all time. He appears to be the controlled by the movie’s protagonist, Klaatu and is also made famous by the movie’s signature line, “Gort! Klaatu barada nicto!”
3. Maria
From “Metropolis”
Though I haven’t gotten around to seeing Fritz Lang’s 1927 film Metropolis yet, there’s no questioning the iconic status of the robot from that film. Metropolis has got to be one of the earliest films in which a robot is seen, and you can definitely see that the look of Maria has influenced how many later robots in film have looked.
2. The Terminator
From “The Terminator” “T2: Judgment Day” and “T3: Rise of the Machines”
Undoubtedly Arnold’s best role, his deadpan Austrian delivery works great for a robot from the distant future. The Terminator was not only terrifying as a villain in the first Terminator film but also kicked ass as the hero in the two sequels.

1. Hal 9000
From “2001: A Space Odyssey”
Hal is definitely one of the most iconic robots in all of movies as well as being the centerpiece to what is maybe the greatest science fiction film of all time. What is so terrifying about Hal is that it’s not hard to imagine humans putting all of our faith and well-being into the hands of what is essentially a machine. So for that reason, I think Hal in 2001: A Space Odyssey will speak to many generations as technology becomes more and more sophisticated.

Honorable Mentions: Robocop, Kid from “A.I.”, Sonny from “I, Robot”, Ash from “Alien”, Bicentennial Man, Robot Jox
I’m pretty conifident that I didn’t forget about any important ones. Anyways, After talking about all these classic sci-fi characters, now I really want to visit the Seattle Science Fiction Museum sometime this summer.


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