5 Powerful Sci-Fi Technologies Wasted by Their Own Movies

#2. The Giant Robots in Real Steel Are Only Used for Fighting

The Tech

You may know Real Steel under its unofficial but way more honest name: Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots: The Movie. It is 2020, and apparently people punching other people just doesn't do it for us anymore, so according to the film's history, we began to create remote-control robots to take the hits for us. As the sport evolved, so did the bots, and soon enough we were commanding giant mechanical gods in the ring.


But without actual human beings suffering terrible pain, where's the thrill?

Quality- and price-wise, these things pretty much range the same as cars do today, except for being all electric-powered. We see our hero working with all kinds of robots, from a used million-dollar bot going for $45,000 to an old sparring bot he finds in a robot junkyard. The fights range as well, from trashy backyard brawls against garage-made mecha-Frankensteins thrown together for a few hundred bucks ...


Somehow, this is actually less corrupt than real boxing.

... to multimillion-dollar World Robot Boxing pay-per-view matches.

So in the future, this is an incredibly popular sport -- even the Army gets in on the robot-sparring action.

The Bullshit

Hold the damned phone. We still have an army? Of people? In a future where powerful, fully controllable fighting robots exist?


"Sir, I'm just saying, couldn't we at least try using one of them for landmine duty?"

This isn't a world where robots existed and then someone came up with the idea of making them fight: They were created exclusively for that. And in fact, all through the movie, we never see robots being used for anything else. Not a single goddamn thing. It's our world, just like it is now, except that robots box. Somehow, in the space of 10 years, humanity went straight from not having yet perfected robotic technology to misusing it for frivolous entertainment, skipping the part where we do anything useful with it.

You might argue that we don't want them to take jobs, except that each one still has to be controlled remotely. This is a future where no person should ever have to do a dangerous job ever again ... and yet even the ref who has to stand between deadly killer machines is human.


Also, why the hell would you need a referee if the fighters are robots?

And it's not like these robots are super expensive or hard to find. You can literally go into a robot junkyard and pick up a fully functional one that someone just threw away, like our down-on-his-luck main character does in the movie. By the way, we know the guy is going through a rough time because at the beginning of the movie, he has resorted to fighting his giant bot at the local fair for pocket change. There should be a law that states you officially can't call yourself poor if you have at least one giant robot in your household.

#1. The Laser in Tron Could Change the Way We Travel

The Tech

In the first Tron film, our hero, Flynn (Jeff Bridges), uses an experimental laser that deconstructs his body and transfers it into the computer world where, for some reason, conflicts are settled American Gladiators-style. So, first Flynn is shot with the laser and disintegrated bit by bit ...

... and then a digital version of him appears inside the computer:


"Ah man, this is gonna make whackin' it to Internet porn awkward."

The process is reversed at the end of the movie. In the sequel, Tron: Legacy, it's revealed that, after he makes it out of the computer, Flynn decides to pour all his efforts into using this device to build "the perfect computer program." Flynn spends years as the rightful head of ENCOM (the company that made the laser) and toils away in the basement of his arcade, using the laser to go in and out of the computer until he accidentally gets trapped inside. Flynn's son goes in to bring his father back, but in the end he comes out with a hot digital chick instead, as a consolation prize.


The whole franchise was basically a stealthy Weird Science remake.

The Bullshit

OK, let's back up for a second. So the laser can take people and turn them into information, then put them back together in the real world? Well, there's already a name for that in science fiction: It's called a "transporter." They invented the transporter from Star Trek and then just stuck it in a basement.


Along with Flynn's Playboy collection and his Creedence LPs.

Out of all the things you could do with a machine that disintegrates people and then puts them back together, "going into a computer and making programs from the inside" has to be one of the least useful. All you'd really need is another laser somewhere else and an Internet connection, and you'd be beaming motherlovers around the world in seconds, at no cost.

Flynn clearly thinks he's using the laser for the greater good (unlike the greedy people who made it, who use it exclusively to punish former employees) -- but really, who gives a shit about creating a "perfect program" when you could make every existing transportation method pointless? And rid the world of petroleum, and solve global warming?


Not to mention end prison overcrowding.

OK, sure, not everyone in the world would be willing to turn themselves into megabytes and risk being accidentally thrown into a game of Pong, but honestly, all of that still sounds way better than going to the airport.

You can follow David on Twitter, or check him out over at Film School Rejects, where he is a regular contributor.

For more movie head scratchers, check out 6 Movie Heroes Who Actually Made Things Worse and 6 Technologies Conspicuously Absent from Sci-Fi Movies.

If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out The Explosive Breaking Bad Alternate Ending You Didn't See.

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