Coolest Robot Depictions in Cinema
Ever since Metropolis and Star Wars, mechanical companions have become standard science fiction fare. Which of these are the coolest?
The original CyberDyne Systems T800 is a cyborg with human flesh over metal endo-skeleton sent back in time by Skynet to assassinate Sarah Connor. Nevermind the fact that time-travel makes no sense, the T800 is still the meanest, baddest robot in cinema history. Whether smashed by cars, shot thousands of times, or crushed in an industrial press, the T800 can take nearly anything you can dish out. Too bad the same can't be said of your iPhone.
AMEE is a quadrupedal military combat robot re-purposed to explore Mars alongside humans in the film Red Planet. Her mechanical anatomy resembles a hybrid of cat, dog, and monkey. She's lighting fast, strong, and nimble on account of double-joints. A land-drone like AMEE is what the US military would like to see patrolling the streets of Baghdad, and given today's technology, it's not a far stretch from reality.
Wall-E, the lovable hero of Pixar's 3d animated film by the same title, is the last-surviving waste-disposal robot left behind by mega-corporation Buy n Large to clean up Earth after its decimation by the waste of consumerism run amok. Wall-E's design isn't revolutionary, almost a miniature Johnny 5 in fact, but his sweet antics melt the heart and leave a lasting impression.
Lieutenant Commander Data from StarTrek: The Next Generation is the prototypical android. All this, much to credit of actor Brent Spinner, who convinces us, despite his otherwise human form, that Data is different. Endowed with a positronic brian by his creator, Doctor Noonien Soong, Data is intelligent, articulate, and compassionate, but not socially aware -- and that's what makes him fun to watch. Data's always trying step into the minds of fellow crew members, but without being able to experience emotions he's never able to fit in. Is this a telling prediction of the problems our robotic companions will struggle with in the decades to come?
General Grievous is the cyborg Supreme Commander of the Droid Army featured in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. Now mostly robot, Grievous was originally biological, a Kaleesh from the planet Kalee. Near death, Grievous' heart, lungs, brain, and eyes were transplanted into a droid-like frame. The most notable feature of his cyborg design is the arms, which can split into two sets. Given his half-biological make up, Grievous is still able to use Force powers.
The R2-D2 astromech droid from the original Star Wars is a love-him or hate-him character. You either find his cacophony of whistles and beeps amusing or foolish and irritating. Regardless, R2's iconic fate is sealed along with the likes of C-3P0 and the Terminator in cinema robot history. However, as far as plausibility and coolness factor go, R2-D2 doesn't give us much to admire. The usefulness of a walking Swiss Army knife can't be denied, but those tricycle legs leave us wanting more. Thank God the Death Star was wheelchair accessible.
The ED-209 from Robocop serves as the titular protagonist's nemesis. ED-209 is a crude manifestation of mega-corporation OCP's vision for the future of law-enforcement in Detroit. A bipedial, backward-jointed walker, the ED-209 is several times larger than Robocop and sports a lethal array of heavy ordinance, including machine guns and rocket launchers. A practical design perhaps for a military drone, the ED-209 is too menacing to use for law-enforcement, as OCP quickly learns.
Marvin, the large-headed, depressed robot from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy presents a comical, but perhaps all-too-realistic depiction of how truly sentient robots might behave. Marvin is a failed prototype of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation to build robots with a genuine personalities. Because of his oversized brain, Marvin is orders of magnitude more intelligent than humans, but without a way of putting that mindpower to work, so he's constantly depressed and bored. As machines become more human, psychological ailments like depression, boredom, or lack of confidence, may emerge.
In Aliens, in a pleasant twist on expectations, Bishop, the android counterpart to Ash from the original Alien film, takes on a team-player attitude, ultimately sacrificing himself for the sake of Ripley and Newt. Bishop 341-B is created by the Weyland-Yutani corporation and addresses some of the faulty programming of earlier android models like Ash. Ripley is rightly skeptical but eventually give Bishop a second chance and finds her trust well-placed. Aliens paints a much rosier picture of human-android relations.
- The purpose of this list is to admire cool robotic morphology.
- No robotic-powered suits. No aliens. No humans posing as robots.
- Cyborgs are okay if they can be distinguished from humans.