With the release of Pacific Rim this past weekend, we thought it would be appropriate to give a short rundown of some of the best robot movies of all-time.
The qualifications for a movie to be considered a ‘robot movie’ are pretty thin in our minds. If there is even a supporting character that is a robot then it will be considered. That said, here are each of our top 3 robot movies.
1) Terminator 2: Judgment Day – What’s scarier than a mechanical killing machine out to get you? A shape-shifting killing machine out to get you! The introduction of T-1000 in this sequel was incredible and blew my mind for what I thought a robot was! Forget about opening him up and tossing some screws and bolts into him and clogging up the spinning wheels. No no, you aren’t slowing down this guy!
2) Bicentennial Man – When you think of Robin Williams you don’t think of words like somber, calm and slow. But that is exactly what he is in Bicentennial Man as a Andrew Martin, a robot trying to gain some level of humanity and be granted human citizenship. Another in the line of robots gaining human traits, this one is pretty slow-moving because it is telling the life story (about two centuries worth of life) of Martin going from household robot to out of date scrap metal to fighting for “robot rights”.
3) Short Circuit – As far as I can remember this was the first robot movie I ever watched. Since then I’ve been fascinated with the idea of machines developing or being given human traits. It says as much about how we view ourselves and our humanity as it does the “science” of it all. Admittedly this one is pretty corny as far as robot flicks go! You have a couple of familiar faces from some other popular 80’s movies in Steve Guttenberg (Police Academy) and Ally Sheedy (WarGames, Breakfast Club), but they can’t do much to rescue this from its own mediocrity. It probably doesn’t belong on any kind of “tops” list, but here’s a shout out to nostalgia.
1) Robots – Yes this is a cartoon. However, I LOVE this movie. Everything is from a robot and mechanical perspective. Things I would have never thought to include are encompassed in this incredible world. Along with all if this creativity you get great characters with Rodney and Fender, their group of mis-fit and outdated robots, And Mr Bigwell. Just a great movie that can be watched over and over again.
2) Star Wars – C3PO and R2D2 stole the show in all the original 3. When I think of robots, these 2 can never be overlooked. They weren’t just supporting backdrops, but rather incorporated into major parts of story lines from carrying the princes message to Obi Wan to holding Luke’s light saber when on being dropped into Jabba’s sand creature of torture.
3) Transformers – I loved watching the cartoon growing up. They took the aspects of GoBots and made it meaner and gave us way better characters. Optimus Prime and Bumble Bee being brought to life was a thrill for this big kid. I can say that I enjoyed all of them.
1) Wall-E – This Disney film (and future classic) is so full of heart, amidst a bleak backdrop of Dystopian future: the earth is in ruins, and the descendents of humans who did escape are now the very definition of couch potatoes (with better technology). But this film is full of so much heart. Wall-E’s protection of Eve, his willingness to be with her knowing who she really is inside (even if she didn’t, as she was held captive by her programming), and his self-sacrificial nature. Wow, that sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Wall-E gives the humans a lesson on what it means to be human!
2) Blade Runner – Harrison Ford plays a blade runner, someone in charge of finding and hunting down “replicants” who dare to come back to earth. Replicants are biorobotic beings – part robot, part cloned human. They excel in everything but emotional response. This is a ploy used in a lot of movies to instill fear into us, the viewer: powerful and dangerous beings that live among us and we don’t … even … know! This is a great movie from start to finish, and I won’t even begin to touch on all of the themes. And just wait until the last scene with Deckard (Ford) and Roy (Rutger Hauer) … it’s one of my favorite movie scenes ever (you’ll see why). Oh, but one word of caution to movie makers: set your futuristic movies WAY in the future, rather than oh, say, 2019.
3) Forbidden Planet – This is a must. Not only because it is a cool cult-classic sci-fi film starring the late Leslie Nielsen, but because it features Robbie the Robot! Robbie is one of the most famous robots of all-time. So while this movie may not technically be a ‘robot movie’, it is included because of this historical figure. Beyond that, it actually has an interesting plot and wrestles with the dangerous prospect of an unleashed subconscious.
1) Iron Man 2 – Both iron man 2 and 3 feature robotic suits, but iron man 2 has the better for scene of the three movies. At the end of the movie iron man gets attacked by a fleet of modified hammer suits. There are some great sequences here, including the final fight between iron man, Rhodey and Ivan Vanko.
3) Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla
1) Short Circuit – This movie makes the robot lovable and “real”. It seems to have the message of respecting all life. It is full of comedy and cheesy 80s music and clothes.
2) iRobot – I think this is the most accurate portrayal of robots. If we were to create AI I think that they would logically come to conclusion that we should not exist. In some ways we shouldn’t. Since the fall of Adam we have continued to sin and destroy creation, but we do have hope in our Savior Jesus Christ. I also like this movie because I would have the suspicious view of robots like Will Smith’s character.
3) The Stepford Wives (2004 remake) – This horror movie remake turned comedy is funny and has a great message. Men turn their wives into the “perfect woman”, which is basically your stereotypical 1950s homemaker. The men come realize that what they actually loved about their wives was that they were strong. They also missed their flaws. It reminds us men why we love our wives and that we all have faults and they make us who we are.
1) Wall-E – of these three, Wall-E is definitely my favorite. It’s a post-apocalyptic movie, but with a new take: this time the robots are the main characters. It also is really cool seeing his excitement at seeing Eve but his hesitation at approaching her (because let’s face it, Eve was about as unapproachable as a woman gets). More than that, though, it’s really cool to see how far he’s willing to go to see her again, and how he just happens to save the human race from themselves in the process.
2) Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen – My favorite of the Transformers movies, I like this movie mostly because the action scenes are as cool as action movies get. I remember thinking it had a really good plot compared to the other two, but the only parts I really remember are the two brother robots that are always taking digs at each other and the Megatron/Optimus Prime fights. Because they were legit.
3) iRobot – I’m not crazy about the anti-technology movies because I think they’re overdone, but this one was really cool. Will Smith’s performance was top-notch. Also, I like the notion that the robots are taking over because we were destroying ourselves (as opposed to we are a danger to them like the Terminator movies for example). That’s really true, we do destroy ourselves. So if it *did* happen, we would have no one to blame but ourselves. That’s a really good lesson to take away, especially thinking about destroying ourselves with wars (which includes our “personal wars” fighting with each other).
Well, there you have it. I’m sure there are some we’ve left out. Or maybe there are some here you’ve forgotten about. If you’ve seen Pacific Rim already feel free to let us know how it stacks up against some of these greats.