Sometimes, American film seems to take center stage in the movie world. It’s always interesting, however, to go through and see what kind of impact Canada has made in the wider film community. That impact reaches into every genre, which includes sci-fi and action. AI in movies has come a long way since the beginning of cinema, and its importance can’t be understated. Here are just some of the most impactful AI in movies that just happen to have Canadian ties.
HAL 9000 (Douglas James Rain)
HAL 9000 is easily one of the most impactful AI in cinema. Its extreme superhuman intelligence, unnervingly calm voice, and emotionless decision-making impacted AI characters for many years, and its legacy still lives on. However, one thing you might not have known is that Douglas James Rain, who voices the iconic character, was born and raised in Manitoba. Any time you see an all-powerful, emotionless AI, remember that a Canadian voice actor influenced that concept.
VIKI (Fiona Hogan)
VIKI actually has a similar concept to HAL 9000. As the main villain in I, Robot, she is an AI computer with superhuman intelligence that makes extremely logical choices to the detriment of individual humans. In fact, the plot of the movie revolves around the concept of VIKI deciding to kill off a small number of humans to avoid humanity’s complete destruction in the future. Although her voice actor, Fiona Hogan, was born in New York, she now works professionally in Vancouver, and has for more than 15 years at this point.
RoboCop (Richard Eden, Charles Page Fletcher)
The concept behind RoboCop still revolves around the trope of emotionless AI, but in a different way. Though different iterations of RoboCop have different backstories, the general concept is always the same. RoboCop himself starts as a regular human man who goes through a horrific accident; to save him, he’s revived as a cybernetic police officer. The story then deals with the concept of humanity and technology colliding, something that’s informed sci-fi ever since. Many different individuals have played RoboCop, and two of them — Richard Eden and Charles Page Fletcher — are native Canadians.
Evil Bill and Ted (Keanu Reeves)
Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, the sequel to the classic comedy film Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, has much of the same twists and turns as its predecessor. It takes a different approach to sci-fi, one that focuses heavily on comedy and much less on drama. In this movie, Evil Bill and Ted, robot replicas of the real Bill and Ted, add that slice of drama to this otherwise comedy-heavy movie. The now-iconic actor Keanu Reeves, one of the best-known Canadian actors, plays the eponymous Ted, lending his name to both comedy and AI history.
People from around the world have impacted AI in pop culture. In fact, one of the very first movies involving AI, Metropolis, was actually a German film. Canada has had its own impact on AI, with Canadian actors playing some of the most well-recognized AI characters in cinema. Whether as lead actors, as villains, or even as comedic relief, Canadians have certainly made their mark on sci-fi as a whole.