From a PowerBook that defeats alien spaceships to cyber terrorists who take over the US with a few keystrokes, Hollywood makes ridiculous tech gaffes. Which is the worst?
Occasionally, Hollywood releases a movie that expertly balances cinematic drama with technical accuracy, such as Apollo 13, or The Social Network. This is not an article about those sorts of movies.
When exotic technology hits the silver screen, audiences are pretty willing to suspend disbelief; after all, of the 10 highest-grossing films in US history, half revolve around alien races and interstellar travel. But when filmmakers get sloppy or overindulgent, even viewers in search of mindless, escapist entertainment can accept only so much. Some films disregard reality so thoroughly, viewers can't help but incredulously whisper "Really?" as laughable plot turns pile up.
These less-accurate movies are what we're here to discuss -- and, in a way, to celebrate. Some of the films we've listed are tough to defend, marred by tech mistakes so stupid they derail the entire film. Others create a "so bad it's good" vibe, while some still manage to be genuinely strong films despite their inaccuracies. Which movies fall into which category? We're got our favorites -- but let us know in the comments what you think, and whether we missed your favorite cinematic tech blunder.
Beware of spoilers!
1. Independence Day Independence Day was a huge hit back in 1996; with almost 70 million tickets sold, it attracted more domestic theater-goers than all but seven films released in the 18 years since. Despite this popularity, the film's climax relies on one of the dumbest tech-related plot twists in movie history.
Jeff Goldblum helplessly tries to explain to Will Smith how he learned an alien programming language in only a few hours. (Source: Clevver Movies, YouTube)
Jeff Goldblum's character somehow creates a software virus that can make an alien mothership self-destruct. No earthling has ever seen this mothership, but that's a trivial concern. After all, Goldblum has access to a smaller alien craft that just inexplicably turned on for the first time in 30 years. That's evidently more than enough for a cinematic IT hero to work with. Amazingly, he accomplishes most of this with an Apple PowerBook. Perhaps the extraterrestrials program in Objective C?
2. Enemy of the State Enemy of the State isn't the first movie in which characters can magically magnify images without losing any resolution. But the 1998 Will Smith thriller takes the concept to a new -- and stupefying -- level.
Just watch the above clip in which Jack Black takes a snippet of footage from a single security camera, uses it to miraculously create a 3D computerized model of the scene, and rotates the model to reveal "evidence" that was never actually recorded in the first place. Remarkably, his computer does all of this in real time. Black's character qualifies that the 3D rendering represents only the computer's "hypothesized" scene -- but that's just the film's way of imploring audiences not to think too hard.
3. The Dark Knight Rises Director Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight films were insanely popular at the box office; among all movie trilogies, only the two Star Wars trilogies sold more domestic tickets. Given their visual grandeur, Nolan's films generally
Michael Endler joined InformationWeek as an associate editor in 2012. He previously worked in talent representation in the entertainment industry, as a freelance copywriter and photojournalist, and as a teacher. Michael earned a BA in English from Stanford University in 2005 ... View Full Bio
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