Today: February 27, 2024

Short Circuits

 

By Alan Fry Peters

 

Classic ‘80s movie Short Circuit is released on Blu-ray
this week ensuring that a whole new
generation of
kids will finally get to know Wall-E’s great grandpa, Number Five.
Nothing tugs
on the heartstrings quite like a cute robot, but mechanical men – and women –
have been a film staple long before the word robot was even coined. In fact the
1917 silent short, The Dummy,
arguably featured the first ever on-screen robot. Ninety-five years later and
Hollywood’s love affair with ‘bots and ‘droids continues unabated. Alan Fry
Peters takes a look at ten of the best robots, androids and cyborgs that film
has to offer, from the cute, to the sexy to the just plain irritating …

 

Ash, Alien (1979)
The crew of the Nostromo
were completely unaware that Ash was really a Hyperdyne Systems 120-A/2
android. That was until the xenomorph came onboard and his ’secret orders’
kicked in. Watch him change from
genial medical officer to psychotic strangler as his in built programming takes
hold. Strange, though, that he
seemed to be totally powered by a series of wires, pasta and milk.

 

 

Gort, The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951)
Gort could destroy the world
if he wanted to. It was never
entirely clear just how but he had a cool laser that could melt guns, so who
knows what else he was capable of?
What made Gort scary was that expressionless face. If you can call it a
face. More like a shiny head shape with some large metal sunglasses. In these enlightened times, Gort looks
little more than a man in a shiny rubber suit but, in 1951, he managed to
terrify a generation.

 

 

Wall-E, Wall -E
(2008)
(Main Picture)
Essentially Wall-E is a
cleaning/trash compacting droid.
His entire function is to clean up the trash left behind by humanity
who, when the mess became too much to bear, abandoned Earth and left the droids
to do what they do best. Even
though Wall-E can only say one word he is easily one of the most loveable
robots to ever appear on a cinema screen.

 

 

R2-D2, Star Wars Franchise
Who wouldn’t want to own a
robot like R2-D2? Not only is he
like an intergalactic Swiss army knife, with a whole load of different blades
and functions, he is also an excellent navigator. The Rebel fleet even made X-Wing fighters with a seat at the
back just so they could carry an R2 droid. Sure he speaks using a series of whistles and bleeps but,
most of the time he is accompanied by his friend C3-P0, who talks enough for
the both of them.

 

Good Robot Bill & Ted, Bill And Ted’s Bogus
Journey (1991)

Of course the evil robot
Bill and Ted look exactly like the real Bill and Ted. So what do the real Bill and Ted do when their evil robot
selves murder them? Get help from
the Grim Reaper, God and two small aliens who, for some reason live in Heaven
and can smash themselves together to become one big alien. The good Bill and Ted robots look like
they were made by hand using bits and pieces from the local hardware store.
Which they were. But obviously
they were a whole lot better than the evil robots who they manage to destroy
with just two punches.

 

 

Robby The Robot, Forbidden Planet (1956)
Robby The Robot must be the
hardest working robot in Hollywood.
Robby is the personification, sorry robotification, of the typical ‘50s
robot – all flashing lights and
spinning antennae. Originally
created for the movie Forbidden Planet, he went on to appear in TV shows such
as Mork And Mindy and The Addams Family. He even managed a
cameo appearance in the movie Gremlins
and still manages to make the occasional appearance at San Diego’s Comic Con.

 

 

ED-209, Robocop (1987)
While the ED-209 had a lot
of difficulty in listening to orders and could not handle stairs, it still
makes this list for its sheer badass look. Surely if you were robbing a bank and the ED-209 came
swaggering down the street, you’d think twice about a life of crime? At least you might have time to think
before he gunned you down.

 

 

Marvin, The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy (2005)
Marvin is in a constant
state of depression. What with
having a brain the size of a planet and a terrible pain in all the diodes down
his left side, it’s understandable that he is a little down. Fortunately, Marvin eventually manages
to emote his feeling to a whole attack platoon of Vogons using the Point Of
View gun.

 

 

False Maria, Metropolis (1927)
The false Maria manages to
make men go wild with desire as well as nearly destroying the entire city of
Metropolis. Although how a robot can make men overload on the testosterone is
never clearly explained. The false Maria was, of course, the inspiration behind
the design of C3-P0 and managed to make a comeback in the mid ‘80s when Queen used the movie Metropolis as the
backdrop for their video to the song Radio
Ga Ga
.

 

 

V.I.N.C.E.N.T, Black Hole (1979)
There’s something strangely
annoying about V.I.N.CENT (Vital Information Necessary CENTralized). So when
the crew of the USS spaceship Palomino discover a derelict ship, trapped in the
event horizon of a black hole, you find yourself hoping that the irritating
little blighter falls in. Luckily the ship is also home to Maximilian – one of
sci-fi’s great evil robots.

 

 

Short Circuit is available on Blu-ray from 19th
November. Order your copy HERE

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com

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