Robots have been a part of cinema since its creation and still make for intriguing on-screen presences. With RoboCop set for release on 9 June 2014, Movies in Focus counts down the most memorable movie cyborgs to have graced our screens.
Evil Maria – Metropolis (1927)
Fritz Lang’s classic sees an inventor, who has created a robot to resurrect his deceased wife, apply the likeness of a popular female worked named Maria (played by Brigitte Helm) in an attempt to ruin her reputation amongst her peers. Once completed, the robot is an evil incarnation of Maria and wreaks havoc in the dystopian future depicted by Lang.
R2-D2/C-3PO – the Star Wars series (1977-2005)
Not only are these two of the most beloved robots in cinematic history, but one of the most revered fictional filmic double acts to adorn the screen. R2-D2 (played by Kenny Baker) is an astromech droid, whilst C-3PO (played by Anthony Daniels) is a protocol droid. They are two of the four characters who appeared in all six films – and are set to appear in JJ Abrams’ 2015 reboot.
Ash – Alien (1979)
Ian Holm played Ash, a science officer aboard the Nostromo who breaks quarantine by allowing Kane (John Hurt) back on board despite being infected by an alien life form. A big twist of the film sees it revealed that Ash is in fact not a human, but an android whose sole mission is to bring back alien life form.
Tik Tok – Return to Oz (1985)
Considered a more faithful adaptation of Frank Baum’s novel than the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, many reasons why this is deemed the cult it has become could be attributed to the new batch of characters introduced, including the robot Tik-Tok. A round-bodied mechanical clockwork man that needs to be periodically wound, Sean Barrett provided him with his voice, whilst the acrobat Michael Sundin controlled his legs from inside the costume.
Johnny 5 – Short Circuit (1986)
This eighties cult classic follows an experimental military robot who gains a humanlike intelligence when struck by lightning. Tim Blaney provided the voice for the memorable character whose sole existence is due to the Cold War. Upon being hit by the lightning, he befriends Ally Sheedy’s Stephanie Speck.
T-1000 – Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)
The primary villain in James Cameron’s sequel, Robert Patrick is the actor who was assigned to the role of the T-1000, a shape-shifting assassin comprised of liquid metal that permits him to dupe unsuspecting victims. Created by the corrupt corporation Skynet, the T-1000 is a highlight of the Terminator franchise.
Gigolo Joe – A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)
Jude Law stars in Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi drama as Gigolo Joe, a male prostitute Mecha (a new class of advanced humanoids capable of emulating certain emotions). Joe has been programmed with the ability to mimic love. He is on the run after being framed for murder. Law spoke about researching Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly in preparation for this role.
Vanessa Kensington – Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (2002)
Despite initially being a human character – female lead and love interest – in International Man of Mystery (1997), the opening of this comedy sequel sees Austin happily married to Vanessa. It’s only when he realises that his remote control is actually controlling Vanessa that he realises Dr. Evil has turned her into a Fembot (the female assassins fit with ‘machine-gun jubblies’ introduced in the first film).
The Iron Giant – The Iron Giant (1999)
Brad Bird’s fifties-set animated gem follows a lonely young boy named Hogarth who discovers an iron giant who has fallen from the sky. With the help of a Beatnik named Dean (Harry Connick, Jr.), they must prevent the U.S. Military from finding him. Vin Diesel plays the fifty-foot, metal-eating robot with his specific creator unknown.
Alex Murphy – RoboCop (2014)
First seen in Paul Verhoeven’s 1987 film, Joel Kinnaman plays the cop Alex Murphy who is killed in the line of duty, only to be brought back to life by mega-corporation OmniCorp and transformed into a cyborg entity known as RoboCop. As the film continues, the human side of Murphy battles with his counterpart’s lack of emotion as he attempts to bring down the corrupt corporation that created him.
RoboCop is released on Limited Edition Blu-ray Steelbook, Blu-ray and DVD on 9 June 2014.