The cyberpunk genre is present in many science fiction films. Generally, it is portrayed as focusing on technology in a futuristic society, examining how advanced technology can plumb the depths of humanity and bring out the worst in people. Corporate corruption, global culture, artificial intelligence, and huge class divides are often the basis of cyberpunk and often lead rebellion groups or detectives to solve mysteries.
Cyberpunk also has an unmistakably ‘cool’ visual aesthetic, with neon lights, colorful billboards and skyscrapers filling the screen while shadows creep across the sides, combining the future with film noir aesthetics. 1950s.’The Batman‘s Gotham, despite being set in a more or less current context, seemed to draw inspiration from the aesthetics of these futuristic societies.
Anonymous is set in a future where, in typical cyberpunk style, privacy and security have been replaced by invasive government-mandated technology that logs everything everyone sees. When victims with deleted and tampered records appear dead, a group of detectives begin to investigate a tech wizard known only as Anonymous (Amanda Seyfried) – as they deal with the tampering of their own memories.
It’s certainly an interesting premise, with comments about the importance of anonymity and the undeniable potential that technology like this could one day exist.
Total Recall (2012)
According to a book by Philip K. Dickthe same author whose book Do androids dream of electric sheep? cyberpunk inspired classic blade runnerthe 1990s Total recall was a landmark for its time, praised for its questions of identity and reality. In the remake, a construction worker in a dystopian world where false memories can be implanted questions whether to believe his memories of a separate life.
What follows is a tale of deception and distrust as Quaid learns more about the memories that have been planted within him and must choose what to believe. With themes of capitalism, false reality, artificial intelligence and the dangers of implanted technology, Total recall is a great movie to watch on a Friday night.
Modified Carbon (2018)
This miniseries, based on the 2002 novel by Richard K. Morgan, set in a sci-fi future and combines cyberpunk with a murder mystery. Although it was canceled after just two seasons, reviews have been mostly positive, praising the thrilling pacing and appreciating how unapologetically the series leans into its cyberpunk roots.
Although the murder mystery has been done better in other shows that focus exclusively on them, the show never slows down enough to get boring, and, on the contrary, it’s a fun watch for those who crave a bit of fun. a creative homage to cyberpunk movies with a twist.
Blade Runner: 2049 (2017)
Known for its Best Cinematography Oscar, the 1982 film sequel blade runner was better than anyone expected. Set 40 years after the original, not much has changed – a new company is producing android “replicants”, and a Blade Runner replicant hunts down Rick Decker after evidence emerges he may have a replicant child.
While not as gripping or groundbreaking as the first, this sequel can stand on its own as a solid story, with equally excellent cinematography and performances, if not containing the same emotional depths as the famous monologue.” tears in the rain” from the original.
New Gods: Nezha Reborn (2017)
This 3D animated film is set in a future town named Donghai which is a cut and dry cyberpunk town, from billboards wainscoting the facades of buildings to neon signs lighting up the shady streets. Cyberpunk more aesthetic than contained, this futuristic action film takes on fantastical elements, as the main character, a smuggler, learns that he is the reincarnation of a Chinese deity known as Nezha.
With beautiful vivid animation, interesting and creative mythology in its world, and a simple story that lets you sit back and relax, New Gods: Nezha Reborn is a great choice for a fun night out.
More focused on genetic technology than computers, Gattaca is overkill for cyberpunk, but since it expresses the dangers of technology in humans, it matters. A eugenics-controlled society capable of creating perfectly conceived children drives a born man to steal another man’s superior genetic material to earn a place among the ranks of astronauts.
A masterpiece of speculative fiction, Gattaca dives into a realistic look at what could happen if genetic technology were to become advanced enough to run society as it portrays it – these ideas are made even scarier in light of how far reproductive technology has come since the film was released in 1997.
Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995)
As philosophical as it is action-packed, Neon Genesis Evangelion is a popular Japanese anime that follows mecha robot pilots as they fight for the survival of mankind. Fusing practically sentient technology with questions of human nature, Neon Genesis Evangelion might lack some of the core elements of most cyberpunk films – no hard detectives here – but in some ways it could be about reinventing the genre.
The struggles of humanity in a technological world – social class, culture and individualism – as well as the philosophical underpinnings of these issues are explored in depth, along with psychological and religious issues. The mechs themselves are an example of futuristic technology that has the potential to fundamentally change the way humanity relates to itself, much like the cyborg enhancements featured in many characters.
looper adds time travel to the cyberpunk equation, as people are sent to the past by their enemies to be killed by a hitman. Once the assassin is hired to kill his future self, a time loop results as the two – older and younger – attempt to get rid of each other.
With hints of a classic cyberpunk aesthetic, looper turns out to be an even more gritty look into the future. With visual references to other sci-fi classics, looper is ideal for aficionados. It’s a smart, must-watch film, for those interested in time-travel-based action thrillers.
Cowboy Bebop (1998)
A fusion of cyberpunk and western, cowboy bebop asks questions about the harsh reality of life, even as that life chases criminals through tech towns and rundown towns. Although technically considered neo-noir, cyberpunk is definitely a near hit — the show’s main themes target isolation, capitalism, and the impacts of future technology on society.
With beautifully animated visuals, cowboy bebop is a renowned anime that has brought the genre to the attention of Westerners while asking deep questions. The live-action adaptation, also on Netflix, leans even more into the cyberpunk aesthetic, so it’s worth a watch!
Blade Runner: The Final Cut (1982)
Potentially the very first example of cyberpunk in cinema, Ridley Scottthe masterpieces of Harrison Ford as a cynical and tired cop, Rick Decker, and Rutger Hauer as the antagonistic android Roy Batty. In a future Los Angeles, where everything is corporate, and where Eldon Tyrell owns a “replicant” factory, “Blade Runner” Rick Decker hunts down and kills the rogue replicants who have illegally escaped.
The film is a beautiful piece of cinema, with thoughtful reflections on humanity and sensibility, as seen in Roy Batty’s final monologue before his death ruminating on the wonders he saw that not even humans have not.
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