10. Hackers (1995),PG-13, 107 mins.
I should mention that I realize that Hackers is probably themovie that popped right into your head when you saw the title. So the fact thatit’s in dead last should only say something about how good the rest of themovies are rather than that this one isn’t so great. In fact, it’s tons ofnerdy teenage fun.
The movie introduced the world to cyberpunk culture, whichis made up of a lot of spandex-clad kids running around on rollerblades andhacking into government mainframes with a few clicks on their keyboards. Besides being a curiosity piece about some well knownactors at early points in their careers, Hackers is a smart technologicalthriller that takes wild creative liberties with the capabilities of a still-emerging technology, but makes it into quite a fun ride.
9. West World (1973),PG, 88 mins.
I’ve never been big on westerns, but Michael Crichton’s Westworldis such a seminal installment in the worldof computer movies and CGI that there’s no way it could be left of this list.Also, the movie is pretty freaking awesome.
For $1,000 a day, tourists can choose between a Roman, aMedieval, and a Western world and live out their fantasies. One couple choosesWestworld, only to find themselves stalked by a rogue gunslinger robot when thecomputer system inevitably crashes.
Claiming to be the first time computer effects have everbeen used in a movie, Westworld hasdated somewhat but still remains one of the better examples of special effectsin the pre-Star Wars era, and mayvery well be the movie world’s introduction to the unkillable villain, latertransformed into countless slasher movies (Michael Meyers from the Halloweenmovies, for example).
Westworld trivia –The first use of CGI ever used in a feature film was the gunslinger’s view ofWestworld. Check it out!
8. I, Robot (2004),PG-13, 115 mins.
I liked this movie more than most people did when it cameout, mostly because I was able to overlook the goofy twist and sub-par specialeffects that made up the questionable climax in favor of the cool story and thefact that the audience’s point of view was put into the movie in the coolfigure of Will Smith.
He plays a techo-phobic cop in a future where robots are as ingrained a part of society ascomputers are today. Except unlike computers, these robots have arms and legsand superhuman strength, so when one of them starts thinking for itself, youcan imagine all the chaos and mayhem and cool special effects that are sure tofollow.
I, Robot trivia –Will Smith wrecked a motorcycle at about 60mph while filming the movie. You cansee him beginning to lose control in the scene at the robot storage facility.
7. The Lawnmower Man (1992),R, 107 mins.
Those of you who have seen The Lawnmower Man might think #7 is a little high on the list of thebest computer movies ever, if given a place at all, but I’m putting it herebecause, despite numerous shortcomings, it’s a classic example of the dangersof technology, and it has by far the coolest title on the whole list.
A simpleton is chosen as the subject for the experimentationof a brilliant scientist (Pierce Brosnan), who believes he can use intelligenceenhancing drugs and virtual reality games to turn a gardener with the intellectof a child into a super-genius. His plan works brilliantly, until his subject’sintellect surpasses his own and then turns evil, as movie geniuses tend to be.
The Lawnmower Mantrivia – Stephen King had written a short story called “The Lawnmower Man” butthe movie had nothing to do with it. He sued the filmmakers and had his nameremoved from the film.
6. The Net (1995),PG-13, 114 mins.
Ah, I remember watching this movie back in high school andbeing amazed at the futuristic possibility of being able to order a pizza usinga computer. Imagine! How could such a thing ever become a reality??
Sandra Bullock was an interesting casting choice for aneveryday computer programmer who stumbles across a huge conspiracy, and theresult is an engaging but unsteady introduction of the movie world to thepowers of the Internet. Badly dated almost all the way through, but like allthe movies on this list, it’s a lot of fun to watch every few years to see howmuch the computer world is changing.
The Net trivia – Theoperating system that Angela (Sandra Bullock) uses through out the movie is MacOX 7 (the current version is OS 10.6.5. Also, this is one of the few movies tocontain the f-word but still be rated PG-13.
5. Office Space (1999),R, 89 mins.
Who ever said none of the movies about evil computers couldbe milestone comedies? It’s a little more realistic than the rest of the movieson this list, but Office Space may bethe most direct representation of the dangers that the computer world can haveon our everyday lives. Not only have we been turned into a society of zombiesseparated into an endless oblivion of cubicles, but with a few clicks of thekeyboard we may give in to the temptation to make a little adjustment here orthere in the database, causing a fraction of a cent from a lot of transactionsto just happen to fall into a certain account.
Then the next thing we know the computer has gone out ofcontrol and we find ourselves filthy rich and about to be thrown in jail. Well,it’s either that or wait tables while our jerkoff supervisor criticizes us fornot wearing enough flair.
Office Space trivia –director Mike Judge turned down the opportunity to make a sequel – OfficeSpace 2: Still Renting – because he hadalready suffered enough mental anguish from making the first movie.
4. The Matrices(1999-2003) – R, 400 mins.
What would happen if you found out that your entireexperience of reality was injected into your brain by a race ofsuper-intelligent machines who have imprisoned the human race and who exist byfeeding off of our body heat in a barren wasteland known as the matrix? Well,if you’re a celebrity hacker like the nighttime persona of Thomas Anderson, youmay find yourself targeted by the government as you struggle to take downthe matrix’s controllers.
The movie was probably the biggest single CGI leap since Terminator2 and has been called a modern version of Tron, and it remains a major science fiction and specialeffects mainstay, despite two less-popular sequels.
Matrix trivia –Within three years, the famous “bullet-time” scene had been spoofed in morethan 20 different movies.
3. 2001: A Space Odyssey(1968), G, 141 mins.
I’ll admit that there are few things that irritate more thantop 10 lists that serve up the obvious stuff in the top slots. Maybe becauseI’ve heard about a zillion times that Citizen Kane is the single greatest movie of all time and yet themovie bores me to tears. I understand that it’s basically an encyclopedia offilm technique, but you know, encyclopedias are pretty boring too.
However, the infamous HAL computer from Stanley Kubrick’sscience fiction classic is not only one of the best evil movie computers, butpossibly the most famous computer ever featured in a film in movie history.
Soft-spoken, intelligent, and almost palpably sinister, HALas an antagonist and as a screen presence is enough reason by itself to earn amovie with plenty of other stuff a spot on this list.
2001 trivia - True to his perfectionist form, StanleyKubrick filmed about 200 times as much footage as what ended up in the finalfilm.
2. The Terminators(1984-2009), R (usually), 469 mins.
Skynet, the super evil computer in the Terminator movies, is so far in the background that it mightactually take a second to remember that it was a computer becoming self-awarethat caused all the global nuclear war between the humans and the machines inthe first place. And also the fact that Schwarzenegger was so good as theterminator that it defined the rest of his acting and politicizing careers.
The series had a little hiccup with the second sequel butthe first two remain some of the best examples of hardore science fictionthrillers out there to this day, and serve as a reminder of the dangers ofdeveloping computers and machines that distantly surpass out own intelligenceand power.
Terminator trivia –When James Cameron wrote the original Terminator script, he had no agent and was living in his car.He’s doing better now.
1. WarGames, (1983),PG, 114 mins.
A plucky young Matthew Broderick heads up the list of evil computer movies in amovie that’s not really about an evil computer, but about the evil potential ofcomputers. A mild-mannered high school hacker just looking for a good time, hemakes that classic mistake that faces all of us at some time or other duringour lives – should we play tic-tac-toe or Global Thermonuclear War? He makesthe obvious decision and sets off an entire sub-genre of using computers toaccidentally almost start World War III.
Because, as we all know, all world superpowers have theirentire nuclear arsenals hooked up to computer mainframes in such a way as tomake it possible for a high school kid with a modem to tap in and inadvententlysending nuclear submarines toward the freaked out Russians. Classic!
WarGames trivia – In themissile launch room scene at the beginning of the movie, a sign can be seen onthe wall that says, “Anyone caught urinating in this room will be discharged.”That’s reason to watch the movie again in itself!
Note: Tron Legacy willbe released in theaters tomorrow, December 17th, 2010. Enjoy!
Tron (1983) - too obvious.
Pirates of Silicon Valley (1999)
Johnny Mnemonic (1995)