Ever notice how different computers in movies are from real life? Movie computers are always more powerful, faster and can do anything in a matter of seconds.

For example, movies have taught us that anyone can launch a nuclear missile if you know the password (War Games). And infecting the entire Internet with a devastating computer virus is as simple as typing “UPLOAD VIRUS” (Fortress). But these are just a couple examples. Here’s a list of highlights of everything that’s wrong with computers in movies and how they are portrayed by Hollywood. Updated: September 2018.

01) Any Video Can Instantly Become A 3D Model

Most computers are able to produce a reality-defying three-dimensional graphics, with little or no detailed input from the user. For example, in the 1998 Will Smith film, Enemy of the State, police rotate the security camera from a store to create a 3D model of a shopping bag and see if a bulge has changed.

02) Video Conference Capabilities

Most laptops in the 1980s and 1990s could barely play a video file. But movie laptops, for some strange reason, always seem to have amazing real-time video conferencing capabilities and the performance of a CRAY Supercomputer (Mission Impossible).


03) Screen To Face Projection

Whenever a character looks at a computer monitor, the image is so bright that it projects readable information onto their face (Alien2001: A Space Odyssey, Jurassic Park).

In reality, a bright computer screen will just glow on the face of a user. But a classic Hollywood trick is to use a projector, that you would normally see in a conference room, to project the screen onto the face of a character using a computer.

04) Enhancing Photos

If a surveillance photo or video is too blurry to see the license plate, suspect’s face or other clues, just “enhance” it. Seriously, it’s that easy (Enemy Of The State, Blade Runner).

05) A Cursor Free Life

Word processors never display a cursor.

06) Simple Buttons

You can infect a computer with a destructive virus by simply typing “UPLOAD VIRUS” (Fortress).

07) Everything is Connected

The internet connects to everything in the movies. All the computers and electronic devices in the world are connected. Any hacker can access the villain’s computer on the Internet, even if it’s turned off. You can edit credit records, search hotel registries, lookup police criminal files, search and edit drivers license databases, edit social security files and more just using the internet (The Net).

08) Tech Scapegoats

If something in the plot is unexplainable, just blame it on the Internet or someone’s computer.

09) Sound Effects

Powerful computers beep whenever you press a key or whenever the screen changes. Really advanced computers also emulate the sound of a dot-matrix printer when they display text (The Hunt For Red OctoberAlien).

10) Easy To Read

Some computers also slow down the output on the screen so that it doesn’t go faster than you can read. Also, all monitors display inch-high letters.

11) This Computer Will Explode

All computer panels have thousands of volts and flash pots just underneath the surface. Malfunctions are indicated by a bright flash, a puff of smoke, a shower of sparks, and an explosion that pushes you backward (Star Trek). When ________ overheats, all the computer control panels will explode… and probably the entire building too.

Your Dell laptop might burst into flames if it has a defective battery, but don’t expect it to explode. Or the entire building.

12) Password Cracking Is Easy

Any hacker can get into the most sensitive computer in the world before the scene is over and can guess the secret password in a few tries (Clear And Present Danger). You can launch nuclear missiles from any bedroom using an analog modem, but only if you know a single secret password (War Games). A few seconds is all you need to crack a password is you have a gun to your head (Swordfish).

13) Have You Tried The Backdoor?

Any PERMISSION DENIED error has a secret backdoor around it (Demolition Man).

14) Fast Calculations

Complex calculations and loading of huge amounts of data can be accomplished in under 3 seconds.

15) Super Fast Internet

Movie modems and wireless connections usually appear to transmit data at the speed of 100 gigabytes per second.

16) Everything Is Compatible

No matter what kind of computer disk or memory card it is, it’ll be readable by any system you put it into. All application software is usable by all computer platforms. And every computer will have the right disk or chip reader.

17) Anything Is Possible With A Few Keystrokes

One can issue any complex set of commands in a few keystrokes (Star Trek).

18) Computers Don’t Work Without A Monitor

Smashing the computer monitor prevents the whole system from working (Speed).

19) Unnecessary 3D Interfaces

Why click on a toggle switch or a simple button when you can use a clumsy and time-consuming 3D interface to accomplish simple tasks (Jurrasic Park).

Computers in Movies: Fact vs Fiction

How was our list? Did we leave anything out? Please let us know if you have any examples of how Hollywood misrepresentss computers in movies in the comments.