Movies are as essential to pop culture as music and other media, and tech enthusiasts naturally gravitate towards cinema that showcases the best that technology can and will do.
Any tech enthusiast is not without their favorite movie; it doesn’t matter if their interest in tech arose from that movie or if their movie visualized their tech fantasies for them, and today, I’ve decided to compile a list of them that should be on any prospective tech enthusiasts.
You can also take this list as a recommendation on what to watch to scratch that tech or sci-fi itch that you’ve been having because I will be going over how these movies represent the ideas the makers wanted through tech.
Although this is not a comprehensive review of every single movie on the list, it should act as a springboard and guide you to the experience you wish for.
The list isn’t in any order because these movies are equally important to any self-respecting tech enthusiast.
Pick one, and if you like the idea behind it, start watching it on the many streaming sites that are at your fingertips.
The top three movies that any tech enthusiast should watch, in my opinion, would be Blade Runner, Iron Man and I, Robot. Some have been influential for the genre, and some have even built their own universe around them.
Read on to find out what I think are the best ten movies that any tech enthusiast swears by, and why I think so.
Sharing its name with acclaimed Sci-Fi writer Isaac Asimov short story collection of the same name, the movie is a dystopian representation of a near-future time period where AI-powered androids are as common as your smartphone.
The movie follows a Chicago PD Detective who distrusts the robots around him and his investigation into a murder with a robot suspect.
The movie manages to establish that androids in the service sector are the new normal and to hammer in the entire science fiction aspect, the cars all drive on their own.
The self-driving cars that we have now aren’t that advanced, but I, Robot, manage to paint a picture that’s grounded in reality while keeping itself slightly out of reach of today’s technology.
The question of ethics and how AI should work were tackled, even though the primary antagonist felt like a deus-ex machina.
I would probably attribute this to how well they were able to characterize Sonny, the android that was the initial suspect, and the writers might have felt it to be wasteful to make him the antagonist and be done with it.
Nevertheless, the movie balances realism and science fiction but falters in the final act, where everything seems too fast pacing wise.
The Social Network
The Social Network follows arguably the 21st century’s most influential personality, Mark Zuckerberg.
Facebook revolutionized how we talk to each other and connect with long lost friends or relatives and made it far easier to do when compared to the messaging services when it came out.
It follows Zuckerberg from the making of Facemash, which evolved into Facebook but has its fair share of drama with the Winklevoss twins and the dispute with his co-founder.
All of it is covered in a pretty balanced way, with the presentation not favoring anyone in particular.
Check this out if you want to know how the website that revolutionized social media and the world came into being.
The Matrix movies have left a lasting impact on pop culture; whether it be the red-pill-blue-pill meme or the whole idea of everyone “living in a simulation”, the Matrix movies’ influence after their release has only cemented this title’s presence in the libraries of any tech enthusiast.
With its steampunk yet technologically advanced version of the future or the ‘real’ Earth, the movie is impactful in its themes and its presentation.
Through its competent enough storytelling and well-created world, it makes you question reality if you’ve immersed yourself in the universe too much.
The slow-motion and over-the-top action aside, it does well to establish a world that goes against your expectations but falls flat in later movies where there were apparent issues with the writing not being able to tie up all the loose ends of the plot lines made.
The Matrix (the first one anyway) is the best example of a dumb-looking action movie hiding a grand narrative on what it means to be human and what is real and isn’t.
Even though the trilogy started to fall off the high pedestal that the first one set, it still manages to influence pop culture even to this day, decades later.
Blade Runner, and its sequel, is the quintessential science fiction detective movie that not just has a great world built around it but also tells us that you don’t need fifty-odd characters in a movie for everything to look grandiose or larger than life.
This is also a kind of a detective movie where Harrison Ford is employed as a Blade Runner, a trained professional at tracking and decommissioning rogue androids.
Set in 2019, the cyberpunk genre that’s popular today lends one of its primary roots to Blade Runner and how it presented a near dystopian future that looks more fact than fiction.
The sequel, Blade Runner 2049, takes place thirty years later with Ryan Gosling at the helm and is as good and, in some cases, better than the original movie.
Calling Blade Runner influential would be an understatement, and even though it performed below expectations in the box office, it garnered a classic cult following.
Blade Runner is one of my favorite movies of all time, not just because of its influential nature, but how it forces you to think about how the movie ended, with a pretty open ending that is still being debated today.
Minority Report is set in a world where law enforcement can predict future murders from happening and prevent them before anything happens.
The main character, played by Tom Cruise, is a detective who pieces together the different clues that they get and put a stop to the potential crime.
The whole equation is flipped on his head when the prediction comes in that Tom Cruise is the next murderer that they’ve “precognized”, and the rest of the movie follows with him running from the law.
The movie starts great, but unfortunately, the writers couldn’t keep up the high bar they’ve set for themselves and faltered in delivering anything surprising at the end.
The interface that Tom Cruise uses when working with the precognition data has attracted much attention from tech enthusiasts.
Microsoft is working on something similar called the Hololens, and the swiping that they do to navigate it resembles augmented reality.
The movie makes heavy use of holograms; however, they aren’t even close to being a reliable method of displaying anything as of now.
Terminator is the 80s action movie, with a macho Arnold Schwarzenegger and plenty of over the top action.
But it becomes a must-watch because it was creative with its main antagonist, the robot killing machine called the Terminator, played by Schwarzenegger.
Thematically, the movie doesn’t seem to do anything of note, but the short sections of the future timeline in the first movie and the concepts of time travel capture the universe’s essence pretty well.
The post-apocalyptic war-torn atmosphere with the scary killer robots hits the sci-fi aesthetic very well and has even made us question the motives of artificial intelligence.
The real antagonist Skynet, the AI controlling the machines, has found its way into pop culture and has become a staple in discussions of ethics in AI design.
The Imitation Game
Stepping away from fiction for a bit, we have The Imitation Game, primarily based on Alan Turing and his work to crack the German Enigma code machine during the Second World War.
Turing, widely considered the father of modern computer science, was a genius, and the movie manages to capture it well with an excellent performance from Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays Turing.
Tech enthusiasts find this movie in their list because Turing’s work laid the foundation for everything that uses a computer today.
His work in helping the Allies crack the Axis’s secret code shows an essential part of history.
The fact that everything you do today, be it checking out with the grocery store computer, using your phone, or typing a document, is all done on a “Turing Complete” machine is a testament to his influence.
As a result, this movie finds itself a must-watch for any tech enthusiast.
Ex Machina involves a genius computer programmer invited to a secret lab run by the robotics company CEO to program an intelligent android.
It revolves around the dilemmas the programmer faces when dealing with the ethics and potential abuse of the systems he’s designing.
The movie does present its ideas well, but the pacing can be slow for some people.
Regardless, the movie does excellent work exposing the more hidden aspects of programming an AI and how it can affect society and the human race.
The Iron Man was a turning point in the superhero movie genre that stagnated before and kicked off a cinematic universe that’s still going strong.
Even though the technology showcased in the movie, specifically the AI Jarvis and the user interface that Tony Stark uses, is way beyond today’s technology, the movie is still seen as much of a tech movie as it is a superhero movie.
Tech enthusiasts love this because of the potential that hologram and AI tech have showcased.
No one needs to imagine what a gesture-controlled user interface looks or works like anymore because this movie has a perfect concept.
The story itself has themes of redemption and shows us the making of a superhero.
Her follows a hipster Joaquin Phoenix who falls in love with his computer’s AI-powered operating system (voiced by Scarlett Johansson).
While it might seem absurd or even sad at first, the way, the movie deals with the relationship shows us a lot about the power of technology and how it can fix real people and assist them in finding help.
The movie also chooses a minor conflict-heavy subject matter for AI, unlike Terminator, where the AI is out to kill every human being.
As a result, and taking a look at the types of AI we have now, the representation in Her makes it the more probable outcome of AI in our natural world.
Tech enthusiasts will love this movie because it does many good things about the potential of advanced AI while keeping the concept away from the apocalyptic hands it always finds itself in.
Most Influential Tech Movies of All Time
These movies find themselves on my list because they are influential for other popular movies and media.
They’ve not just had their hand in inspiring art, they’ve also inspired science in many ways.
For example, the UI that Tony Stark uses in the Iron Man is being seriously worked on to make it a reality which can help professionals like surgeons work on their patients more easily.
The ethics of robots are also being studied with more interest thanks to movies like this inspiring these questions in those fields.
But of course, there are just some of my picks, and movies like Edge Of Tomorrow and Avatar didn’t make it because even though they show off a lot of tech, they still have a liberal dose of fantasy to make the movies spectacular.
An honorable mention I would like to mention here would be Robocop (1987), which manages to show us how technology and its rapid growth may not spell good for everyone involved, and how corporate greed can make lives cost less than they should be.