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)
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)
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.
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)
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)
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)
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.
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)
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)
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.
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)
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)
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)
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.
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)
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)
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)
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.”
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)
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.