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The top 5 computers in Hollywood movies

Must-see movies where the PC is the star

A computer hasn't won an Oscar yet, but with these five films you can at least imagine a PC making a tearful acceptance speech.

D.A.R.Y.L. (1985)

D.A.R.Y.L.; click to view full-size image.

D.A.R.Y.L. stands for Data Analysing Robot Youth Lifeform or, in short, a cherubic kid with a computer for a brain. A government experiment that goes missing, Daryl finds himself wandering around with no memory. A loving couple takes him in and raises him, and he turns out to be a normal boy, except that he can instantly master video games and precisely calculate how to hit a home run every at-bat. Of course, it's only a matter of time before the military figures out where he is, and Daryl relies on his family, friends, and cybernetic brain to perform an escalating series of daring escapes.

It's hard to watch D.A.R.Y.L. and not see parallels to the earlier (and slightly better known) E.T. However, while E.T. could make bicycles fly, Daryl manages to steal a Lockheed SR-71. If I were 10 years old, I know who I'd rather have as my friend.

It's also important to note that D.A.R.Y.L.'s creators understood a fundamental truth: It doesn't matter how weird a computer is, if you make it irresistibly cute, people will fall all over it. Steve Jobs has obviously seen this movie.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

2001: A Space Odyssey; click to view full-size image.

Stanley Kubrick's classic space film appeared during the clean, streamlined Star Trek era, before science fiction got all grungy, as in Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica. As a result, the movie's depiction of space travel is dazzling and aesthetically breathtaking, with zero-gravity maneuvering as a kind of ballet.

It's also a film that features one of the most horrifying serial killers imaginable. The HAL 9000 computer is considered the spaceship Discovery One's sixth crewmember, but as they travel to Jupiter, HAL goes insane and starts killing his human compatriots in ways that are possible only when a single, highly intelligent being is entirely in control of the ship's systems. And the whole time, HAL speaks not in the accent-free, robotic voice of his earlier on-screen kin, but with the dulcet tones of Douglas Rain.

Honestly, who can scare you more than the smooth-talking killer who's convinced that logic is on his side?

It should also be noted that HAL has the efficiency of Linux, the crankiness of Windows, and the polish of the Mac OS. He certainly makes a good case for OS differentiation.

NEXT PAGE: Why we love Electric Dreams

  1. The must-see movies with a PC as the main character
  2. D.A.R.Y.L and 2001: A Space Odyssey
  3. Why we love Electric Dreams

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