There are countless archetypes and tropes of science fiction stories, one of the most popular and enduring is the robot. Whether they be inhuman machines or highly advanced androids there is always something so fascinating and at times terrifying about these artificial beings. Let’s take a look at five big screen robots we can’t get out of our heads.
Pixar has always done a great job of bringing heart and humanity to seemingly lifeless creatures whether that be toys or cars. One of their most endearing creatures is the little garbage robot Wall-E. His design is so simple yet so evocative at the same time, with giant eyes and a boxy little wheeled body. His tale of reaching out and finding an emotional connection is one anyone can empathize with.
Rutger Hauer gives a haunting and unforgettable performance as the fugitive replicant in Ridley Scott’s sci-fi classic. At once horrifying and heartbreaking, Batty states that his only goal is “more life.” Pissed off at the arbitrarily short life span he’s been given, he will do anything to live. An impulse we can all understand, less understandable are the murders and eye gouging he dishes out during the runtime of the film. He does exit the movie with one of the great all time movie monologues that further deepens his complexity.
Robocop is an awesome action movie but at its core it is the story of a robot remembering the man he used to be. This search for his own humanity elevates the story from any number of other robot shoot ‘em ups that the 80s gave us. Peter Weller’s commitment to the character really sells the believability of this robot police officer. Weller worked closely with a choreographer and movement coach to create a consistent and grounded physicality inside his heavy and painful costume. Work that paid off with the creation of this iconic robot hero.
The ultimate unstoppable killing machine, the T-800 will do anything to complete his mission. That mission in this movie just happens to be murdering the mother of the future human resistance leader. Arnold Schwarzenegger brings a steely focus and cold malevolence that when combined with his superhuman physique makes this Terminator one of the scariest robots in the history of cinema.
Star Wars is a franchise well stocked with robots (or droids), yet there is one that stands above all others. The brave little trash can shaped robot is ever at the side of the heroes across the franchise. He helps form a beloved comedy duo with the neurotic C-3PO, aids Luke in flying his X-wing and saves our heroes from a trash compactor. He also kicks the entire story into motion by showing Luke Skywalker the projection of Princess Leia that sets him on his epic adventure. That’s right, folks, there’s no Star Wars without R2-D2, and that’s why he’s the number one movie robot.