Friday, July 3, 2015

Do Electric Sheep Dream of Robots?

Transformers II storms into multiplexes next week. Unlike my colleagues, I'm less looking forward to Megan Fox and Shia LeBeouf than to the sequel's steel giants. Which of course got me to thinking of what makes a good robot movie performance. Is it the mechanics? The voice work? The disjunction between the two? Of course I'm fond of Bumblebee in Transformers, but my favorite movie robot -- the False Maria in Fritz Lang's and Thea von Harbou's silent film Metropolis -- didn't have an audible voice.

Do Electric Sheep Dream of Robots?

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Klaatu barada nikto, Gort.
Klaatu barada nikto, Gort.

Transformers II storms into multiplexes next week. Unlike my colleagues, I'm less looking forward to Megan Fox and Shia LeBeouf than to the sequel's steel giants. Which of course got me to thinking of what makes a good robot movie performance. Is it the mechanics? The voice work? The disjunction between the two? Of course I'm fond of Bumblebee in Transformers, but my favorite movie robot -- the False Maria in Fritz Lang's and Thea von Harbou's silent film Metropolis -- didn't have an audible voice.

Great movie robots? Certainly Gort in The Day the Earth Stood Still,  R2D2 and C3P0 in the Star Wars saga, WALL.E and Eve in Wall.E, the Iron Giant, Number 5 in Short Circuit -- and here's where it gets slippery. If  androids count, then certainly the replicants in Blade Runner and the 'bots in Sleeper and fembots in Austin Powers. I thought of RoboCop, but technically he's part human and therefore really Cyborg-Cop.

Can you put your finger on the components of a memorable robot performance? Your favorite 'bot?

Film Critic
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Carrie Rickey Film Critic
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