Top Ten Cyberpunk Movies (part one)

031015 Top 10 CP Movies

For those not familiar with Cyberpunk, it is a sub-genre of science fiction in a future setting, noted for its focus on “high tech and low life.” It features advanced science, such as information technology and cybernetics, coupled with a degree of breakdown or radical change in the social order. The term was coined in 1984, and the majority of work in this sub-genre stems from the 1980’s and 1990’s with visions of the near future of the early 21st century gone awry.

Neuromancer_(Book)Considering that the vast majority of this site’s content revolves around Steampunk and the 19th century, some might find a 21st century sub-genre setting somewhat out of place at The Pandora Society, but in actual fact today Cyberpunk is just as retro-futuristic as either Steampunk or Dieselpunk. Consider this . . . we are currently living in the times in which most Cyberpunk tales are set, and those images of the future were imagined three decades ago . . . after a 30 year period, Cyberpunk is most definitely retro!

So just like a couple of weeks ago when we listed and reviewed the top five Dieselpunk Films as nominated and voted upon by the active members of The Pandora Society Facebook group, this time around our latest poll was on the best Cyberpunk films and TV shows, and here are the results . . . well, at least the first two films in our Top Ten countdown.

Flourish 1

10. Hackers

HackersposterDirected by Iain Softley and starring a young Jonny Lee Miller and a young Angelina Jolie, Hackers came out in 1995. The film follows the exploits of a group of gifted high school hackers and their involvement in a corporate extortion conspiracy. At the time of the movie’s release the internet was still unfamiliar to the general public with only a small percentage of the population even knowing what email was, let along using it, and Hackers rode the crest of the wave that was about to change society’s understanding of the Information Age.

The cast of characters are young, rebellious, sexy, and capture the grunge zeitgeist of the early 90’s with their alternative fashions and their Generation X edginess. In retrospect the film does have a certain naive innocence with the protagonists holding onto a strong sense of idealism stemming from the Hacker Manifesto, and the portrayal of the technology is capable of the kind of technological romanticism that existed before we realized that the internet was primarily going to be used for funny videos of cats and for excessive amounts of porn.

Flourish 1

9. Wild Palms

Wild Palms PosterStaring James Belushi, Kim Cattrall, and a host of other familiar names, Wild Palms first aired in May 1993 on the ABC network. Set in “2007,” it is a five-hour mini-series sci-fi drama that deals with the dangers of politically motivated abuse of mass media technology, virtual realities in particular. Wild Palms was based on a comic strip written by Bruce Wagner and illustrated by Julian Allen first published in 1990 in Details magazine. Wagner, who also wrote the screenplay, served as executive producer together with Oliver Stone.

Unlike the typical images of urban decay, the show starts with a crisp, clean, stylized utopia before revealing the ugly underbelly of societal control through technology. William Gibson actually makes a cameo appearance as himself in the first episode as an homage to the author who coined the term “cyberspace.”

Wild Palms‘s approach to cyberspace deviated from the typical trope of the heavy goggles headset by envisioning how in 14 years time the technology would have been reduced in size and freed from wires (predating the advent of bluetooth). The show’s virtual reality goggles are 1950’s looking sunglasses that fit with the retro-futuristic approach to the corporate men’s wardrobes of suits, shirts, and waistcoats that echo an Edwardian style.

In true Oliver Stone fashion, the plot deals with massive conspiracy theories that certainly escalate toward the climax of the story, but the secondary theme of the show explores how media technology can bend and confuse reality . . .

Flourish 1

Our countdown continues with Eight and Seven of the Top Ten best Cyberpunk movies as voted on by the active members of The Pandora Society! 

030715 PC 2016 Banner

Trackbacks & Pings

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to toolbar