Some filmmakers make great movies and are content with it. They know their products have enough artistic or entertainment value that the audience will love watching their films. However, how many of them are truly pushing boundaries or contributing to the art form in terms of giving the world something entirely new which nobody has witnessed before? Not many, right?
There are only a handful of directors who have broken grounds in filmmaking and really pushed the art form to explore its deepest potentials. Among the names which first come up when we talk about such visionaries in the world of filmmaking, the name of James Cameron is never out of the conversation. Cameron has always tried to deliver something new with his films, be it with ‘The Terminator‘ or the history-making ‘Avatar‘, or even ‘Titanic‘, the film which catapulted Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet to superstardom.
‘The Terminator’ is a very important film in the world of blockbuster entertainers, as beside its high-octane action sequences, the film has also created a world of time travel and brought us closer to the reality in terms of how machines, or artificial intelligence to be precise, will gain an upperhand on human beings in the years to come. Even Andrei Tarkovsky was greatly impressed with the film, saying that it is a “vision of the future and the relation between man and its destiny is pushing the frontier of cinema as an art”. If you have enjoyed watching ‘The Terminator’, here are some other similar films you might want to check out. You can watch many of these movies like ‘The Terminator’ on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime.
7. Upgrade (2018)
This gem of a film which released in 2018 got far less acclaim than what it deserves. Directed by Leigh Whannell (‘Saw’ franchise, ‘Insidious’ series), this film is set in a futuristic world where technology has entered every single aspect of man’s life. The central character in this highly machine-dependent world is a complete technophobe called Grey Trace (Logan Marshall-Green). His life completely changes around when Grey and his wife are mugged by some thugs and the incident leaves him in a paralyzed state and kills his wife. Eager to avenge the death of his wife, Grey comes across a billionaire called Eron Keen who tells him about an implant called STEM which can take control of his life and make him more powerful than he has ever imagined. But Grey is completely unaware of any negative effects this implant might have on his psyche. The film is brilliantly paced and boasts of some amazing action sequences. It is a must-watch for sci-fi and action movie fans.
6. RoboCop (1987)
One of the most famous science fiction/action films of all time, ‘RoboCop’ is a film directed by Paul Verhoeven. Set in a futuristic Detroit, the film centers around a policeman called Alex Murphy who falls terminally ill after being involved in a physical altercation with some criminals. Interestingly enough, a big corporation, and not the government, runs the city, With crimes ever-rising and the citizens dissatisfied with the authorities, the company decides to morph Alex into a robotic super-policeman called RoboCop and unleash him on the criminals.
Besides being a highly entertaining watch, the film talks about how capitalism will completely control our lives in the future, and also about dystopia, questions of identity, and the influence of media on public perception. The film was produced on a modest budget, but its massive popularity made it one of the biggest movies of 1987 and it also ended up spawning a franchise.
5. Total Recall (1990)
Another film by Paul Verhoeven, ‘Total Recall’ stars ‘Terminator’ star Arnold Schwarzenegger in the leading role as a construction worker called Douglas Quaid who keeps dreaming about the planet Mars. As he looks for answers, Douglas stumbles across a company called Rekall Incorporated which sells people implanted memories, and he ends up getting one implantation himself. A glitch in the implant makes Douglas believe that he is a soldier fighting against the tyrannical ruler of Mars called Cohaagen.
The story kicks off from here and takes us on a ride like never before. It can easily be said that among the numerous films we have seen Schwarzenegger in, ‘Total Recall’ is one which really stands out because of its concept, story, and direction.
4. Westworld (1973)
We all know about the HBO series ‘Westworld‘ which took the world by storm upon its release. But are you aware of the fact the series is inspired by this 1973 film with a similar plotline? Interestingly enough, famous American science fiction and thriller writer Michael Crichton is both the writer and the director of this film.
The story of ‘Westworld’ is set in the eponymous theme park which is completely designed and developed like the American Old West where customers can enjoy for themselves the thrills of the West which they have always witnessed on film and television. The people who live inside the theme park are androids who completely look like humans. Two friends called Blane (James Brolin) and Martin (Richard Benjamin) enter this world to avail the thrills it has to offer, but get embroiled in a dark and disturbing tale when one of the robots played by Yul Brynner kills Blane. This concept is fresh even today, so in 1973 it must have been one of the most interesting things that the world got to witness. Mention must be made of the stoic performance Brynner puts in as the android where he constantly moves mechanically in the film with the utmost precision.
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3. Ex Machina (2014)
One of the finest movies about androids ever made, this 2014 venture marks the directorial debut of Alex Garland. The story of the film centers around Caleb, an employee at one of the biggest search engine companies in the world who wins a contest to spend a few days at the owner’s private estate. Once there, Caleb learns that he has to take part in a unique experiment alongside an android with artificial intelligence called Eva. Caleb’s job will be to monitor how Eva works and to test her capabilities in several fields.
What neither Caleb nor his boss Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac) expected is for Eva to boast of a high emotional quotient. This film makes us come face to face with an extremely important problem as we go forward with the concept of AIs and androids- if an android is able to emotionally respond to situations like humans and can feel pain just like humans do, will we consider them sentient beings who also have sociopolitical rights as we do?
2. Blade Runner (1982)
Just like James Cameron, another person who completely deserves the title of a visionary is Ridley Scott. Keeping aside the vast number of pretty successful films that he did do, if Scott had retired after making ‘Alien’ and ‘Blade Runner‘, he still would have been a revered figure in Hollywood to this very day. ‘Blade Runner’ is a cyberpunk film set in a futuristic world where humans and human-like robots called replicants exist simultaneously. These robots, known as replicants, are exactly like humans, but they are so sophisticated that now it has become difficult to differentiate between the two. These replicants were being sent to other planets to work in harmful conditions, but surprisingly a few of them revolted and went rogue. This is when the authorities begin appointing policemen to kill the replicants. These policemen are the ones who are called the Blade Runners.
The film follows the story of one such Blade Runner, Rick Deckard. He gets in such close contact with replicants that he himself starts being unsure of his identity. A brilliantly made film, ‘Blade Runner’ is deeply philosophical while being highly entertaining at the same time. Scott has heavily used noirish elements in the making of this film.
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1. Looper (2012)
‘Looper’ is a film written and directed by Rian Johnson starring Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Emily Blunt. The film is set at a point of time in the future when the mob sends back in time the people they want to get killed. And in the past resides an assassin known as the Looper who kills these people and naturally does not suffer any consequences in the process. The central character of the film is a Looper called Old Joe (Willis). He has been quite successful in his career as the Looper, but the problem is that one day his future self is sent back to the past to kill him. The film brilliantly packs surprises within its narrative, making it a highly suspenseful sci-fi thriller.
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