Our metal friends have long been a source of inspiration, wonder and fear for filmmakers and audiences. A way to examine our own humanity, and view emotions from a new perspective, artificial intelligence has been in films for almost as long as we’ve been making them. We seem drawn to them, more often that not casting them as our creations gone rogue and seeking to rise up against us, but sometimes as tragic figures wanting to be more like us. Either way, they’re fascinating, and pretty damn cool. We present you top 5 popular robots in the industry of film makers.
HAL-9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey
Supercomputer-turned-psychopath, HAL-9000 is, hands down, one of the most iconic robots out there. In charge of the Discovery One spaceship, he initially comes across as a rather comforting addition to the gang. He speaks in a soft and measured voice, takes care of the crew members, and keeps an omnipresent eye on the wellbeing of the spacecraft to make sure everything is a-ok. In other words, HAL is a highly reliable nanny, theoretically incapable of making mistakes. Only, he does. Created by writer Arthur C. Clarke and brought to cinema by Stanley Kubrick’s cult sci-fi movie, HAL goes bonkers in the middle of a mission to Jupiter, offing an astronaut or four, and ultimately ending up deactivated as he sings Daisy bell.
WALL-E in Wall-E
The Waste Allocation Load Lifter – Earth-Class, aka Wall-E, is, by far, the cutest robot on this list and, in spite of his relatively recent introduction, one of the most beloved Pixar characters of all time. Left on a future version of planet Earth, where trash has submerged cities and the pollution has gone up beyond livability, Wall-E spent centuries cleaning the environment. Over time, as he watched his fellow trash-recycling mates gradually falling into oblivion, Wall-E started developing emotions – curiosity and loneliness among others – that had him befriend a cockroach named Hal (Got it?), wonder about the vastness of the universe above him and, eventually, fall in love with the beautifully-shaped, LED-eyed EVE.
OPTIMUS PRIME in Transformers
Toy, transforming truck, self-righteous leader and an excuse for Michael Bay to throw massive explosions at random – these are only some of Optimus Prime’s titles. Head of the Autobots, the good guys in the Transformers franchise, Optimus has been entertaining the public for over 30 years now, always finding new ways to engage in massive robot fights that usually result in entire cities being levelled, with close to no human casualties. He is not famous for his psychological complexity, but he sure has a cool set of technologically advanced alien weapons – the Ion Blaster, the Barrage Cannon, the Energon Hooks, and the Dual Energon Swords to mention some.
T-800 in The Terminator
With those sunglasses, that shotgun and with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s face, T-800 couldn’t but earn his seat in the pantheon of most memorable robots. Sent from an apocalyptic future where machines have taken over the world, he has one mission: Stop mankind from putting up resistance to said robot-dominated society. How is he planning to do that? By taking the mother of the resistance’s leader, out of the picture of course. T-800 is the antagonist in The Terminator, the first installment of an over 30-year-old franchise, but other versions of the same android, always played by Arnie’s signature muscles and jaw, end up joining the good guys in the sequels.
MAJOR MOTOKO KUSANAGI in Ghost in the Shell
Motoko Kusanagi, often referred to simply as Major, is an augmented-cybernetic human, an employee of the Japanese National Public Safety Commission, and the protagonist of the anime-turned-classic Ghost in the Shell. She also has the ability to connect her cyberbrain to a virtually unlimited network, which makes her an absolute force to reckon with. Contemplative and gloomy, Major may sometimes come across as an emotionless fighting machine, but, deep down, she is contemplative in nature, torn with doubts about her own humanity, wondering whether her cybernetic body has a soul at all.