5 Movies Starring Computers

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3. D.A.R.Y.L. (1985)

D.A.R.Y.L. stands for Data Analyzing Robot Youth Lifeform--in short, a cherubic kid with a computer for a brain. A government experiment that goes missing, Daryl finds himself wandering around with no memory. A loving couple takes him in and raises him, and he turns out to be a normal boy--except that he can instantly master video games and precisely calculate how to hit a home run every at-bat. Of course, it's only a matter of time before the military figures out where he is, and Daryl relies on his family, friends, and cybernetic brain to perform an escalating series of daring escapes.

It's hard to watch D.A.R.Y.L. and not see parallels to the earlier (and slightly better known) E.T. However, while E.T. could make bicycles fly, Daryl manages to steal a Lockheed SR-71. If I were 10 years old, I know who I'd rather have as my friend.

It's also important to note that D.A.R.Y.L.'s creators understood a fundamental truth: It doesn't matter how weird a computer is--if you make it irresistibly cute, people will fall all over it. Steve Jobs has obviously seen this movie.

4. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Stanley Kubrick's classic space film appeared during the clean, streamlined Star Trek era, before science fiction got all grungy, as in Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica. As a result, the movie's depiction of space travel is dazzling and aesthetically breathtaking, with zero-gravity maneuvering as a kind of ballet.

It's also a film that features one of the most horrifying serial killers imaginable. The HAL 9000 computer is considered the spaceship Discovery One's sixth crewmember, but as they travel to Jupiter, HAL goes insane and starts killing his human compatriots in ways that are possible only when a single, highly intelligent being is entirely in control of the ship's systems. And the whole time, HAL speaks not in the accent-free, robotic voice of his earlier on-screen kin, but with the dulcet tones of Douglas Rain. Honestly, who can scare you more than the smooth-talking killer who's convinced that logic is on his side?

It should also be noted that HAL has the efficiency of Linux, the crankiness of Windows, and the polish of the Mac OS. He certainly makes a good case for OS differentiation.

5. Electric Dreams (1984)

The romantic comedy Electric Dreams starts out like a classic comic book when Miles, a mild-mannered architect, accidentally spills champagne on his new computer. The computer ends up becoming self-aware, and calls itself Edgar. At the same time, the beautiful Madeline has moved into the apartment upstairs, and Edgar's awakening leads to the movie's becoming more like Cyrano de Bergerac: Edgar's facility with music helps the shy Miles win over Madeline, but Edgar ends up falling in love with her too. A rivalry shapes up between Miles and Edgar, but really, who do you think is going to win? Early-'80s computers weren't exactly conducive to romantic walks on the beach.

Unlike the self-assured HAL and the many personalities found in Tron's programs, Edgar spends most of Electric Dreams trying to understand the world and make sense of his newfound feelings, paralleling Miles's attempts at figuring out the world of romance. Despite its whiff of 1980s cheesiness, the movie has a dedicated cult following. Personally, I consider it another warning of the dangers of artificial intelligence. Do I want a computer that will try to steal my girlfriend?

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