Engineering themed movies - what's your favourite? - Engineering Discussions - IET EngX - IET EngX

Engineering themed movies - what's your favourite?

I was on a flight a couple of weeks back and, as the budget airlines don't offer any in-flight entertainment (other than people watching fellow passengers of course), I watched a movie I had downloaded on my iPad.  There's been a lot of conversation about AI recently and this particular movie, Ex Machina, had been mentioned in a few conversations. 

I was not disappointed! Absolutely brilliant, thought provoking film and I would heartily recommend it if you haven't already seen it. I won't spoil it but I loved the ending Wink

It got me wondering though what engineers working with AI and robotics thought of it ( and  ) and then got me thinking about other films and movies where engineering is the main theme and how they come across to real life engineers working in those particular fields? 

A couple of my favourite engineering themed movies are The Imitation Game - the story of Alan Turing and the breaking of the Enigma code and Apollo 13 - covering the mission to rescue NASA's stranded astronauts. Both of these are true stories but there have been other fictional stories that I've really enjoyed such as The Martian - the fight for survival of a stranded astronaut on a Mars mission and the aforementioned Ex Machina.

So... what are your favourite or recommended engineering themed movies and why? How true to life are they or are they just absolute nonsense? Which ones would you consider to be a 'must watch'?

Share your recommendations in this discussion! Slight smile

  • As a youngster one of my favorites was a TV Show called "Airwolf". An advanced MACH1+ attack helicopter with a complex AI weapons system which meant that it never missed, although that caused problems in one episode as the personality of the creator had been incorporated into the AI virus-style and tried to take things over.

    But yes, then you go to university and learn that it pretty much breaks all the laws of physics let alone would be impossible with the technology of the day.

    Some of the story lines (earlier ones especially) where reasonable, although might be considered a little cliché these days.

    Of course we had self-driving and self-aware cars in the 80s (knight rider). Imagine your Telsla locking you out because you upset it.

  • Hidden Figures is a favourite of mine - a bit of engineering with the design of the shuttle, plus NASA starting to use computers, but trusting the human computers more than the machines!

  • Never really watched Airwolf to be honest, but if we're talking about TV shows, Star Trek should get a mention!

  • I remember Airwolf Slight smile My younger brother was a big fan. 

    Personally I preferred Knight Rider, being a big car fan by then and loving the idea of a sentient and talking car... I think it was around about that time when I started to wonder why car manufacturers couldn't equip cars with automatic speed limiters that would reduce the speed when driving in a 30mph zone? Joy

  • There is a film, and I'm struggling to recall what it was called, but I think it was in the late 90s (it could be early 00's) but I recall they had a scene in which the characters were discussing a new hard disk drive design, they listed the access time to the disk "Ms", which of course is Mega-seconds.

    This is still one of my professional pet hates! (going with people who specify reaction times in milli-Siemens).

    But because of this I switched off from the film straightaway (and as you can see, it seems to have been purged from my memory).

  • Loved Hidden Figures too Julie! 

    If you like films about space exploration then the documentary film 'Goodnight Oppy' is a great watch. It's about Opportunity the mars exploration rover who went way beyond her expected lifespan of 90 sols (Mars days) and explored Mars for over 15 years.

    Have to admit my anthropomorphism went into overdrive at the end.... Sob  

  • The Towering Inferno

  • My favourite engineering film of all time is 2001: A Space Odyssey.  It brought together Steven Spielberg and the author Arthur C Clarke.* It was ground-breaking in its time, with special effects that were stunning, made in the then Borhamwood and Shepperton studios at a time when the British special effects creators were top of the world.  There is a good write up in Wikipedia Here worth reading for the descriptions of production techniques and engineering involved in the sets.  A far cry from the present where everything is done with "green screen" and CGI,

    *Arthur C Clarke, an ex-IEE employee, was the first to propose the concept of the synchronous satellite in an article in Wireless World in 1945.

  • The Martian is a great example of fictional engineering. I think the book is better than the film, but it certainly captures the real nature of problem solving!
    Not a movie, but the HBO series "From the Earth to the Moon" has a episode about the making of the LEM, which is also really good.

  • Interesting choice  I remember watching that film as a child and being a little bit wary of lifts (elevators) for a while afterwards. Flushed