Artificial Intelligence was once viewed as a science fiction pipe dream that was entertaining as a way to animate characters in shows. As it turns out, the technology has evolved into something very real and it has been developed to the point of promoting near human behaviors in computers and apps. AI has found its way into the core of our lives with talking phone apps that obey our commands, and smart appliances that perform requested tasks at our bidding. Our fascination with the topic has spanned decades and some very popular movies were made using the topic as a focal point. We’ve put together a collection of the top 20 movies about artificial intelligence for your enjoyment. We didn’t include the movie “AI” just because it’s too obvious. Sorry.
1. “The Matrix” (1999)
“The Matrix” is an example of what can happen when a human being gets involved in the perfect universe of machines who can think on their own. In this hit film, special agents wearing dark suits and sunglasses are very powerful beings. They may look and talk somewhat like men, but they are actually powerful and sentient artificial intelligence programs. They patrol the Matrix suppressing human rebellions. They have the ability to punch through concrete walls and dodge bullets with lightning speed. The future for mankind looks grim as the AI beings have effectively enslaved them. Agent Smith is the worst of the bunch and Hugo Weaving is as convincing in the role as Keanu Reeves is in his role as Neo, aka Mr. Anderson.
2. “Ex Machina” (2015)
Alex Garland served as director in the chilling film “Ex Machina,” which is the story of a young coder named Domhnall Gleeson. He is anticipating a big win that would include a weeks’ vacation at a private mountain retreat that is owned by his reclusive boss. Before he can claim his prize, he is informed that he must first become involved in a very odd experiment. Gleeson is called upon to investigate and report on the human qualities of a new piece of equipment in the form of a woman. Ava is a gorgeous female robot who looks, feels and acts just like a human being. She is a new breed of AI robot that comes housed within the body of a breathtaking woman played by actress Alicia Vikander.
3. “The Day the Earth Stood Still” (1951)
This was one of the most frightening science fiction films to hit the screens in the 1950s. This is the age when there were no laptop computers, smart phones or AI driven devices. This perhaps served as an initial introduction to the science, even if it was in the form of a futuristic film that most didn’t take too seriously. Who could have guessed that we would enjoy such amazing advances in technology at that time? The film centers around the visit of the alien Klaatu and Gort, his super robot. The pair travels to the earth to issue a warning. Humans must learn to live in peace or they will be destroyed because they are a danger to the other planets in the universe. When the humans refuse to listen, and sequester Klaatu, Gort automatically activates and begins to take action against the world. It begins with the firing of rays of energy that shoot from beneath his visor.
4. “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968)
This famous Stanley Kubrick film from the late 1960s remains a classic to this day. It was yet another progressive film that addressed the possibilities that exist within the realm of artificial intelligence. Mankind is fooled by their own arrogance when they develop the 9000 series of computer. It is considered to be the most reliable in creation. The AI technology that is programmed into its memory banks give it the ability to problem solve and think with near human characteristics. What they don’t realize is that this wonderful and helpful technology has the ability to turn on mankind and signal the end of the age of man. The movie focuses on the Discovery One manned mission to the planet Jupiter. HAL is the sentient computer in charge of manning most of the operations of the craft. The creature’s voice is soft and monotone and this doesn’t change, even as he begins killing off the crew. HAL has a glitch in his programming and he is determined to destroy the world. As Dave attempts to dismantle HAL or get him to change his plans, we hear the chilling words, “I’m Sorry Dave.” The phrase is short but it has become iconic and it serves as a warning that allowing computers to take charge and control vital functions can be a big mistake.
5. “Metropolis” (1927)
“Metropolis” was the Fritz Lang sci-fi film that served as the foundation for a variety of movies that would follow including “Blade Runner” and Superman.” It made history and was perhaps slightly before its’ time as a peasant girl who was a prophet in Berlin was plagued by a robot double in the year 2026. This was indeed a futuristic muse into the possibilities for advancement in technology and what the world would look like this far into the future. The robot wreaks chaos and havoc among the workers of the city. When it is captured, it is burnt at the stake for being a witch. This was the absolute first depiction of a robot on film and it served as the inspiration for the appearance of C-3PO as seen in “Star Wars.”
6. “Interstellar” (2014)
This movie was Christopher Nolan’s epic film which focused on astronauts aboard the circular shaped ship named “Endurance.” The crew was joined by a pair of quadrilateral robots called TARS and CASE. They strongly resembled the monolith from 2001. Matthew McConaughey stars as the astronaut who shared a connection with TARS, who sacrificed itself in order to obtain important data. He was rescued from destruction and became reunited with McConaughey. TARS and DATA were fair representations of the progress that has been made in artificial intelligence technology.
7. “I, Robot” (2004)
The movie was taken from the titular Isaac Asimov short story collection with distinct influences which are highly recognizable. Will Smith stars in this blockbuster film that is set in the year 2035. A Chicago policeman who is extremely technophobic had his suspicions that Sonny had gone rogue and had been directly responsible for the death of its owner. Sonny was an anthropomorphic servant droid. His owner had fallen from a window on the fiftieth floor to his death. Smith has a bad feeling about the modern technology and he had no confidence or trust in the beings who were created from this technology to serve their masters. He was right in some regard, but as the story progresses, he learns that not all droids are bad. Soon after the event with the alleged murder, there was in fact a total robot uprising. The police officer enters a journey of suspicion, confirmation, danger and learning as he gets to know Sonny better.
8. “RoboCop” (1987)
Peter Weller is a police officer who was murdered by a gang of criminals. What the thugs didn’t count on was his revival by a mega corporation named Omni Consumer Products. The company is a malevolent group who sought to turn Weller into a cyborg law enforcer with superhuman abilities. This movie was inspired by “Judge Dredd” and “Blade Runner” as the main character who was once Weller, tromped around dystopian Detroit in a steel suit that was crafted from ice hockey gear. His job was to clean up the streets and keep crime at bay. The biggest problem was when the memories of his human life that were buried deep within him would surface, haunting him. The Robot law enforcer was once human, but after his transformation, he was a machine that operated off artificial intelligence.
9. “Short Circuit” (1986)
“Short Circuit” is a film that features Johnny 5, the adorable creation created by the United States military to serve as their experimental robot. One fateful day, Johnny was struck by a lightning bolt, which changed his world forever. The robot developed new senses and free will was one of them. The electrical charge had somehow reprogrammed him. He escaped from his owners and embarked on his own adventure of learning and new experiences. He was a cute little guy who didn’t really resemble a human much, but he had the whole AI thing going on so he could comprehend and reason. Johnny had the appearance of a child-like being, similar to ET. When the character Ally Sheedy allowed Johnny access to television, books and a host of other stimuli, he thrived. Johnny had a constant craving for more input.
10. “The Terminator” (1984)
“The Terminator” is a movie that became a cult classic. Arnold Schwarzenegger was in his heyday at the time that he played the role of the cyborg assassin. This was the beginning of a franchise that would churn out multiple sequels of the blockbuster hit in the years to come. The cyborg was the creation of Cyberdyne Systems as a T-800 model 101. He was created with a metal endoskeleton with a living tissue covering. He was designed specifically for infiltration and for combat. He was sent backwards in time from the year 2029 on a mission to kill Sarah Connor before she would have the opportunity to give birth to John Connor, who would become the savior of all humankind. The fifth instalment of the franchise is “Terminator Genisys.”
11. “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery” (1997)
The first film of the “Austin Powers” franchise features Mike Myers playing multiple roles as the somewhat goofy hero superspy, with a bright and shining libido, and his mortal enemy, Doctor Evil. The bad doctor sends seven of his beehive headed blonde Fembots to seduce Austin. They are on a mission to kill him with the cannons that are built into their breasts. Powers does everything that he can think of to resist the charms of what he believes to be gorgeous women, but he relents and gives in to perform a super sexy strip tease. This sent the Fembots over the edge, and instead of killing him, each of them became so super sexed and excited that their heads blew off.
12. “Blade Runner” (1982)
The movie “Blade Runner” is the Ridley Scott blockbuster that is based on the “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” novel of Philip K, Dick. The setting is dystopian Los Angeles in the year 2019, which was a good distance in the future from 1982. Bio-engineered replicants which are everywhere are virtually impossible to tell from human beings. There is one very big difference though. The replicants only have a life span of four years. They have been implanted with false memories that make them believe that they truly are human. This is an unfortunate scenario. The android creatures are played by actors Daryl Hannah, Sean Young and Rutger Hauer. The big question that is being asked throughout the film is that is Harrison Ford a replicator as well? This film shows artificial intelligence at its finest and there is no other film that presents them in such a human light.
13. “The Machine” (2013)
“The Machine” is the 2013 Indi British film that is a futuristic noir thriller genre. The plot centers around Computer scientist Toby Stephens. He creates a cyborg for the Ministry of Defense with impressive abilities. The AI wonder is fully self-aware and conscious of his existence. We are in the cold war with China at the time. The machine is a smooth blonde that was intended to become a super solider, but as it turns out, it was more moral and human that anyone would have believed possible. The cyborg told its creator, “I’m a part of the new world.” It continued on to conclude “And your part of the old.” This ominous statement gives viewers an idea of what is to come in this thriller that will chill you to the bond.
14. “Star Wars” (1977‘)
The Star Wars franchise began with the trilogy and has spread through the universe of entertainment far and wide. The first show to kick off the mighty rush gave us a few excellent examples of AI technology. The beloved C3-PO and his taller uptight droid R2D2 both have it figured out. Although 3PO only speaks in beeps and whistles, he’s got an amazing registry that allows him to understand input, process it, and spit out appropriate responses. R2D2 conducts himself just as a human would and he even has his own unique personality. Both characters offer rounds of laughter for their hilarious performances and zany humor. Although not intended to be a comedy, these two AI delights certainly lighten up the show. In a side note, both of these characters are the only ones to have appeared in all seven of the major films in the franchise so far.
15. “Star Trek: Generations” (1994)
Lieutenant Commander Data was the successor to Mr. Spock and the guy that could offer the best non-human perspective for the commander and crew. Data made his first arrival to the show in the late 1980s and has appeared in four of the films as an albino like Soong android who possesses a positronic brain. He serves as senior officer aboard the USS Enterprise. Brent Spiner is the actor who plays the AI powered super brain. The android was also equipped with an emotion chip that allows him to simulate human feelings. Data became a favorite character because he is reminiscent of Mr. Spock in his attempt to control the occasional emotion that would invade his intellectual approach to the universe.
16. “Her” (2013)
This is a Spike Jones science fiction film that stars Joaquin Phoenix as the main character. Theodore Twombly is a writer who is quite lonely until he meets and falls in love with Samantha. The only catch is that Samantha is not a human. Instead, she is a computer operating system that is highly intelligent and comes with learning capabilities that are highly accelerated. She has a voice that sounds a lot like Siri. Scarlett Johansson plays the role of the AI OS who enters into a romance with Theodore in this slightly disturbing rendition of how loneliness can drive a man to do a lot of different things for love.
17. “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” (2005)
This highly popular film was the film that was taken from the Douglas Adams comic novel “Marvin The Paranoid Android,” which was voiced by Alan Rickman with Warwick Davis as the actor who was inside of the costume. He was the morose robot that was aboard the starship called “The Heart of Gold.” It became depressed because of the rare chance to use his brain. His best ever conversation was with a coffee machine 40 million years ago.” This movie is where we get the iconic saying, “I didn’t ask to be made.”
18. “Tron” (1982)
“Jeff Bridges stars in the science fiction film “Tron” as a guy that becomes digitized and is then beamed into “The Grid.” The Grid is a three-dimensional world that has been created by a rogue mainframe. While in this reality, he is required to compete in martial arcade games for the opportunity to get back out of the Grid. The characters are set against a backlit environment as they toss illuminated frisbees, drive light cycles and conduct all kinds of cyber activities that are almost too futuristic for the time that they were presented in.
19. “Wall-E” (2008)
“Wall-E” is the little mobile trash compacting unit who is Pixar’s hero robot. He cleans up the earth which has been abandoned and left strewn with litter and all types of refuse. Wall-E got his name because it is an acronym for his function which is Waste Allocation Load Lifter: Earth-class. He reminds us of the character Johnny 5 from the movie “Short Circuit” because he is equally as cute and adorable.
20. “Transcendence” (2014)
“Transcendence” follows Dr. Will Caster, played by Johnny Depp as he conducts his research in the field of Artificial Intelligence. He is working long hours to create a sentient machine that has the capacity for combining the collective intelligence of everything that has ever been known. His lofty goals also include infusing the capability for a full range of human emotions within the android. Caster has gained fame and notoriety for previous experiments which have been highly controversial. Caster becomes the target of anti-technology extremists who will stop at nothing to shut down his work and halt his projects. In their attempt to destroy Will, he becomes even more determined to reach his goals and as Will undergoes a transformation and evolution, it becomes apparent that there is nothing that they can do to stop him from reaching his highest aspirations.