Movies are a great source of entertainment for most people. The Artificial Intelligence theme has been recurring in various forms since the early days. Although most AI movies are a bit exaggerated for dramatic effects, they often try to challenge the human perception of reality.
Usually, intelligent machines are portrayed as a miracle invention as they can perform predictions and simulations better than humans. But on the other hand, there is a concern that super-intelligent AI will outsmart human beings and eventually eliminate us from Earth.
Below is a collection of some of the best AI-themed movies you can watch on best streaming sites out there.
Available on Tubi
This 1927 masterpiece is perhaps the first film to depict the Artificial intelligence theme and is based on a 1925 novel by the same name. The movie is set in a dystopian city that is highly divided where the upper-class dwell in skyscrapers and the working class live and work below.
Freder, a boy from the upper class, falls in love with a girl named Maria from the working class. He sympathizes with the girl after seeing their working and living conditions. The boy’s father is the city’s master and instructs a robot with Maria’s likeness to be created to fool his son. However, the plan backfires, and the Robot’s AI begins to cause unrest and riots among the working class.
The movie wasn’t received well when it premiered with negative reviews and claims that it is unrealistic. Although the AI theme was revolutionary as it presented a human-like doppelganger, the era perceived robotics as fantasy.
The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
Available on Hoopla
An unidentified flying object (UFO) disembarks in Washington, D.C, with a humanoid alien called Klaatu and a green robot guardian named Gort. The US army arrives at the site, and Klaatu is accidentally wounded during the altercation, and Gort crumbles the weaponry. Klaatu clarifies that he has landed on Earth to explore and study life on Earth.
For most of the film, Klaatu spends time with the humans while Gort guards the UFO. He is the depiction of AI, although he has short screen time compared to Klaatu. However, like Metropolis, artificial intelligence is still portrayed as fantasy.
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Available on HBO Max
Although 2001: A Space Odyssey received mixed reviews when it premiered in 1968, it is one of the most popular science-fiction films. The plot is about a crew of Discovery One, a spacecraft heading to planet Jupiter, that has to deal with the ship’s malicious AI supercomputer HAL 9000.
Unlike other AI-themed films, HAL is an intangible voice instead of a robot being. In fact, it is a voice assistant that sounds and acts like a human but is more calculating and harsh. However, the depiction of AI in 2001: A Space Odyssey is better than preceding science-fiction films as it predicts the voice assistant technology we use today.
Unavailable for streaming
The film shows a futuristic theme park with three ‘worlds’: Medieval World (the middle ages), Western World (the wild west), and Roman World (ancient Rome). They are populated with android-like beings that resemble real-life humans embodying characters of their worlds.
There is a virus outbreak, and the androids begin to run helter-skelter, killing park guests. The portrayal of AI in the film is evil robots fighting humanity. However, the robots are more realistic, making it hard to distinguish their artificiality.
Available on Disney +
Tron stars Jeff Bridges as Kevin Flynn, a hacker and computer engineer. He is a former employee of ENCOM, a multinational tech conglomerate, but has gone rogue after a game he programmed is stolen by the company. Flynn is sucked into Grid, a virtual-reality space populated by sentient programs when he attempts to hack ENCOM’s mainframe. Although the portrayal of AI in the film is brief, its sequel Tron: Legacy (2010), is more comprehensive in showing the society within the Grid.
The Matrix (1999)
Available on HBO Max
The Matrix is a popular franchise with four feature films that shows a future Earth ravaged by a war between man and machine. Human beings had developed robots with artificial intelligence by the 21st century that relieved them from doing hard labor and living hedonistic lifestyles.
However, they became over-reliant on the robots yet grew cruel to their rising presence. Ultimately, the machines seceded and established their own countries. They also request a seat at the UN but are denied by the humans, which leads to a nuclear war. All the Matrix films caution humans not to take technology for granted.
Bicentennial Man (1999)
Currently unavailable for streaming
The plot of this film is about an android-like being that wants to become a human being. Andrew (Robin Williams) commences on a pursuit to understand human emotions for over a 200-year period. The film is based on Isaac Asimov’s 1976 novella by the same name and explores various themes like humanity, autonomy, sentience, freedom, and slavery.
Andrew is programmed for domestic maintenance and housekeeping. However, unlike his android counterparts in the film, he shows interest in humanity and eventually gains sentience. Contrasting most films on this list, Bicentennial Man portrays artificial intelligence as an asset to humanity.
Available on HBO Max
Starring Will Smith, I, Robot is based on Hardwired, a screenplay by Jeff Vintar, and Little Lost Robot, a short story by Isaac Asimov. The robots in the film are used as human beings’ servants to do low-impact and menial tasks.
Dr. Alfred Lanning (James Cromwell), a prominent robotics inventor, dies, and detective Del Spooner (Will), who has deep-seated mistrust of robots, doesn’t think it’s suicide. So, he is tasked to investigate the death, assisted by Dr. Susan Calvin.
Spooner suspects a robot named Sonny killed the inventor, especially when it refuses to cooperate and escapes when ordered by Dr. Calvin. However, during interrogation after being captured, the detective discovers that Sonny can simulate human emotions.
Available on Showtime and FuboTV
Ex Machina stars Domhnall Gleeson as Caleb Smith, a programmer who wins a competition in his company Blue Book. He is invited to the CEO’s Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac) home, where he is shown a robot named Ava. Smith is tasked with assessing the feminine humanoid robot with a Turing test to see if it is intelligent and sentient.
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