When it comes to technology, making a classic film is a bit harder. After all, anyone who actually focuses the camera on the equipment of the era might find themselves feeling a bit sheepish in a few years, when talking about a dial-up modem like it’s a life-changing invention seems a bit outdated. But the fact is that whether or not you’re a computer geek or just someone who likes to see a well-made movie, the world of technology has been a fertile ground for creativity. And for every film where people managed to get it wrong, there was something else that was a bit closer to getting it right. After all, everything from hover cars to HDTV screens have popped up in movies about the future, and 50 percent of those devices are widely available today.
Whether you’re in the mood for something a bit more campy or are hoping for a truly engaging film that just happens to be a bit outdated as far as the technology is concerned, here are some of the best tech-related films that you’re likely to be able to find while surfing the channels. And if you watch close enough, you just might find that some of today’s best-known actors happened to have their formative moments in tech-related crisis back in the day.
Hackers. This turned into a camp classic due to the rollerblading through New York sequences and rave culture turned into computer chic, but the fact is that “Hackers” is always an entertaining viewing. The good news? It seems to end up on satellite tv at least once a day, in case you haven’t gotten to see it from start to finish. Better yet, Angelina Jolie and male lead Johnny Lee Miller were real-live spouses long before the days of Brangelina.
War Games. Matthew Broderick as a clever young man who accidentally finds his way inside of the computer system that controls nuclear capabilities for the United States government is completely believable, while sometimes the antiquated technology is not. An incredibly well-written film, and one of the most impressive ways of building tension when the main focus material is technology.
2001: A Space Odyssey. Perhaps the best science and technology-related film ever made, “2001” manages to not just be classifiable as sci-fi. With artificial intelligence still developing, it’s impossible to say whether or not all of the claims in this one are true. But one thing is for certain: people are definitely just as interested in space tourism as they are in the newest model of HDTV in 2010, meaning that the film was off by just about a decade.
Soylent Green. Hopefully, we’re not all eating people. But “Soylent Green” is still one of the best technology-related films out there simply because it hit the nail on the head as far as overpopulation and climate change is concerned. While not focused exclusively on technology–the plot rotates more around the trouble of corporate types rationing out food that might not be as good for you as you think–the fact is that technology and human impact on the world is the reason that things are they way they are in this fictional 2022.
Gattaca. Another satellite tv favorite, “Gattaca” is one of the best versions of the “body as capital” technology-oriented science films out there. A world where technology has developed to the point where those with a less-than-superior DNA profile aren’t allowed to enjoy regular life hasn’t happened yet, but there is certainly more and more of a chance to mess with genetics, whether getting your DNA mapped or choosing the gender of your child. An excellent and non-annoying performance by Ethan Hawke, too.