#3. Minority Report -- Wireless Internet
Minority Report is set in a future in which cops have figured out a way to stop crimes before they even happen, thus making their jobs approximately 8,000 percent easier. But that's not all: It appears that by the year 2054, our ability to shrink hardware and data has gotten so advanced that you can't even see it. Take a look at the part when Tom Cruise and his murder-predicting cop buddies are transferring data from one computer to another:
Check that shit out! That's one of their portable storage devices and it's completely clear, like fucking air -- that's how advanced we've become!
So What's Missing?
Wait a minute, so they're using a portable device to transfer information to another computer that's right there? Even in the year 2002, when this movie came out, we already had the ability to do the exact same thing considerably faster thanks to a little thing called Wi-Fi. You'd think that by 2054 portable devices, even cool ones that look like air, wouldn't even be necessary -- you know what else looks like air? Air.
Above: The entire Led Zeppelin discography, plus evidence of that covered-up murder.
Throughout this entire film, there seems to be a complete lack of anything resembling Wi-Fi or networking abilities. If the cops want a file that's on another computer, they have to physically go and get it. What is this, Dragnet? When Tom Cruise needs certain records about a specific prediction, he literally has to walk down to the prison and order the warden to show him the video, then walk once more to another kiosk in order to get more information on that specific prisoner.
If we took that exact same situation and put in the present, it would probably look like this:
He could do the same job with five Cracked tabs open in the background.
But this isn't just an office. This is a police force that sometimes has only minutes to pre-solve these pre-crimes -- and yet they waste valuable seconds passing huge transparent flash drives from one computer to another before the information can be analyzed. Why not just connect the computers to the same network or, you know, grab a 5-foot-long Ethernet cable from whatever has replaced RadioShack in the future? Even that would be faster than the way they're doing it.
So it's an alternate future where they can predict murders using orphans and smartphones haven't been invented yet.
How It Would Have Changed Things:
Most of the pre-crimes we see in the film are stopped literally a few seconds before they were supposed to happen -- when the police arrive in time to stop them. At the end of the film, the cops arrive instants after the bad guy has committed suicide, which in turn results in the whole pre-crime division getting shut down. In this case, Wi-Fi would have actually changed the entire ending of the movie.
"All right, let's notify his family. Anybody got a telegram?"
#2. Blade Runner, A.I. and I, Robot -- GPS Tracking
We've seen the same basic premise in movies like Blade Runner, A.I. and even I, Robot -- a somehow humanlike machine decides to escape and the humans must find it fast, for whatever reason. In I, Robot, the whole first part of the movie is about Will Smith chasing an android who supposedly committed a murder. At one point he has to find the alleged robo-murderer in a warehouse filled with a thousand other identical robots.
"I know it's un-PC, but they all look exactly the same to me."
In Blade Runner and A.I., finding the missing androids is literally the whole plot of the film. In Blade Runner, Harrison Ford has to find the replicants because they are dangerous lunatics, and in A.I., the robot kid on the run is actually an invaluable prototype. In both cases, the quest to find the androids is long and hard, giving the filmmakers plenty of time to ponder philosophical questions like, "At what point does artificial intelligence become real intelligence?" and "Is it legal for Jude Law's pants to be so tight near a small child?"
What is NC-17 there to warn us about if not this?
So What's Missing?
Every time a robot runs away in these movies, the companies that own them are caught completely off guard by it, as if they weren't the ones who put legs into the damn things. What they did not build into them, for inexplicable reasons, is a simple GPS tracker.
Think about it. We can track anything from cellphones to pets using GPS technology -- and yet in A.I., once the robot kid and his gigolo buddy go into the woods, the humans admit they have no clue where they are. We're talking about a film made in 2001, long after the invention of GPS, but for some reason no one in this future has heard of it. The worst part is that the woods are literally filled with missing runaway robots, so it's not like this is the first time it has happened.
"A dark forest filled with children and perverts? Why would we even look there?"
In I, Robot, the killer android Will Smith has to find is part of a batch of brand-new service robots made with cutting-edge technology -- which, again, doesn't seem to include any method for finding them if they go missing. The robot simply runs away from the murder scene and it's like he vanished from existence. If it wasn't for the fact that it was damaged and needed a place to repair itself, it could have simply kept running in a straight line until Will Smith died of old age.
"Come on now, does anyone here have a Navigation app?"
Blade Runner sort of gets a pass on this stuff because GPS technology wasn't as widespread when the film came out in 1982 -- but even back then there were other methods to track really important things. The company that owned the replicants knew they were dangerous and restricted their usage to off-planet colonies ... but never thought to keep track of these highly advanced robots by any means other than "sending some dude to chase them."
And occasionally sexing them up.
How It Would Have Changed Things:
In I, Robot, we would have been spared more than just the chase sequence at the beginning. If Will Smith had simply tried to GPS the robot ... he would have found out that it was specifically built to be undetectable by the main computer (and presumably other forms of tracking) as part of the dead guy's plan to expose the robo-conspiracy. In the movie, it takes him like an extra hour of screen time to make that same discovery.
In A.I., the whole second act onward is about the kid being brought in to be dismantled, running away, meeting the Jude Law character and ... something about ... aliens. All that crap? Averted when the company locates the boy five minutes after it went missing and reuses the parts to build a Danish woman or something. As for Blade Runner, there would be no movie. It would be two hours of Harrison Ford eating Chinese food and contemplating making love to his vacuum cleaner, probably.
"It feels great, but then there'll be lint dick to deal with."
#1. X-Men -- Cellular Phones
According to the first film (released in 2000), the nonprequel X-Men movies take place in the "not too distant future," a time when people who shoot lasers out of their eyeballs don't seem quite as shocking to the world as they would now. While regular humans continue using the same boring technology we have now, we see mutants flying around in futuristic jets, using holographic "danger rooms" to practice their magical powers and driving badass super cars.
Via Everett Collection
They've also developed the technology to make 80-year-old Holocaust survivors look not a day over 60.
So these "people" can not only control our minds and metal-based patio furniture, but they also get all the good tech? Assholes!
So What's Missing?
Cellphones, or any other form of long distance communication invented after the '60s, for that matter. Seriously -- when you think about it, the plots of the X-Men films are as reliant on the idea that no one is in possession of a mobile phone as an episode of Seinfeld.
Cellphone: Bane of the lazy screenwriter's existence.
It's not like they don't exist in this universe: In the first film, we see Senator Kelly chatting it up on a cellphone before he gets kidnapped, so it would be safe to assume that the X-Men would have access to at least the same type of technology, right? No, apparently they don't. For half of X2, the characters remain separated because, despite their fantastic powers and technology, they simply can't get through to each other.
"We can harness your eye lasers into a military-grade weapon, but good luck getting
cell reception anywhere in the continental U.S."
Storm is seen tapping into the communications on that superjet we mentioned earlier -- she appears to be switching channels and states: "Nobody is responding ... I can't get a signal." By the way, this is the equipment she's using:
A freakin' radio. That's literally the best they ever do with long distance communication in the whole series. The gaping cellphone shaped hole in the X-Men's universe would be easy enough to ignore if it weren't for this:
"Can you hear me now? No? Then why don't we go pick up some goddamn iPhones."
That is the cellphone-looking device Wolverine uses to try to communicate with the rest of the team after they're separated in X2. But rather than functioning like an actual cellphone, it doesn't seem to have any buttons, and when he tries to use it, all he gets is static. When Wolverine gets into closer proximity to Storm and the others, his "phone" begins to ring and he is able to communicate with the radio frequency the jet is using ... and only the jet. At this point it becomes clear that the device Wolverine had been carrying the whole film -- the one that the filmmakers seem to have designed to look like a cell phone -- was actually a fancy-looking walkie-talkie.
Maybe there's some deleted scene where the X-Men explain that they've intentionally decided to steer clear of cellphones because they're traceable. Except the FCC and FAA are more than capable of tracing and tapping radio waves as well, which they totally do in X2. Two jets meet up with the X-Men jet and are instantly listening in and broadcasting into their channel before shooting them down.
"You guys realize this is the 21st century, right? My kid could hear you on his walkie-talkie."
So to recap, the filmmakers actively remind us of the existence of cellphone technology while refusing to give our heroes access to it. This leaves, "the filmmakers are screwing with us" as the only remaining logical explanation.
How It Would Have Changed Things:
All three films involve situations where the simple ability to talk on the phone might have averted a disaster (for example: every time Rogue runs away and gets in trouble), but the second one takes the prize.
Much of the plot of X2 hinges on everyone's inability to communicate with people that aren't standing right there -- since Wolverine can't get the shitty walkie-talkie to work after the mansion is attacked, he decides to drive all the way to Boston to Iceman's house, along with Rogue and Pyro. At this point Iceman's brother calls the police ...
"He must be some sort of wizard!"
... who shoot Wolverine in the head, causing Pyro to go completely berserk -- thus taking his first step into the dark side. Later, during the climatic sequence at the dam, Rogue, Iceman and Pyro are waiting in the jet but start getting restless because they haven't heard from the rest of the team. Rather than calling them, Pyro decides to go out and find everyone -- finding Magneto instead, and being persuaded into joining his side. By the third film, Pyro is completely evil, and it all happens because superheroes don't carry phones.
And see how else Hollywood grossly misuses technology in 6 Baffling Flaws in Famous Sci-Fi Technology. Or check out what we'd be doing if old-timey tech was still around in If The Modern World Ran On Medieval Technology.
And stop by LinkSTORM to help get over the hump.
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