This year’s big superhero movie, at least based on expectations, will be Avengers: Age of Ultron. Ultron, at least in the Marvel movies, is an artificial intelligence program that makes its own robotic body while wreaking havoc against the Avengers. While it may be the biggest robot movie of the year, it won’t be the only one.
Also in the blockbuster camp is the newest Terminator film, coming out in July. Subtitled Genisys (yes, that’s how they are selling it), the film appears to be revisiting many of the events of the first film. That suggests a complicated plot with characters trying to do what was done in the first film, but having to deal with the events of all the intervening films (and television series) and their consequences.
Robots will likely be found throughout the new Star Wars film, scheduled for a Christmas-time release. But as with the other blockbusters with robots, I’m not anticipating a lot of time spent on how these characters can provide insight on our own lives. But there are other robot movies this year that could do that.
Chappie premieres in the United States on March 6. The next film from Neil Blomkamp (District 9, Elysium) focuses on the first robot that can think and feel. He was a police droid (continuing a theme from the Robocop remake and Almost Human from 2014). Based on the director’s short film Tetra Vaal, Chappie captures how the authorities react to the emergence of artificial intelligence.
In April Ex Machina will be released widely in the U.S (it is already screening in a few countries). The film focuses on a programmer who must evaluate how human a breakthrough artificial intelligence is. The antagonist for the robot in this film is its creator, rather than the ‘authorities’ as in Chappie.
I’ll include Automata in this list, though the film has already been in theaters and was released on DVD in November. The film chronicles an insurance investigator as he investigates possible bad behavior by a robot who somehow can alter its own programming (which should be impossible). Whether or not the short time in theaters reflects a poor film or poor marketing, I cannot say. But I do expect to be thinking more about what it means to be human from Automata than I will from any of the blockbusters with robots this year.
And if you really want a more grounded robot film, Spare Parts should still be in the theaters. It chronicles a high school robotics team that competes against college students in a national competition.