A Complete Illustrated History
of Robots in the Movies
|Film/Year, Name of Robot and Film Description|
Judge Dredd (1995)
Director Danny Cannon's action film starred Sylvester Stallone as the title character Judge Joseph Dredd. Dredd was derived from a popular comic-strip character from the British science fiction anthology 2000 AD.
In the film, Judge Dredd was a futuristic, unemotional, ruthless, notorious law enforcement officer in a violence and crime-ridden mega-city (formerly New York), located on a dystopic desert wasteland known as The Cursed Earth in the year 2139 AD.
He was commissioned to battle an antique collectible robot (with rusting metal), called an A.B.C. Warrior, a war robot designed to withstand 'Atomic,' 'Bacterial,' and 'Chemical' warfare. The diabolical villain Rico (Armand Assante) had re-armed and recycled the robot to be a killing machine.
Screamers (1995) (aka Screamers, The Hunting)
Mechanical "Screamers" or Autonomous Mobile Swords (David, Becker, and Jessica)
This sci-fi horror/thriller noir, adapted from a 1952 Philip K. Dick story called "Second Variety," was set on the distant Earth colony/planet of SIRIUS 6B in the year 2078.
SIRIUS 6B was a radioactive wasteland suffering from a decade of war and strip-mining - long forgotten by those who settled it. Earlier, murderous cyborgs (or "autonomous mobile swords"), perfect killing weapons or machines, had been developed by the Miners "Alliance" to use against their ex-corporate masters (called the New Economic Block (NEB)) to protect them from their enemies. The self-replicating cyborgs were small armadillo-like 'dinosaurs' that had razor-sharp saws or blades to cut off arms and legs.
The artificially-intelligent "autonomous mobile swords" pursued their enemies from underground. As they quickly moved along, they squealed or screamed in a high-pitch while attacking - hence their name screamers. The robotic, reptilian-looking devices had become a highly-advanced killer race ("they're smarter now") that had begun to dangerously replicate, evolved to look like human beings and mimic human behavior, and were now intent on eradicating the human race. They attacked everything including Alliance soldiers.
Commander Hendriksson (Peter Weller), leading a handful of Alliance soldiers still alive on Sirius 6B and trying to establish peace with the N.E.B., was in charge of leading his men across a treacherous wasteland filled with screamers. One of the stealth androids, innocently named David, was an advanced 'type 3' screamer in the form of a young boy clutching a teddy bear, and asking: "Can I come with you?"
After it was discovered that there were only two surviving N.E.B. soldiers, Becker (Roy Dupuis) and Ross (Charles Powell), and a civilian named Jessica (Jennifer Rubin), it turned out that both Becker and Jessica were evolved screamers.
In this action VR thriller from Brett Leonard (known for The Lawnmower Man), the Law Enforcement Technology Advancement Center (LETAC) developed a computer-generated, synthetic android named SID 6.7 (6.66 rounded up, signifying its evil nature). SID stood for Sadistic, Intelligent, Dangerous.
The "50-terabyte self-evolving neural network" was composed of the personality traits of 183 serial killers, mass murderers, tyrants and terrorists that were placed into the android, used to test the LAPD in a virtual reality world.
When the VR criminal SID escaped and entered the real world, he evolved and was "free of any behavioral limits he might have had in virtual reality." The casually sadistic SID was noted as saying to LA cop Parker Barnes (Denzel Washington), whose family was murdered by one of his own personalities: "Just because I'm carrying the joy of killing your family inside me doesn't mean we can't be friends."
Wallace and Gromit in A Close Shave (1995)
In this third film of Nick Park's Wallace and Gromit Claymation trilogy, one character was an evil, Terminator-like robotic bulldog named Preston (named after director Nick Park's home town), owned by local wool shop owner Wendolene Ramsbottom.
Preston was involved in a plot to rustle sheep during a period of wool shortage, shear them, and then murder them to manufacture his own brand of dog food.
Preston met his end when he was knocked into his own sheep-mincing, dog food processor machine, the Mutton-o-Matic (based on stolen blueprint designs of Wallace's sheep-shearing device the Knit-o-Matic), and was shredded into spare parts.
Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie (1996) (aka MST3K)
Crow T. Robot, and Tom Servo; also Gypsy
Two robot sidekicks:
helped marooned Mike Nelson (Himself) in providing sarcastic and mocking commentary, from a front-row 'peanut gallery' (the backs of their heads were often seen in silhouette in the lower portion of the picture) on the awful sci-fi B film, This Island Earth (1955) being screened.
This full-length feature film was derived from the long-running popular TV series about a mad scientist named Dr. Clayton Forrester (Trace Beaulieu) who wished to subject the entire world to bad movies - and experimented on this three-some on an Earth-orbiting space station called the Satellite of Love.
(l to r) Tom Servo, Crow T. Robot, Mike
Mike with Gypsy
Crow T. Robot
Robo Warriors (1996)
Earthbot vs. Tsu Garu
This straight-to-video release was another entry in the short-listed giant robot subgenre. The film's tagline succinctly told the plot: "Two Gladiators. One Planet. No Prisoners."
It told about life on Earth in the year 2036, when the planet was occupied by an evil alien race of half-human, half-reptile creatures called Terridax.
The Terridax used a giant, towering steel robot called Tsu Garu to subjugate the people.
A group of freedom fighters led by the last heroic Robo Warrior, Ray Gibson (James Remar) searched for remains of an older wrecked giant Earthbot, to defeat the oppressive invaders.
Solo and Solo II
Mario Van Peebles starred in this sci-fi action thriller as Solo - a robotic android killing machine for the military, to be sent as a cyber-soldier to battle Central American rebel insurgents.
Costing $2 billion, the bald and muscle-bound Solo (with a face "like Mike" -- modeled after basketball star Michael Jordan) was constructed of polymers and computer chips, with motion-sensors, night-time vision (and "virtually immune to small-arms fire...about 15 times stronger, 10 times faster than any man").
Due to programming flaws or a "glitch," Solo was uncharacteristically self-aware (and human) during the aborted mission-raid (realizing that there were women and children non-combatants in the line of fire), and opposed his ruthless and obsessive Colonel Frank Madden (William Sadler). Solo eventually escaped by hijacking a helicopter and joined the side of the rebel peasants in the jungle, where he exchanged his protection for energy to power himself, due to a damaged power supply.
The surprise toward the end of the film was that a more powerful, unflawed and highly-developed version of Solo was in charge of pursuing the aberrant, malfunctioning android - it was a super cyborg prototype named Solo MKII ("the model for the next generation") (also William Sadler), modeled after Colonel Madden!
The Borg and the Borg Queen
The second Star Trek: The Next Generation film featured the TV series' fearsome cyborg gestalt - the villainous, nearly invincible and ruthless Borg, whose mission was to absorb or assimilate all other species or cultures into their collective consciousness ("We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own"). Their catchphrase was: "Resistance is futile."
Captured android Lt. Commander Data (Brent Spiner) was threatened with the words: "You are an imperfect being, created by an imperfect being. Finding your weakness is only a matter of time."
The film then introduced the character of the sexy, cunning Borg Queen (Alice Krige), whose plan was to use time travel to enslave Earth's humanity in the 21st century (the year 2063). Her memorable entrance featured her organic head, shoulders and spinal cord descending from the ceiling and latching onto her synthetic, artificial body, as she announced:
She attempted a seduction by grafting organic, human flesh onto Data's arm (she assisted him in his goal to become more fully human) and the promise of having sex with him ("Are you familiar with physical forms of pleasure?" to which he replied: "I am fully functional. Programmed in multiple techniques") in order to have him surrender encryption codes that would allow her to take over the USS Enterprise.
Attempting to save Data, USS Enterprise Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) located Data and was confronted by the Borg Queen ("You were very close, you and I...Welcome home, Locutus"). Picard offered himself in exchange for Data's freedom ("I will take my place at your side"), but the android refused to leave ("I do not wish to go").
Commanded by the Queen, Data deactivated the Enterprise's self-destruct sequence, entered encryption codes to allow her control of the vessel, and then aimed the Enterprise's quantum torpedoes at the Phoenix during its historic flight -- but the missiles didn't hit their target.
The loyal android had deceived and betrayed the Borg Queen and turned on her - he ironically warned her: "Resistance is futile," and then killed her with flesh-eating vapor-gas from a smashed coolant tube. When she fell into the corrosive gas, it liquefied her organic parts on contact, rendering her into a twitching, lifeless skull and spinal cord.
The remainder of the Borgs under her command were also neutralized when she perished.
Picard went over to her metal-skeletal remains, pulled off the upper part of her skull and spinal cord, and snapped her spinal cord with his bare hands (causing the flickering red lights to be extinguished).
Borg Queen Entrance
The fourth film in the Alien film series was from French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet.
One of its characters was female mechanic Annalee Call (Winona Ryder) - a young, mercenary inter-stellar smuggler from the freight cargo spaceship Betty who was in a group that delivered contraband cargo of hijacked bodies in hypersleep to experimental military scientists on the deep-space military research vessel the USM Auriga.
She was first described by Betty's captain Frank Elgyn (Michael Wincott) as a "little girl playing pirates...she is severely f--kable."
Recognizing who Lt. Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) was - a cloned, bionic superhumanly strong warrior queen named clone # 8, Call first attempted to kill her ("You're a thing, a construct. They grew you in a f--king lab. And now they brought it out of you") - she wanted to "stop this thing before it gets loose," but Ripley told her: "It's too late. You can't stop it. It's inevitable."
Call rightly feared that the scientists were spawning adult aliens from Ripley's recently-extracted alien child (she said they were conducting "illegal experiments... breeding an alien species").
Ultimately, Call was revealed to be a robot ("a new model droid"), when shot directly in the chest but unharmed as the newly-grown aliens attacked while surviving crew members attempted to escape. Ripley said this about Call's robot nature: "I should have known. No human being is that humane."
Upon realizing her synthetic nature, alien-infected Purvis (Leland Orser) said: "Great. She's a toaster oven."
In the exciting conclusion, when Call was threatened by a half-Alien, half-human, skull-faced "Newborn" hybrid alien creature (a "beautiful butterfly") that tagged along on the departing Betty, Ripley saved Call by causing the monster to be sucked out through one of the windows into space.
Upon arriving safely on Earth with Ripley, Call commented: "It's beautiful. I didn't expect it to be."
Fembots is short for female robots (played by Cindy Margolis, Cheryl Bartel, Donna W. Scott, Barbara Ann Moore, and Cynthia Lamontagne). Fembots (introduced with Nancy Sinatra's singing of "These Boots Were Made For Walking"), were beautiful blonde android replicants, wearing white boots and two piece outfits, "the latest word in android replicant technology. Lethal, Efficient, Brutal. No man can resist their charms."
They were designed as the "ultimate weapon" by Dr. Evil's (Mike Myers) henchwoman Frau Fraubissina (Mindy Sterling) to conquer Austin Powers (also Myers).
They had protruding gunbarrels that emerged from their bikini-covered breasts [the Fembots' brassieres were based on the one worn by Ursula Andress in the cult Italian sci-fi movie The 10th Victim (1965)]. They demonstrated their lethal breast-weapons on emasculated guards.
In Dr. Evil's underground lair, they wore purple fuzzy teddy-bear nightgowns - they asked him: "Care to have a little fun?" - one of them jumped onto his shoulders, while the others protruded tubes from their breasts (called "jumblies," British slang for breasts) (he asked: "Is it cold in here?") and sprayed him with a pink-colored gas.
Powers found himself lying in bed with the Fembots, who stroked him to tantalize him, as he attempted to think of distracting things: "Baseball, cold showers...Margaret Thatcher naked on a cold day..."
When they challenged him, "You can't resist us, Mr. Powers," he performed a sexy strip-tease dance (down to Union Jack red underwear and hairy chest) to the tune of "I Touch Myself," causing them to short-circuit with sexual electricity as their heads twitched violently and then exploded. Powers explained later how he defeated the Fembots with machine-gun boobs:
See also Fembots entry for the second film in the series, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999).
Lost in Space (1998)
Unnamed Cyclops Robot
Robby the Robot, from Forbidden Planet (1956), was the prototype for the heroic, Environmental Control Robot Model B-9 in the Irwin Allen TV series Lost in Space in the mid-to-late 1960s, and in this widescreen film that also featured the robot.
The action was set in the year 2058, with a dying Earth threatened by ecological disaster. The Robinson Family (loosely based on Swiss Family Robinson) was traveling into outer space on a mission on the Jupiter II spaceship to find a refuge at a habitable planet called Alpha Prime.
Terrorist organization Global Sedition's trapped stowaway Dr. Zachary Smith (Gary Oldman) re-programmed and changed the "primary directives" of the "platinum-plated pal" (voice of Dick Tufeld, the original robot's voice), an unnamed, Cyclops-eyed, 8-foot tall robot, to be a destructive fighting machine onboard the ship: "Sixteen hours into mission, Destroy Robinson Family. Destroy all systems," after which Smith stated "Give my regards to oblivion."
Dr. Smith's attempt to sabotage the flight by destroying the ship using the robot's laser rays and killing the crew failed when young boy genius Will Robinson (Jack Johnson) was able to control the robot remotely, although the ship was sent off-course and became 'lost in space.'
During their further journey, the family came upon carnivorous, heat-seeking, silicon-based killer spider-crab robots with large fangs, that also spewed blue blood, found on a ghostly, abandoned spaceship Proteus. Dr. Smith was transformed into a giant space spider humanoid after being scratched by one of the Proteus spiders.
Small Soldiers (1998)
Action Figures: the Commando Elite and the Gorgonites
Director Joe Dante (responsible for Gremlins (1984)), helmed this dark sci-fi comedy-fantasy-action film that combined animatronics, puppetry (by Stan Winston), and computer animation. It was a hybrid of Toy Story (1995) and the popular supernatural board game Jumanji.
It told of the fierce battle in suburbia (represented by quiet Winslow Corners, Ohio) between two factions of sentient beings. They were "small soldiers" - high-tech talking toys militaristically amped-up with computer micro-chips.
The fierce-fighting, live-action toys were built by the Heartland Play Systems, a toy company newly-acquired by the defense industry firm of GloboTech Industries:
Chip Hazard - Commando Elite
Commando Elite member
Archer - Gorgonite
Fembots (Vanessa Kensington)
In the second film in the Austin Powers series, newly-wed Vanessa Kensington (Elizabeth Hurley) was revealed to be one of Dr. Evil's Fembots. [See also Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997) above.]
She was a "kamikaze bride" with "machine-gun jubblies" (breasts) who attempted to kill husband Austin Powers (Mike Myers) - but she soon self-destructed.
Bicentennial Man (1999)
Robo-servant (Model # NDR-114) Andrew Martin
Based on Isaac Asimov's 1883 short story The Positronic Man (only his second writing adapted for the screen), this futuristic robot-related film featured Robin Williams as Andrew Martin, a domestic-household android robot ("appliance") designed to serve humans with the performance of menail tasks.
But robot-servant Andrew craved to become fully human, exhibiting human characteristics of "creativity, curiosity, friendship," bridging the gap between man and machine ("I am the proud owner of a central nervous system").
In the cloying, mawkish, and sentimental film, he eventually took on android characteristics and turned himself into a prosthetic human - and at the ripe old age of 200 years was allowed to marry the love of his life Portia Charney (Embeth Davidtz) during his final moments.
Robots in Film
(chronological, by film title)
Introduction | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12