Robots in Film
A Complete Illustrated History
of Robots in the Movies

Part 11

Robots in the Movies
Film/Year, Name of Robot and Film Description

The Iron Giant (1999)

Iron Giant

Brad Bird's enchanting animated Cold War parable, adapted from poet Ted Hughes' 1968 The Iron Man, told about the friendship between:

  • a 50-foot alien robot (voice of Vin Diesel) from outer space, with a steam-shovel mouth, rounded head, gyrating eye shutters, and a triangular torso
  • a young, isolated, fatherless preteen Hogarth Hughes (voice of Eli Marienthal)

The "iron giant" was originally created to be an inter-stellar weapon, but whose nature was changed due to crashing into the ocean during a hurricane. It was capable of munching metal as food, flying, and speaking a few English words.

The young boy told the robot after hunters shot a deer:

I know you feel bad about the deer, but it's not your fault. Things die. That's part of life. It's bad to kill, but it's not bad to die...You're made of metal, but you have feelings, and you think about things, and that means you have a soul. And souls don't die.

The plot concerned the efforts of odious and villainous federal government agent Kent Mansley (voice of Christopher McDonald) to capture and destroy the misunderstood Giant.

In the film's conclusion, the robot was nobly self-sacrificial before an army. ''I am not a gun." He made a climactic, tear-jerking sacrifice to save the small Maine town of Rockwell from a nuclear missile. Just before an explosion in outer space, the Giant realized his heroism: "I'm Superman!", and then was seen in a final shot smiling as he self-repaired in an Icelandic glacier.

The Matrix (1999)

The Sentinels

In this popular and imaginative, nightmarish sci-fi film (and also in its two sequels) from the Wachowski Brothers, Sentinels were described as "a killing machine designed for one thing...Search and destroy."

They were autonomous, multi-tentacled, metallic clawing killing machines (resembling squids or octopi, hence their nicknames "Squiddies" or "Calamari") that relentlessly patrolled the ancient passageways and sewers of the dead human cities, equipped with sensory devices, lasers, bombs, and other weapons.

These lethal, fast-moving mechanized nautilus' were covered with red spider-eye-like lenses, manipulative crab-like arms and tentacles with gripping, razor-sharp claws. They floated on anti-gravity generators in order to roam and pursue.

In the film's conclusion, Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) ordered a Sentinel strike against the hovercraft Nebuchadnezzar, after Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) had been rescued from the Agent's stronghold by the heroic Neo (Keanu Reeves) and vinyl-clad heroine Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss).

An EMP (Electro-Magnetic Pulse) was able to repel the Sentinels before they damaged the craft.

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999)

The Battle Droids

Battle droids (aka war droids or killer droids) were designed solely for combat, often in large mass-produced units that marched together.

They were tall, thin robotic soldiers with exposed joints and bone-white or rust brown metal finishes that gave them an eerie resemblance to animated skeletons.

Like the Storm Troopers in the original trilogy, these dim-witted, infantry droids who carried blaster guns existed as fodder for the heroes to kill off in vast numbers.

During the Battle of Naboo in The Phantom Menace, Anakin Skywalker destroyed the Droid Control Star-Ship of the Trade Federation, which housed a central computer control. Thus, the droids were deactivated.

Red Planet (2000)

AMEE (Autonomous Mapping Exploration and Evasion)

This unsuccessful science fiction thriller film followed a small, six-person team of astronauts on an investigative rescue operation to the red planet of Mars in the year 2045, led by pretty Commander Kate Bowman (Carrie-Anne Moss). Their mission was to investigate further terraforming of Mars for future human colonization.

During a solar flare incident and subsequent shipwreck on the planet, a multi-purpose, unspeaking quadripedal (crouching) or bipedal (7 foot tall) robot named AMEE, an ex-military android (completely CGI-created) designed for mapping and exploration of the Martian surface, was damaged in the crash and reverted to its original programming as a hunter/killer.

The android stalked the crew members with its infra-red and X-ray vision. The metallic, skeletal monkey-like AMEE had four limb appendages with joints that swiveled, turned, pivoted, and spun around, and clawlike 'fingers'.

Artificial Intelligence: A.I. (2001)

Gigolo Joe and Gigolo Jane

Steven Spielberg's futuristic science-fiction fairy tale was based on Brian Aldiss' short story 'Super-Toys Last All Summer Long.' It starred Haley Joel Osment as 11 year-old Pinocchio-questing David, a Cybertronics android child "mecha" (robot of the future), with an 'animatronic' robotic teddy bear named Teddy (voice of Jack Angel). It had a similar plot-line retelling Disney's Pinocchio about a search of a puppet to become a real boy and find real love.

Through imprinting, David believed he was capable of real emotion and unconditional love toward his adoptive mother Monica Swinton (Frances O'Connor) and father Henry Swinton (Sam Robards), although when their real son Martin (Jake Thomas) recovered from a state of suspended animation, David was eventually abandoned.

Rather than being returned to Cybertronics for destruction, David was forced to take a long journey to become "real" by encountering the "Blue Fairy" (a submerged Coney Island statue, actually) from the Pinocchio tale.

During his adventures, David met up at the Flesh Fair with Gigolo Joe (Jude Law) and Gigolo Jane (Ashley Scott) - male and female pleasure mecha robots by design, able to change their hair color or accent based on clients' needs. Joe reassured client Patricia (Paula Malcolmson) in a mirrored room: "Once you've had a lover-robot, you'll never want a real man again." Joe also made a contemptuous statement about the humans who had made him: ''They made us too smart, too quick, and too many. We are suffering for the mistakes they made because when the end comes, all that will be left is us. That's why they hate us...''

David eventually learned the horrifying truth that he was a mecha-nical robot boy who could never be transformed into a real human, and that many copies of himself were being manufactured.

By film's end about 2000 years later in a tacked-on epilogue, David was able to experience a poignant one-day reunion with his adoptive human mother Monica, reconstructed or resurrected from DNA found in a lock of her saved hair - she finally told David that she loved him.

Gigolo Joe and David

Friday the 13th, Jason X (2001)

KAY-Em 14

In the tenth installment of the horror/slasher film series franchise set in the year 2455, a "knowledge matrix android" named KAY-Em 14 (Lisa Ryder) helpfully analyzed the frozen and masked corpse of a cryogenically-frozen Jason Voorhees (Kane Hodder), declaring it a "humanoid." Jason's hockey mask was determined to be "Facial armor, used in a sport outlawed in 2024."

She also was the love interest of one of the archaeology students named Tsunaron (Chuck Campbell), who helped her position fake nipples on her prosthetic breasts, but they fell to the floor. She asked him: "Do you like them?" Her responded: "Why do you want those things, anyways?...I like you just the way you are. I think you're perfect."

Later in the film, she was upgraded with an "uploaded" program - transformed into a formidable kick-ass killer droid with combat skills - carrying oversized, lethal weapons and wrapped in bands of bullets ("I'm afraid I'll have to hurt you now," she threatened Jason).

By film's end, she had been decapitated by an Uber-Jason, but was still functioning, and looking forward to having a new body: "I'll be back on my feet in no time - as soon as I have some."

S1m0ne (2002)


Writer/director Andrew Niccol's fantasy Hollywood film satirized synthetic celebrities and their promoters.

During the filming of big-budget director Viktor Taransky's (Al Pacino) latest feature film titled Sunrise Sunset, the production was on the verge of collapse when his narcissistic and bitchy main star Nicola Anders (Winona Ryder) ("a supermodel with a SAG card") walked off the set. He was also fired by his ex-wife Elaine (Catherine Keener) who was the studio head of Amalgamated Film.

Dying, one-eyed geeky software designer Hank Aleno (Elias Koteas) proposed a non-human ("Who needs humans?"), computer-simulated, virtual leading lady as an alternative, found on a computer Zip disk labeled Simulation One, i.e., Sim One -- "Simone." Director Taransky, who had been Oscar-nominated twice as director, was out to prove - almost like Victor Frankenstein - that he could make a film without a real star ("We have stepped into a new dimension. Our ability to manufacture fraud has exceeded our ability to detect it").

The fraudulent film became a smash-hit, but no one had ever seen the pretty, thin, and leggy enigmatic blonde starlet Simone (real human actress Rachel Roberts in her film debut, although digitally reworked) off-screen, even after she won the Academy Award for Best Actress.

The CGI, digitized star described herself as "the death of real," although one reviewer described her as possessing "the voice of a young Jane Fonda, the body of Sophia Loren, the grace of, well, Grace Kelly, and the face of Audrey Hepburn combined with an angel." Viktor attempted to conceal his charade, going as far as trying to destroy his creation, although his efforts backfired and she was revived.

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)

Terminator Series X, or T-X (Terminatrix)
The Terminator T-850

In this third film in the series from director Jonathan Mostow, the revised (but "obsolete design"), mono-syllabic speaking Terminator Model T-850 (Arnold Schwarzenegger), powered by two hydrogen fuel cells, was designed and reprogrammed (by the Resistance) to protect 20-something post-apocalyptic leader John Connor (Nick Stahl) and his future Resistance-second-in-command wife Kate Brewster (Claire Danes).

Connor described the Terminator T-850 as "a robot from the future, he's living tissue over a metal skeleton."

It battled against a female, superhuman, sophisticated Terminator Model called T-X (Kristanna Loken), or Terminatrix, sent back to the year 2004 in modern-day Los Angeles.

The female T-X had arms (and fingers) that could morph into dangerous weapons, designed to kill. The android was made of poly-mimetic "morphing" material - the same as T-1000 (Robert Patrick) in the second film ("The T-X is polymimetic, able to take the form of anything it touches").

She could determine the identity of a person immediately with a sample of blood (DNA), and she had other advanced scanning capabilities. She could also remotely control various machines (including auto vehicles).

The T-X was incredibly sophisticated,

designed for extreme combat, driven by a plasma reactor and equipped with onboard weapons. Its arsenal includes nano-technological can control other machines. Its body chassis is heavily armored and hardened to withstand external attack...T-X is faster, more powerful and more intelligent. It's a far more effective killing machine...T-X is designed to terminate other cybernetic organisms.

The film reprised the famous line with a twist, the T-850's statement: "She'll be back," and his own: "I'm back."

In this film, both Terminators were destroyed by a massive hydrogen fuel-cell explosion ("You are terminated").


Terminatrix, or T-X

The Incredibles (2004)


The Omnidroid refers to a series of eleven intelligent and destructive renegade robots that were spherically-shaped with appendages.

They were developed by the evil, disgruntled red-haired antagonist Syndrome (aka fan boy Buddy Pine and self-appointed IncrediBoy, with voice of Jason Lee) to eliminate superheroes.

Syndrome bragged about his newest invention: "It's bigger. It's badder. Ladies and gentlemen, it's too much for Mr. Incredible!"

The eighth model was the first to appear in the film, while the 11th remote-controlled version attacked the city of Metroville, as a demonstration of Syndrome's superhuman strength.

I, Robot (2004)

Sonny, an NS-5 (Nestor Class-5) Robot, and other NS-5's

From Australian director Alex Proyas, this futuristic film was inspired by the stories in the 9-part anthology of I, Robot stories from Isaac Asimov and penned in the 1940s.

The premise of the CGI/live-action thriller film was that a U.S. Robotics (USR) Corporation creation in the year 2035 - a humanoid NS-5 robot named Sonny (Alan Tudyk) with free will, was uncharacteristically suspected of the murder of its creator, Dr. Alfred Lanning (James Cromwell), although it was possibly a suicide.

The accusation was made by robot-hating Chicago homicide Detective Del Spooner (Will Smith) - a cyborg himself with a robotic arm - and USR robot psychologist Susan Calvin (Bridget Moynahan), thereby breaking the First Law of Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics (that "a robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm"). It was revealed that Dr. Lanning had especially designed and ordered Sonny not to obey Asimov's three robotic laws, so that it would kill him (and V.I.K.I. - see next paragraph).

Lanning wanted the clues to lead Spooner (teaming up with Sonny) to discover a global takeover plot by the robots, led by USR computer mainframe mastermind V.I.K.I. (Virtual Interactive Kinetic Intelligence) (voice of Fiona Hogan). Indeed, the robots were no longer being programmed properly by V.I.K.I., due to the belief that some of humanity needed to be killed (those who promulgated war, poverty, and pollution, etc.) in order for mankind to survive its own self-destruction. After V.I.K.I. was destroyed (by an injection of virulent nanites), the revolting NS-5 robots were shut down.

As the film ended, the restored or normalized NS-5 robots were taken to a storage facility at Lake Michigan. Sonny approached the facility with a choice - to join them, free them, or lead them.

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

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