The 10 Best Sci-fi Films About Artificial Intelligence

The concept of artificial intelligence is something that has long fascinated human beings. From the very first science fiction film in 1927 to the present day, artificial intelligence has been an idea explored time and time again in film. In fact, artificial intelligence films have become so common that they are now a sub-genre within their own right in the science fiction genre.

But what is it about artificial intelligence that makes it such a compelling sub-genre in film? As technology advances more and more every year, artificial intelligence seems more and more of a reality rather than a fictional concept and audiences are intrigued by what could be a window into the not so distant future.

There have been many great artificial intelligence films and narrowing them down into a select excellent few is a hard task. What can be said for certain though is that there will be many more artificial intelligence films released in the future, but whether they remain in the science fiction genre is another question all together.


10. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)

artificial intelligence movie

Robotic child David is the first robot programmed to love. When he is adopted by a Cybertronics employee as a test case, he soon finds himself stuck in a life where he is not accepted by humans or machines. To discover his place and where he truly belongs, David embarks on a dangerous journey where he meets a number of other unique robots.

Receiving positive reviews upon release and grossing $235 million against its $100 million budget, A.I was nominated for Best Original Score and Best Visual Effects at the 74th Academy Awards. A.I won a number of other awards, including many for its young star Haley Joel Osment who plays David. In 2013, critic Mark Kermode called A.I, “Spielberg’s enduring masterpiece.”

A.I was originally developed by Stanley Kubrick who hired a series of different writers to adapt it. However, Kubrick felt that CGI was not advanced enough yet to create the character of David and that no child actor would ever be able to portray him accurately enough, and so the film languished in development for years. In 1995, Kubrick passed the film onto Spielberg. A.I is dedicated to Stanley Kubrick.


9. Upgrade (2018)

After being left paralysed by a brutal accident that left his wife dead, Grey Trace is offered a cure by an inventor that will implant artificial intelligence STEM into his body and allow him to walk again. At first, Grey is thrilled to be able to walk again but he soon realises that STEM has other powers too and he must decide whether to use those powers to get revenge on those who killed his wife.

Written and directed by Leigh Whannell, Upgrade opened to positive reviews from critics who especially praised the film’s action sequences. Upgrade was also praised as one of the best films of 2018, including by who named it as one of the top ten films of the year. The film was also a commercial success, grossing over $16 million against its $3 million budget.

Whannell came up with the idea for Upgrade after the image of a quadriplegic who had a computer chip controlling him popped into his head one day. He couldn’t stop thinking about the imagery so he decided to develop the idea into a screenplay.


8. Her (2013)

Heartbroken after his marriage ends, personal letter writer Theodore becomes fascinated with a new operating system called Samantha. As Theodore spends more and more time with Samantha, what begins as a friendship soon blossoms into love.

Her was written, directed and produced by Spike Jonze in his solo screenwriting debut. Her received critical acclaim and won numerous awards. At the 86th Academy Awards, Her was nominated for five awards and won for Best Original Screenplay. The film has since been cited as one of the best of the century.

Jonze was inspired to write Her after he read an online article about a website where an artificial intelligence would instant message with its users. He was also inspired by Charlie Kaufman’s writing approach to Synecdoche, New York and wanted to write a script which he could put all his feelings into.

During production of the film, Samantha Morton performed the role of Samantha on set acting in a four by four carpeted soundproof booth made of black painted plywood and soft, noise muffling fabric. Morton and Joaquin Phoenix avoided seeing each other on set to help evoke the relationship Phoenix’s character has with Samantha. However, in post-production it was decided that Scarlett Johansson would take over the role of Samantha and new scenes were shot for the film.


7. The Terminator (1984)

The Terminator

A cyborg assassin, known as a Terminator, is sent from the year 2029 back to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor. The Terminator has been sent by artificial intelligence system Skynet because Sarah’s unborn son will be the one to lead the fight against them in the future. Sent to protect Sarah is Kyle Reese, who warns Sarah that Skynet will spark a nuclear holocaust and together they must prevent that from happening.

The Terminator is widely credited as the film that launched director James Cameron’s career and solidified Arnold Schwarzenegger’s. The Terminator received critical acclaim upon release and grossed over $78 million at the box office against its $6.4 million budget. The success of the film launched a franchise, with the latest instalment due out in late 2019.

The Terminator has been frequently recognised as one of the most popular science fiction films of all time and is also often cited as one of the best films of all time. The film has also been frequently referenced in popular culture.


6. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

The Day The Earth Stood Still

Soft spoken alien Klaatu lands on Earth bearing a message for all humanity after witnessing the increased spread of nuclear weapons and technology. With him is his bodyguard Gort, who presents a much more sinister threat. Greeted with suspiscion and fear, Klaatu must convince the world to listen to his message or risk being destroyed as a danger to the other planets.

The Day the Earth Stood Still was based on the 1940 short story Farewell to the Master by Harry Bates and adapted for the screen by Edmund H. North. Producer Julian Blaustein originally reviewed more than two hundred short science fiction stories and novels in search of the perfect story to adapt for a film before he settled on this one. The Day the Earth Stood Still was released to positive reviews from critics but was only a modest box office success, grossing $1.85 million against its budget of $995,000.

The Day the Earth Stood Still has frequently been recognised as one of the best films in its genre and is recognised as a classic American film. The film also has another legacy, as it is believed that the film inspired Ronald Reagan to instigate talks concerning other countries working together if there was ever an alien invasion. Reagan believed that if an alien invasion were to happen then it would unite the world.

In 2008, The Day the Earth Stood Still was remade and stars Keanu Reeves as Klaatu.