If you have already seen ‘Ready Player One’ and you have fallen in love with the fantastic show in key VR that Steven Spielberg has given us, you have probably been left wanting to enjoy more movies about virtual reality and trapped characters – voluntarily or not – in worlds built on zeros and ones.
That is why we have decided to make this list with the best movies about virtual reality in which I have decided to exclude as much as possible all those titles that might not fit completely to the premise or that only deal with the simulated realities – I’m sorry for ‘Dark City’ -.
‘The Matrix’ (1999)
Direction: Lilly Wachowski, Lana Wachowski
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano, Hugo Weaving
I am forced to inaugurate this list of movies about virtual reality with the feature film that prompted me to make the final leap to surrender body and soul to the seventh art when I saw it for the first time with about twelve years. Over time I learned that the universe of ‘Matrix’ is nothing more than a rehash of – great – previous works, but its waste of style, its transcendent cyberpunk aesthetic and the power when planning and moving the camera of the Wachowski keeps it firmly rooted in my list of films at the bedside and at the top of the cinema on virtual reality.
‘Johnny Mnemonic’ (1995)
Direction: Robert Longo
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Dina Meyer, Ice-T, Takeshi Kitano, Dolph Lundgren, Udo Kier
Without abandoning Keanu Reeves, we go back four years to a 1995 in which before becoming Neo, the actor gave life to Johnny Mnemonic: a messenger that transports information in his brain in a world where it is no longer safe to distribute data by the usual means. With an argument of raging news – thanks, Mark Zuckerberg – the film by Robert Longo, besides having a casting of the most diverse – Kier, Kitano, Lundgren … – brings very good ideas to the subgenre, adapting with solvency the homonymous story by William Gibson.
‘The Lawnmower Man’ (1992)
Direction: Brett Leonard
Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Jeff Fahey, Jenny Wright, Mark Bringleson, Dean Norris
Despite being a literary adaptation, Brett Leonard took so many licenses when dealing with the original text by Stephen King that the author sued the producer to remove his name from the credits. Beyond the anecdote, ‘The grass cutter’ leaves us, in addition to a purely ninth-century film, a crazy premise and heiress of his time in which a cocktail of drugs and virtual reality turns a disabled intellectual into a kind of superman. Violent, passed of returns in multiple aspects, and with a technical invoice of the most cutting edge for its year of premiere.
Direction: Brett Leonard
Cast: Denzel Washington, Kelly Lynch, Russell Crowe, Stephen Spinella, William Forsythe
Brett Leonard took the pleasure to the subject of the virtual reality, since three years after ‘The lawn cutter’ premiered this ‘Virtuosity’: a thriller with which Russell Crowe and Denzel Washington played the cat and the mouse as the perfect virtual assassin who manages to escape to the real world and the police in charge of hunting him respectively. Despite the absurdity of the proposal and some shortcomings, his dedicated cast, his estimable direction and his sense of action continue to raise it as a more than worthy entertainment.
‘Strange Days’ (1995)
Direction: Kathryn Bigelow
Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Lewis, Angela Bassett, Tom Sizemore, Michael Wincott
Nothing, absolutely nothing, could go wrong in a feature film written by James Cameron and directed by a Kathryn Bigelow who had already dazzled half the world with wonders like ‘They call him Bodhi’ or ‘The travelers of the night’. Based on the existence of a device that allows recording the experiences of other people and then experience them when playing them, ‘Strange Days’ provides an exhilarating “futuristic” suspense exercise – set in 1999 – intelligent and vibrant that has aged to a thousand wonders
Direction: Douglas Trumbull
Cast: Christopher Walken, Natalie Wood, Louise Fletcher, Cliff Robertson, Jordan Christopher
Very much in the line of ‘Strange Days’, the genius of special effects Douglas Trumbull, responsible for shaping universes such as ‘Blade Runner’ or ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, signed in 1983 this science fiction film led by some dazzling Christopher Walken and Natalie Wood in which a couple of doctors invented a device that allowed to record sensations and experiences with the idea of being able to reproduce them later by another individual. A remarkable science fiction thriller ahead of the subgenre boom of the 90s with a first-class visual treatment.
Direction: David Cronenberg
Cast: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jude Law, Don McKellar, Willem Dafoe, Ian Holm
Despite not being one of my favorite films of the Canadian, any work of the master Cronenberg is worthy of praise, and his foray into the world of virtual reality was not going to be an exception. The latest incursion into the body-horror of the director raises a world in which video games allow players to access them organically; thus developing a dark discourse on the limits between reality and fiction full of all that cynicism and acidity brand of the house. Probably, one of the best tapes we can find in this compilation.
‘The Thirteenth Floor’ (1999)
Direction: Josef Rusnak
Cast: Craig Bierko, Gretchen Mol, Vincent D’Onofrio, Dennis Haysbert, Armin Mueller-Stahl
Produced by the master of destruction Roland Emmerich, this film based on the novel ‘Simulacron-3’, written by Daniel Galouye in 1964, stands out for the cyberpunk twist that gives a premise in the form of intrigue of the most classic. Above all, ‘Level 13’ manages to stand out among its fellow creatures – with whom it shares many similarities – thanks to its setting, in which the city of Los Angeles of the 30s recreated in VR seems like the icing on the cake Cake more appetizing than it seems at first glance.
Direction: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor
Cast: Gerard Butler, Michael C. Hall, Alison Lohman, John Leguizamo, Amber Valletta
In all the lists there is some controversial entry that invites you to open the missile shield, and in this case, I think that said position is occupied by ‘Gamer’. I do not like too much to use the term “guilty pleasure” -I see certain hypocrisy after this combination of words-, so I’ll say it openly: this feature film by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, architects of the enjoyable -and spidic- both sides of ‘Crank’ is an authentic and delicious VR festival, brainless, overflowing with action and with a most interesting premise buried under the memory of Michael C. Hall marking a musical number in honor of excess. It may not be a movie marvel, but it fulfills its function a thousand times.
‘The Cell’ (2000)
Direction: Tarsem Singh
Cast: Jennifer Lopez, Vince Vaughn, Vincent D’Onofrio, Marianne-Jean Baptiste, Jake Weber
Six years before leaving us speechless with the spectacular ‘The Fall: The Dream of Alexandria’, the Indian filmmaker Tarsem Singh debuted with this thriller, halfway between horror and science fiction, in which he already demonstrated his ability to create worlds dreams. With ‘La Cell’, Singh immersed us with a limited Jennifer Lopez in the disturbed mind of a comatose serial killer, overflowing the screen with an imaginary as grotesque as captivating.
‘Total Recall’ (1990)
Direction: Paul Verhoeven
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside, Rachel Ticotin, Ronny Cox
Based on Philip K. Dick’s “We Can Remember You For You Wholesale”, written in 1966, Paul Verhoeven gave birth to this action-science fiction classic of the nineties. In it, Doug Quaid, tormented by a recurring dream and after passing through the facilities of a corporation dedicated to implanting false memories in the brains of his clients, will end up discovering that the reality he has been living was not entirely true and, incidentally, will lead us through an imperishable film that continues as fresh, vibrant and surprising as the first day.
Have you missed a feature film that fits the premise of this list of movies about virtual reality? If so, tell us in the comments which are what you consider to be the best movies about virtual reality, what titles you would add and which ones you would remove from the top.