From Star Wars to Transformers: a rundown of Hollywood’s crappiest robots

As Boston Dynamics wows the world, we look back at cinema’s worst robotic creations.

The new Atlas robot in testing.
The Future of Robots Hollywood has rarely been right when it comes to robots Image Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The age of actually useful robots is getting closer, with Google-owned robotics firm Boston Dynamics unveiling its latest humanoid.

Capable of withstanding any number of hits, kicks and all-round disruption, the new Atlas robot really could be the start of a bold new future.

Atlas The next generation of robots.

All of which makes Hollywood’s inability to accurately predict what our new robot friends might be like even more galling.

The film world is littered with abysmal automatons that have long been consigned to the scrapheap  – but we’re bringing them back with a rundown of some of the worst robots to hit the silver screen.


Box – Logan’s Run

On the Box Logan and the mighty Box.

Living alone in an ice cavern where he was tasked with freezing animals to provide food for those living inside The Dome, Box is supposed to be a major obstacle in Logan and Jessica’s escape.

What a shame, then, that he moved with all the grace of a motorised golf buggy fused with a small child’s attempt at a C-3PO costume. He is very well spoken, though.


Battle Droids – The Phantom Menace

Benny Hill Battle Droids Enjoy this Star Wars mash-up.

An enemy supposed to strike fear into the hearts of Rebel forces everywhere, battle droids were a poor substitute for Stormtroopers and gave Star Wars fans yet another reason to hate the prequel trilogy – besides trade agreements, not enough Darth Maul and J*r J*r B*nks.

Expendable, forgettable and lacking any real imagination in design, at least the robots were capable of out-acting Hayden Christensen, though that hardly seems like a fair fight.


Spider-Bot – Runaway

Runaway trailer Tom Selleck and Gene Simmons star.

As Sergeant Jack Ramsey, Tom Selleck’s moustachioed cop/robot hunter/ladykiller had his hands full not only with a deranged Gene Simmons from Kiss but also the mother of all automated assassins: the Spider-Bot.

Capable of climbing walls, injecting acid and self-destructing on completion of its mission, the Spider-Bot had just one drawback: It looked like a broken toaster.


Mudflap and Skids – Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen’

Mudflap & Skids The dynamic duo take on the Devastator.

In a film that features the big screen debut of robot bollocks – we’re looking at you Devastator – Mudflap and Skids still steal the show as the Paul and Barry Chuckle of robot double acts.

Ill-conceived and borderline racist, the pair courted controversy for their “urban” look and supposedly “streetwise” dialogue, coming across as misguided attempt to connect with the “youth”.

That’s a lot of quotation marks.


Muffet – Battlestar Gallactica

Muffet the Dog A fully restored version of the Battlestar robodog.

The big-screen version of the original Battlestar demonstrated that, while cyborg technology was incredibly advanced, canine robot development had been sorely neglected, resulting in this gaffer-tape looking monstrosity.

What makes Muffet even more bizarre, decades on, is knowing that it was a chimpanzee lurking under that truly terrible costume. Next time, just stick a foil hat on an actual dog.


NS-5s – I, Robot

I, Robot encounters Will Smith meets a robot.

Like the robot equivalent of a bad date who looks nice but lacks substance, the NS-5s were the icing on another cinematic shitcake served to moviegoers by Will Smith, who was clearly too busy weaving product placement into his character’s backstory (he wore Converse, because future shoes are evidently shit.)

Created using state-of-the-art computer graphics that have, naturally, dated very badly in just a small space of time, these droids now exist as a chilling portent of what Blue Man Group could one day resemble.


Johnny-5 – Short Circuit 1 & 2

Johnny 5 is alive The original living robot arrives.

Johnny 5 was alive and, boy, didn’t he like to remind us of it at every possible turn. He rolled around at rapid speed, read books in the blink of an eye, flew hang gliders, bashed bad guys and repeated movie quotes ad nauseam.

It all proved too much for Steve Guttenberg, who opted against returning for a sequel in favour of more Police Academy films. The less said about Fisher Stevens, the better.


ED-209 – Robocop

ED 209 malfunctions Testing out a killer robot - what could possibly go wrong?

Oh ED-209, if only you hadn’t killed that executive guy during your demo run and if only you had been capable of going up and down stairs too. Maybe then Alex Murphy would have been left to rest in peace, rather than spend his days shooting bad guys in the dick.

As it was, viewers had to put up with some dodgy looking special effects and one of the most violent scenes in a Paul Verhoeven movie, which is really quite an achievement.


Paulie’s Robot Butler – Rocky IV

Paulie's robot revealed Rocky IV gets strange.

“I wanted a sports car, not no walking trash can!” Rocky’s booze-fuelled brother-in-law bemoans in Rocky IV and he rather has a point.

Naff, rarely helpful and perhaps the most bizarre addition to a franchise that now counts boxer Tony Bellew in its cast, you just wish Ivan Drago had decided to end the life of this walking, talking lump of lead rather than Rocky’s best pal Apollo. 

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