While I know this post isn’t about Japan, Science fiction is one of my favorite genres of all time, so I wanted to write about it. Whether it be novels, video games, manga, TV shows, anime, or films, Sci-Fi has the power to capture the imagination and give us otherworldly dreams about the future. Some of the world’s greatest writers like Isaac Asimov or C.S. Lewis wrote numerous works of science fiction still being read and studied today.
From time travel to parallel dimensions and space exploration, the genre is full of interesting concepts and plot devices. Today, I want to outline one specific science fiction topic: artificial intelligence. This list will outline my top four science fiction films centered around AI technology and development or films that have an AI robot protagonist.
1. I, Robot (2004)
Based on the iconic science fiction novel of the same name by Isaac Asimov, I, Robot is unfortunately nothing like its source material. With that said, the 2004 film starring Will Smith still holds up as a standalone action sci-fi film. Set in 2035, I, Robot is about a world filled with humanoid robots created to serve humanity. The robots are programmed with the famous three laws of robotics created by Asimov:
A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.
The story follows Del Spooner, a detective who has an unparalleled hate of robots. During an investigation of a robot gone rogue, Spooner meets Sonny, a robot accused of killing its creator. The film is action-packed with a well-crafted mystery at the heart of the story. Can robots dream? Can robots feel emotion? You’ll have to watch the film to find out.
Set in Los Angeles in the near future, Her follows Theodore Twombly, a writer for a letter writing company. Twombly’s day job consists of ghostwriting letters for people who don’t have the ability to express themselves. While he spends most of his time expressing other people’s feelings, he has a hard time dealing with the pain of his upcoming divorce.
To help himself cope, Theodore upgrades his computer’s operating system to a state-of-the-art artificially intelligent OS. Twombly opts for the OS to have a female voice, and once activated, the AI names herself Samantha. What started as Twombly’s virtual assistant becomes so much more, as he quickly finds himself falling in love with her. Starring the critically acclaimed Joaquin Phoenix, Her is a must-see film for Sci-Fi and romance film fanatics.
3. Ex Machina
Starring Domnhall Gleeson (About Time), Ex Machina follows Caleb Smith, a programmer for the world’s top search engine company, Blue Book. Smith wins a company contest and the chance to visit the extravagant, remote home of Blue Book’s CEO, Nathan. After arriving at Nathan’s home, Smith learns that Nathan has built a humanoid artificially intelligent robot.
Nathan built the robot with a female appearance and named her Ava. Nathan challenges Smith with the task of interacting with Eva and deducing whether or not she has reached consciousness and human relatability. Eva quickly gains Smith’s trust and tells him the Nathan isn’t all what he seems and that he should be cautious of him. Written and directed by Alex Garland, the screenplay writer of 28 Days Later, Ex Machina is a sci-fi mystery thriller that’ll have you at the edge of your seat until the very end.
4. A.I. Artificial Intelligence
Directed by the great Steven Spielberg, Artificial Intelligence is the first AI film I’ve ever watched and to this day it remains the best AI film I’ve ever watched.
Artificial Intelligence stars Haley Joel Osment in his prime childhood acting days. Osment plays David, a humanoid child robot designed to show love for his owners. After joining his new family, his adoptive brother grows jealous of him. At a party, the two brothers fight and fall into the swimming pool, resulting in Martin nearly drowning. Martin’s father demands that David be returned to the manufacturing company to be destroyed. David is saved by the only one who showed him affection, Martin’s mother. After escaping David is helped by another unregistered AI robot on the run. David remembers the story of the Blue Fairy from Pinocchio, who he believes can turn him too into a real boy.
The film is provocative in its themes of fear and hate of AI. As well, the film ponders the idea of life and what it means to be human or whether AI has the same value as human life.
These were my top 4 sci-fi movies centered around artificial intelligence. Did I miss a movie on your list of favorites? What did you think of the films listed above? Let me know in the comments below.