Dark of the Moon's domination of the box office won't be ending any time soon, so we might as well think of some robots who don't hail from Cybertron. Few of the mechas on this list follow Asimov's three classic laws that so neatly protect us vulnerable humans from harm; some of them even have programming that actively defies those laws. So whether they're trying to please you sensually, or aurally; and whether they're trying to kill you with chasis-mounted weapons or the more ballistic variety, these robots certainly deserve our counting. They make science run amok with swagger and style.
6. Daft Punk from Interstella 5555, Electroma and TRON: Legacy
What mysterious musicians lurk beneath those LED-adorned chrome domes? Are they man or machine? I groove to the funk of this duo’s spacey breed of House, sure, but I might just appreciate them more for their deft sense of the theatrical. Purists can gripe all they want about how “it should just be about the music, man"--if we've learned anything from Cooper, Kiss, Bowie and Zombie, it's that it’s much more fun to get your tunes from 'toons. Given the choice, would any of you seriously not prefer a couple of larger-than-life musical robots over two goony French DJs who spend unearthly amounts of time at their keyboards?
5. Chitti Babu from Enthirhan (the Robot)
I have yet to see this movie. I don’t know what the plot is. I have no idea what this bot’s deal is aside from him seeming to be India’s answer to the T-X. None of that matters, though. The extended mega-edit of the Russian dub was too batshit bonkers for Chitti Babu to be ignored. I can’t honestly guarantee that I’d be willing or even able to sit through all the song and dance numbers, but I can glom to how Asia often has a refreshingly-free perspective on fantasies we Americans can be so rigidly serious about. C'mon, this guy uses his army of duplicates to turn into a giant snake and pinball of death!
4. Maria from Metropolis
From Pygmalion to the Golem, there’s something undeniably mythic about the very notion of artificial intelligence. I can think of no other film that embraces that more holistically than this expressionistic allegory about the necessity of the heart’s mediation between the head and hand. There are like a dozen drastically different cuts of Metropolis, so your appreciation for this seductive mechanical fraulein will unavoidably depend on which version you watch. Anybody with a cuddly love for C-3PO needs to pay her due homage, though--Lucas didn’t get all his inspiration for Threepio from Kurosawa movie peasants.
3. Gigolo Joe from A.I.
10 years later and this movie may finally be seeing the critical re-assessment we figured was eventually due. I found it terribly amusing that hecklers assumed that Spielberg softened this movie from the harsh mindjob Kubrick surely would’ve made. But get this--Joe here was actually Spielberg’s most substantial contribution, plot wise. As fun as it was to see Jude Law play a dapper Dan who’s literally hard-wired for sex, I put Joe on this list for those rare, but powerful, scenes where the ghost in his machine offers little David some profound insights on the nature of love (though phrased in his own lewd vernacular.)
2. Jailbot from Superjail!
One of my all-time favorite X-Men villains is Nimrod, the ultimate Sentinel. Enormously-powerful, shape-shifting robots from the future may never fit into the X-movies’ more-restrained vision of the mutant mythos, but I see the Warden’s enforcer (and his infinite arsenal of assassinative appendages) as the next best thing. Caculator-screen emoticons can just be so expressive and so menacing at the same time. And I love how Superjail!’s brand of "Simpsons couch gag" involves this mean machine finding surprising and ever-excessive ways to nab a felon.
Like there was ever any doubt. Some kids grew up wanting to be Han Solo or Indiana Jones; I wanted to be the T-800. To this day, I still can’t get over the head trip of this bad-to-the-bone villain’s “face turn.” For all the ways the first model was frightening for how he'd never stop until his target was dead, so too was this model admirable as a hideously-ironic father figure who’d never let his surrogate son down. And the wild walking contradiction of a killing machine who’s sworn not to kill anybody is still a novel one. Many tough guys crack jokes while they kick ass; this is the one who was always so deathly deadpan about it.