When considering the use of technology in Hollywood movies, one recurring theme involves artificial intelligence. Who can forget the calm, bleating voice of the ship computer, Hal, in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey? Daryl Hannah’s take as a bioengineered entity known as a replicant in Ridley Scott’s classic, Blade Runner, still haunts after 30 years. What follows is a look at some of the best Sci-Fi movies that include some form of artificial intelligence as a plot element.
The Star Wars Series Showed that Robots could be Endearing
Back when George Lucas was developing the movie that would become Star Wars, many Hollywood studio moguls felt that the project looked doom to fail, partially because of its dependence on robots. After the actual release of the movie, the naysayers were proved to be wrong, as C-3PO and R2-D2, the robotic droids in the movie, provided comedic relief throughout. Many moviegoers, especially among the younger crowd, had their first exposure to the concept of artificial intelligence through this tag team of droids.
Rampant merchandising of Star Wars led to many kids in the 70s and early 80s having their own set of action droid figures, and the licensing of the term “Droid” in today’s Android smartphone world shows the influence George Lucas had in making artificial intelligence part of today’s culture.
A.I. Artificial Intelligence Brings the Robotic Trend into the 21st Century
Sometime after the release of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Stanley Kubrick optioned a science-fiction story by Brian Aldiss that eventually became the movie, A.I. Artificial Intelligence. A.I. remained stuck in development for decades because Kurbrick felt the CGI needed to portray the robotic character wasn’t yet up to snuff. He gave the rights to movie to Steven Spielberg, who finished the project in 2001, with child actor, Haley Joel Osment, in the role of the robot David.
The movie’s plot plays against the desire of the robotic protagonist to become a true human and experience the real love and acceptance from his adoptive mother. Speilberg’s directorial style made the film a success at the box office, but ended up upsetting the original author of the story, Aldiss, for its periodic lapses in science-fiction logic.
Her Provides a Comedic and Romantic Take on Artificial Intelligence
Scheduled for release in early 2014, Her stars Joaquin Phoenix as a lonely writer who falls in love with an advanced computer operating system voiced by Scarlett Johansson. The overarching theme of the movie appears to be how technology has the potential to both connect and isolate humans from each other. It will be interesting to note how Her ends up contributing to the rich and evolving history of artificial intelligence in the movies.
Technology continues to play an important role in Science-Fiction movies, but when artificial intelligence is a core plot element of a film, the questions asked about the true nature of humanity allow those releases to truly resonate with moviegoers.
Want more about technology in film? Check out Star Wars technology vs. Star Trek technology.