Since the release of Prometheus critics have been divided on Ridley Scott’s science fiction epic. But one thing they all agree in is Michael Fassbender’s excellence as Weyland Industries’ synthetic humanoid robot David. His terrifyingly stone-faced performance is as chilling as it is polite, almost as if he’d offer you a cup of tea in his right hand while removing your spinal chord in his left. In fact it is his decidedly un-human characteristics, masked with a very human social graces are the clear highlight of the film. But he is not the first robot/cyborg/android to steal scenes so here’s a countdown of the other top 5 great cybernetic, robotic characters.
5. Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer in Blade Runner)
Forget the questions of is Deckard a replicant or not and Harrison Ford’s pitch-perfect downbeat performance as the ‘man’ hunting escaped replicants. It’s actually Rutger Hauer’s Roy Batty that steals the show as an almost idealistic freedom fighter surrounded by corrupt humanity.
Key moment: Finally tracking down leader of the escaped replicants Deckard confronts Batty on a rooftop in the rain before being beaten and left hanging by his foe. His expression as Roy delivers one of the most beautiful speeches in film history is nothing sort of film perfection.
4. Bishop (Lance Henriksen in Aliens)
To think that another actor could top Ian Holm’s performance as deranged synthetic human Ash in Ridley Scott’s Alien was unthinkable, until James Cameron cast Lance Henrikson as the futuristic model from Weyland-Yutani Corporation, Bishop. Constantly meeting resistance from Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley, Ash more than proves his metal and places himself in film history because of it. It’s made all the more poignant by the fact that he is heartlessly killed off at the beginning of dreadful Alien3.
Key moment: The infamous knife trick on teammate Hudson.
3. The Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator)
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s casting as the T800 in The Terminator helped shape a generation, made the Austrian hunk a huge star and kicked off one of the longest running film franchises of all time. Sent back from the future to kill the leader of the resistance before he’s born, The Terminator is the most sadistic, relentless killing machine in all of film history.
Key moment: Having had all of his human skin and flesh flayed away, all that remains is the silver skeletal form of the T800. Even this doesn’t stop him however, as he continues to try and kill Sarah Connor in the original films most terrifying and tense scene.
2. R2-D2 and C3PO (Kenny Baker and Anthony Daniels in the Star Wars films)
The two most famous droids in film history provide one of the most popular franchises with some comic relief. The bickering duo R2-D2 and C-3PO are involved (in some shape) in all 6 of the Star Wars episodes and, like the audience, have front row seats to the galactic saga that has enthralled generations.
Key moment: There are so many scenes individually to choose for each of them, but they best moment together has to be in the arena on Geonosis where, having been trapped under a creature C-3PO needs his little companions help to get to safety. R2-D2 coolly swivels on the spot attaches a grapple to C-3PO and rolls away pulling only his head to safety much to C-3PO’s dismay.
1. HAL 9000 (voiced by Douglas Rain in 2001: A Space Odyssey)
What list of robots/androids and general mechanical mayhem would be complete without HAL 9000 from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. The infamous red-lighted artificial intelligence from the Discovery One who gets confused with his directives and decides the only logical conclusion is to massacre the crew so that he no longer has to lie to them. Smart kid that HAL, he’ll go far.
Key moment: Having actually gone completely bonkers, the ‘logical’ HAL 9000 informs crew-member David Bowman that he can’t open the landing bay doors. It’s the chilling realisation that the AI has lost his mind as he calmly and flatly states “I’m sorry Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.” Chilling stuff.