21 Movies About Virtual Reality, Ranked

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21 Movies About Virtual Reality, Ranked
March 25, 2018
©Lionsgate

 

21. Gamer

In this movie, the virtual reality is the real world. Thanks to advancements in technology, "players" can control actual humans as if they were video game avatars. It's a horrible idea that only gets worse with the release of a first-person shooter.

Metacritic score: 27

©Columbia Pictures

 

20. The Thirteenth Floor

As programmers create a VR simulation of Los Angeles in the 1930s, they begin wondering if their own existence in the 1990s is a simulation itself. How deep into a VR world can you go before losing touch with any sort of actual reality?

Metacritic score: 36

©Paramount

 

19. Virtuosity

In this silly film, a serial killer that exists only in virtual reality comes to life in the real world after taking over the body of an android. While that may play in a futuristic thriller, Russell Crowe's over-the-top acting as the nefarious SID 6.7 instead creates a work that feels about as authentic as Demolition Man.

Metacritic score: 39

©New Line

 

18. The Cell

The Cell uses virtual reality as a psychological tool for comatose patients. When a psychologist uses the tool to enter the mind of a serial killer, everything goes horribly wrong. This movie has good VR visuals, but critics weren't quite as impressed with the story.

Metacritic score: 40

©New Line

 

17. The Lawnmower Man (tie)

In The Lawnmower Man, a gardener with a learning disability gets metaphysical powers after being exposed to a virtual world. This new knowledge causes mental instability and a need to become one with the digitized universe.

 

It's the sort of idea that has been done better by other movies -- right, Tron? -- and yet it somehow spawned a sequel.

Metacritic score: 42

©New Line

 

16. The Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace (tie)

While Metacritic gives this sequel a 42, the same score as the original, movie-going audiences reacted much more harshly. On a $15 million budget, Lawnmower Man 2 earned $2.4 million at the box office.

 

Thankfully, the story of the Jobe Smith -- played by a completely different actor in the sequel -- ends here.

Metacritic score: 42

©Columbia Pictures

 

15. Total Recall (2012)

The reboot of Total Recall isn't necessarily a bad movie. It just doesn't have the visual charm of the 1990 original, instead opting for a glossy finish that makes everything look too nice for the world it's set in. One other knock against it is the VR vacation to Mars is replaced by one on Earth, which isn't nearly as exciting.

Metacritic score: 43

©MGM

 

14. Hackers

Hackers is the quintessential cheesy '90s movie about computer hacking and its culture. Everything in it is so ludicrously over-the-top, including the scene where the villain gets beat up by a virtual reality boxing game.

Metacritic score: 46

©Warner Bros.

 

13. The Matrix Revolutions

Critics allege that the final chapter in the Matrix trilogy lost its way and failed to give viewers closure. That said, it's hard to not look at The Matrix trilogy as a whole as some of the best sci-fi ever made.

Metacritic score: 47

©Disney

 

12. Tron Legacy

Tron: Legacy delivers on the promises of the original film with amazing visuals. From the light cycle battles to the Daft Punk score, this is the kind of VR movie the world should appreciate more.

Metacritic score: 49

©Summit Entertainment

 

11. Ender's Game

Here, the titular character believes his VR military tactics test is a simulation -- but it's not. Unfortunately, the movie was a simplified take on a very complex book. It flopped at the box office.

Metacritic score: 51

©Miramax

 

10. Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over (tie)

The concept of a digitized villain using a VR game to come back to the real world may seem ridiculous -- and it is. But it also makes for the best movie in the Spy Kids franchise.

Metacritic score: 57

©TriStar Pictures

 

9. Total Recall (1990) (tie)

Total Recall imagines a future where virtual vacations are implanted into your memory, rather than you actually taking them -- which seems utterly horrible. And yet, still, the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie has gone on to become a cult classic--thanks, in large part to how visually interesting it is.

Metacritic score: 57

©Warner Bros.

 

8. Disclosure (tie)

In Disclosure, VR is a tool used to access a company's data files, which makes absolutely no sense. That said, the scene doesn't distract much from an otherwise compelling thriller.

Metacritic score: 58

©Disney

 

7. Tron (tie)

While the original Tron wasn't a big box office success in 1982, its ideas were way ahead of their time. Rather than using traditional headgear as a means into a virtual world, main character Flynn is digitized and uploaded into a computer mainframe.

Metacritic score: 58

©Universal

 

6. Videodrome

In Videodrome, David Cronenberg uses VR as a means of torture. In a way, it's an even more abstract version of what he would later attempt in Existenz, blurring the line between causing pain in a virtual world and the real one.

Metacritic score: 60

©Warner Bros.

 

5. The Matrix Reloaded

The second chapter of the Matrix trilogy isn't as beloved as the original, but it does expand greatly on the virtual world it's set in.

Metacritic score: 62

©Warner Bros.

 

4. Ready Player One

Steven Spielberg's journey into virtual reality is a celebration of nostalgia at its heart, as people of the future use VR to revisit familiar characters and settings from pop culture. While some may find it to be cloying, our own Michael Rougeau says "if you can get past the nitpicks, there's a really fun movie underneath."

Metacritic score: 64

©New Line

 

3. Dark City

On the surface, this film presents itself as a neo-noir murder mystery. That quickly unravels, however, when the main character reveals that the world and people around him are changing. Dark City was not a box office success, but luckily critics saw it for the intriguing and unique tale it is.

Metacritic score: 66

©Dimension Films

 

2. Existenz

You may not remember Existenz, but this small budget horror movie from 1999 is director David Cronenberg at his absolute creepiest. It's filled with so many twists and turns that by the end you won't be sure what's real and what's not -- kind of like most of Cronenberg's work.

Metacritic score: 68

©Warner Bros.

 

1. The Matrix

There is no doubt about it: The Matrix is the gold standard of VR movies, plunging most of the human population into a faux world that lives inside a computer. While its sequels may not have always lived up to their hype, the original is forever a classic.

Metacritic score: 73

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