Celluloid Diaries: BEST ROBOT MOVIES OF ALL TIME

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

BEST ROBOT MOVIES OF ALL TIME

best robot movies of all timeTogether with the Offscreen Film Festival in Brussels, Belgium, I'll be hosting a retrospective on the best robot movies ever made.

Here is an oerview of the most entertaining robot movies that will be showing at the Offscreen Film Festival, most of them on 35 mm. The festival will take place between March 8 and March 26, 2023. 

Metropolis

METROPOLIS

Fritz Lang's Expressionist silent classic reached a new generation via this Giorgio Moroder version with an 1980s pop soundtrack. Brigitte Helm plays a double role as proletarian heroine Maria and the iconic robot created in her image. See the eternal class war played out in an Art Deco setting, with a cast of thousands! 


The Day the Earth Stood Still


THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL

The intergalactic equivalent of a UN observer lands in Washington DC and demands a stop to nuclear testing in this sci-fi allegory with religious undertones. The earthlings ignore his pleas for peace, leaving them at the mercy of a giant robot that can only be stopped with the immortal words "Klaatu barada nikto!" 

Ikarie XB-1


IKARIE XB-1

A starship heads to Alpha Centauri on a search for alien intelligence in this classic Stanislaw Lem adaptation, a key influence on everything from 2001 to Star Trek with its depiction of everyday life in space and discovery of an abandoned vessel. The old-fashioned robot is a figure of fun - until he saves the day! 

The Creation of the Humanoids


THE CREATION OF THE HUMANOIDS

After a nuclear war, human survivors fear and despise the robots they now depend on, with extremists even launching terrorist attacks against the blue-skinned humanoids. Wooden acting and no-budget sets give an agreeably avant-garde flavour to this forgotten sci-fi gem packed with unusually progressive ideas.


Blade Runner


BLADE RUNNER

A Los Angeles gumshoe, assigned to terminate rogue replicants, starts to question the ethics of his job. Scott's visionary reworking of Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? revolutionised the face of sci-fi cinema with its neo-noir imagery, unforgettable androids, and spine-tingling Vangelis score

I, Robot

A Chicago cop suspects a robot may be responsible for the death of a robotics company CEO. Are robots starting to ignore Asimov's Three Laws, which prevent them from harming human beings? Meanwhile, the laws of Hollywood blockbusters ensure a full complement of superb special effects and Will Smith kicking robot ass.


The Iron Giant

THE IRON GIANT

During the Cold War, a young boy befriends a big metal-eating robot from outer space which crashlands near his small town, but the paranoid government sends agents to investigate. This lovely animated fable, based on a children's story by poet Ted Hughes, flopped on its release but is now hailed as a modern classic. 

Forbidden Planet


FORBIDDEN PLANET

William Shakespeare's The Tempest gets a sci-fi makeover in this fantasy masterpiece with an avant-garde score. A starship lands on a planet where a sinister force has killed all but two members of a previous expedition: a scientist and his daughter. Robby the Robot, their mechanical servant, was a big hit with the public. 

Ex Machina


EX MACHINA

Alex Garland's directing debut is a virtual three-hander in which a naïve programmer is helicoptered into a billionaire tech bro's luxury home to determine whether a female android is capable of independent thought. Toxic masculinity and Machiavellian mind games ensue, with results that will keep you guessing to the end.


Terminator 2: Judgement Day


TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY

Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a creaky old T-800 sent back in time to protect mankind's future saviour and his mom from the more advanced T-1000 - a robot made of liquid metal! Just because this blockbuster has a pro-peace message doesn't mean it's not packed with chases, explosions and mind-blowing special effects. 

Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla


GODZILLA VS MECHAGODZILLA

Just when you thought Godzilla was one of the good guys, he goes on the rampage again. But it's a mechanical imposter, controlled by aliens from another planet! The real Godzilla, outmatched, has to team up with King Caesar, a shaggy kaiju from Okinawa, for a three-way showdown that would do credit to Sergio Leone. 

Eva


EVA

In 2043, androids are part of everyday life. Daniel Brühl (speaking fluent Catalan) plays a cybernetic genius who returns to his hometown to build a robot child modelled on his niece. Exquisite virtual interfaces, a droll robot factotum and adorable robo-cat are the supporting stars in this bewitching sci-fi yarn. 

Westworld


WESTWORLD

You've seen the TV show, now revisit Michael Crichton's original sci-fi classic about a futuristic theme park where tourists can interact with lifelike androids in recreations of the wild west, ancient Rome and medieval times. What could possibly go wrong? Yul Brynner, as an implacable robot gunslinger, is nightmare fodder.


The Empire Strikes Back



C-3PO and R2-D2 return for the first and best sequel in the Star Wars franchise, which introduces Yoda and spills the shocking truth about Darth Vader. This time the loveable droid duo faces formidable robotic competition in the shape of Imperial AT-AT Walkers; the tie-in toys were an instant hit with young fans. 

The Black Hole


THE BLACK HOLE

A deep space research crew finds a missing spaceship at the edge of a black hole in Disney's sci-fi spectacular with superb effects, a terrific John Barry score, and a trippy ending that traumatised a generation of kids. What will the crew and their faithful droid find on board? A mad scientist, and robots galore! 

Test Pilota Pirxa


TEST PILOTA PIRXA

A heroic pilot agrees to lead a mission to Saturn, aware UNESCO has placed an android on his crew as part of a risky experiment. Can he work out which of his men is the non-human? This adaptation from one of Stanislaw Lem's Pirxa stories blends Cold War aesthetics and Arvo Pärt music with thrilling deep space action. 

A.I. Artificial Intelligence


A.I. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

In the 22nd century, a robot child embarks on a Pinocchio-like quest to become a real boy and win back the love of the mother who rejected him. This adaptation of a Brian Aldiss story, initially developed by Stanley Kubrick, goes off on some very dark tangents (The Flesh Fair!) before a poignant emotional payoff. 

The Questor Tapes


THE QUESTOR TAPES

Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry conceived this TV film as the pilot for a series that was never made, but it works on its own as a globe-trotting adventure powered by the bromance between a human and an android, clearly the prototype for Next Generation's Data. Typical Roddenberry, it's humane, touching and funny. 

Dr Who and the Daleks



The BBC's beloved sci-fi TV show first aired in 1963 and quickly spawned this big screen spin-off. Peter Cushing plays the time-travelling doctor who is transported with his two daughters and an assistant to Planet Skaro, home of the doctor's most fearsome enemies, the robotic Daleks. Their catchphrase? EX-TER-MIN-ATE!


The Artifice Girl

THE ARTIFICE GIRL 

Government agents interrogate a computer geek about the pubescent girl he's been using to trap sexual predators online. She turns out to be virtual (an uncanny performance by young Tatum Matthews) in a cerebral three-act chamber piece that dives deep into the ethics, pitfalls and potential of Artificial Intelligence.


Metoroporisu


METOROPORISU

Fritz Lang's Metropolis was inspiration for this spectacular dieselpunk anime in which a female android called Tima struggles against a destiny in which she will be deployed as a superweapon. The cityscapes are stunning, with a retro feel that's echoed in the ragtime-adjacent score and unexpected use of a Ray Charles hit. 

Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence


GHOST IN THE SHELL 2: INNOCENCE

Major Kusanagi has a cameo, but the protagonist of this underrated sequel is her partner Batou, the world-weary semi-cyborg with a loveable Basset Hound. He and Section 9 trace a series of sexbot killings to a labyrinth of false realities and existential philosophy in an exquisite feast for the eyes, ears and brain. 

Automata


AUTOMATA

In 2044, humans need robotic help to survive in a world scorched by solar flares. Antonio Banderas plays an investigator examining claims that robots have been breaching protocol by modifying themselves. This handsome sci-fi epic pits paranoid humans against philosophical machines who may be mankind's last hope. 

Screamers


SCREAMERS

A long war has left a remote planet littered with lethal robots that are evolving to look and behave just like humans. The lives of a battle-weary colonel (Peter Weller) and his men depend on distinguishing man from machine, but easier said than done in this tense, creepy adaptation of a Philip K. Dick short story. 

Robocop


ROBOCOP

"I'll buy that for a dollar!" Verhoeven stirs hyper-violence, splattery humour and religious allegory into a delicious satire on modern America. Peter Weller does some impressive acting with his mouth and chin (the only visible parts of his face) as a Detroit cop, murdered by crooks, who is resurrected as a cyborg. 

Death Machine


DEATH MACHINE

In what could be the most unhinged performance of his career, Brad Dourif plays a mad scientist who unleashes his choppy, stabby killer robot on CEOs and eco-warriors trapped in a high-rise. Steven Norrington, in his feature debut, directs the hell out of this often hilarious mash-up of The TerminatorRoboCop and Hardware.

Cherry 2000


CHERRY 2000

In the year 2017, a businessman ventures into a perilous post-apocalyptic wasteland in search of spare parts for his beloved but obsolete sexbot. Melanie Griffith oozes 1980s star charisma as the hardboiled tracker he hires as a guide. Low-budget sci-fi with mad stunts, a western vibe and a Michael Almereyda screenplay. 

Hardware


HARDWARE

Richard Stanley, in his feature debut, works wonders on a minuscule budget with a 2000 AD-inspired yarn set in a post-apocalyptic neo-punk netherworld. A sculptress unwittingly solders a piece of lethal military android into her latest scrap metal creation, and the mechanical artwork runs amok. Heavy metal carnage to the max! 

Chopping Mall


CHOPPING MALL

Security robots get their circuits scrambled by an electrical storm and hunt down the horny teens who are partying after hours in a shopping mall. B-movie mayhem from the Corman stable, packed with gratuitous boobs, cheesy exploding head effects, in-jokes and a cult cast including Dick Miller and Barbara Crampton. 

Steel and Lace


STEEL AND LACE

When her evil yuppie rapist is found not guilty, a classical pianist commits suicide, but is resurrected by her genius brother as a killer-cyborg programmed to murder the scumbag and the buddies who gave him a fake alibi. Rape-revenge exploitation with a melancholy streak offset by some creative and surprising kills! 

The Transformers: The Movie


THE TRANSFORMERS: THE MOVIE

Heroic Autobots battle evil Decepticons in this spin-off from the animated TV show; more fun than Michael Bay's live-action pics, and not averse to killing off beloved characters. The illustrious voice cast includes Robert Stack, Leonard Nimoy and Orson Welles, in his final role, as the voracious planet Unicron. 

Short Circuit


SHORT CIRCUIT

"Number 5 is alive!" A military robot gains sentience and goes on the run in this family-friendly comedy adventure. A scatty animal lover (Ally Sheedy) thinks it's an extra-terrestrial and teaches it the ways of humans before they team up with the robot's inventor to evade the army killjoys who want it terminated.

WALL-E

 
WALL-E

By the year 2805, mankind has abandoned a polluted Earth for luxury starliners, leaving an amiable but lonely robot to clean up the mess in this lovely Pixar animation with an eco-message and inspired action out of the Buster Keaton playbook. Can WALL-E and his new robo-pal Eve teach humans how to heal their planet? 

Android


ANDROID

In 2036, three criminals seek refuge on a space station occupied only by creepy scientist Klaus Kinski and a naïve android, Max 404, who models himself on James Stewart. With its Space Invaders-era graphics, this no-budget but inventive New World production takes some unexpected turns en route to a violent climax. 

Cyborg


In a plague-ridden future, a cyber-woman has to carry life-saving data from New York to Atlanta. Only  Jean-Claude Van Damme and his signature helicopter kicks can protect her from the Flesh Pirates! Pyun applies his no-budget know-how to a post-apocalyptic argy-bargy featuring characters named after classic guitars.

My latest book, Evil Seeds: The Ultimate Movie Guide to Villainous Children, is now available from Amazon and other retailers.

There's Something Wrong With the Children

10 comments:

  1. Screamers and Hardware! Nice inclusions. I saw both in the theater. Iron Giant is always a great pick as well.

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