The field of AI has expanded profoundly in recent years, as has public awareness and interest. This includes the arts, where fiction about AI has been popular since at least Isaac Asimov. Films on various subjects can be good teaching aids, especially for younger students, but it can be difficult for a non-expert to know which films have useful observations and insights, suitable for the classroom.

What are insightful films about AI?

Listed films must be suitable for academic analysis, providing insight into theory, methods, applications, or social ramifications.


7 Answers 7


Here are my suggestions

  1. Her, the AI part (movie spoiler):

    The AI can define a user's profile just by hearing his short story, and "act" based on the user's profile. The AI makes the user comfort with it (her). It shows a very advance user profiling.

  2. Ex Machina the AI part (movie spoiler):

    This movie will show you how an AI learn to trick someone. The AI can express her feelings, and make you trust their feeling.

  3. Eagle Eye, the AI part (movie spoiler):

    A movie about a general story "AI that want to kill". This movie can show you how The AI can compile a lot of information for its purpose.

  4. Big Hero 6, the AI part (movie spoiler):

    Baymax is a very good example of a very complex expert system, he has a "knowledge chip" and a very smart way to diagnose people

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    $\begingroup$ Ex-Machina is best AI movie I've ever seen. There is also Chappie (from the makers of District 9), Newly awakened robot is raised by a small gang of petty criminals. $\endgroup$
    – Eridanis
    Nov 8, 2018 at 14:48
  • $\begingroup$ "Are you sleepy? You can sleep now." Chappie. $\endgroup$
    – tmaric
    Aug 7, 2020 at 11:59

HAL 9000 is a great example of an artificial general intelligence that goes astray, where the humans don't understand the reasoning process as values dis-align. (This is a nod to Asimov in the sense of humans not understanding the implications of a logical framework. Marvin Minsky was an adviser on the film.)

The critical reception in the link references androids as mirror of humanity, with all the implications, including identity. Empathy is the core theme. (Seeing the self in the other. The film adapts these ideas into a love story, and includes overt Christian symbology with android Roy Batty in the finale. HBO's Westworld draws heavily from these ideas.) The book and film also explicates an evolution of Turing tests, focused on psychological responses due to the ever increasing sophistication of the androids.

This film features an autonomous military AI that does not understand the context of human reality and nearly starts a total nuclear war. (An algorithm's view of reality is based on it's input, which in the film, was limited.) The ending is an early nod to machine learning.

Here the key element is the diminishment of humanity and human purpose when strong AIs (in the form of robots) to accomplish every task. This is already happening and seems accelerated by mobile computing.

A horror film at it's core, it unveils a race of superior aliens brought down by the hubris that their own creation could never turn on them. In regard to humanity this is mirrored by the android David. (In some sense it's a throwback to Greek Drama, where pride is the fatal flaw.)

Shout out to malioboro's answer re: Ex Machina, which raises the question:

"Is the AGI in Ex Machina a sociopath because she was created by a sociopath?"

Nature vs. Nurture

  • 6
    $\begingroup$ I suggest combine answers and make this a community wiki answer. It is a good way to handle "list" questions. I'd also suggest linking/explaining some key tvtropes subjects about this, as there are is range of mis-information combined with interesting hypotheses about the nature of AI in these films. Much supposed AI in movies is the writers' attempt to throw a spotlight on the human condition, and not really about the AI at all. $\endgroup$ Nov 8, 2018 at 7:55
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ To further increase the reliability of this answer, I think you can add to it that Marvin Minsky was an advisor of the 2001 movie. See https://web.archive.org/web/20120616204508/http://mitpress.mit.edu/e-books/Hal/chap2/two3.html and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marvin_Minsky. $\endgroup$
    – nbro
    Jun 29, 2019 at 21:55

Transcendence was a a pretty good look at a super-intelligent AI.


A great movie to watch would be A.I. Artificial Intelligence, which is a sort of modern retelling of Pinocchio.

Another good AI movie where the main character is a robot would be Bicentennial Man, based on Isaac Asimov's the positronic man.


The Machine, which came out a year before Ex-Machina, features topics such as ethics, AI testing (specifically, the Turing test), artificial consciousness, emotional intelligence, artificial general intelligence, super-intelligence, the singularity and AI safety.

An old but milestone movie is Wargames, which will likely get you some points for digging back into history on the subject.

2001: A Space Odyssey, which is an excellent movie. However, to truly appreciate the nuance of the Hal 9000, you need to also see the sequel, or at least read a summary as it shows WHY Hal 9000 behaved the way it did. (In short, contradictory and irreconcilable instructions).

Alien, the original, first one, which contains both humanistic and non-humanistic AI.

Her, which is either sadly romantic or creepy as all hell, depending on how you interpret it.


Here are the best movies about artificial intelligence

  • 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
  • Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970)
  • Blade Runner (1982)
  • A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)
  • Her (2013)


This film depicts a very plausible near future when drones oversee our lives (e.g. the police use them to fight crime) and common people possess self-driving cars.

This is definitely one of the best science fiction movies I have ever watched in my entire life, and I have watched many, such as 2001, Blade Runner, or The Matrix. In fact, these are the four best science fiction movies ever made, in my opinion (and I have some knowledge of cinema, cinematography, directing, etc.)


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