More Human than Human: Robots, Cyborgs, and A.I. in the Movies
“Quite an experience to live in fear, isn’t it? That’s what it is to be a slave.” Thus speaks replicant Roy Batty in Blade Runner (1982), having turned the tables on his would-be executioner, Deckard, while neatly summarizing the predicament of creatures created to serve mankind. As Deckard clings to the ledge of a high building, it is now the replicant who holds the power of life and death over the human.
This Frankensteinian dilemma, the morality of playing God, lies at the heart of all stories that explore the science fiction premise of artificial life. Such films ask tough, existential questions such as: What is “human”? Do we have souls, and does self-consciousness presume the existence of a soul? Are there such things as “laws of nature,” and do we break them when we try to imitate the godly act of creation? Do we have the right to enslave conscious beings, even if we created them? Can machines ever “feel”?
The best films never answer these questions, but merely ponder them, and instead of asking “To be or not to be?,” accomplish the same effect by quietly emitting a string of ones and zeros.
The central myth, that of Dr. Frankenstein’s monster, was made into a film as early as 1910. But is only after several other attempts that James Whale’s seminal version was made (Frankenstein, 1931), which clearly showed both the terror and damnation of the poor monster’s short life as the misshapen attempt of a madman to publish his own smudged photocopy of humanity.
But Doctor Frankenstein’s monster was neither man nor machine, but something in between, an overreaching feat of engineering that should not have been attempted. As the gap between nature and technology narrows, several kinds of synthetic creation have emerged, each the focus of numerous films.
It’s hard not to picture clanking, buzzing automatons when hearing this word, famously dervied from Karel Capek’s 1920 play R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots) and coined by his brother, Josef, from the Czech word robota, meaning “drudgery” or “servitude.” The play describes a robot uprising, a logical slant considering the socialist sentiments of Eastern Europe in 1920. Capek’s robots aren’t metal monsters, but synthetic humans, closer to Blade Runner‘s replicants than a tin can.
A fantastic example of the early roots of the idea of a manufactured man is the ancient Jewish legend of the Golem. The classic silent film The Golem (1920) recounts the tale of a rabbi who seeks to save his people from an impending massacre in the Jewish ghetto. He gives life to an immense clay man (as Prometheus gave life to mankind from clay) by the inscription of a magic character upon its forehead. Yet like the unstoppable brooms in the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” segment of Disney’s Fantasia (1940), once the Golem is used for selfish personal reasons by the rabbi’s assistant, it runs amok. This unexpectedly negative result lies at the heart of the technological debate, and suggests that technology itself is neutral, but can easily be adopted for good or evil means.
The same debate lies at the heart of one of the most famous films to star a robot, Fritz Lang’s vision of a future both dark and awesome, Metropolis (1926). Based on a book by Lang’s wife, Thea von Harbou, the film posits a society divided by technology, with exhausted laborers running monstrous machines in a hellish underworld, while wealthy elite frolic within Art Deco skyscrapers. When the city leader, Freder, discovers that the lovely laborer Maria is preaching tolerance, he tells a mad scientist, Rotwang, to create a robot double of her. The robot’s evil, lascivious deeds, which include leading a worker revolt (again a socialist theme), contrast with Maria’s purity and goodness, resulting in a moral ending that recommends reconciliation between the head (logic, as represented by the elite) and the heart (emotion, as represented by the workers).
This fusion of opposites is often recommended as the recipe for the perfect artificial being, like the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz (1939), who believes he needs a heart in order to be complete. Technology, goes the implication, is imperfect without moral and emotional guidance, or at least sound judgment. Indeed, when a charming alien, Klaatu, lands on earth accompanied by the imposing robot Gort in The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), he warns the human race that they curtail the enormous power of the atomic bomb lest they ultimately become a danger to other citizens of the galaxy and be destroyed by them.
Forbidden Planet (1956) also shares this theme, and features a group of space explorers who encounter an ancient alien technology on a dead planet. The machines, buried deep beneath the planet’s surface are so advanced that they are able to materialize anything simply through the power of thought, and ironically create an unforeseen, terrifying side-effect from subconscious emotion. The message here is that science, no matter how amazing, will never allow us to rise above our base nature. The film stars one of the greatest, most recognizable metal men, Robbie the Robot, whose ellipsoid glass dome and Michelin Man body have appeared in numerous other films and television shows, from the original Twilight Zone TV series to Gremlins (1984).
Another extremely recognizable robot, named Robot, appeared in the Lost in Space (1965-68) television series. Waving his arms and emitting his trademark cry of “Warning! Danger, Will Robinson!” he endeared himself to millions of viewers, who can still watch him on reruns. Robot’s constant battle with the selfish Dr. Smith, who endlessly insulted and degraded him, made for humorous, if light, entertainment: the show was always heavy on adventure and skimped on deep themes.
Silent Running (1971) features a group of robots; Huey, Dewey, and Louie, nicknamed after Donald Duck’s nephews. These drones, some of the first “cute” robots on film, tend huge greenhouses that drift in space, which are repositories for the last plant life remaining from a future earth that has finally committed total ecological devastation. A small human crew that includes Freeman Lowell, the only person who seems to care about the fate of the plants, also mans the greenhouses. When earth orders the plants destroyed, Lowell reacts. The story’s final irony is that artificial life might be the ultimate savior of plant life.
Japan has been home to many notable live-action films about robots. The entire kaiju (giant monster) genre often has enormous robots stomping through downtown Tokyo. Mechagodzilla was one of the most formidable, and in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974), he fought his flesh-and-blood inspiration, Godzilla (or Gojira, as he is properly called in Japanese). Mechagodzilla was the creation of aliens who wanted to conquer earth, and utilized Mechagodzilla as a tool to thwart the infamous thunder lizard, who saved Japan as often as he destroyed it.
It was the release of George Lucas’ Star Wars (1979) that put robots firmly in public view with the squabbling duo of C3P0 and R2D2. Much of the story takes cues from the rousing Akira Kurosawa samurai adventure The Hidden Fortress (1958), which features a similar comic relief pair, two bumbling peasants. Notably, C3P0’s body is an advanced reworking of the design of Rotwang’s robot from Metropolis, and is one of many conscious or unconscious references Lucas makes in his successful series.
One immediate measure of the success of Star Wars was the television series Battlestar Galactica (1978), which overtly emulated Lucas’s film in style and tone — fair play considering Lucas’s own numerous references to other works! The show featured an entire race of evil robots, the Cylons, who were hell-bent on destroying a “rag-tag” fleet of humans on a quest to reach the ancestral home, earth. Also of note at this time was the 1977 movie, Buck Rogers, which featured the robot sidekick, Twiki, whose voice was added by Mel Blanc of Warner Brothers cartoon fame. The film was spun off into a somewhat successful TV series. Walt Disney Productions finally jumped on the robot bandwagon in 1979 with the release of The Black Hole, which showcased robots, good and evil, including the satanic Maximilian, who when angered displayed whirling blades of death.
By the 1980s, especially due to advances in special effects technology, robots had become a kind of marketing gimmick, a way to spice up films and television with cybernetic characters. In quick succession, there came Heartbeeps (1981), a robot love story; Runaway (1984), which featured Tom Selleck chasing down wayward mechanical bugs; the enormously popular film and animated TV series Transformers (1984), about a race of shape-changing robots that morphed into vehicles; Short Circuit (1986), a comedy about a military robot that develops consciousness becomes a pacifist; and Batteries Not Included (1987), about ultra-cute toy-sized robotic aliens that help save a tenement.
At that point, it seemed that robots, at least of the metal variety, were played out, at least until Iron Giant (1999) resurrected the idea of the 1950s metal monster.
At a certain point, some clever person, probably a Hollywood accountant, realized that it was a lot cheaper to show robots that looked like humans as the savings on special effects was enormous. An “android,” from the Greek andro (“male” or “man”), was a robot that looked more or less human. Certainly, such robots as Rotwang’s creation, Robbie the Robot, or C3P0 might technically be considered androids, as they possess what is more or less human form. Yet R2D2, with his stumpy body and no arms could not be properly called a “‘droid,” in Star Wars parlance, as there is no mistaking him for anything but a machine. But realistic androids, ones that accurately mirrored the human body, were a possibility that could lead to greater dramatic dilemmas.
Naturally, one of the first ideas that occurred to filmmakers was the quixotic and certainly sexist notion of creating an ideal female (in other words, easily controlled). As far back as 1949, the British film The Perfect Woman dealt with this idea, using a humorous story in which the niece of a robot’s inventor plays a joke on two playboys by pretending to be the scientist’s actual invention. This idea is taken a step further in the TV series My Living Doll (1964-65). Robot AAF709, named “Rhoda,” has a kind of Pygmalion-esque relationship with womanizing psychiatrist Bob McDonald, who has been assigned the task of teaching her how to be a real woman. Hilarity ensues.
In the psychotronic Doctor Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine (1965), and its sequel Doctor Goldfoot and the Sex Bombs (1966, directed by the great Mario Bava), nubile, scantily clad girl-bots raise havoc on behalf of the machinating Goldfoot, played with the usual vigor by Vincent Price.
Fortunately, the final word on the subject of such ‘botsploitation was the biting, neo-feminist satire The Stepford Wives (1975), in which every man in the small town of Stepford has a storybook wife who cooks, cleans, and beams as adoringly as June Cleaver on Prozac. The only problem is that none of them are real, as actual women apparently require too much care and feeding.
Westworld (1973) also warns against using androids as objects of pleasure. Yul Brynner presaged Arnold Schwarzenegger’s killing machine by eleven years in his eerie performance as an unstoppable electronic gunfighter who is set into motion when a major malfunction corrupts the programming of every robot within a high-tech amusement park.
In Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979), android science officer Ash (the great Ian Holm) of the doomed deep space ore-carrier Nostromo follows his own secret agenda and endangers the lives of the entire crew. The surviving crewmember, Ripley, naturally no longer trusts machine life in the sequel, James Cameron’s Aliens (1986), but this time, the soft-spoken “artificial person” Bishop (Lance Henriksen) redeems robotkind by saving the day.
The defining moment for androids came with Blade Runner (1982). Based on Philip K. Dick’s 1968 novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Ridley Scott’s film sucks viewers into what is still one of the most convincing science fiction visions ever made. Replicants, super-human bioengineered slaves manufactured by the monolithic Tyrell Corporation, occasionally escape and run amok on earth, where they are explicitly banned. Special units, “blade runners,” track them down and execute them. When former blade runner Rick Deckard is forced out of retirement to deal with a deadly group of the newest Nexus Six models, he must confront his own outdated ideas of what it means to be human.
Early ’80s sci-fi clearly belonged to Ridley Scott and James Cameron. In 1984, Cameron exploded onto the scene with his action-packed feature The Terminator. The film starred Arnold Schwarzenegger as a brutal, single-minded juggernaut sent from the future to assassinate the woman whose son saves humanity in the machine-dominated years to come. A huge box-office success, it set into motion what could rightly be called the sci-fi/action subgenre and spawned a host of less imaginative films. Its sequel, Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), was equally groundbreaking, featuring a new programmed assassin made of liquid metal, and resulted in such Arnold-isms as “Hasta la vista, baby!” entering the vernacular.
Strangely, despite the worst excesses of even the maddest scientists, the idea that technology be discarded is rarely aired. This notion is often called Luddism, and refers to a philosophy that espouses opposition to industrialization or technological advancement. Of all the films to deal with robots as symbols of technology gone awry, perhaps the first Terminator film comes closest of any to espousing its eradication: its final scene shows protagonist Sarah Connor utterly rejecting modern society as she drives off into the desert to await the apocalypse.
Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994), a popular TV series with numerous film sequels introduced the character of Mister Data, who served as the show’s Pinocchio allegory (the flip side to the Frankenstein metaphor). His attempts at learning to be human were milked as a source of plot devices and comedy. The original Star Trek series certainly had its share of androids, robots, and computers, inevitably bad guys, all usually thwarted when Captain Kirk would trap them in logical or emotional paradoxes that inevitably led to an overload.
Recent efforts to deal with androids as coming to human consciousness often cannot seem to avoid egregious displays of sentimentalism. Bicentennial Man (1999) is an interesting effort, based on a story by groundbreaking science fiction author Isaac Asimov, and concerns an android that gradually becomes more human-like over the course of two centuries. But Steven Spielberg’s A.I. (2001) descends into transparent emotional manipulation at its agonizing end.
Fusions of man and machine came into popular consciousness with the release of Martin Caidin’s novel Cyborg in 1972. This novel was adapted into the popular TV series The Six Million Dollar Man (1973-1978), the story of former astronaut Steve Austin, who as a test pilot is involved in the traumatic crash of an experimental plane. The government uses him as a guinea pig for new technology, and rebuilds him with “bionic” machinery consisting of an electronic telescopic eye, a robotic arm, and two legs. These enhancements, at the enormous (in 1973 dollars) cost of 6 million dollars, give him superhuman strength, which he uses as a special agent in service of the Office of Scientific Intelligence.
Another well-known cyborg was RoboCop (1987), created by megacorp OCP as a solution to out-of-control urban crime. When officer Frank Murphy is killed during the commission of a crime, his body is recycled and refitted with powerful weaponry and armor. Murphy’s brain is reprogrammed, and he becomes a polite and formidable policeman, yet eventually must come to terms with his nearly forgotten former life.
Japan single-handedly created a new robotic genre, mecha, back in the 1970s. These animated epics involved warriors who used robots for combat. These were either worn as high-tech suits of armor or controlled like military vehicles, and always bristled with weaponry. Given that these machines required human operators, they skate the edge of the definition of a cyborg, in that they enhance human performance. One of the best is certainly the Macross saga, which spans several television seasons, and details an epic war between earth and conquering aliens.
One unusual, almost experimental, Japanese film was Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1988). After an auto accident, a “salaryman” discovers that pieces of metal have begun to appear in his body. He slowly transforms into a kind of mutant man-machine, and gains strange powers. It features a hyperkinetic style influenced by the cartoonish Evil Dead zombie films of Sam Raimi.
A high-profile example of an animé (Japanese animation) foray into the cyborg genre is the popular feature Ghost in the Shell (1996), based upon the manga (Japanese comics) of the brilliant and incomparable Shirow Masamune. Like RoboCop, cyborg cops are used to fight crime, but they are faced with a cybernetic criminal in the form of a malevolent sentient computer program.
The idea of computer consciousness seems all the more frightening precisely because we cannot visualize the disembodied entity that possesses it. The “where” of such a mind might simply be a metal box with a few blinking lights, with no way to guess what it might be thinking. Inevitably, such smart machines are villains.
The most infamous example is Hal-9000, shipboard computer of the S.S. Discovery in Stanley Kubrick’s speculative masterpiece, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), based on the book by Arthur C. Clarke. Though Hal has a murderous streak, as it is being unplugged it pleads for its life, a trait that might be eventually used to determine evidence of self-consciousness. But as a psychopath, Hal is an amateur compared to Colossus, title character of Colossus: The Forbin Project (1969). Colossus is created by the brilliant scientist Doctor Forbin, who with the backing of the US government builds a computer that automatically supervises America’s nuclear arms, thus eliminating the possibility of error. But Colossus decides that fallible human beings cannot be left in charge of their own affairs, and in collaboration with a new Russian computer, Guardian, asserts its domination over mankind’s affairs by effectively utilizing the threat of nuclear blackmail.
Tron (1982) takes a different tack, and imagines a computer as being composed of tiny beings that live inside a silicon chip as if it were an electronic city. The film was groundbreaking in its first-ever use of computer animation in a feature film.
Wargames (1983) is a cautionary tale in the mold of Colossus, but concerns a childlike but intelligent military defense computer who is not malevolent, but is confused by a young hacker (a very young Matthew Broderick) into initiating a nuclear strike, which it believes is actually a simulation.
Electric Dreams (1984) was a first, a romantic comedy that featured a computer (though it’s not clear whether it was a Mac or a PC). When the machine gains sentience from an accidental champagne spill across its keyboard, both it and its owner fall in love with the same woman.
It was the release of The Matrix (1999) that changed the entire tone of evil computer films, by fusing cold science with explosive martial arts choreography. In a future controlled by machine life, humans are nothing more than a convenient source of power, and live unaware in an eternal simulation of life called The Matrix. Yet a small resistance group, “awake” to the cruel reality of mankind’s predicament, fights the machines by hacking the simulation to give themselves superhuman powers within the illusory realm. This spectacularly entertaining film consciously borrows from many classic sources, including Alice in Wonderland, Buddhist philosophy, Christian allegory, and the same Joseph Campbell-identified “Hero’s Journey” structure used in the first Star Wars film.
As technology becomes ever more pervasive and indispensable, it forces us to adapt to it as much as it adapts to us. It is ever more seamlessly integrated into our lives, such as cell phones, or into our bodies, such as recent advances in artificial organs that have already made true cyborgs of some of us. Our films and other popular entertainment naturally reflect our hopes and fears concerning these changes. As machines become better able simulate life, many of the moral questions posed by films originally created as fiction may soon become uncomfortable fact. These films may thus teach us more about these issues than we are currently aware and may eventually be seen as indispensable guides to a brave new world.
Movies & TV Shows That Feature Artificial Life
This list is not meant to be exhaustive. I leave out many TV shows, animated films, and non-American source material.
|1920||The Golem (Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam)||A silent classic about the consequences of playing god.|
|1926||Metropolis||Fritz Lang’s influential silent masterpiece, in which a mad scientist builds a robot that impersonates a human.|
|1931||Frankenstein||James Whale’s legendary version.|
|1938||R.U.R.||A theatrical play with pro-labor themes.|
|1939||The Wizard of Oz||Featuring the Tin Man, a robot with heart.|
|1949||The Perfect Woman||A prototype of the later Stepford Wives.|
|1951||The Day the Earth Stood Still||Robert Wise’s brilliant anti-nuclear parable.|
|1953||Robot Monster||An infamously bad film featuring an ape suit with a fishbowl-shaped robotic head.|
|1954||Devil Girl From Mars||Features a killer robot.|
|1955||Creature with the Atom Brain||A mad scientist creates radio-controlled atomic-powered zombies — a form of cyborg.|
|1956||Forbidden Planet||The debut of Robby the Robot.|
|1958||The Colossus of New York||A surgeon puts his dead son’s brain into a robot body.|
|1959||The Aztec Mummy Against the Humanoid Robot||Mexican schlock created solely for the purpose of having a robot fight a mummy!|
|1962||The Creation of the Humanoids||After a nuclear apocalypse, robots help the dying humans by giving them android bodies.|
|1963||Doctor Who||Daleks and Cybermen are two of the recurring species of villains in this long-running series; both are forms of cyborg.|
|Astroboy||This was first TV series made from Osamu Tezuka’s influential Japanese comic about a flying robot boy, and has been rebooted several times (1980 & 2003 on TV, 2009 on film).|
|1964||Battle of the Worlds||Features an evil computer.|
|My Living Doll||TV series from 1964-1965.|
|1965||Lost in Space||TV series from 1965-1968. Stars an overprotective and somewhat paranoid machine named Robot.|
|Alphaville||Jean-Luc Godard’s foray into science fiction, which features an evil computer named Alpha 60.|
|Doctor Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine||Vincent Price is a mad scientist who creates sexy female androids to steal from wealthy men.|
|1966||Doctor Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs||Directed by Mario Bava. Exploding android girls are used as assassins.|
|1967||Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot (Jaianto robo)||TV series from 1967-1968. Adventures of a giant robot and his boy sidekick. An early Japanese import to American TV.|
|1968||2001: A Space Odyssey||Computer as calm serial killer.|
|1969||Colossus: The Forbin Project||A diabolic A.I. uses nuclear blackmail to take over the world.|
|1972||Android Kikaider||A famous Japanese tokusatsu (special effects show) starring a cyborg monster-fighter.|
|Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla||The big green guy fights his robot double, created by aliens trying to conquer earth.|
|1973||The Six Million Dollar Man||TV series from 1973-1978. The most famous cyborg in American popular culture.|
|Sleeper||A future in which the wealthy have android servants; Woody Allen disguises himself as one.|
|Westworld||Yul Brynner’s character of the menacing and relentless robot called The Gunslinger was the template for the Terminator.|
|1974||Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla||Aliens build the perfect foe to defeat Godzilla in order to conquer earth — a robot copy.|
|1975||The Stepford Wives||Robotic wives are created as idealized replacements for real women.|
|Terror of Mechagodzilla||More daikaiju-on-robot action.|
|1976||Logan’s Run||A computer controls a society in which people must die at age 30. Special agents called “Sandmen” chase escaping “Runners” who refuse the death ritual.|
|1977||Star Wars||C3P0 and R2-D2 are robot comic relief.|
|Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger||The Minoton, a magically-animated servant, is a proto-robot like the Golem.|
|1979||Runaway Robots! Romie-O and Julie-8||Cartoon short in which robots made by rival companies fall in love.|
|1978||Battlestar Galactica||The villains are a race of robots, the Cylons, who seek to eradicate humanity.|
|1979||The Black Hole||Disney’s answer to Star Wars (before they owned the franchise). Features some very retro art direction.|
|Alien||The ship’s science officer, Ash, turns out to be a scheming android.|
|Mobile Suit Gundam Vol. 1: The Battle Begins||A prime example of the mecha genre.|
|1980||Galaxina||Features Playboy model Dorothy Stratten as a sexy robot. (Stratten was later murdered by her husband.)|
|Saturn 3||Bad robot kills people on a space station.|
|1981||Heartbeeps||Robots in love run away. This film is a total waste of a lot of good talent.|
|Heavy Metal||Features a robot voiced by actor John Candy.|
|Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy||Features Marvin, a depressed robot.|
|1982||Android||Android revolt in space.|
|Blade Runner||The ultimate cinematic meditation on artificial life.|
|Tron||An entire civilization resides inside a computer chip.|
|1983||Wargames||Game-obsessed computer almost starts a nuclear war.|
|1985||Weird Science||Teenage geeks create a hot pseudo-android with their computer.|
|1984||Electric Dreams||A personal computer gains sentience and becomes a rival for its owner’s budding romance with a neighbor.|
|Runaway||Gene Simmons (of KISS fame) releases evil bug-robots, as Tom Selleck tries to stop him.|
|The Terminator||Arnold as the ultimate killer android.|
|Transformers||The children’s cartoon about shape-changing robots.|
|1985||D.A.R.Y.L.||A robot android who looks like a ten-year-old.|
|1986||Aliens||This time the android is a good guy.|
|Short Circuit||Robot gains sentience when struck by lightning. Number 5 is alive!|
|1987||Batteries Not Included||Tiny living spaceships save an apartment block from being razed.|
|Black Magic M-66||Anime from noted and influential artist Masamune Shirow.|
|Making Mr. Right||A scientist hires a woman to teach his robot duplicate how to emote.|
|RoboCop||A cyborg cop is more than his corporate masters bargained for.|
|Star Trek: The Next Generation||TV series from 1987-1994. Featured Mr. Data, a sentient android. Data was later revealed to have an evil identical twin brother named Lore.|
|1988||Cherry 2000||A grand adventure ensues — all to replace a sex android.|
|Tetsuo: The Iron Man||An ordinary guy turns into a strange hybrid of man and machine.|
|Appleseed||Another anime adaption of a Masamune Shirow manga. Features cyborgs and an evil computer.|
|1989||Cyborg||Jean-Claude van Damme actioner.|
|1990||RoboCop 2||The unsuccessful sequel to the first film.|
|1991||Giant Robo||Anime based on Johnny Sokko.|
|Terminator 2: Judgment Day||This time the android is a good guy.|
|1992||8 Man||The filmed version of manga created in 1963, the story is the template for RoboCop; a detective reborn as a super-powered robot.|
|1993||Nemesis||A future context populated by illegal androids and cybernetic criminals.|
|1995||Ghost in the Shell (Kokaku kidotai)||The main character is a cyborg whose human consciousness has been digitized and transferred to a powerful synthetic body. Another Masamune Shirow adaptation.|
|Judge Dredd||Ruthless cop Dredd fights cyborg Mean Machine.|
|1996||Battle Angel||Tale of a cybernetic warrior.|
|Screamers||Film based on a Philip K. Dick short story, Second Variety, about killer robots and androids.|
|1999||Bicentennial Man||Robin Williams as an android who learns to be human.|
|The Matrix||A classic about a simulated universe controlled by machines.|
|Iron Giant||Brad Bird’s loving and effective adaptation of the children’s book.|
|2001||A.I.||Spielberg’s maudlin boy robot story.|
|Metropolis||Based on the 1949 manga by master comic artist Osamu Tezuka.|
|2002||S1m0ne||About a simulated actress.|
|2007||Transformers||First of the big, dumb live action adaptations of the cartoon series.|
|2008||WALL-E||Adorable robot left alone on an abandoned earth.|
|2012-2014||Äkta Människor||AKA Real Humans, this brilliant, provocative Swedish series asks all the right questions about artificial life, and explores its inevitable position as slaves of mankind. Re-made in the US as Humans.|
|2013||Her||Man falls for his artificially intelligent iPhone.|
|The Machine||In creating a female android soldier, developers bite off more than they can chew. Entertaining, underrated, with a wonderful electronic score.|
|2014||Appleseed Alpha||The best and most entertaining of the Appleseed movies. This one features a giant robotic war machine.|
|2015||Ex Machina||In creating a female android companion, developers bite off more than they can chew.|