19 Coolest Computer Movie Moments Ever Filmed

Computers have long found their way into the movies, in any and all genres. As technology changes, so too has how they’ve played important parts in cinema stories. While there have been almost too many to count, here are 19 of the coolest computer movie moments we think have ever been filmed.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Computer Movie Moments
2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968 © Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
DIRECTOR: Stanley Kubrick     STARS: Keir Dulle, Gary Lockwood

Before you start skipping ahead to make sure we’ve got this, we’ve got this. The most influential and memorable computer in all of cinema, there’s no making a list about computer movie moments that doesn’t have the Hal-9000. Easily the best hal moment is when it reads David Bowman (Keir Dullea) and Frank Poole’s (Gary Lockwood) lips while they consider just what is up with their onboard computer companion. Open the pod bay doors, hal.

You’ve Got Mail (1998)

Computer Movie Moments
You’ve Got Mail, 1998 © Warner Bros.
DIRECTOR: Nora Ephron      STARS: Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan

A preeminent 90s romantic comedy, this third pairing of Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan sees him playing the owner of a national book franchise and she a corner bookstore who is about to go belly up. They don’t know it, but they are also online chat mates starting to fall in love. Remember when AOL was all the rage at the start of this whole internet thing? Lots of laptop romance in this one.

WarGames (1983)

Computer Movie Moments
WarGames, 1983 © United Artists
DIRECTOR: John Badham     STARS: Matthew Broderick, Ally Sheedy

Shall we play a game? Of course. This classic 80s Cold War sci-fi masterpiece follows young high school troublemaker David Lightman (Matthew Broderick) who accidentally hacks into NORAD’s missile defense system and maybe starts World War III thanks to a computer simulation computer called WOPR. Probably half the movie has someone using a computer, with the best being David in his bedroom unknowingly alerting the government into thinking them pesky Reds are attacking.

Clear and Present Danger (1994)

Computer Movie Moments
Clear and Present Danger, 1994 © Mace Neufeld Productions
DIRECTOR: Phillip Noyce     STARS: Harrison Ford, Willem Dafoe

In the third film of the Jack Ryan series, Harrison Ford returns as the hero, this time getting mixed up in an illegal government black ops mission in cahoots with a Colombian dug lord. In this tense scene, he stumbles upon evidence that links some very higher ups and races to get it printed before the implicated can delete the files. Ctrl+Alt+Awesome.

The Matrix (1999)

Computer Movie Moments
The Matrix, 1999 © Warner Bros.
DIRECTORS: The Wachowski Siblings     STARS: Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss

Ever feel drained of energy? That’s probably because the Matrix is using you like a battery. That’s at least the plot of this sci-fi action film about the chosen one, a hacker named Neo (Keanu Reeves) who learns humanity is nothing more than a computer sim made by robot overlords. Time to free us all. Those who are out of the Matrix use these special computers to ‘see’ what’s happening in the simulated world. Isn’t that right, Mr. Anderson.

Revenge of the Nerds (1984)

Computer Movie Moments
Revenge of the Nerds, 1984 © Twentieth Century Fox
DIRECTOR: Jeff Kanew     STARS: Anthony Edwards, Robert Carradine

Nerds! Nerds! Nerds! This epic 80s classic follows the adventures of a group of university freshmen nerds in a battle for campus supremacy with the jocks. Panty raids, pig parties, and cross-dressing are all in style. But there’s also this quiet little computer moment when one nerd, Gilbert (Anthony Edwards) flirts with a girl (Michelle Meyrink) with some stick figure animation. It warms our hard drives.

Zoolander (2001)

Computer Movie Moments
Zoolander, 2001 © Paramount Pictures
DIRECTOR: Ben Stiller     STARS: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson

This first thing you need to know when using a computer is how to turn it on. No. That’s not right. Knowing what it is is first. In this classic computer moment both Derek (Ben Stiller) and Hansel (Owen Wilson) are told the information they need is in the computer on the desk. Simple enough. Nope. It descends into a 2001: A Space Odyssey homage as they devolve into apes seemingly encountering the mystifying black monolith. Funniest bit.

Mission Impossible (1996)

Computer Movie Moments
Mission: Impossible, 1996 © Paramount Pictures
DIRECTOR: Brian De Palma     STARS: Tom Cruise, Jon Voight

Dun, dun, dundun-dun dun. The song’s in your head already just looking at this computer, seen in the film’s most famous moment when agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) descends from the ceiling at the CIA headquarters in the most badass way possible. With every conceivable security contingency plan it seems available to protect that computer, you’d think somebody would have at least thought to put in a camera. Nope.

Jurassic Park (1993)

Computer Movie Moments
Jurassic Park, 1993 © Universal Pictures
DIRECTOR: Steven Spielberg     STARS: Laura Dern, Sam Neill

You’d think one of the bigger priorities in a park that features actual living dinosaurs would be installing a security and power system that your average run-of-the-mill 13-year-old child couldn’t override in less than one minute. Fortunately, Lex (Ariana Richards) isn’t that child and in this tension-filled computer moment restores power and saves the day. To be fair, it was a Unix System after all.

Flubber (1997)

Computer Movie Moments
Flubber, 1997 © Walt Disney Pictures
DIRECTOR: Les Mayfield     STARS: Robin Williams, Marcia Gay Harden

Phillip Brainard (Robin Williams) is an absent-minded professor who thinks he has found the key to saving the university he works at with an invention that harnesses pure kinetic energy made of flying rubber. Thing is though, he’s already invented a computer AI so advanced it is self aware. And levitates. And has emotions. Wait, what? Weebo’s (voiced by Madeline Kahn) best moment comes when she tries to express that love. We are NOT crying.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

Computer Movie Moments
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, 1986 © Paramount Pictures
DIRECTOR: John Hughes     STARS: Matthew Broderick, Mia Sara

Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) wants one last day off from high school and convinces his girlfriend Sloane (Mia Sara) and best friend Cameron (Alan Ruck) to join him. Meanwhile, school Principal Ed Rooney (Jeffrey Jones) calls Ferris’ mother to tell her that her son has missed 9 days so far. Or has he? Not according this this hacked computer. Wait, are Ferris Bueller and David Lightman the same person? Mind blown.

Blade Runner (1982)

Computer Movie Moments
Blade Runner, 1982 © Ladd Company, The
DIRECTOR: Ridley Scott     STARS: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer

When L.A. detective and ‘Blade Runner’ Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is tasked with hunting down a group of illegal Replicants (androids) hiding out in the city, he puts his super hi-tech gadgets to work, like that voice-command computer that can enhance and zoom pictures right in own house. Maybe one day in the future we too could live in that kind of world. Honestly though, this is the greatest movie. Ever.

Electric Dreams (1984)

Computer Movie Moments
Electric Dreams, 1984 © Virgin
DIRECTOR: Steve Barron     STARS: Virginia Madsen, Lenny Von Dohlen

Computer dating has long been a thing, but how about a computer that falls in love with the date? Well, in this classic sci-fi romance from the 80s, that is a thing when nerdy architect Miles Harding (Lenny Von Dohlen) buys his first computer and it ends up getting its circuits in an twist over beautiful next door neighbor Madeline (Virginia Madsen), even playing a synthy accompaniment to her cello. Love bytes.

Big (1988)

Computer Movie Moments
Big, 1988 © American Entertainment Partners II L.P.
DIRECTOR: Penny Marshall     STARS: Tom Hanks, Elizabeth Perkins

Every little kid wishes they were big, but in this Tom Hanks breakout film, that’s just what happens when a boy gets his dream come true and wakes up as a 30-year-old. Before all that though, little Josh Baskin (David Moscow) plays a PC graphical text-based adventure game with an evil wizard he must vanquish. Sadly, this was never an actual game but something created for the film. “Throw thermal pod” remains a thing we can’t do.

Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)

Computer Movie Moments
Austin Powers, 1997 © Capella International
DIRECTOR: Jay Roach     STARS: Mike Myers, Elizabeth Hurley

Some say we spend too much time living in the past. For Austin Powers (Mike Myers) though, an international man of mystery, that’s where he’s from. Waking up from cryogenic sleep in the 1990s after thirty years, he’s introduced to a whole new world, including portable computers, which he hasn’t quite got the hang of after giving it a spin. Somebody give him a frickin’ bone.

American Pie (1999)

Computer Movie Moments
American Pie, 1999 © Universal Pictures
DIRECTOR: Paul Weitz     STARS: Jason Biggs, Shannon Elizabeth

To say Hollywood has an obsession with teen films in which young men spend an inordinate amount of time trying to see a real naked girl would be an understatement. In this one, Jim Levenstein (Jason Biggs) rigs a hidden webcam in his room to film what he hopes is a sexual tryst with the hot exchange student (Shannon Elizabeth) living with his family. Whoops, he’s accidentally broadcasting online. Double whoops, he totally blows it.

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)

Computer Movie Moments
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, 1986 © Paramount Pictures
DIRECTOR: Leonard Nimoy     STARS: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy

In the fourth film in the popular Star Trek movie franchise, the world is at risk when a huge alien probe comes looking for updates from their brethren the humpback whale, who are now extinct. To save Earth, the Enterprise travels back in time to bring whales from the past back to the future. In this moment, Scotty (James Doohan), showing people in the past how to make transparent aluminum, tries to use an antiquated computer. “Hello Computer.”

Swordfish (2001)

Computer Movie Moments
Swordfish, 2001 © Jonathan Krane Group
DIRECTOR: Dominic Sena     STARS: John Travolta, Halle Berry

Hacking into a high security computer system is already difficult enough. Doing it under pressure is another. What kind of pressure? How about a one-minute time limit. Not enough? How about a one-minute time limit and gun to your head? Still not enough? How about a one-minute time limit, a gun to your head, and getting oral sex from a beautiful blonde? Where do we sign up?

Steve Jobs (2015)

Computer Movie Moments
Steve Jobs, 2015 © Universal Pictures
DIRECTOR: Danny Boyle     STARS: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet

Bringing the story of Steve Jobs to the people has had its fair share of tries but the best is easily this one with a stylized look as the man as portrayed by Michael Fassbender. Detailing behind the scenes of three important product launches, in this computer moment, Jobs is about to reveal the first Macintosh and backstage, asks his daughter Lisa (Makenzie Moss) to give it a try. The results have lasting impact.


One Response

  1. The Vern November 19, 2017