Thursday, April 14, 2011

Memorable Movie Robots Part I

Welcome my friends to another edition of MONSTER BLOG POST! On this edition I’ll be talking about those memorable movie robots we’ve seen across the decades. I think I managed to mention one or two of the classics, like GORT from The Day the Earth Stood Still, mixed in with some more contemporary choices. Movies about robots got a weird thing about them; they tend to address very human issues! Take for example, Johnny 5 from Short Circuit, a robot that makes us appreciate being alive! Same can be said about Robocop…a robot that just can’t seem to forget or let go of the fact that he was once human and in love. Still, the fascination science fiction fans and movie lovers have with robots can be rooted back to one simple fact: robots are cool. And if you can't get enough of the robots on this article, then check out part 2, where we mention even more memorable movie robots! 

Film: The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

Robot: GORT

Programmed to: Destroy all humans! An alien race considers humans to be a threat to planet earth and to other planets in the universe. If humans don’t learn to live in peace, then the aliens are left with no choice but to send GORT (the giant one eyed robot) to eradicate the human race!

Robotic Dialog: Gort doesn’t talk; he just blasts things away with his giant laser eye!

Films: Robocop Franchise

Robot: Robocop

Programmed to: #1 Serve the Public Trust, #2 Protect the Innocent, #3 Uphold the Law. There’s a fourth directive, which doesn’t allow him to harm anyone that belongs to the company that manufactured him. In the second film, his creators flood his programming with hundreds of useless directives which turns Robocop even more robotic, practically nullifying his human side. But he quickly fixes this by giving himself an electro shock, which erases all the useless directives and reprograms his brain. From their on in, he thinks for himself.

Robotic Dialog: “Excuse me, I have to go. Somewhere, there is a crime happening.”

Film: The Black Hole (1979)

Robots: V.I.N.C.E.N.T., Bob, Maximilian and an assortment of other robots and drones

Programmed to: Run the spaceship known as ‘Cygnus’ which is hovering dangerously close to a gigantic black hole! Vincent and Bob are the two little robots that hover around the ship; they serve as comedic relief on the film, which was pretty dark for a Disney movie. Bob has an encyclopedic knowledge of catch phrases and historical facts stored in his hard drive. Maximilian, the gigantic red robot says nothing, but he is the most dangerous of the robots on the ship! Coolest part about this movie is that the entire ship is run by an entire assortment of different kinds of robots. Robots navigate the ship, robots serve as security force, robots serve as comic relief and so on, coolest robots of all have a mirror mask!

Robotic Dialog: “I don’t mean to sound superior, but I hate the company of robots!”

Film: Demon Seed (1977)

Robot: Proteus IV

Programmed to: solve all manner of problems for humanity. For example, the computers creator thinks that with Proteus IV, he will eventually find the cure for many of the world’s deceases, including Leukemia, the decease that killed his daughter. Problem comes when Proteus’s creator allows the program to run all the electrical appliances in his home. It is then that Proteus IV gets a closer look at its creators wife and thinks she’s a stone cold fox (which she is) and decides that it wants to impregnate a human female so he can become a physical being! Dont ask me how a computer program can impregnate a human female and actually concieve a baby...but it actually happens on this movie!  

Robotic Dialog: “I Proteus, posses the wisdom and ignorance of all men, but I can’t feel the sun on my face. My child will have that privilege.”

Film: Robocop Franchise

Robot: ED-209

Programmed to: Blow you out of existence if you don’t move your car from that handicapped zone! Basically, this is the robot that Robocop replaced. The main problem with ED-209 was that it had one too many “glitches” in its programming. For example, during an exhibition of its abilities at the OCP offices, ED-209 blew away an executive by mistake! And on top of that, ED-209 can’t even walk down a flight of stairs!

Robotic Dialog: “You are in direct violation of Penal Code 1.3, Section 9. I am now authorized to use physical force!”

Film: Metropolis (1927)

Robot: Evil Maria

Programmed to: Plant discord amongst the workers. You see, this robot has been made to resemble the real Maria, a woman who is the spiritual leader of the working class. The real Maria gives the exploited working class hope in the midst of all the poverty and despair. She is even spreading the idea of the working class and the upper class to come to an agreement so that everyone will be happy. But the ruling class of the city of Metropolis will haven none of that! So they send an “evil Maria” a robot that looks like the “good Maria” to plant discord amongst the workers, she riles them up and starts an uncontrollable violent revolution!

Film: Alien (1979)

Robot: Ash

Programmed to: function as a Science Officer on the spaceship Nostromo. When the crew of the Nostromo stumble upon an alien life form on an unknown planet they are forced to land on, Ash is ordered to return the alien lifeform to the Nostromo’s corporate employers, the company known as Wayland Yutani. He is to do this even at the expense of the crew who are considered expendable. But Ripley soon discovers this plot and knocks Ash’s head clean off with a fire extinguisher!

Robotic Dialog: “Bring back life form. Priority One. All other priorities, are rescinded.”

Film: Aliens (1986)

Robot: Bishop

Programmed to: function as an executive officer on the spaceship Sulaco. Unlike the android from the first movie, Bishop is not hostile toward the crew of the Sulaco. Actually, on more then one occasion Bishop actually saves the crew! When everyone is stranded on an abandoned military complex called LV-426, Bishop actually ends up risking his life in an attempt to bring down the second drop ship by remote control! And even though he is literally ripped apart by the Alien Queen, he still manages to save the little girl Newt from being whisked away into space! By the end of the film he is bagged and put to sleep for the journey back home.

Robotic Dialog: “Not bad for a…human”

Film: Return to Oz (1985)

Robot: Tik Tok

Programmed to: function as the only existing member of ‘The Royal Army of Oz’. It is Tik-Toks responsibility to protect the King of Oz, The Scarecrow. Unfortunately, The Scarecrow has been abducted by the Evil Gnome King and his accomplice, the head switching Queen Mombi. Only set back with Tik-Tok is that if you forget to wind him up, his might start thinking gibberish, or he might simply freeze up on ya. But when he is wound up, he works like a charm!

Robotic Dialog: “I have always valued my lifelessness”

Film: Flight of the Navigator (1985)

Robot: Trimaxian (Max for short)

Programmed to: travel the galaxy collecting biological specimens. After the specimens have been studied, they are taken back to their home planet at the same place and time from which they were taken. Unfortunately, the spaceship can travel at faster then light speeds, which causes the little earthling boy that the ship abducted to remain young when he should have aged 8 years! When the ship is about to make its way out of earth, it crashes on some powerlines, which erases the ships memory and its star charts! Fortunately, the aliens had stored the start charts in Davids Brain as an experiment to prove that humans only used 10% of their brain. So now all the information needed for Max to go back home is stored in the earthlings brain! Suddenly, David is “The Navigator”! If while watching the film, you feel as if the ships robot speaks like Pee-Wee Herman, it’s because it was voiced by Paul Reubens himself. It was also one of the first films (along with the original TRON and Young Sherlock Holmes) to ever use computer generated effects. 

Robotic Dialog: “Correction, I need the superior information in your inferior brain to fly this…thing”

Film: Short Circuit (1986)

Robot: SAINT #5, a.k.a. Johnny Five

Programming: Johnny 5 is a prototype robot proposed for Cold War use by the U.S. Military. Unfortunatly, an electrical storm causes SAINT #5 to become self aware. It wonders away from its creators and suddenly finds itself lost in the real world where he befriends a girl named Stephanie Speck. She helps Johnny 5 learn about the world, and pretty soon Johnny 5 comes to the conclusion that he is alive and wants to be free to live his life. Unfortunately, his creators don’t agree and are convinced that SAINT #5 has malfunctioned and they consider him to be dangerous to society, Johnny 5 is a military weapon after all.

Robotic Dialog: “Hey laser lips, your momma was a snow blower!”

Film: Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991)

Robots: Good Robot Us’s, Evil Bill and Ted

Programming: The Good Robot Us’s were built by an alien named ‘Station’, whom Bill and Ted found while visiting heaven; you see the real Bill and Ted die at the beginning of the film! Chuck DeNomolos, an evil world ruler wannabe, constructed evil robot versions of Bill and Ted, to kill the real Bill and Ted, so he could become ruler of the world! Evil Bill and Ted actually succeed in killing the real Bill and Ted who end up going all around the afterlife! They visit heaven, hell and even play a game of Battleship with The Grim Reaper himself! While in heaven, Dead Bill and Ted search for the smartest being in the universe (the Martian named Station) so he could build their own robotic versions of themselves to go up against Evil Bill and Ted! The ending has Good Robots vs. Evil Robots in the middle of a Battle of the Bands concert! I hope that made sense!

Robotic Dialog: (After looking at a picture of the real Bill and Ted’s Girlfriends) Evil Ted says: “I got a full on Robot Chubby!”

Film: Saturn 3 (1980)

Robot: Hector

Programming: Hector is a new robot that has been programmed to assist Adam and Alex on their experiments aboard the Saturn 3, a laboratory hovering in space somewhere around the asteroid fields of Saturn. You see, these two scientists are conducting experiments by growing their own food in space. They are aided in their experiments by three robots. But then, the government decides its time to send Adam and Alex a new new robot and so they send them the ‘Assistant Demi-God Series’ robot named Hector. Unfortunately, Hector comes with a human named Benson (Keitel) a very psychologically unstable person and psychopathic killer! He reprograms Hector, who acquires his murderous tendencies. Will Alex and Adam survive the killer robot and the murderous human?

Robotic Dialog: “I am not malfunctioning, you are.”

Film: The Vindicator (1986)

Robot: Frankenstein

Programming: In this Canadian production, Carl Lehman is working for a top secret scientific company when an explosion in one of their laboratories practically kills him. Actually, for all intents and purposes, Carl died to the world in that explosion! BUT, the company took his brain and placed it in an indestructible robotic body that is part of a top secret weapons project. Now, Carl is trying to cope with the fact that he is no longer human. Wow, this film is so much like Robocop, it’s not even funny. Thing is, this film was released on year before Robocop! And it has the same basic story line and structure. The guy even tries to reconnect with his wife, same as Robocop did. He even looks like freaggin Robocop! But whatever, this movie came first. And if my memory serves me right, it was a pretty decent flick as well. The robot effects were done by none other than Stan Winston himself. It’s a crime this one never got a DVD release.

Robotic Dialog: “I don’t know who I am. I’m a monster. I can’t feel. I can’t love. I’m not human. You can’t love death.”

Film: Class of 1999 (1993)

Robot: Tactical Education Units

Programming: This semi-sequel to Class of 1984 takes place in a future where violence has gotten out of hand. In this film, going to school could mean loosing your life! Teachers are scared of their students! They have metal detectors at the schools entrance! But fear not! The school principal (Malcolm McDowell) has just acquired a new batch of teachers. These Tactical Education Units look and act human, but are they? Nope! These humanoids are programmed to act and behave like regular high school teachers, but if a student should get out of hand; these robots are programmed to use force in order to discipline any trouble makers out there! You don’t behave properly; one of these robots will literally sit you on their lap and whoop some sense into you. And if things really get out of hand, the female teacher has breast missiles! So behave!

Robotic Dialog: “I operate on a model of absolute zero tolerance!”

Film: Total Recall (1990)

Robot: Johnny Cab

Programming: Johnny Cab’s is a robotic cab driver. You tell him where you want to go and he will drive you there. Funny moment comes when Arnold tells him to “Drive! Drive!” because he is running away from the bad guys and the robot doesn’t understand the command, so Arnold just rips the robot out and drives the car himself! Legendary effects master Rob Bottin was in charge of most of the effects creations on this film, including Johnny Cab.

Robotic Dialog: “I’m not familiar with that address; would you please repeat the destination?”

Film: Judge Dredd (1995)

Robot: ABC Warrior

Programming: The ABC Warrior is an old combat robot that had been decommissioned. But, the films villain, an ex Judge named Rico (played by Armand Assante) re-activates it so that it can aid him in getting his sweet revenge on Judge Joseph Dredd (Stallone). I always thought this robot looked super cool and menacing, but in my opinion it was underused in the film. They should have done a huge action sequence with it, instead, the robot comes off as clunky, slow and not very menacing at all, except for its deep voice this robot didn’t represent much of a threat. A lot of people were disappointed by this movie, but to me it was a fun ride. Lots of action and effects! I do see its faults, but still, I have seen far worse films then this one. Looking forward to the upcoming reboot, I’m crossing my fingers hoping it won’t suck.

Robotic Dialog: “Warrrrrr”

Film: Robot Jox (1990)

Robot: These robots don’t even got names, their just referred to as Giant Robots.

Programming: A Robot Jox is the human that’s driving the giant robot. You see, in the film, warring factions don’t go and send millions of soldiers to die at war; they’d rather have two giant robots fighting it out. Whoever wins the battle, wins whatever political issue is in dispute. In this film, it’s the Americans vs. The Russians. And of course, the highlight of the film comes whenever we get to see two giant robots fighting. The giant robot effects were achieved through the use of stop motion animation and miniatures. This was a film that went through a lot of production woes, mainly because the company that was producing it (Charles Band’s Empire Pictures) was going bankrupt, and this was to be one of the last films they ever produced! But no worries, this company resurfaced as Full Moon Pictures which went on to produced a bunch of straight to dvd horror/sci-fi films like the Puppet Master movies. Robot Jox was directed by Stuart Gordon, a director that is better known for making gore fests like Re-Animator (1985) and From Beyond (1986). Gordon ended up directing another science fiction film along the line called Space Truckers (1996). Buttom line is, Robot Jox is a goofy movie. It’s kind of hard to figure out if it was a movie intended for children or for adults.

Robotic Dialog: Giant Robots don’t talk in this film, but the characters say some really cheesy lines like: “Crash and Burn!” and “You make my drink taste like blood”

Film: Spaceballs (1986)

Robot: Dot Matrix

Programming: Dot Matrix is programmed to protect Princess Vespa at all cost. She’s even programmed with a virgin alarm, in order to protect the Princess’s virginity! In one scene, Lonestar and Vespa get to close for comfort, and seconds later, Dot Matrix’s virgin alarm goes off separating the two horny individuals. This character was voiced by Joan Rivers.

Robotic Dialog: “That was my virgin alarm! It’s programmed to go off before you do!”

Film: Austin Powers Franchise

Robot: Fem Bot

Programming: Fem Bots are killer robots that work for Dr. Evil. They are deceitfully seductive with their beautiful sexy looks. The perfect weapon to use against Austin Powers, who’s primary concern is ‘shagging’. One scene has Austin Powers infiltrating Dr. Evil’s underground layer, only to be sidetracked by a room full of lingerie wearing Fem Bots! Special ability? Machine Gun Boobs! They try to seduce him, but they overload on Austin Powers own sexiness and explode!

Robotic Dialog: “Do you smoke after sex?” Austin Power’s answer: “I don’t know, I’ve never checked!”


BRENT said...

Another great idea!! Mirrors the one on memorable cars.
What a trip down memory lane though...had absolutely completely forgotten about Flight of the Navigator..loved it when I was younger and remember it being a big 'in' thing back in the day.
Some of the droids from the Starwars franchise could make there way onto the list somewhere. Who doesn't love CP-30 and R2-D2...maybe not 'cool' but certainly memorable.

Franco Macabro said...

@BRENT: I was a big fan of Flight of the Navigator as well, its a pretty decent childrens movie, also, it was one of the pioneers of the "morphing" technique, remember how the spaceship morphed into different shapes?

Part II of this article will have many more memorable movie robots, among them C3-PO and R2 of course, but many more, and even some obscure choices.

Thanks for commenting BRENT!

Shaun Anderson [The Celluloid Highway] said...

The only thing C3PO and R2DT are good for is scrap metal. ED209 on the other hand is more my kind of robot. Its introductory scene in ROBOCOP is forever seared into my memory. I couldn't have been more than about 10 years old and when ED209 blasts that imbecile to pieces my jaw dropped. Unfortunately his subsequent appearances in the film are played for laughs. An excellent post Franco and some nostalgic memories for me too from the days of video rental - ROBOT JOX, THE VINDICATOR, and CLASS OF 1999 was ace. It probably looks awful now, but I was deeply impressed with that film as a young teenager.

Franco Macabro said...

@Shaun: Yeah, Robot Jox, Class of 1999 and The Vindicator arent the greatest films ever made, but I feel the same way about them, they were these movies I saw when I was a kid, renting VHS at the video club. In fact, Im pretty sure not a whole lot of people can stomach Robot Jox, its just a badly written and acted movie, but the concept was awesome, back then, I had not seen a movie like that one, with that concept. I was ultimately let down by it in a way, but at the same time, I kind of liked it in that low budget sort of way.

I would like to re-watch Class of 1999 and The Vindicator, havent seen them in decades!

C-3PO and R2, I didnt put them on this list, but they are going on the second one because they are so classic and iconic.

Thanks for commenting Shaun!

odenat said...

Your post made me realise there were so many robots in the movies. They are a part of our imagination. I know that Abbasid Khalifate sent to the Charlemagne a robot as a gift in 7th century.Probably, it was a mechanical thing that was capable of doing a few move.Still most of the European writers of the epoque mentioned it.

We humans, are always looking for other intelligences out of ours in the universe. Like O'neill says at the Stargate; "We are a very curious race"

Unknown said...

Nice to see you mention RETURN TO OZ. Very nice! I'd also add the killer robot made of junky parts in HARDWARE and also the killer robot in RED PLANET. Both of those are keepers!

StuartOhQueue said...

Great list but it's hard to imagine R2-D2 and the Terminator (T100) not making the cut. May I suggest Robby the Robot and Bubo (from "Titans") for the second installment.

Franco Macabro said...

Odenat: That story about how Abbasid Khalifate sent to the Charlemagne a robot as a gift in 7th century, it sounds so interesting, I think will be looking into it!

Agree, "We are a very curious race", I like to ask a lot of questions myself! I think its a healthy thing to always be inquisitive.

J.D. and Stuart: all of these choices you've mentioned are included in part two coming your way this monday! So dont miss it, it should be extra cool!

Thanks for the comments people!

venoms5 said...

Some great choices, Fran! I haven't seen SATURN 3 in years, but doesn't Farrah get naked in this?

I love CLASS OF 1999. The direct sequel to it is pretty awful, though. Still, original DEATHSTALKER, Rick Hill is in it, so it isn't a total loss.

I have a really nice remastered copy of THE VINDICATOR on my DVR. I need to get a new DVD recorder, though. I have dozens of great stuff unavailable on DVD on there. I've watched about a quarter of it so far. I remember reading about it in Fangoria I think it was back when it was being made.

Franco Macabro said...

Venom: I havent seen Saturn 3 in ages either, I just typed a bit from what I remember about it, but I do remember liking the design of the robot, the way it looks. I also enjoyed the art direction in the film.

Man, if you could ever facilitate a copy of The Vindicator, let me know, that would be awesome to re-watch it.

Thanks for commenting Venom!

venoms5 said...

Sure, no problem, Fran!

SFF said...

Exceptional posts on robots. Enjoyed it immensely Francisco. It's clear a great deal of time and effort went into your work.

You should definitely roll with a Part 3.


Franco Macabro said...

Wow, a part three huh? There are still more movie robots to be mentioned thats for sure! I'll see what I can come up with, Im still taking a breather though, these monster blog posts can take a lot from me!

Thanks for your comments sci-fi fanatic!

Anonymous said...

I love these lists that you compile, my good sir! Once again, I've included a link to this (and part II) in the latest issue of Spatter Analysis.

Check it out!


Franco Macabro said...

Thanks Johnny, glad you enjoy my Monster Blog Posts! I aim to please!


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