One of the hallmarks of science fiction films is the robot. Robots have appeared in movies since the days of silent film, and at times they are even the highlight of the movies they appear in. With the boxing robots of "Real Steel" duking it out in theaters, it's an ideal time to look at some of the best robots on film. A quick qualifying note: This list is for robots only, so don't look for "The Terminator" because his organic components actually qualify him as a cyborg.
Bishop -- "Aliens"
The alien queen may have been the iconic image of the film but there are few viewers who will forget the android Bishop. Bishop was played by Lance Henriksen, who was able to bring the required mechanical detachment while also showing some wonderfully subtle glimmers of personality. Since a similar android caused so much trouble in the previous film, there's also a sense of ambiguity to Bishop; neither Sigourney Weaver as Ripley nor the audience are sure they can trust him at first. However, he more than earns trust and adoration by the end.
Iron Giant -- "The Iron Giant"
He fell from the sky and has the capability to rain destruction down on the entire planet. So with that in mind, it's a darn good thing his first human encounter is with a kindly young boy. The Iron Giant, voiced by Vin Diesel, is kind-hearted and well-meaning but his immense size is a constant stumbling block. This allows for some great moments of bonding and humor between the robot and the young boy. This endearing giant edges out the campy Mechagodzilla for the title of greatest oversize robot on film.
Maximillian -- "The Black Hole"
As noted above, this is about great robots, not necessarily great movies. This entry is a case in point. The film has its problems, but this robotic guardian isn't one of them. With his stark red coloring and vicious killer instincts, Maximillian is one of the only things about this film that really holds up well. The other robots are campy, the effects are dated, and the pacing doesn't work. But that big red menacing visage will stick in the mind of any who have ever seen this film.
WALL-E -- "WALL-E"
It's not an easy thing to make a hard metal machine lovable, but that's really the only word for this plucky little robot. As the last functioning garbage collector on an abandoned planet, WALL-E goes about his daily routine but also finds the time to explore for small treasures among the mountains of trash. A sentimental romantic at heart, he is also infinitely kind to anything he encounters, from cockroaches to people. His pining after the much more technologically advanced EVE is reminiscent of the best works of Charlie Chaplin, and his upbeat outlook carries him through it all.
R2-D2 -- "Star Wars"
No list of cinematic robots would be complete without him. In addition to being possibly the single most useful robot in any film, R2-D2 is an astounding marriage of design and character. The amount of personality that is displayed by what is basically a tin can that communicates with senseless beeps and head swivels is truly astounding. Even devoid of any expressive features, R2-D2's spunky and often sarcastic personality wins the hearts of audiences every time.
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