10 Sci-Fi Movies That Aged Badly Thanks to Real Technology

Summary

  • Sci-fi films set in the past or near future tend to become outdated as real-world technology catches up.

  • Some science fiction films with outdated technology are considered iconic examples of unintentional retrofuturism.

  • Outdated technology in sci-fi films can add to their aesthetic appeal, but it can also make the futuristic setting seem less believable.

As the real world catches up with the fictional futuristic technology depicted in cinema, there is an increasing number of sci-fi films that have aged poorly thanks to the fact that actual technological developments are very different. This problem is closely related to the science fiction subgenre of retrofuturism, which fuses the aesthetics of past eras with fantastic science fiction mechanics. However, while there are retro-futuristic films where old technology shines, there are also sci-fi films where the supposed futuristic technology has become obsolete with the passage of time and the invention of actual products and concepts.

The problem with sci-fi movies set in a bygone future is that many of them tend to age poorly, as real-world technological advances have quickly caught up with sci-fi in recent years. On the other hand, antiquated technology appearing in supposedly advanced future timelines is part of the charm of many old sci-fi movies. Movies that have aged badly thanks to real technology aren’t necessarily bad, and some have even been recognized as iconic examples of unintentional retrofuturism.

Related: The 10 Best Sci-Fi Movies of All Time, Ranked

10 Johnny Mnemonic (1995)

Starring Keanu Reeves, Johnny Mnemonic is about a data courier who stores confidential files in his brain implant. The film’s dystopian setting accurately predicts how the world will be full of data theft by the year 2021. However, it is considered one of Keanu Reeves’ worst sci-fi films for several reasons, chief among which is its ridiculous concept of futuristic technologies. From the oversized brain implant that is only capable of storing 80 GB of data in Johnny’s brain, to the amazing visualization of VR web surfing, Johnny Mnemonic it has definitely aged badly from a technology perspective.

9 Blade Runner (1982)

Blade Runner-Zora-photo-movie-error

Blade Runner imagines a world where androids are virtually indistinguishable from real human beings. Which is why it’s ridiculous how this high-tech world is still full of old-school CRT monitors, and that Deckard even uses one to “enhance” the photo to reveal detail. In this case, though, even the Polaroid picture that Deckard gets is a good fit Blade Runnerneo-noir aesthetic. While dated monitors do Blade RunnerThe dystopian future of seems less believable to more pedantic viewers, it’s also a minor misstep in an otherwise near-flawless blend of noir and sci-fi.

8 Back to the Future Part II (1989)

Marty McFly pours a drink for his son Marty McFly Jr. in Back to the Future 2.

Back to the Future Part II actually does a lot about the “future” of 2015. This includes advances in robotics, drones, wearable technology, and even the evolution of gaming. However, in the film’s supposed futuristic setting, fax machines in every room have become the primary form of data transmission. In relation to the way the film imagines a future society dependent on print, despite the proliferation of Google Glass-like devices, the internet does not exist in Back to the Future Part II. It’s a pretty glaring omission, especially since there’s so much going on Back to the Future Part II correctly predicted the future.

7 Strange Days (1995)

Ralph Fiennes and Angela Bassett c

Strange days revolves around the use of a SQUID, an illegal device that records memories and sensations from the cerebral cortex of the wearer. The SQUID device itself is designed comparable to modern medical devices that read brain activity. Also, the idea of ​​a black market for illegally acquired memories for pleasure seekers is a great premise for a sci-fi thriller. However, Strange days gets funny when SQUID is revealed to be recording memories onto a classic 90s MiniDisc that holds a maximum of 80 minutes of audio. Strange days has a great futuristic concept but misses the mark in terms of data storage.

6 Alien (1979)

Ripley in the Nostromo in Alien

The film that launched one of the most beloved sci-fi horror franchises in history, Extraterrestrial takes place largely in the long-distance space vehicle called the Nostromo. This ship features hypersleep cameras and an advanced AI that manages its operations. It’s even run by a robot that’s perfectly disguised as a human. And yet, though Extraterrestrial set in the age of spaceflight, the Nostromo is surprisingly equipped with CRT monitors and analog circuitry. On the other hand, while the antiquated electronics seem out of place in the distant future, the retro-futuristic aesthetic does contribute greatly to the film’s formative mix of sci-fi and horror, which is why it became iconic in the first place.

5 Total Recall (1990)

The robot taxi in Total Recall

A call to return is one of those classic sci-fi movies that accurately predicted many future technologies in the real world, including the spread of video calling and even the beginning of memory-altering devices. While computers and futuristic devices inside A call to return are laughably clunky, dated, and unnecessarily flashy, they really fit well with the overall look and feel of the comedic action sci-fi movie. However, the film has aged badly in terms of its depiction of driverless cars. Although driverless vehicle technology is being developed around the world today, A call to returnRidiculous and creepy animatronic taxi drivers have thankfully not made it to the real world.

4 The Lawnmower Man (1992)

Two figures about to do battle in cyberspace in The Lawnmower Man

Similar to Johnny Mnemonic, The lawnmower man has a compelling premise, but ultimately falls flat due to its over-stuffed visualization of futuristic technology. The lawnmower man‘s virtual world, which is used in conjunction with drugs for revolutionary medical treatments, is not so far-fetched today, and the titular anti-hero developing astonishing mental abilities adds just the right amount of fantasy to the sci-fi horror plot. However, the film suffers from a common problem among 1990s sci-fi films: the portrayal of cyberspace as a colorful, poorly animated physical space with endless possibilities. Because this imagery is central to the plot, the otherwise great sci-fi story is now considered accidentally comedic.

A spacecraft and a planet in 2010, the year we make contact

The underrated sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey continues the original’s foray into the history and future of human evolution. This is yet another case of CRT monitors and analog circuitry running rampant in supposedly cutting-edge spaceships from the far future. At the same time, 2001: A Space Odyssey and 2010: The Year We Make Contact both are considered iconic retro-futuristic films precisely because of the way the technology depicted in these films is badly dated by today’s standards. Indeed, 2010: The Year We Make Contact is a great example of how outdated technology can work to the advantage of certain sci-fi films.

Related: 10 Movie Sequels People Never Knew Existed

2 Hackers (1995)

Hacker scene at Hackers

When it comes to so-bad-they’re-good movies that have completely misunderstood the internet, no movie is as hated or loved as Hackers. The film’s fantastical visualization of hackers physically moving through fictional hyper-stylized cyberspace is the most iconic cringe of its kind. The hacking scenes themselves are more about style than accuracy, just like Hackers” sharp idea of ​​what a server room looks like. The only thing that has aged well in the film is the over-the-top 90s fashion and soundtrack. At the same time, the way Hackers has aged so badly is a huge part of why it’s such a beloved cult sci-fi film.

1 Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)

    PIcard, Data and Work ride the Argo ground buggy in Star Trek: Nemesis

Largely considered one of the worst Star Trek movies, Star Trek: Nemesis features a short scene that has aged very badly thanks to real technology. When Captain Picard, Data, and Worf land on the planet Collarus III to investigate an unusual energy reading, they are attacked by the planet’s natives. It then becomes very apparent that the land vehicle they use to explore potentially hostile planets, while armed for heavy combat, leaves its occupants completely defenseless. It might be a small detail in an otherwise so-so movie, but it’s still funny that a Federation-issued exploratory buggy wouldn’t be armored like modern military vehicles.

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