Automating mundane tasks, incredible problem solving, and the wonder of creating smarter and smarter technology. What’s not to love about robots and AI? (Besides the whole losing our jobs thing). Check out our favourite 11 AI and robots in films below!

Robots are taking over the world. This seductive and terrifying thought has captured collective spirits since the cogs began to churn in the Industrial Revolution. As we march on into the unknowns of unprecedented technologies, let’s take a look at the robots that star on the silver screen, from iconic bots to more obscure ones.

1. Samantha, Her (2013)

Set in the near future, a heartbroken writer falls in love with an operating system designed to meet his every need. But what happens when the need is something as human, physical, and complicated as love? This sci-fi hit explores human relationships with AI that are already happening in a society so connected yet so lonely, leading some people to form real relationships with ChatGPT.

2. Ava, Ex Machina (2014)

Here is another alternative love story. A young programmer is invited to his CEO’s private retreat, where he learns he’ll play a crucial role in an artificial intelligence experiment. The AI at hand? Ava, a breathtaking AI who is more sophisticated and mysterious than the young programmer and CEO imagined.

Ava, a highly sophisticated and mysterious AI.
Creator: Kanijoman
https://www.flickr.com/photos/23925401@N06/20167701293

3. Fembots, Dr Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine (1965)

In this bonkers sci-fi comedy, Dr Goldfoot builds a race of bikini-clad beauties designed to win the hearts and fortunes of the most influential men in the world. Drop everything that you’re doing and watch the trailer. It’s kitsch! Obscure! Absurd! Colourful! It’s got bikini-wearing robots!

4. Ghost In the Shell (1995)

This cult classic follows a cyborg policewoman and her partner’s hunt for a mysterious and powerful hacker called the Puppet Master. Set in an incredible dystopia in 2029 Japan, this film shows what excellent animation can do—and can rarely be matched. It is part futuristic action, part philosophy lecture against a masterfully animated action sequence and world. Unmissable.

Capitana Motoko Kusanagi from the dystopia, Ghost in the Shell (1995). Creator: Vlahie 
Credit: Vlahie on DeviantArt
Copyright: Vlahie
https://www.deviantart.com/vlahie/art/Capitana-Motoko-Kusanagi-985958451

5. HAL 9000, Space Odyssey (1968)

Speaking of cult films, this Stanley Kubrick is a masterpiece that should be savoured by everyone. HAL 9000 is a sentient artificial general intelligence computer that controls the systems of the Discovery One spacecraft, shown mostly by the simple (and iconic) elegance of a camera lens with a red and yellow dot. In this film, a mysterious black monolith encounters our prehistoric past and links to a future colonised space. It’s a gorgeous meditation on technology and humanity.

HAL 9000 from Stanley Kubrick’s must-watch sci-fi cult classic.
Cryteriaderivative work: MorningLemon, CC BY 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

6. Robot police, THX 1138 (1971)

You know George Lucas from Star Wars, but do you know its directorial debut, THX 1138? In this dystopian future film, citizens are controlled by android police and the mandatory use of drugs that suppress emotions. Go to nerd on George Lucas’ debut, stay for the amazing cinematography and costume.

7. Ash, Alien (1979)

Alien is a sci-fi horror film directed by Ridley Scott. Ash is an android aboard the spaceship Nostromo. He is revealed to be secretly working for the Weyland-Yutani Corporation, and his true nature becomes a central plot point in the film.

8. The Iron Giant (1998)

This is a Gen Z childhood classic—an animated sci-fi film directed by Brad Bird. A loveable, not-so-gentle giant robot crash-lands on Earth. There he befriends a young boy named Hogarth Hughes and ultimately becomes a symbol of friendship and peace.

The Iron Giant is a childhood classic for Gen Z. Creator: tomastocornal
Credit: tomastocornal on DeviantArt
Copyright: tomastocornal
https://www.deviantart.com/tomastocornal/art/The-Iron-Giant-281801915

9. WALL-E (2008)

WALL-E is a famous Pixar animated film directed by Andrew Stanton about a very cute, waste-collecting robot left on a post-apocalyptic Earth. WALL-E discovers a plant and embarks on a journey to save humanity and find love with another robot named EVE.

The loveable WALL-E saving humanity.
Creator: LKGamingART
Credit: LKGamingART on DeviantArt
Copyright: LKGamingART
https://www.deviantart.com/lkgamingart/art/WALL-E-GMOD-Render-969361710

10. Mechagodzilla, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974)

It is safe to say Godzilla is the most well-known giant prehistoric reptilian monster in sci-fi. In Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, Mechagodzilla is a giant robot created by an alien race to destroy Godzilla. It is a powerful and mighty opponent in the historic Godzilla franchise.

Mechagodzilla, the giant robot sent to destroy Godzilla.
Creator: themarioman56
Credit: themarioman56 on DeviantArt
Copyright: themarioman56
https://www.deviantart.com/themarioman56/art/MechaGodzilla-845473954

11. Robby the Robot, Forbidden Planet (1956)

Forbidden Planet is a classic sci-fi film directed by Fred M. Wilcox. Robby the Robot is an advanced and friendly humanoid robot that assists the crew of a spaceship on a distant planet. Robby became an iconic character in sci-fi history and is still a referenced icon today.

Bonus: R2-D2

We cannot have a list of robots in film without mentioning the beloved R2-D2 from the Star Wars franchise. Known for his loyal and heroic nature. R2-D2 assists various characters throughout the Star Wars saga, often playing a crucial role in the Rebel Alliance’s efforts against the Galactic Empire.

R2-D2 from the Star Wars franchise.
Creator: LJ  
Credit: Photo by LJ
Copyright: LJ
https://www.pexels.com/photo/star-wars-r2-d2-2085831/

‘Yeah, but these robots aren’t real,’ you might say. But the future is far closer than you might expect! Check out our article about the Top 11 Real-Life AI Shaping our World Today

Still feeling that Cyberspace itch? Stay tuned for the March Edition of THINK where we look at the latest Cyberspace innovations at the University of Malta!

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