Pop Rocks

Pop Rocks: "Your Plastic Pal Who's Fun To Be With"

I have nothing against robots, per se. Some of the greatest antagonists in sci-fi have been fearsome automatons like those found in Fred Saberhagen's Berseker series, or the Terminator, or the...Battle Android Troopers (B.A.T.s) from G.I. Joe. I guess. And although robot offerings in recent years have been uneven, ranging from excellent (the Cylons from the revamped Battlestar Galactica, WALL-E) to "meh" (General Grievous) to craptacular (I, Robot), we don't seem to be in any danger of suffering robo-overload a la vampires and zombies.

Which brings me to the subject of the Transformers. As you're probably aware, the third entry in Michael Bay's cacophonous trilogy - Transformers: Dark of the Moon - comes out tomorrow. It's guaranteed to make mad, phat, stupid money, since the only other movie of note opening this week is the sure-to-be-insufferable Larry Crowne, in which Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts make us all wish theaters handed out handguns along with 3-D glasses, the better to end our suffering.

But three movies? Is the epic narrative of giant robots beating the shit out of each other so complex it requires almost eight hours of running time to tell it? Aren't there any other robots worthy of the big screen treatment? Why, I believe there are.

This isn't a comprehensive list of robots who need their own movies, so feel free to leave your own suggestions.

Bender, Futurama

Sure, he's been featured in made-for-TV specials (Bender's Big Score, for example), but if any bending unit deserves the R-rated big screen treatment, it's the cigar chomping, booze swilling, sociopathic bending unit from TV's Futurama. Who knows? With the right script, he might finally realize his dream of killing all humans.

The Sentinels

These mutant-hunting robots are a critical part of X-Men comic and animation history, not that you'd know this from watching the movies, where the only glimpse we see of them is an early Danger Room sequence in The Last Stand. Standing three stories tall and capable even of destroying Wolverine, the only knock against them is they don't have bulging, glistening pecs like Hugh Jackman.


"Just and automated vaccuum cleaner," you say? Was the Shadout Mapes from Dune "just a housekeeper?" Was Mrs. White from Clue "just a maid?" The Roomba sees everything and knows all your filthy secrets. Is it so far-fetched to think future murder mysteries might not end with the accusation, "The Roomba did it?" Your cat doesn't think so.

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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar