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So VR’s finally here, huh? The tech mankind’s been lusting for is within consumers’ reach, but the idea has b...
So VR’s finally here, huh? The tech mankind’s been lusting for is within consumers’ reach, but the idea has been explored in books, games and films more times than you can imagine. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the best, most prophetic or just plain weird movies that feature Virtual Reality. Strap on your headsets, and let’s go.
No, not the new one! Paul Verhoeven’s 1990 sci-fi thriller introduced a generation of prepubescent boys to Sharon Stone’s attributes. It also introduced us to Arnold’s escapades into virtual reality, fake memories, strangely endowed aliens and Kuato.
Already a classic, the Wachowskis’ Matrix completely blew audiences away when it was released in 1999. Just imagine: we’re all living a nice, comfy dream in virtual reality while aliens use our body for fuel in the post-apocalyptic real world. Incredible special effects, a budding romance and kick-ass martial arts drew people to theaters in droves. Revolutionary? It sure was, given its critical and commercial success.
Mamoru Oshii’s 1996 sci-fi extravaganza was the film that got Hollywood hooked on anime. Counting Titanic director James Cameron, Steven Spielberg and the Wachowskis among its fans, the film first introduced western audiences to Major Motoko Kusanagi, an android detective with existential dilemmas. Virtual reality, hacking human minds and separating the “ghost” -- the soul -- from the “shell,” or body, were one of this classic’s major themes that still resonate with audiences to this day.
The youngest film on our list, Transcendence tackles VR from a different standpoint, insofar as it defines virtual reality as our consciousness virtualized. Johnny Depp plays a doctor-slash-engineer who finds a way to upload human consciousness onto the web, and roam free in it. Of course this leads to a world of problems (it wouldn’t be a cautionary tale if it didn’t), taking cue from speculations about this very real procedure that scientists are working on right now.
Ah, TRON. Our childhood memories come flooding back as we take a look at Disney’s 1982 video game love letter, dressed in neon ones and zeros. TRON defined a generation and personalized the video game craze of the ‘80s, tickling the imagination of millions of wide-eyed boys and girls as they fantasized about riding those awesome light bikes. Regardless of whether you’re a fan or foe of the sequel, the original’s something all of us can agree on: TRON is freakin’ awesome.
Remember this one? Johnny Mnemonic was a fun 1996 sci-fi romp with some show-stealing cameos from Dolph Lundgren and Henry Rollins. Main man Keanu Reeves seems to know how to pick his sci-fi, since Mnemonic was, like the Matrix, also a chilling picture of the future -- a future where people smuggle information in their brains, implanted with special VR headsets, and a future where a dreadlocked Ice-T is somehow cool. Brrr.
Don’t tear up on me just yet: we’re not talking about Wall-E and Eva’s robo-romance. No, we’re talking about the dumpy, immobile humans that populate Wall-E’s future, riding their overweight bodies around in motorized hoverchairs, stuffing their faces while watching 20 commercials simultaneously on their pseudo-VR screens. Now THAT’s a scary vision of the future.
Wall-E’s still awesome, though. Always.
I know Gamer sucks. Everyone knows Gamer sucks. But how exactly does Gamer suck? Brilliantly, if you ask me. Gerard Butler just stops trying in this 2009 comedy? parody? where kids are e-sports superstars, commanding Hollywood alter-egos in a VR battlefield. Whatever it is, a future where I strap on an Oculus Rift to play Call of Duty and turn into Gerard Butler has to be worth seeing. Just don’t expect anything, y’know, good.
David Cronenberg’s 1999 cult classic deftly merges sci-fi, action and horror in a thrill-ride that’s still revered today. Jude Law and Jennifer Jason Leigh star in this adventure about a future where video game developer superstars run eXistenZ, an MMO-like escape where fantasy and reality are blurred. A video game the entire population plays…sound familiar?
You might not remember this one, but this 1995 action sci-fi made a star out of Russell Crowe, who played a sentient A.I. criminal out to torment a detective played by Denzel Washington. Virtuosity even then explored themes of digitized consciousness and cybercrime in an exciting, tense journey that still holds up well today.