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LISTS & RANTS, Sci-Fi

Top 10 futuristic sci fi movies about artifical intelligence

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Cinema has always been a breeding ground for trying fresh ideas, playing with the concept of technological advances and trying out the consequences with help of cinematic visions. A movie that was science fiction before can be reality now, which makes it such an interesting genre. Artificial Intelligence has long been an interesting phenomenon in sci-fi, portraying both optimistic and dystopian future visions.

A.I is such a fascinating concept. Will robots be our friends or foes? Will they turn on us or will we turn on them first? Or can we live in peace? Much like movies about aliens, we must tackle questions regarding the worth of intelligent life, which is why movies like these often have a big moral undertone. Let’s have a look at my favourite 10 movies about artificial intelligence.

2001: A Space Odyssey

2001 a space odyssey

It has now been over 50 years since hundreds of critics left the cinema during the premiere of 2001: A Space Odyssey in 1968, declaring it the end of Kubrick’s career. Luckily, Kubrick had hippies to save him. The cinemas quickly filled up by a younger generation – many of whom lit up a hash pipe to amplify the trippy ‘Star Gate sequence’.

The story of 2001 is told in distinct chapters. We’re thrown into “Dawn of Men”, a sequence of over 20 minutes that caused many walkouts during its premiere. After that we swiftly shift focus to a spacecraft on its way to a moon base, which reveals that man has started colonizing space.

One of the most interesting aspects of 2001: A Space Odyssey are all the theories surrounding it and the fact that Kubrick himself offered no help with solving the puzzle. What we know is that it’s a remarkable, profound story of man and evolution. One of the best movies in film history! We have the youth of the late 60’s to thank for this masterpiece. If it wasn’t for them, the critics would have surely silenced it.

So, the real question: How high were you when you watched 2001: A Space Odyssey?

Ex Machina (2014)

Ex Machina artificial intelligence

If a machine has every human quality possible, should it not have the same rights? These are the questions writer/director Alex Garland’s debate in his amazing director debut Ex Machina. A Frankenstein inspired science fiction movie set in a high-tech environment surrounded by scenic views.

Ex Machina follows Caleb, a young programmer invited for an exclusive visit at the home of the company’s strange eccentric founder, Nathan. His mission is to evaluate a female humanoid created by Nathan himself, to test the intelligence and human qualities of the highly advanced artificial intelligence.

Ex Machina is a dark sci-fi movie with elements of both thrill and philosophy. Garland plays masterfully with the historical breakthrough that might happen when artificial intelligence grows out of its test environment and start making its own choices.

Her (2013)

Her 2013 Artificial intelligence

The excellent acting, beautiful music and stunning cinematography brings to life the amazing screenplay written by Spike Jonze. The director doesn’t focus too much on the tech aspect of the movie, rather on the emotions of the characters, which makes Her a unique science fiction experience.

We meet Theodore in a near future, where he earns a living by creating handwritten love letters for people who aren’t able or can’t be bothered to write letters for their loved ones themselves. Theodore lives alone after a brutal divorce and neighbors Amy and Charles are his only friends. Feeling lonely, he orders the OS1, an artificial intelligence operating system that he communicates with through an earphone. The A.I’s name is Samantha, and she acts as a virtual assistant, but also as emotional support. It doesn’t take long before her charming voice renders Theodore in love. But how can you love a consciousness with no physical presence?

It is an amazing love story between Samantha and Theodore. Samantha who has been programmed to learn from experience is much like a child when she first meet Theodore, mesmerized by the things she sees through his phone she encourages him to experience the world. The movie battles questions of love and happiness as much as it does philosophical questions of what it means to be human. A one of a kind movie.

Screamers (1995)

Screamers 1995 low budget scifi

I really didn’t have much enthusiasm first 15 or so minutes of this movie, with the actors leaving much to wish for. Luckily Peter Weller takes charge after a while and what I thought was going to be a laughable 90s sci-fi turned out to be a B-Movie at its best!

A Phillips K. Dick adaptation that follows life on Sirius-6b, a mining planet that has become a war zone with two warring factions. But after 10 years of devastating war not many are left alive, and the land is left ruled by man-made robots called screamers. They have evolved and learned to create smarter and more dangerous versions of themselves. Commander Hendrickson learns by a lost soldier that they have been abandoned and that earth has forgotten about Sirius-6b. Consequently, he sets out to travel to another part of the planet in order to bring a truce proposal to their enemies. But in order to get there, he must face the planet’s true enemies: the screamers.

This hugely underrated sci-fi movie is not a masterpiece, but if you can overlook the clichés and sometimes substandard acting, it is a great film! If you want a gritty, post apocalyptic movie about war and androids, then you’ll find this movie thoroughly enjoyable.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

Terminator 2

The sequel of Terminator has a definite place in movie history. It still holds up after 29 years with few movies coming close to the same awesomeness. The original Terminator certainly set the stage, but James Cameron took the concept and blew the roof off with the sequel.

It’s been 10 years since Sarah Connor crushed her robot nemesis and got pregnant with her protector, Kyle Reese. Things haven’t worked out like she wanted, Sarah’s prophecies about a future war against cyborgs has landed her a one-way ticket to a top security insane asylum. An upgraded immortal robot, T-1000, is sent back to kill her son John Connor, who will become the future leader of the resistance. With the end of the world on the horizon, Terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger is also sent back, this time reprogrammed to protect John Connor.

The terror of being hunted by something almost unstoppable, the fear of what mankind is capable of, and a not too unrealistic scenario of machines outsmarting us and declaring war are all epic ingredients for an amazing cinematic action journey!

Blade Runner – final cut (1982)

Blade Runner Original futuristic

Blade Runner was way ahead of its time in 1982, portraying cloning and pollution. Ridley Scott was no newbie to science fiction, and with Alien on his resume expectations were high. It’s a movie about a dystopian society that holds up almost 40 years after its release.

Rick Deckard is a so-called Blade Runner, a bounty hunter whose mission is to identify and assassinate 4 replicants who have escaped their extraterrestrial colonies and reached earth. The replicants were created to be slaves, seemingly identical to humans, but with a lifespan of only 4 years in order to not overthrow mankind. After a violent uprising on one of the alien colonies, they’ve been banned from earth, and any replicant on earth must face death, or rather “retirement” as the Blade Runners call it.

A dark movie that set the standard for dystopian futuristic scenarios in the sci-fi movie. A movie whose cinematography will forever be a milestone in movie history. A sci-fi masterpiece.

Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

Blade Runner 2049 sequel

As a huge fan of the original (uhm.. 7 versions?) of Blade Runner I was sceptical albeit excited when I learned there would be a sequel. Sure, Denis Villeneuve is great, but how could he possibly follow up with such a masterpiece? All my fears were quickly laid to rest when I started watching Blade Runner 2049, which turned out to be an excellent complement to the original.

Replicant bounty hunter Rick Decard (Harrison Ford) is with us again, but what part he plays in the movie, when he shows up and why is something you’ll have to find out for yourself. 30 years have passed since we were introduced to the dystopian world. The year is now 2049 and much has happened since. Replicants have evolved, and a mysterious man called Wallace (Jared Leto) has taken over the company that created them. The hunt for the remaining older models of replicants proceed, now with “K” (Ryan Gosling) in charge of “retiring” them.

Blade Runner 2049 is the exemplar of how a sequel should be done! Denis Villeneuve stays true to original, even embracing the slow Blade Runner-Tempo with long but powerful takes. Yet another mind-blowing journey to a dark tomorrow.

Moon (2009)

Moon 2009 artifical intelligence scifi

Moon is the type of retro-sci-fi movie we see far too rarely. An intelligent movie played almost solely by Sam Rockwell, whose performance is so excellent that even though he plays two versions of the same character, they absolutely feel like different people. A brilliant performance!

Moon takes place in the future where the energy crisis has been solved by harnessing solar power from the surface of the moon. Sam Bell is on the moon to control the gigantic combine harvesters, but with communication to earth broken, he is unable to talk to the corporation, and most importantly his wife and daughter. His only company is GERTY, an artificial intelligence robot. He is due to return to earth in 2 weeks, but things take a turn for the worst when Sam wakes up in the infirmary bed after an accident and… Hmm.. sees himself. Is his mind playing tricks on him, or is something more sinister going on?

They say the key to finding yourself is through travel, “get lost and find yourself”. Going to the moon is a long unfamiliar trip, so finding oneself should be easy. Well, Sam Bell certainly did – but definitely not in the way he thought.

A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)

A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)

Stanley Kubrick originally developed the idea for the movie before his death, after requiring the rights to the Aldiss’s story. He passed it to Spielberg, confident he could do it justice. The collaboration between these two cinematic giants is probably what made this deep, dark, complex movie so great.

Set in a future where much of earth has been flooded as a result of the melting polar ice caps, and robots have become part of everyday life. A.I Artificial Intelligence is the story of an artificially created boy of the new generation called David, and his ‘Pinocchio like’ dream of becoming a “real boy”. A couple decides they need a David of their own when their son is left in a coma-like state. The humanoid becomes a sort of stepson, who after activating can feel love, something a robot has never been capable of before. When the couple’s own son wakes up from his coma, they divide their attention to him and David becomes somewhat forgotten.

The dark tone in A.I is far more mature than what many expected from Spielberg, who in this movie certainly doesn’t shy away from a heavy, cynical atmosphere. The end is left up for interpretation, but Spielberg left many yummy breadcrumbs throughout that sets us up for interesting analyses.

Wall-E

WAll-e futuristic pixar scifi

Finding-Nemo director Andrew Stanton reaches another level with Wall-E, with a mix of genres. A silent movie filled with adventure, a touch of avant-garde, romance, drama and sci-fi. Sounds messy? It’s not – it’s Pixar.

Hovering over what once was a city filled with skyscrapers, we instead see mountains of trash reaching the skies. With mankind finally exhausting all of earth’s resources they’ve fled to space, meanwhile waste-collecting robot Wall-E spends his time on earth diligently cleaning up the trash they left behind. It’s a lonely repetitive life that changes one day when a spacecraft reaches earth. Mankind has sent a robot called EVE to search for signs of organic life on earth, and Wall-E’s life is turned upside down as he falls madly in love.

The movie is as much of a portrayal of love between Wall-E and EVE as it is a portrayal of the sad dystopian reality followed by mankind’s mistreatment of earth. While the first, silenced part of the movie is amazing and absolutely brilliant, the second is more what you can expect from a family-styled Pixar movie. Still, it is one of my favourite Pixar movies of all time.

cinesister
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cinesister

I've always had a deep love and fascination for movies, being an especially strong advocate for the weird, foreign, underrated, under-budgeted and unfairly NC17 rated films of our world. Cinesister is the embodiment of this passion (which some might call an obsession).

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