Mechanoid Marvels
Sci-Fi films featuring all kinds of robots and mechs


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Silent Running
D: Douglas Trumbull (1971) 89m


Earth's surviving trees and plants have been exiled to giant spaceships. The anti-ecology lobby couldn't care less and it falls back to Freeman Lowell to save botanical heritage in a desperate dash into the lonely reaches of deep space. His only companions are three personality-charged robotic 'drones'. Classic social commentary that remains disturbingly relevant.





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Westworld
D: Michael Crichton (1973) 88m


Non-stop sci-fi thriller with Yul Brynner playing a gun-slinging amusement park robot who has fused his microchips. Park visitors play out their fantasies in theme 'worlds' populated by amazingly lifelike robots. Despite the fact that nothing can go wrong - everything goes wrong. The premise was later revived for Jurassic Park.





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Blade Runner
D: Ridley Scott (1991) Various lengths


Director's Cut sees the silly voice-over narration and upbeat ending of the 1982 version replaced with something much closer to what the original Philip K Dick story intended. Marlowe-style detective (Harrison Ford) tracks rebellious android 'replicants' in bleak near-future Los Angeles. Other cuts have since emerged leaving plenty of room for debate as to which is the definitive rendering.





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The Terminator
D: James Cameron (1984) 108m


Man vs machine in this superior Schwarzenegger action flick about a cyborg 'terminator' sent back from the near-future to prevent the rise of the human resistance movement by killing its leader's mother before she gives birth. Hard to imagine anyone but Big Arnie in the role, which he paradoxically reprises in the brilliant 1991 sequel.





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RoboCop
D: Paul Verhoeven (1987) 102m


The Detroit police force has been privatised along with everything else and, as fate would have it, incorrigible corporate crooks are running the show. A badly injured cop gets some cybernetic implants and is programmed to bring all criminals to justice - except for the ones in charge. High-octane action with a dash of humanity.





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A.I. - Artificial Intelligence
D: Steven Spielberg (2001) 145m


The Pinocchio fascination continues in this Spielberg effort inherited from the late Stanley Kubrick. The film traces the fortunes of a cybernetic boy through futures near and far as he strives to become a 'real boy' with a loving family. Kubrick's influence is evident in the more noirish aspects of the future. Time will tell on this one, but don't look for it to obtain classic status.





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I, Robot
D: Alex Proyas (2004) 115m


Will Smith flashes some unexpectedly hunky pecs while Asimov's famous robot stories fade into the background. Smith plays detective Del Spooner who suspects that the laborious robots of the year 2035 may be about to turn on humankind. Suspicions surrounding the death of a robotics scientist may provide some clues. A capable action flick with Smith in trademark form.





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WALL•E
D: Andrew Stanton (2008) 98m


After spending lonely centuries performing his waste allocation duties on a devastated Earth, robot WALL•E finally meets the mech of his dreams - the sleek search robot EVE. Pixar films rarely miss the mark, but this one is even a few notches above most of their other impressive output. There is an almost overpowering environmental message for young and old alike.


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