Love Giant Robots? 5 Movies Like Transformers You Need to See

Joel Lee 01-06-2015

Say what you want about Transformers, but nobody can deny that it’s a one-of-a-kind franchise. While there are many franchises that share some similarities, there’s a certain stylistic flair that sets Transformers apart as unique — whether that’s a good or bad unique, I’ll leave up to you.


Maybe you’re like me and watched any or all of the Transformers movies with high hopes only to leave the theater disappointed. Maybe it’s one of many such disappointments that eventually made you stop going to the cinemas Cinema Is Dying: How Movie Theaters Can Ensure Their Survival Movie theaters need to offer more than just a way of watching the latest films. They need to stop competing on "convenience" and start focusing on "experience." Here's how. Read More . Maybe you love the concept of giant robots but are saddened by the dearth of giant robot movies.

It’s true: there’s a huge gap in the market with a lot of potential. But the good news is that there are a handful of “larger than life” films over the past two decades that were actually pretty good. Whether you like Transformers or not, the following films should appeal.

Robot Jox (1989)

When a nuclear holocaust devastates the entire world, the remnant nations come together and outright ban war. Over time, these nations form two opposing factions that agree to resolve their differences through the only option left to them: gladiator-style duels between giant robots.

And that’s the premise of Robot Jox.

Most giant robot films are limited by the sheer amount of CGI involved 8 Of The Best Animated CGI Short Films [Stuff to Watch] Continuing last week’s theme of short film, today’s Stuff to Watch focuses entirely on rendered productions in this collection of excellent computer generated shorts. As movie studios pump millions of dollars into feature-length 3D productions;... Read More in the process of making it look good. Yet, way back in 1989, director Stuart Gordon didn’t let that stop him from creating what would later go on to become a cult classic.


Despite the outdated Cold War cliche at the heart of the plot, Robot Jox has two glorious fight scenes that would make any fan of giant robots pump their fist with excitement.

Pacific Rim (2013)

In the not-so-distant future, a portal is discovered at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. From that portal, massively nightmarish creatures emerge and wreak havoc on human establishments across the world. In response, humans fight fire with fire by creating and piloting massively nightmarish robots.

Though it sounds pretty corny, Pacific Rim shattered expectations. It’s arguably what Transformers should have been from the very beginning.

No longer limited by primitive technologies, we’re finally entering an age where we can watch the kind of stories that were once constrained to animation. Indeed, Pacific Rim is basically an anime come to life — and actually executed well.


If you get the chance, be sure to watch this one in 3D. While it’s often seen as a gimmick, this is one of a handful movies that are worth watching in 3D 7 Incredible 3D Movies Actually Worth Seeing In 3D There are too many movies where the 3D adds nothing to the overall experience. However, when done properly, 3D has the potential to blow you away. The following movies are prime examples. Read More . I guarantee you won’t regret it.

The Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

The Avengers may not be the first — or even 10th — film that comes to mind when you think “giant robots”, but it has giant things and robots in it. Which counts, right? But seriously, the heart of the Avengers franchise is very much in the same place as the Transformers franchise, and it turns out they’re quite similar.

As the second-highest grossing film of 2015 at the time of this writing, there’s no doubt that people want more films like Age of Ultron, despite the reservations revealed in our Age of Ultron movie review.

I suppose it’s a good thing that Marvel has already announced a two-part sequel titled Infinity War, with the first half scheduled for release in 2018. Are you excited?


Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974)

Do I need to explain this one? The Godzilla franchise dates all the way back to 1954 and pretty much popularized the entire genre of “big huge dangers” that we’ve all come to love.

“But Godzilla isn’t a robot!”, I hear you say. While that’s true, there was one film in the series that introduced a robotic element to the creature. In the titular film, Mechagodzilla is the villain, while Godzilla, who’s normally the big bad, clashes against him. The film also involves two other massive creatures, Anguirus and King Caesar.

Big battles everywhere.

Even though the 2014 version of Godzilla is less about robots and more about aliens, I recommend that you check it out as well. And like Pacific Rim, it’s definitely worth watching in 3D. It’s no longer available in theaters so your only hope is to watch it on a 3D smart TV Smart TV 3D: Is It All It's Cracked Up to Be? If you're unfamiliar with smart TVs, now may be the time to catch up and see what you've been missing. With Smart TV 3D technology, you have even more options to consider. Read More . (Or not. It’s still good even in regular ol’ 2D.)


Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004)

If Transformers appeals to you for its simple plot, mindless action, and vast array of explosions, then you may not like this one. Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow is not a summer blockbuster. It’s nearly antithetical to everything Transformers is.

But it has giant robots, it has action and adventure, and it’s a fun watch, so why not give it a try?

Set in an alternative version of New York City in the 1930s, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow is a highly stylized take on the classic city-invaded-by-huge-robots plotline — but, as always, there’s more to it than first meets the eye.

And when I say it’s highly stylized, I mean it. What’s impressive here is that the entire film was shot using computer-generated surroundings that were rendered and composited by nearly 100 visual effects artists. Have you seen Sin City? It looks kinda like that, except with giant robots.

More Giant Robots In Movies

Giant robots are a rarity in featured films. Sure, some popular ones like the Megazord from Power Rangers come to mind, but in the grand scheme, it is but a tiny portion. Perhaps in the next decade, when CGI isn’t so cost-prohibitive, we’ll start seeing more movies like Transformers and Pacific Rim.

But until then, don’t forget to check out these tech-heavy movies that all geeks should watch 8 Movies Featuring Technology All Geeks Should Watch What follows is a list of 8 movies featuring technology which all geeks should watch at least once. Read More as well as these best geek movies of all time 42 of the Best Geek Movies of All Time: How Many Have You Seen? Geeks are people too. I am one, you're probably one, and we're a growing army that can no longer be ignored. Not even by Hollywood. Geek movies FTW! Read More . They should tide you over until the giant robot revolution hits your local movie theater.

NB: Anime films were intentionally left off this list. While I’m aware that big mecha stories are common in the anime world, I haven’t watched enough of them to make any kind of judgments. If you’d like to recommend one, please feel free to do so.

Are there any other movies that should appeal to those who love giant robots? Share them with us in the comments below, telling us why you personally enjoyed them.

Related topics: Computer Animation, Robotics.

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  1. Christopher Burke
    October 31, 2018 at 11:07 am

    Just wanted to say Godzilla was NEVER the big bad in ANY of his movies, that's the point! People THINK he's the big bad but he's actually always protecting us from attacking aliens and even some of the aliens aren't so bad really - like Mothra (I was in love with the Mothra Twins - two tiny girls with voices like angels who appeared whenever Mothra was around) for years!

    And you forgot Metropolis (the heroine becomes a giant robot)
    Ghost In the Shell (one of the heroes is an empty robot)
    Akira (you didn't say we couldn't include anime!)
    Real Steel (arguably includable)
    The Day the Earth Stood Still (Klaatu!)
    Lost In Space (the Robot BECOMES a giant robot in one of the episodes, I remember the little girl getting lost inside him.)
    Jason and the Argonauts (there's a giant robot guarding one of the islands, forgotten its name, MIGHT be Hephaestus but I'm prepared to be corrected)
    The original, silent version of Baron Munchausen (giant robot spider!)

    That's all I can think of for now but there may be others.

    Yours respectfully


  2. asdf
    October 11, 2016 at 4:23 pm


  3. Anonymous
    August 14, 2015 at 1:22 pm

    I'm surprised The Iron Giant didn't get a mention. It's a very good movie that can be enjoyed by all ages. Okay, it's animated, but so was Transformers originally.

  4. celestialpool
    June 2, 2015 at 8:11 pm

    A classic one is Saturn 3. Great special effects for the time, and good story too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NENxIu02bvg

  5. Alan Gurling
    June 2, 2015 at 7:08 pm

    While it may not be a movie per se (the series ends in a movie) I recommend that you start with Mobile Suit Gundam 00 in your Anime recommendations. It's one of the most highly rated Animes, and for good reason.