There have been some mean machines in cinematic history-from killer cyborgs to computers with twisted minds of their own. But on the flipside, some robots do seem to have goodness hardwired into their circuitry. We’ve put together the following roundup of machines both naughty and nice.
Version 1.0 The T-800 – The Terminator (1984)
“Listen! And understand! That terminator is out there. It can’t be bargained with! It can’t be reasoned with! It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear,” says Reese of his nemesis in the sci-fi actioner that made Arnold a star and “I’ll be back” his most enduring catchphrase. As the fearsome T-800, the indestructible killing machine sent back from the future, Arnold blasted his way into box-office gold and had moviegoers glancing nervously at their Commodore 64’s and calculator watches.
Robocop – Robocop (1987)
In Robocop, Peter Weller is “Part Man. Part Machine. All Cop.” After being shot full of holes by the baddies, Peter Weller’s mind is erased and he’s given a robotic body. He is now Robocop, a stoic, armor-plated crime-fighter invincible to both corruption and bullets. But as the plot unfolds, the question arises: Can even Robocop stand up to corporate greed and downtown Detroit gone mad?
Bad to the Bone R2-D2 – The Star Wars Saga
At first glance, you may be tempted to open his lid and line him with an extra-tall garbage bag. But in every Star Wars film, R2-D2 proves he’s more than a bucket of bolts. Unlike the weak-kneed C3-PO, R2 braves laser fire and worse to help the cause. Whether it’s flying as co-pilot in Luke Skywalker’s X-Wing or infiltrating enemy computer systems under heavy fire, R2 always has his comrades’ backs.
Hal 9000 – 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
HAL 9000, the spaceship Discovery’s artificially intelligent onboard computer, proves as flawed as its human creators. When this “infallible” supercomputer commits an error, it attempts to cover up for itself by disposing of the Discovery’s crew. In HAL, the late, great Stanley Kubrick embodied his anxiety about man’s blind faith in technology decades before the machine-ruled apocalyptic vision of The Matrix (1999).
He said he’d be back The T-1000 and T-800 – T2: Judgement Day (1992)
This time, Arnold’s back to save the day. When the computers send back the liquid-metal T-1000 to liquidate Sarah Connor and her savior-to-be son, John, the future John Connor sends back the outdated T-800 to battle the T-1000. When version 1.0 clashes with version 2.0, the ground trembles, buildings shake and the future is re-written all over again.
David – A.I.: Artificial Intelligence (2001)
In A.I., Haley Joel Osment plays David, an artificially intelligent android child. When he is abandoned in the woods by Frances O’Connor (who programmed him to view her as Mom), David then goes on a quest for his humanity. He wants to be a “real” boy, so Frances will take him back. Though the film’s message regarding Artificial Intelligence is muddled somewhere between Stanley Kubrick’s original vision and Steven Spielberg’s completion of the project, David’s story still proves universal and fundamental: he just wants to be loved.
Roy Batty – Blade Runner (1982)
In this now-classic sci-fi noir, Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) leads a renegade crew of space-mining Replicants back to Earth to meet their maker, the scientist-entrepreneur Tyrell. In a performance that is both terrifying and sympathetic, Hauer manages to make the audience fear his fury and yet understand it, too-he is as good as alive, but like all Replicants, he is designed to expire soon after his inception. “I want more life, father,” he says to Tyrell, when they finally meet face-to-face.
Number Five – Short Circuit (1986)
Short Circuit stars Number “Johnny” Five, a robot struck by lightning and rendered as “sentient” as its human creators. Number Five is found by Ally Sheedy, who thinks the machine is of extraterrestrial origins and begins loading Number Five’s memories with music, movies and all manner of pop culture-15 years before the I-Pod! Inevitably, the U.S. military gets wind of this smart and generally affable machine and wants to destroy it.