One of the most tried-and-trusted methods for beating the blues has always been to curl up with a good movie or two and get whisked away into another world.
Unfortunately for those in the tech world, Hollywood's portrayal of geeks has always been spotty at best. The unrealistic and implausible depictions can set a tech-happy viewer off on an irritated, complaining rant faster than it takes the glasses-clad movie geek to 'hack the mainframe'.
So, if you do look to Hollywood to kick your recession blues this fall, here's a short list compiled by vnunet.com of movies for the easily-annoyed geek to steer clear of (or not, if you want a good laugh.) If you want to add any of your own feel free to use the comments section below.
Shaun Nichols: Great story in book form, awful movie. With all due respect to William Gibson, the continuation of Moore's ‘Law’ has made the line "I can store 320 gigabytes in my brain" a bit of a joke. (Gibson himself as much as admitted this; his latest novel has replaced brain-couriers with speedy iPod-toting teens.)
But that's not even the worst part. The fundamental underlying flaw which completely ruins the film version of Johnny Mnemomic for me is this: even in a futuristic high-tech ultra-capitalistic cyberpunk wasteland, who the hell is going to entrust any sort of important data to the brain of Keanu Reeves?
Iain Thomson: Couldn’t agree more on this one. There was some good use of technology, the passports spring to mind, but the way this film has dated has made it a stinker. And, as we’ll see below, Keanu Reeves is going to make regular appearances in this list.
Shaun Nichols: This early-90's Sly Stallone shoot 'em up portrays a high-tech future in which a steady grid of ever-present consoles and kiosks ensure a squeaky-clean society in which everyone is happy, friendly and polite. Sort of like a Teletubby portrayal of Orwell's 1984.
The problem with this plot is that it assumes technology will make people more peaceful, polite and accommodating. Anyone who has ever spent more than five minutes on a message board, chat forum or YouTube knows that this is most definitely not the case.
Plus, I have little faith in any future in which Wesley Snipes has to dress like a five year-old.
Iain Thomson: You forgot that anyone who can hack a public internet terminal in seconds could bring out a lot more havoc than Snipes manages to. Add into that the apparent attraction of telepathic sex and it's thumbs down from me.
Shaun Nichols: The film that launched a million script kiddies. It's one thing to have one or two unrealistic portrayals of technology, it's another thing to pretty much base your entire movie on them.
Way too many cock-ups in the plot to list, so I'll stick with the big one. What high-school aged 'hacker' has A: a regular hangout that is not his bedroom; B: more than three friends; and C: a young Angelina Jolie willing to be within five feet of him? Aside from that, who in their right mind is going to believe a movie about computer enthusiasts of any age that don't once reference Monty Python or The Simpsons?
Money quote: "RISC architecture is going to change everything."
Iain Thomson: I could rant for hours on this film, it's dated more badly than Elizabeth Taylor. The technology references are hopelessly dated and I’ve worked in the industry for nearly 20 years and have never found an Angelina Jolie lookalike in the server room.
Shaun Nichols: The cult classic, which boldly predicted a future full of robotic spouses and pirate-infested post-apocalyptic forbidden zones. Possibly the most unfortunate of all the technology films in the list.
No doubt that late-night broadcasts of this flick have inspired more than one drunken call to IBM asking where the heck all the cyborg wives and pirate-infested forbidden zones are. I'd take it over the 'Demolition Man' future, at least.
Iain Thomson: Shaun actually inspired me to check out this film and all I can say is I want 93 minutes of my life back please.
Shaun Nichols: Okay, put down the torches and pitchforks and hear me out. War Games was pretty realistic at the time, and as time goes on and current events continue, its scenario still seems hauntingly plausible today. So no, there are no classic mistakes.
The problem with War Games comes when you watch it with anyone under the age of 28 or so.
Some of us are barely old enough to remember 28.8 modems and 486 processors. The sight of Matthew Broderick reaching back to pull out an 8in floppy disk for his 'dialling program' is a lot like watching footage of workers digging the Panama Canal by hand.
When he picks up his corded phone headset and plugs it into an early modem for the days-long process of pinging servers, any youngster in the room is liable to ask you if people actually ever really did that. At which point you'll probably just be better off dismissing it as a mistake than dating yourself by fessing up to having used such things.
If you want to nit-pick, there's also the improbability that any early-80s computer hacker ever convinces Ally Sheedy to go into his bedroom with him.
Iain Thomson: OK, we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one. Yes, the technology is old but the basic premise is reasonably sound, if you ignore the final scene where the computer apparently becomes self-aware.
Top 10 technology flaws in films
With the economy worsening and layoffs hitting more and more tech firms, IT news can be a bit depressing these days. Here's a short list of movies for the easily-annoyed geek to steer clear of.
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