8. Wargames (1983)
The evil machine: Joshua
High school student David (Matthew Broderick) decides he wants to play some new cool, advanced computer games so he begins trying to gain access to them through his own computer. He discovers he accidentally tapped into the United States defense department and ends up getting brought in on charges of treason.
The original designer of the radical learning software (John Wood) has since been “retired” to an island to live out his days in exile.
David escapes from his captors and goes searching for the designer to solicit his assistance in convincing his computer, Joshua, to end the “game” which David started which goes through global thermonuclear war scenarios attempting to “win”.
Joshua isn’t really “evil” either, merely trying to take the “game” to its necessary conclusion. Just when you think the situation is resolved, Joshua is still trying to unlock the US missile launch codes to complete the game.
He does have some personality which includes laughing and a proclivity to chess games. He ultimately has to “learn” the hard lesson about playing games and when it is appropriate not to play at all.
7. Alien (1979)
The evil machine: Ash
After the crew of the Nostromo receives what they think is a distress signal while out in deep space, they investigate. They discover a downed alien spacecraft with hundreds of eggs contained within.
The landing party returns with one crew member incapacitated with an alien organism covering his face. It later falls off and dies, but the crew later learns the hard way it had infused an egg within that come reveals itself the hard way through his chest to their horror.
Sometime later, Officer Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) discovers another crew member, Ash (Ian Holm), has been in communication with Earth and has been ordered to keep the alien alive and bring it back safely regardless of the ship’s crew itself making them expendable.
An altercation ensues where Ash is nearly decapitated revealing his true android nature.
Ash is evil or at least has been programmed to be as he actively assists in keeping the clandestine mission objective secret and seems to relish in the lament of the other crew members as they are devoured.
6. The Matrix (1999)
The evil machine: Sentinel Droids and The Matrix
So are you actually reading this article right now or are you immersed in a jelly-filled cocoon plugged in to a massive computer network having the electricity from your brain used for its power?
We may never know.
Computer hacker Neo (Keanu Reeves) is given the chance to find out what is real and what is in the evil computer network called “the matrix”. He is recruited by the rebels trying to defend against it and aid in their cause to defeat it.
Rebel leader Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) gets Neo ready through virtual reality training so he can be ready to take on the machines. Will his training be enough?
In addition to the evil “matrix”, Sentinel Droids, also called “Squiddies” are the grunt soldiers or worker bees used by the matrix to hunt down and destroy any humans who still exist in their reality. They were cool in their unrelenting quest for destruction.
The concepts and visual splendor set forth in “The Matrix” were some of the most interesting and thought provoking in any film over the last 20 years. It’s too bad the sequels became muddled, confusing and pointless.
5. Tron (1982)
The evil machine: Master Control Program
When computer genius Flynn (Jeff Bridges) threatens to expose software theft by his former employer, he is digitized by the evil Master Control Program (MCP) and transported into a virtual reality video game-like world where he has to navigate his way through a maze of evil computer programs, try to figure out how he got there and how to get out.
The MCP has become increasingly omnipotent in its “feeling” to absorb and acquire technology and other software to make itself even more powerful.
The ambiance of the computer world, the characters Flynn meets and the actions and areas within the film are amazingly vibrant and brilliant.
Today’s audiences may think the special effects look a bit dated; however, in my opinion, still do the job at conveying the complex, colorful world within we all now take for granted with computers and digital technology running our lives.
4. Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)
The evil machine: The T-1000 terminator
A lot has happened since destroying the original Terminator in a machine press. Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) has been locked away in an asylum and her son John Connor (Edward Furlong) has gone to live with foster parents who want him to follow their rules.
Once again, “guests” arrive from the future to either thwart or ensure future events. This time, the original Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) serves as protector, guardian and surrogate father while in pursuit of the new advanced prototype, the T-1000, described as “A mimetic polyalloy” or “Liquid metal” able to withstand extreme duress including multiple ammunition rounds and extreme temperature changes.
The chase sequences both through the mall and parking lot illustrated not only the relentless nature of pursuit the T-1000 engaged in to achieve his goal, but also his resistance to most conventional weapons making him even more deadly.
Director James Cameron has always pushed the envelope in visual effects and this film is no exception receiving the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects in 1991.
3. The Terminator (1984)
The evil machine: The T-800 model 101
No one had ever really seen anything like Schwarzenegger’s “Terminator” before 1984. Schwarzenegger himself had appeared in the “Conan” films and had even won a Golden Globe Award for “Best Acting Debut in a Motion Picture – Male” for his performance in “Stay Hungry” in 1976, but mainstream audiences were amazed when he encompassed the role which made him a superstar.
Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) is sent back from the future to protect Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) from a lone adversary also sent back, but to kill her instead.
He describes the T-800 Terminator as “part man, part machine. Underneath, it’s a hyperalloy combat chassis, microprocessor-controlled. Fully armored; very tough. But outside, it’s living human tissue: flesh, skin, hair, blood”
His actions speak louder than his words as he is calculating waiting for the opportunity to strike against his target.
The hotel scene where he performs his own arm and eye surgery were unexpected and added to the allure of this cool, new organism.
Reese and Connor had to remain on their toes and survive long enough to figure out how to destroy it.
2. Blade Runner (1982)
The evil machine: The Replicants
Futuristic cop Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is put in charge of tracking down and eliminating four robots who look human called “replicants” after they commit a series of murders and are now at large.
His journey brings him through the colorful and stylized futuristic world of author Philip K. Dick’s novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” through visionary director Ridley Scott.
The replicants themselves are calculating and manipulative, but really just out to survive and figure out a way to extend their built-in 4 year life span.
Pris (Daryl Hannah) and Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) both shine as the emotion-challenged humanoid robots heartless and desperate to continue living in a world which wants them dead. They attempt to locate and solicit help from their creators but may be too late.
You could spend the better part of a day viewing the many versions of the film which exist today. Each is interesting in its own way whether you like the voiceover and scene and ending changes or not.
1. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
The evil machine: The Heuristic Algorithmic Computer (HAL) 9000 computer
According to IMDb, author: Arthur C. Clarke once said, “If you understand ‘2001’ completely, we failed. We wanted to raise far more questions than we answered.”
What else can be written about the greatest most thought-provoking science fiction film of all time which has not already been said?
Unknown are HAL’s motivations for his actions in the film. Was it evil programming or just a malfunction? Was it part of some diabolical scheme or just a fried circuit?
The monotone voice combine with the all-powerful red staring eye complete the vision of artificial intelligence gone awry.
The use (or not use) of dialogue at both the beginning and ending of the film lets you get completely lost and just sit back and enjoy the adventure.
Author Bio: Andy Kubica is a life-long cinephile. Having spend time as a video store manager, movie theater manager and the first DVD buyer for a former rental chain he now spends every waking moment reducing his film “bucket list”.