Is AI a useful tool, friend or foe, or the key to our self-destruction is a question that filmmakers have been posing in one form or another since Fritz Lang’s groundbreaking Metropolis in 1927. Whether in the form of an unfailingly polite, chess-playing, armageddon-baiting computer in War Games, a heavily accented Harley-riding behemoth in T2, a philosophical and sharply coiffured replicant in Blade Runner or a mawkish-human-wannabe in Bicentennial Man the entertainment industry has had no clear consensus on figuring out if our machines will always protect us or eventually get bored of us and exterminate us.
Hollywood’s obsession with the question continues this month with the release of Gareth Edward’s astonishing follow-up to Rogue One, The Creator. Set in the near-ish future, where AI has reached a stage so advanced it has become humanity’s greatest threat, the film asks: ‘What does it mean to be human? What happens when AI becomes inextricably embedded in society? And whose side would you be on when the machines decide they know better than us how to run things?’ Edwards has said that on recent evidence, rather than opting to set his film in 2070 he could have easily switched it to 2023, now that AI has become such a force in everyday life – and of course, in Hollywood.
After seeing Edwards’ film we decided to dedicate an issue of Industria to our favourite AIs, robots, droids, cyborgs and sentient dustbins. Inside Cinema Robotica we investigate film’s first and most memorable android, Metropolis’ Maschinenmensch, pay homage to Stan Winston, the man who created cinema’s most iconic automatons, remember Daft Punk’s musical sci-fi animé Interstella 5555 on its 20th anniversary and list our favourite 100 mechanoids. It’s a proudly human-written and designed instruction manual for understanding the mechs and mechanics that are soldered deep in Hollywood’s wiring.
The cover has been beautifully embossed with a few easter eggs of our favourite robots, while the inside middle pages uses the latest AR technology to bring the robots to life. Make sure you try it out.
You can pick up your copy of Cinema Robotica for free at Picturehouse Cinemas showing The Creator now.