Cyberpunk Within The Video Medium

 

Cyberpunk Movies

Blade Runner

Blade Runner

This movie is considered to be the quintessential cyberpunk film.  It's stark dingy view of the future was an inspiration to William Gibson, and many other prolific writers as well.  Based on the book Do Androids Dream of Electronic Sheep by celebrated paranoia sci-fi author, Phillip K. Dick, it was considered amongst the few "deep science fiction" movies.

 

Blade Runenr Movie - The HOME of Blade Runner

The Official Blade Runner On-Line Magazine

Blade Zone - Official Blade Runner Fan Club and Museum

eXistenZ

eXistenZ

This movie is considered by some to be "The Matrix with Brains".  It follows that oh-so common concept of asking "What's really real?"  The catch is that this movie was made by David Cronenberg, the maker of The Fly and Naked Lunch to name a few, so it is true to say that this movie pushes the weird envelope.  Gene engineered devices (such as the "game pod", and "pink phone") are the center of attention here, and designed to almost give you the feeling that the devices are like pets to their owner.  The premise is that Allegra Geller, creator of the new VR game eXistenZ is on the run from people who want to kill her (great performance by Willem Defoe), and leads her and her body guard into the game she designed.  It's then that her body guard (who is a Game Pod "virgin") starts to question reality.  Very strange movie.

Ghost in the Shell

Ghost in the Shell

This is an anime creation that is basically an action packed romp through the cyber-world of the future with lots of questioning of humanity.  The main characters are cybernetic police agents and self-conscious AI's, so it is fertile ground for the classic "definition of humanity" discussion.

Click HERE to access the Ghost in the Shell miniPage

 

Official Ghost in the Shell Website

Official Website for the Television Series

in the Shell - Great Ghost in the Shell Fan Site

Ghost in the Shell

Ghost in the Shell - Innocence
 

Wow.  This movie is really impressive.  The plot is okay, but not really the main course of this meal.  Visually, this movie is stunning.  There are simply some amazing artwork strewn about this movie.  Also, the plotline is a bit of a treat if you read the original Ghost in the Shell graphic novel that the first movie was based on.  While the first Ghost in the Shell movie was based rather closely on the primary storyline of the original graphic novel, this movie is inspired (loosely) from one of the side-plots of the original graphic novel that was not a part of original movie.  Really, one could make a couple more movies based off of the side-plots from the original graphic novel.  This movie however, is the height of individuality, and is singularly beautiful.

Click HERE to access the Ghost in the Shell miniPage

 

Official Japanese website for Ghost in the Shell - Innocence

Official American Website for Ghost in the Shell - Innocence

in the Shell - Great Ghost in the Shell Fan Site

Johnny Mnemoinc

Johnny Mnemonic

This was to be William Gibson's big explosion onto the world of the silver screen.  Unfortunately, the movie was twisted by the powers that be and turned into a big budget effects driven movie without the big budget.  The cyberspace scenes of the movie however, were stunning, and the movie had potential.  However, poor acting, a few very cheap sets, and a couple blunders in the script later; everything sort of lost it's edge. 

 

Now what is interesting is the Japanese version of this movie.  I actually went to the effort of ordering the Japanese version of this movie for 60 BLOODY DOLLARS.  I blew an entire bonus I had gotten on it.  The Japanese cut is indeed different, and better.  Completely different soundtrack, many new scenes and some other sense have been reedited.

 

Click Here to hear about all the differences in the Japanese version

 

Sony's Official Johnny Mnemonic Website 

Johnny Mnemonic Pinball Game

Minority Report

Another Philip K. Dick movie.  This one was added to the list (not the absence of Total Recall) because it did get the dark paranoia and some of the technology of cyberpunk.  It just barely came in on the cyberpunk radar.  This is obviously a very polished and general audience movie, but the way that they portrayed hi-tech advertising in this movie brought a tear of awe to my eye.  Sure, not enough awe to see past the plot holes big enough to drive one of those oblong car things that everybody but Lexus owners use (but I'll leave those for you the viewer to find).  Good bad, it still is better than Total Recall.

New Rose Hotel

New Rose Hotel

This is the other Gibson movie to be made.  I personally like this one, but most people can't deal with the fact that the last 20 minutes of this movie recap the events of the first 73 minutes.  I learned to like watching this because if you observe carefully, there are little changes between what happened and what is being "remembered" in that last 20 minutes.  However, this movie really is quite slow and unexciting, thus it will not be enjoyed by many.

 

Page about New Rose Hotel in The William Gibson Aleph

Robocop

One from the vaults.  This movie was a great feast of special effects and cybernetic eye candy, in the 80's.  Now, you can look back on the effects and laugh, but somehow, I think the director would have wanted that.  The satiric view corporations and the media are what make this extra special.  The sequels sucked (well the second one had a few redeeming values, and a life lesson "never make uncontrollable killing machines out of drug addicts"), but we can always look to the first one for extreme violence, robots, and a look at decaying "futuristic" society. 

The Robocop Archive - LOTS of downloads and fun stuff

Strange Days

Strange Days

This is one of my personal favorite cyberpunk movies.  It was written in the early 90's, and takes place two days from January 1st 2000.  This is a  very near future style cyberpunk.  For the most part, the future was like the early 90's except more violent, more tech savvy, more decadent, and you could record full sensory experience onto minidisk (well two out of three ain't bad).  It is essentially a tech-noir mystery involving the murder of a rapper/political figure, the murder of a hooker/friend, and an obsession over a lost ex-girlfriend.  This one explores the addictive nature of memory.  Very well done, and great acting performances by all involved (well relatively good for Juliette Lewis).

 

This movie also had a great soundtrack.

The Matrix

The Matrix Trilogy

You know it, you love it or hate it, it's The Matrix.  The most popular cyberpunk movie to ever be denied as being cyberpunk by so many.  Yes, it is mostly an action flick, but it was chuck full of philosophical quandaries that may be overwrought, but still valid.  There is no dining that it is cyberpunk, it has the background, and the subject matter, and definitely the technology.  Over hyped?  Perhaps.  But this is still one of my favorite movies to watch when I want action with some brains on the side.

 

Then the sequels came.  As most know, Matrix: Reloaded and Matrix: Revolutions were released in short distance of each other and were meant to be one movie.  Unfortunately, the essence of the first movie was gone, these movies had no soul.  There was great action, and some mind blowing effects, but little else.  Something that always irked me was trying to put a finger on exactly what about the two sequels felt different.  Then I figured it out.

 

It's a known fact or rumor that The Matrix used a decent amount of sets and whatnot from the very film noir styled "Dark City".  And that was the key to understanding the major difference.  Look closely at the set design in the first matrix, the lighting, and the camera angles.  Now watch Reloaded or Revolutions and notice the difference.  The first matrix had artful camera angles, dark moody lighting, and very film noir props and set design (from the cars they drive, to the way that the police dress).  Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions have straightforward action-movie camera angles, bright lighting, and none definable style to the set design.  These are first and foremost of my problems with the sequels. 

 

Many other people bring up the problems of plot line, especially in the last installment.  Many people were fuming because we were promised that all of our questions would be answered.  Instead, all of our answers were questioned, as the first movie dropped a load of plot twists in our lap at the end that are poorly resolved in the third movie.  Also, the third movie, ended ambiguously with things for the people inside and outside of the matrix being only slightly better than before Neo was ever unplugged and dubbed 'savior' in the first movie.  All and all, what we got was a big budget action movie, with plot on the side, and the brains were only the breath mint you get as you leave the restaurant.  

 

The Official Matrix Website

The Animatrix Website (Anime extensions of The Matrix)

Enter the Matrix (The videogame with stand-alone script by original writers)

MatrixFans Dot New (THE source for everything matrix)

A Wonderful Fanart Version of The Matrix Reloaded Cover


Tetsuo - Iron Man
 

Oh man.  This Movie.  The plotline, if there is indeed one, is rather clandestine, instead dropping you into the middle of the movie with a man implanting a mysterious metal rod into his leg for no apparent reason.  Then the rest of the movie is basically industrial beat music as our main character goes through a transformation that includes a giant crotch drill.  Yeah.  This movie is one of those movies that you like simply because it is like nothing else out there and is also visually stimulating.   I have not gotten the chance to check out the sequel to this, which most seem to view as a more plot-oriented version of the previous movie.  Rent this movie, and decide for yourself if you want to add it to your collection.  I haven't yet, but I eventually will.

Cyberpunk Documentaries


No Maps For These Territories

Not strictly a cyberpunk documentary, but that is still central to the conversations in the movie.
  Essentially, this is William Gibson in the back seat of a car talking about all kinds of stuff that he usually talks about through his writing.  Lots of excerpts from his writings (something is surreal about hearing Bono from U2 read out of Neuromancer) and lots of guests.  As a special treat, included toward the end is a read expert from the Gibson story "Memory Palace", which is a story I have tried and failed to find a copy of.  The DVD has lots of conversations that were cut from the film.  The only thing that the DVD needs is a commentary track by William Gibson, that would be odd enough for me.

 

No Maps Official Website


The Cyberpunk Educator

This is the independent creation of a group of filmmakers going by the name Cyberpunk Films.  This film is composed of clips from various 80's and early 90's cyberpunk films, as well as pictures and diagrams, with a synthetic voice over dissecting the way that cyberpunk movies portray the world around us.  Aside from being a nice nostalgia trip through those movies I haven't watched in awhile, this film makes some interesting observations.  Sometimes it strains a little too far out in some inferences and comparisons, however in general it makes valid points.  Interestingly, it often brings in some biblical comparison's, between the heavenly and the hellish and the way they are depicted in this genre of science fiction.  I was irked initially by the biblical comparisons, but found it to give this film a different perspective.  Production-wise, this film feels much like some of the instructional films I used to watch in middle-school (not entirely sure if that was intentional), however, having the title 'The Cyberpunk Educator' certainly does set that tone.  Stop reading this and just check it out yourself, it is available as a free bittorrent download from the Cyberpunk Films website, which is linked below.

 

Offical Site (With BitTorrent Download of the Movie)

Cyberpunk Television Shows


Max Headroom

This, by all accounts, would be the first cyberpunk television show that I can name off the top of my head.  However, most people probably just remember it as a bit of cheesy 80's pop nostalgia.  This show however had all the themes going for it, and an AI as the title character.  I recently found a bunch of old episodes of the series and began watching them again for the first time in many years, and wow, concept-wise, the show hasn't aged a bit.  However, the acting and the production are quite laughable when compared to today's television shows.  If you can allow yourself to excuse the technicalities of this shows, the plotlines are actually pretty fun to follow.  I suspect it will be a long time before another show comes along about an investigative reporter, his crack team of hackers, and his artificial doppelganger.

 

A Website Devoted to Archiving the Worst of the Max Headroom Commercial Products

A Collection of Max Headroom Coke Cans

Video of an Incoherent Pirate Video Broadcast Imitating Max Headroom

Max Headroom Trivia


Total Recall 2070

This was a television show originally aired on Showtime.  It was based off of the movie Total Recall, however it seems to draw much more from Blade Runner.  The show sort of managed to hit the mark perfectly while completely missing it at the same time.  There was so much I liked about this series, however it felt to clean.  Even when it was trying to be dark and gritty, it felt too shiny.  I can't really explain what was wrong with it, however, I was not the only person who felt this way apparently.  The show never seemed to resonate with anyone and had a short lifespan.  I would love to see a DVD release of this sometime, but greatly doubt that I will (outside of the pilot episode DVD, which I own of course, for prosperities sake).  The plotlines and characters could be cliché, but still had enough nuances to remain interesting.  Sort of a shame to see the show die, but it was the only logical end.


Robocop - Prime Directives

A four-part mini-series.  I have not seen this, nor do I really feel that I have an inclination to ever see this.  Robocop 1 was good, Robocop 2 was almost good, and Robocop 3 sucked ass.  Judging from that trajectory, and the reviews I have already heard, Prime Directives should be horrible.  I just added it to the list for completeness sake.  If anyone wants to try to talk me into seeing this and reviewing it, you are welcome to email me and try.

Ghost in the Shell - Standalone Complex

This show rocks.  There are currently two 26 episode series of this show, Ghost in the Shell SAC, and Ghost in the Shell 2nd GIG.  It is easiest to just consider these to be season 1 and season 2 of this television series, however, that is not strictly the case.  2nd GIG is more like a sequel than like a second season, and we will just leave it at that.

The show uses the characters and setting of the movie and graphic novel Ghost in the Shell, but is a plotline that assumes that the events from the movie and book never occurred.  The result is a version of Ghost in the Shell that is more oriented to action and plot than the movies which were more oriented to art and philosophy.  The way the show is set up, is that some episodes follow a main plotline, while others are self-contained stories (much like the way that the graphic novel was set up).  The first 26 episode series follows the story of an investigation of a political activist/hacker known as "The Laughing Man", and leads to corruption at the heights of the government.  The second 26 episode series follows an investigation of a terrorist group known as "The Particularist 11", and also leads to corruption at the heights of the government.  Plotline and character development progress nicely as the plotline of each series gets warmed up.  You may take awhile to learn to like it, but it ends up being a very fun ride.  The show can be seen (cringe) in voice dub on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim lineup.

Click HERE to access the Ghost in the Shell miniPage

 

The Official Site for the Televison Show

The Official Forums (Lots of Info to Be Had Here)


The X-Files - Killswitch

This is one of two episodes of The X-Files written by William Gibson himself.  This is also the better of the two episodes in my opinion.  Assisting in the writing of this episode was Tom Maddox, another known name in cyberpunk.  The story of this plot is about an AI that is loose in the internet, trying to destroy it's creators who are the only people who have the key (a program called Killswitch) that can destroy it.  Pretty straightforward plot, however, it was excellently executed and Gibson was able to write it all well within the the show's storyline.  It was good, and had a weird hybrid of Gibson's and The X-File's sense of humor.

 

A Website With Screen Captures of Most of this Episode


The X-Files - First Person Shooter

This was the second of two episodes that William Gibson wrote for The X-Files, and is the most flaccid.  The plot surrounds a prototype holographic 3D videogame, but oh my, the players start to really die in the game.  Pretty disappointingly unoriginal storyline for this one.  However, the sort of humor that presides over the episode is at least one redeeming value.  Another is that you get to see Scully all decked out in cyberpunk action hero grab when she enters the game.  However, while she looks cool in that getup, Mulder just looks silly.

 

A Website With Screen Captures of Most of this Episode