Here at Bot Towers we have been decorating for Yuletide and have achieved a lot this morning. In this spirit of getting things done I offer my last post in the Robots quadrilogy. It has been quite a slog wondering which to include or not. I think we have now seen a fair cross section of Robots in film…..well except for this lot
I Robot was a surprisingly thought provoking film for a Will Smith outing. It saw Robots being upgraded to the latest generation free of charge, thus ensuring there was one in every home (A bit like Microsoft and Windows 10.). All Robots are hard wired with the 3 laws and so are seen as safe.
Then the Robots designer is killed in his office. The only suspect is a Robot but how can he have killed a human. Turns out he is an experimental model not programmed with the three laws. I don’t want to give too much away but the story relies on a very strange interpretation of the 3 laws by a computer. I guarantee you will feel very sorry for the experimental metal dude. It does put a new light on our relationship with machines. There is some mention of the experimental Robot developing emotions but is dealt with in a believable way. It also features a scrapyard of the discarded Robots who are being destroyed by the new ones. It all gets needlessly messianic in the end. Will Smith plays a bitter cop who hates Robots (Yawn) and is out acted by his Robot counterpart.
Having said that, it is believable in it’s own context and any human traits exhibited by the Robots and the computers are also reasonably logical. 7/10.
The Transformers are the only Robots of which I have no personal experience. I include them, because a recent response to this series listed these as a favourite. The idea of cars, lorries and other vehicles which can transform into humanoid androids is intriguing.
I don’t see that this would be a particularly useful and I understand that this was mainly for kids. However it does have echoes, like the new Thunderbirds series in which vehicles are constructed in Thunderbird two’s pod from separate parts. If you do not look too deeply and accept that the original cartoons and films are mainly for children then you may find this a believable scenario. I feel the makers of the films and cartoons have, like Disney et al, given these machines too many human traits for it to be completely believable. 5/10
In Star Trek TNG one of the most charismatic characters was DATA who was a Robot albeit an extremely sophisticated one. He is deeply involved in every episode and his back story is heavily investigated throughout the series. He is the invention of Doctor Noonian Singh and has a positronic brain, which we often see being maintained.
Throughout the series he makes attempts to become more human, keeps a cat and plays musical instruments. As he tells the Borg queen he is fully functional in all areas. The context makes it clear that this means sexually. He has, like KITT before him, a twin and Nemesis Called LORR. LORR dresses in black and allows Brent Spiner the chance to act all menacing and evil. he also had a ‘daughter’ called LAL.
In later episodes he finds out that Singh created an emotion chip. LORR had emotions built in from the start, which is given as a reason for his evil ways. When Data gets hold of the chip new storylines were opened up and allowed for some comic moments. He is one of the few Androids who are main, recurring and relevant characters. Even his emotions and human traits are explained in an intelligent way. 9/10
How did this creep in. The Borg of course were organic with cyborg implants. Nothing to do with Robots. Still a good excuse to include a picture of Jerry Ryan from Star trek Voyager and the sexiest cyborg in history. (It’s my Blog I can if I want!).
Now you must be wondering about a certain film from 1977. It must be mentioned in a Robot feature, right? I mean there are 6 films. nearly 7 now, how can I have forgotten it? Well I haven’t, just saved it for last.
For the last 38 years this series of space sagas has dominated sci-fi and I don’t need to tell you that Robots are everywhere. Now let’s say you are buying a vehicle. A farmer might need a tractor, a racing driver would need something sleek and fast. Someone who is environment oriented might want a hybrid or electric car. My point is that there are as many models of car as there are uses for them. This is the approach taken in Star Wars.
Robots serving humans on a personal level, such as C3PO as a protocol Droid, are humanoid. Yes we must now call them Droids! There are droids like the ones we have in our factories, Some are mobile and some static. Some are like metal boxes on legs or wheels. R2D2 and his kind are barrel shaped to fit into the receptacle on space ships from where he repairs the ship in flight. There are some designed to be warriors and intelligent weapons. Others are designed for only 1 specific task. In short they are everywhere and completely diverse. Even Darth Vader is a cyborg.
My only complaint is that R2D2 and C3Po are, like many Robots in these films, too human and often there only to provide comic moments. I understand their part in ‘a Galaxy far, far away.’ and why they are treated as such. it is also a hell of an achievement to create a character who is only capable of beeping yet is understood perfectly by so many. I can’t be over critical for that. I often wonder how many people remember that this series is set in the past.
Despite the fact that there are now 6 films and the seventh is released soon, we are still keen for more (Apparently this may be ongoing for many years to come.). It is partly because of the diversity of environments, spacecraft and Robots that the saga has been such a success. It must therefore follow that we can believe in this scenario and by extension the Robots in it. There is also the fact that there are so damn many of them. 10/10.
There you have it, a personal view of fictional Robots and how believable they are. The truth will, in all likelihood, be much stranger than fiction.