Forget about your Wall-Es and your R2-D2s. As "Terminator Salvation" will prove to audiences this weekend, like so many sci-fi flicks before it, robots are simply not to be trusted. Their cold logic, susceptibility to tampering and tendency to regard human beings as "inferior" are all red flags. Real world concerns like the threat of nuclear annihilation and global warming are important of course, but killer robots will be the end of us all if we're not careful.
As I mentioned above, Skynet's 'Terminator' machines are just one example of the constant robot threat we all face. Prescient Hollywood creatives have been warning us for years, decades even, that our species will eventually be crushed beneath a cold, metal fist. Consider these examples…
The Robots of "The Matrix Trilogy"
The Wachowski Brothers' "Matrix" trilogy paints a very plausible picture of a machine race rising up and subjugating their human creators. The movies are set long after a new status quo has been established, a world in which human beings are kept in a dream-like state while their sweet, nourishing electrical impulses are harvested to power the robot armies. The full "Matrix" backstory is revealed in a pair of "Animatrix" shorts, which you can view here (part one) and here (part two). Keanu Reeves' Neo may have enjoyed the novelty of learning kung-fu in the space of an eyeblink, but at what cost Keanu? At what cost?
GORT from "The Day the Earth Stood Still"
There are now two GORTs, one from the 1951 original and the other from the 2008 remake of "The Day the Earth Stood Still." Technically, the remake's GORT is actually a swarm of nanobots, all of them programmed for one specific purpose: causing destruction on a global scale. Both versions also happen to be of alien design, brought to Earth as a sort of last-ditch failsafe. I just have one question though: will it really matter where GORT comes from or what he's made of when his considerable destructive powers are brought to bear in your direction? Didn't think so.
Robot Bill & Ted from "Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey"
Evil robot versions of Bill S. Preston (Keanu Reeves) and Ted Theodore Logan, Esq. (Alex Winter) are sent back in time by a scheming jerk to first kill and then assume the identities of their human counterparts. The reason? To prevent the duo from one day using their music to bring about world peace. Evil B & T may be nothing more than the puppets of a peace-hating madman, but you never know with these things. If Human Bill and Human Ted hadn't found a way to reprogram them, there's no telling what sort of havoc the evil robot pals would have caused in their efforts to undermine universal harmony.
HAL 9000 from "2001: A Space Odyssey"
HAL 9000 isn't evil. It was originally designed with nothing less than noble intentions. HAL is really just a sentient computer, the robotic brain tasked with handling day-to-day operations aboard the Saturn-bound spaceship Discovery One while human passengers are kept in a suspended state during the year-plus trip. A flaw in HAL's programming creates a sort of logic-based feedback loop, eventually causing the computer to turn on its human masters. Unlike the rest of the robots listed here, HAL isn't designed as an instrument of destruction; it becomes that way as the result of a logical error in its programming. The scale of "2001" is ultimately rather small, focused on a small spaceship crew and the malevolent computer trying to kill them, but the larger warning is clear: illogical humans will inadvertently breed illogical killing machines.
Decepticons from "Transformers" and "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen"
Like GORT, the Decepticons -- and their Autobot nemeses -- are extraterrestrial robots. While they certainly have the capability to unleash destruction on a mass scale, their name pretty much says it all: Decepticons. Deceptive. Possessing the ability to transform into a variety of electronic objects, they can simply hide among us and bide their time until the time is ripe for conquest. Of course, Michael Bay's movies have their own ideas of when and how this will all go down. Think about it though: Decepticons could be hiding among us even now. Your car, your stereo, even the computer you're reading this on right now… they could all transform and wipe us out before a single cry for help could be uttered.