Today, we begin the wearing thin of a format.
Over on that other site I write for, Screen Robot, Sam Heard’s article ‘The Top Five Greatest Screen Robots‘ has opened the door to a number of possibilities for us to fall back on when we’ve got no other ideas, something I’m sure I’ll do until and beyond the joke wears thin. Bottom [X] worst screen robots. The most middling [X] screen robots. The [X] most disturbingly sexy screen robots. Truly, the format is only limited by the number of adjectives in the English language. This article isn’t on that site ‘cos the robots aren’t varied enough in their origins.
Honourable mentions to Robin Williams-bot from Robots, who’s disqualified for being Robin Williams in a kids film and thus basically tries too hard to be silly; and that giant one from Transformers 2 because it has BUALS, which instantly neuter (ironically) it as a threat in the audience’s eyes because IT’S A ROBOT WITH BIG DANGLING TESTES and everyone’s giggling childishly. Nice going Bay.
6. Battle Droids, Star Wars Prequel Trilogy
Let’s give our antagonist’s persistent army of death-bots goofy comic relief voices. The battle droids lend weight to the idea that the prequels were made specifically to sell toys and spin-offs to kids. Compare them to the Stormtroopers of the original trilogy. They might be figures of fun now because of their inability to hit anything, defeat by Ewoks and 35 years of jokes building up but originally they were a faceless, fascistic army with an evocative name that were a force to be feared. Honestly, robot-soldiers are meant to be soulless unshakable killing machines that strike fear into opposing meatbag armies – who thought it would be a good idea to program them to flinch and go ‘uh-oh’ when things start going wrong?
5. Interrogation Droid, Star Wars: A New Hope
At first glance it seems like something also called a ‘torture droid’ shouldn’t be on this list, but it’s just so silly. A floating black football that looks like it’s had a syringe glued to the side. Even the high-pitched ‘hovering’ noise it makes sounds like it’s trying to be intimidating but failing.
4. Gonk Droid, Star Wars
Yep, more Star Wars. It’s like the Gonk Droid was made for this list. It even has a silly name that comes from the silly ‘GONK’ noise it makes and they shuffle around in an awkward/adorable manner. Gonk droids are big ol’ walking batteries and are also clearly men wearing boxes with dryer-outlet pipes on their legs. I’ll still take them over any of the CGI crap in the new movies though.
3. Mouse Droids, Star Wars
What do they do? The Death Star’s cutest and most frequent trip hazard, the highlight of the video-game Jedi Outcast is unquestionably when you get to take control of one of these guys. See, they even help save the galaxy. They’re also tremendously fun to kill in most Star Wars games because of the way that they squeal and tip over or explode when you shoot them. Much more fun to kill than the rats in Max Payne. Proof that robot cruelty is a viable future alternative to animal cruelty.
2. Catskill, Heartbeeps
Heartbeeps is a robot love story which is either absolute genius or absolutely awful, and is the only thing stopping this list being dominated by Star Wars. One of the more genius/questionable parts is the wisecracking robot comedian Catskill; permanently sat down, replete with metal cigar and (probably) a database of over 6 million mother-in-law jokes. Yes, he’s that kind of comedian. His constant quips and corny jokes are endearing though and, perhaps surprisingly given Heartbeeps as a whole he actually gets some good, genuinely funny lines.
1. The Crimebuster, Heartbeeps
Look, just watch the video. He’s an angry, sentient tank/car who seems to think he’s McBain.