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Reel Steel: The Best Robot Movies

In the future, robot fighters are the stars of the boxing ring. In the new film Real Steel, Hugh Jackman uses a joystick to control Atom – a punching-bag robot who is more or less a metallic Rocky.


“Get in there and show ‘em who’s boss!” 

Before running into Atom, Jackman tours with another robot which he trains to duke it out in a back-alley slugfest. For robot junkies, Real Steel is heaven. But if you can’t get to a theater, there’s still a way to quench your thirst for metal. Entertainment Weekly recently polled its readers to find out what they considered the best robot movies of all time. We broke down the results:

WALL-E (2008) 22%
Pixar’s plucky little recycling bot won the poll hands down, pulling in a whopping 22% of the votes.


Maybe WALL-E is so popular because it’s one of the most recent robot movies out there, and we admit it’s one of our favorite Pixar films. Still, we couldn’t believe the computer-animated flick beat out…

Star Wars (1977) 17%
C-3PO and R2-D2 are probably the most famous robots EVER. And they’ve got six – count ‘em, six - Star Wars movies to prove it.


What a pedigree: One of the robots (C-3PO) was built out of spare parts by Darth Vader (see Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace). 

Terminator 2 (1991) 17%
And the third most-famous robot film is Terminator 2. T2 stars the T-800 Terminator, the robot role that helped transform Arnold Schwarzenegger into one of the world’s biggest movie stars.


Terminator 2 also features another awesome robot…the shape-shifting T-1000.

I, Robot (2004) 6%
Another major action hero, Will Smith, plays a cop in the year 2035, who investigates a crime committed by a robot. The film was based on Isaac Asimov’s classic sci-fi novel.


Will Smith headlined I, Robot, although the real star of the movie is Sonny, a high-end glossy bot that has superhuman powers (but then again, so do most robots).

The Iron Giant (1999) 8%
Vin Diesel voices The Iron Giant, the Jolly Green Giant-sized alien robot that a boy befriends in order to save him from a paranoid government.


An animated classic, The Iron Giant was directed by Brad Bird (who also directed The Incredibles and Ratatouille).

Blade Runner (1982) 9%
Flying cars, building-sized video screens and an ultra-modern Los Angeles are the backdrop for this futuristic noir flick.


The robots in Blade Runner are bad guys and they’re being tracked down by Harrison Ford. The lifelike robots are called replicants, and they never show their metal skeletons.

Short Circuit (1986) 5%
Before WALL-E, the robot in Short Circuit, Johnny #5 (who bears an amazing resemblance to WALL-E) was the little tread-wearing robot that ruled theaters.


“Who’s Johnny?” Short Circuit is an 80s classic.

Transformers (2007) 12%
Isn’t Optimus Prime a truck? At any rate, the giant bots from Transformers not only invaded theaters but had enough power to grab 12% of the vote.


Optimus Prime: Part robot, part truck.

Other 4%
How can you overlook the Steven Spielberg classic A.I.? Sure, the film is a little dark, but Spielberg’s loving portrait of a robot who thinks he’s a boy is amazing on so many levels.

Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots
Long before video games or Real Steel or LEGO robot battles, the original butt-kicking robots could be found in toy stores (where they’re still being sold). “Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots” is Mattel’s two-player action toy boxing game, which features two plastic robots that face off against each other, not unlike the robots in Real Steel. The human “manager” for each toy robot uses two simple joysticks to control the robots, which throw jabs and hooks at each other’s head until one player scores the knockout punch that makes its opponent’s spring-loaded head pop up in defeat. The toy was first marketed in the 1960s by the Marx Toy Company, and has been produced at various times by other manufacturers (most notably by Mattel). The classic game has been recently remade into a video game and an updated toy.


This was first robot-boxing toy, and its object was simple: “Knock his block off!”

Still, for robot lovers who want to get “real” and build their own robots, there’s only one way to go…

LEGO Robotics
LEGO’s NXT Robotics set is the best way to get into robotics. The kit provides everything you need to design, build and program your very own real robot. You can make fetching robots, task robots or even battling robots.


Take control of real plastic – there are some microchips, gears and a little steel in there, too – with LEGO’s NXT robot.

In fact, robot battles have become a big deal. There are robot battle competitions all over the world, and there’s even a robot battle league. So Real Steel isn’t that far off from the truth. Now there are even robot summer camps, where kids and teens can build and battle bots of their own creation – just like Hugh Jackman does in Real Steel.

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posted by Vince Matthews in Digital Filmmaking,News Blog and have No Comments

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