Staff Picks: Best Robot Movies
As a note, the staff was asked to pick their favorite movie with robots in them, not necessarily movies that are just about the robots.
Eric Norcross: The robot in the film is called Jinx and in an effort to prevent what the movie dubs a “thermal curtain failure” ends up initiating a space shuttle launch with a bunch of kids sitting inside.
Caliber Winfield: C’mon, it’s ROBOCOP! Between the fantastic atmosphere, acting, dialogue and action scenes, you have ED-209! One of the greatest villains ever. He’s roaring like an animal, and pumping .50 caliber slugs into business men like woah. Robocop is a blast, and this PG-13 remake is a slap in the face of all Murphy stood for. Tell me, Bobby, can you fly?
Ruby Le Rouge: I LOVE Space Camp! Joaquin Phoenix when he was still little Leaf Phoenix. This is a hard one, I think maybe Space Balls. The entire movie was campy instead of just the robot, making the whole movie hilarious.
The World’s End
Brandon Groppi: Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg wrote an amazing homage to science fiction in this film.
This film is hysterical, smart, witty and exceptionally filmed in every way. Every frame is executed with incredible wit and technical fervor to satisfy any cinephile’s and technophile’s dreams.
Edgar Wright’s last installment in the Cornetto Trilogy (SHAUN OF THE DEAD, HOT FUZZ, and THE WORLD’S END) was one that showed us a side of the partier that we rarely see. Oh and it has robots in it. They are called “Blanks” because the characters are too inebriated to make up any other name for them.
I f**king love this film. And it kills me that it was panned and people don’t see the technical genius it has.
Derek Johns: I remember seeing the trailers for WALL-E and being less than excited. I thought Pixar was starting to lose it but instead they made one of their best films and one of my favorite animated movies. Only Pixar could take two robots that don’t even really speak in complete sentences and give them a love story that would rival Westley and Bettercup.
Caleb Masters: Two of my favorite movies featuring robots are Terminator 2 and Wall-e. What makes each of them so special and fascinating to me is that they both beg the question of what defines humanity. They are both a masterpiece in my mind, but I’ve got to pick Wall-e
Wall-e is a movie that is as deep, thoughtful, and artfully executed as it is charming and heartwarming. It is very much a silent film for the first 45 minutes that uses visual storytelling and a fully thought out world to illustrate the character of Wall-e as well as the ill fated earth that he was tasked to clean up. This movie isn’t just a sci-fi movie about a robot, but is also a romance about two lovers who just can’t seem to stop chasing each other and a story about humanity’s chance to redeem themselves for past mistakes. This is a very layered movie that begs to be studied as both literature and an exceptional piece of visual storytelling in the 21st century.
Shawn S. Lealos: I am going with Wall-E as well. The movie was an amazing success, and proof that Pixar are not only fantastic animators but also master storytellers as well. The fact is that there is almost no dialogue in this movie, yet somehow the story is a touching and funny look at two robots falling in love and bringing humanity back to earth. Between this and Up, there is no further proof that – despite some sequels – Pixar is the master of the original animated movie.
The Fifth Element
Bethany Lewis: There’s that one soulful bartender robot at the airport and all those busy cleaning robots in Zorg’s office. It’s not exactly a movie bursting with robots, but there’s something unobtrusive about the way technology informs the movie’s view of the future. The technology is there and very visible, but it’s really more about our relationship with our future and with the people in it than about flashy robots. In fact, the robots in the movie are kind of crap. The bartender has one repeatable function and the cleaning robots can’t do a thing to help Zorg when he’s choking on a cherry. In the future, we still have to rely on other people for help and support, and I think that says a lot about how important our technological advances really are.
Tamica Phipps: I liked Short Circuit with Steve Gutenberg and Number 5. I always liked Gutenberg and this was a fun movie. My young self was emotionally connected to Johnny Five and I worried about him getting caught. I think I sort of viewed him as a robot version of E.T.
2001: A Space Odyssey
Mike Luxemburg: I love robots. I spent all week arguing with myself about this pick. I finally agreed on a tie between Robocop and Terminator 2, but then I sat down to write this and realized that I had known the answer all along. It’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. I know that makes back to back Kubrick answers from me, and I’m sorry. Truly, I am. But, there’s no denying that HAL embodies what makes robots awesome and terrifying. It’s not the sheer force of machinery like in T-2 or Robocop. Instead, it’s the possibility that robots could be like us. The idea of a sentient robot is awesome (see Wall-E) and terrifying (SO MANY MOVIES) at the same time because it is inconceivable. They might think, like we do, but they wouldn’t think in the same way. It’d be numbers and data and computations etc. I don’t think I need to go into why 2001 is an extraordinary movie, but I think it merits mentioning that it was in many ways the first movie to illustrate just how that epistemic gap between man and machine would play out.
Aidan Myles Green: BLADE RUNNER, naturally.
One of the few movies in cinematic history that was truly ahead of its time, people only appreciating the true breadth and cautionary wisdom of its vision over a decade after its release. Robots are a euphemism for technological disconnect here, and the ultimate reveal – or rather, insinuation – of our protagonist’ slack of true humanity beautifully punctuates Ridley Scott’s mix of kickass neo-noir and biblical allegory.