Thursday, March 10, 2011

One More Robot's Top 50 Robots 20-11

20. T-1000
As seen in: Terminator 2: Judgement Day

Among the wide variety of robots, cyborgs and machines that appear on this list, the T-1000 remains a true original. So perfectly formed was James Cameron’s creation in Terminator 2: Judgement Day, that it remains completely believable and no less jaw-dropping some twenty years later. In fact, no other filmmaker has dared attempt copy the concept, since Cameron and co’s execution proved so definitive.

Intended to be a sleeker, sports car-like design to Arnie’s panzer tank, the T-1000 is probably best remembered not for his ability to take on the appearance of his victims, turn his limbs into sharp, lethal weapons or apparent indestructibility, but for his sharp, quick sprinting motion. Both terrifying to those he pursues, as well as effective in catching some slower vehicles, it’s one of the series most iconic images. --Dean Van Nguyen

19. Maria
As seen in: Metropolis

A cold emotionless face combined with the sexy curves of the female body, all encased in steel, Maria is one of cinema’s most iconic images. She was played by Brigitte Helm, who technically took on the dual roles of the robot (or Maschinenmensch) and the human on whom it was modelled, in Fritz Lang’s sci-fi masterpiece Metropolis.

Constructed for the personal gain of scientiest Rotwang, who is locked in a bitter love triangle with Metropolis elite Freder over Maria’s affections, the robot is fashioned in her image with the ultimate goal of destroying Metropolis and murdering Freder. However, after being instilled with sentience, the Maschinenmensch soon turns on its creator ala Frankenstein’s Monster and runs amuck. --Se├ín Earley

18. Sonny
As seen in: I, Robot

I, Robot protagonist Del Spooner (Will Smith) believes that Sonny killed his creator, thus breaking one of writer Isaac Asimov’s three laws of robotics; rules the writer apparently formed to provide interesting plot lines when broken. Sonny himself is an NS-5 unit, seemingly just one in a long production line of similar robots. However, he has very distinctive features, including reenforced body armor, a secondary brain that is not governed by the laws and the ability to dream. But it’s his likeable personality that makes Sonny a real charmer. You could even buy a replica of his head for your home that lights up when approached by an intruder. Truly, the people’s robot. --Carol Killeen

17. Number Six
As seen in: Battlestar Galactica

When TV series Battlestar Gallactica was re-imagined several key changes were made, most notable of which was the enemy. No longer were the nefarious Cylons limited to a mechanical, cyborg appearance. They were able to mimic actual humans in every physical detail. The creative forces behind the show clearly knew what their audience wanted as the humanoid Cylon that got the most screen time was the sleek, platinum blonde temptress known as Number Six. Any excuse to put her in scenes involving seduction, manipulation and, yes, sexual intercourse, was conceived by the show’s writing team. Regardless of her looks though, Six is a genuinely great character whose moral complexity and memorable image was integral to the success of this brilliant sci-fi series. But yes, she was super hot and was clearly created to mentally ensnare alpha nerds like myself. It worked. --Jesse Melia

16. Gerty
As seen in: Moon

Tasked with assisting Sam Bell on the Sarang Lunar Base as he extracts helium-3 from the soil for much-needed clean energy back on Earth, GERTY seems as insidious and potentially dangerous as HAL was in 2001: A Space Odyssey. But while he stirs up the audiences memories of the murderous HAL, he then promptly dispels our fears. Kevin Spacey’s vocal performance is clearly related to, if not inspired by, the soothing and calming tones of Kubrick’s design. But where HAL failed, GERTY triumphs. Here is a robot gifted with artificial intelligence that does not want to over throw the human race, instead empathising with Sam’s struggle and his fear and confusion and does all he can to help him. While any fictional artificial intelligence is going to be burdened with comparisons to HAL 9000, GERTY was clearly created in an attempt to embrace this, rather than fight to be free of it. And this is why the character works so well. --Brogen Hayes

15. Kryten
As seen in: Red Dwarf

Kitchy robots have always been a part of cult sci-fi, and it doesn’t come more cult than Red Dwarf. Kryten, the robot butler rescued from a macabre pantomime of his own creation, is part C-3PO, part Hal from Malcolm in the Middle. Played by Robert Llewellyn, in the years before Scrap Heap Challenge claimed his soul, he brought his own brand of crazy to the table, with physical comedy and exaggerated doubletakes worthy of Fawlty Towers. Kryten has an earnest desire to serve humanity, even the miserable specimen that is Lister, the last human. His wilful glee in debasing himself to that end is hilarious, even as it can’t help but make us think about the concept of creating what amount to worshipful slaves from a rather uncomfortable angle. --Declan Aylward

14. WALL-E
As seen in: WALL-E

By most yardsticks, WALL-E is an unlikely concept for an animated feature. Based around a lonely, old, disheveled robot on an isolated and abandoned Earth, if any studio other than Pixar received this idea, it would have died a quick and lonely death. Yet here the studio created a truly loveable, however unlikely, hero in the form of WALL-E (standing for “Waste Allocation Load Lifter- Earth Class”). A colourful, small yellow robot, with a binocular-type eyes that manage to convey both the happiness (during his time with his love, Eve) and worry (such as when he is nearly destroyed in a sandstorm) that comes his way.

WALL-E is both resilient and sweet, with a love of old films and a collector of knick-knacks on the abandoned planet he inhabits. That the robot doesn’t even speak actual words is testament to the depth and power his emotions and actions hold throughout the feature and the rare instance where an audience is rooting for a machine to find true love with his beloved other. --Jason Robinson

13. Gort
As seen in: The Day the Earth Stood Still

One of the best known robots in movie history, Gort was completely indestructible and capable of destroying all life on Earth. Despite this, his mission in The Day the Earth Stood Still was to bring about world peace. This was carried out via the threat of global Armageddon.

Gort spent most of the film motionless, waiting outside his spaceship for his companion Klaatu. He was examined by the military but gave no indication that this upset him. This stillness is part of what makes Gort such a memorable robot; the lack of movement creates amazing suspense. That feeling of untapped raw power paid off at the climax of the film with perhaps science fictions best known line: “Klaatu. Borada. Nikto,” meaning roughly: don’t kill everybody in the world. --David Bolger

12. Rosie
As seen in: The Jetsons

Rosie was always more than just a maid to the Jetson family. She was there to give advice when it was needed, and to roll her eyes when Judy Jetson professed that she was in love yet again. She generally had little to do with the storyline, (except in the episode she snags herself a robot boyfriend) but rather acted as the comic relief when things got in anyway serious. There was more to Rosie though than just the humour in her character, or the fact that she is oddly dressed in a little French maid’s outfit. She was like supporting wall that prevented our favourite space-age family from falling apart.

Rosie was ordered by the Jetsons from U-RENT A MAID when they needed a little help. They never looked back. Why would they? Who wouldn’t love to have a machine in your home that cleaned up after you, getting out the hover when the dog has rolled mud on the carpet and making sure you jeans are clean when you need them? As soon as you stop living at home you need something like that around. --Rachael Murphy

11. Robby the Robot
As seen in: Forbidden Planet

An icon of science-fiction, Robbie was created for 1956 movie Forbidden Planet. The film was famously based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and Robbie himself was inspired by the powerful wood sprite Ariel. He was designed by the same man who gave us Lost in Space’s Robot B-9, but his greatness lies not just in his lineage, but in what he did afterwards. Unlike most robots in film and television, Robbie went on to have an amazing career spanning thirty years and appeared in a string of successful movies (Gremlins, Earth Girls Are Easy, Star Wars: Episode I) and television shows (Lost in Space, The Twilight Zone, The Love Boat). If you thought “robot” in the sixties, odds are you’re thinking of Robby. --David Bolger

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