The long-awaited Blade Runner 2049 is here at last, and there's a good chance that you're in a cyber-noir mood. A follow-up to the eerie 1982 classic, the new movie promises to revisit the strange world established in the original, in which Harrison Ford's cynical Rick Deckard character hunted down lost androids known as replicants. The movie has always held a special place in the hearts of film buffs, genre fans and '80s nostalgists alike. Whether you want to see other adaptations of Philip K. Dick's work or you're intrigued by androids, jack yourself into this crash course in cyborg cinema, and get ready to question your own existence.
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Apparently, cyber-noir isn't the only genre that can do intense explorations of the android condition. This acclaimed HBO series has a Western tinge, mostly because it revolves around the titular amusement park — an artificial Old West world intended to be a sort of hi-tech, violent live-action role-playing game. Cool to the point of occasional frostiness, this show features a wonderful cast, including Jeffrey Wright, Thandie Newton, Anthony Hopkins and Evan Rachel Wood. Ed Harris stands out as the sinister Man in Black, an outsider on a bloody mission to find "a deeper level to this game."
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It's one of the most common alternate history questions around: What if the Axis powers had won World War II? Philip K. Dick explored this idea in his 1962 novel, which is the basis for Amazon's acclaimed series (still going strong, and set for an upcoming third season). In the show's version of postwar America, Japan and Germany have taken joint custody of the U.S., but a subversive film spurs on a domestic resistance. It's possible that this society is even scarier than the dark setting of Blade Runner, although at some point, there's just no use in comparing dystopias.
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It's been only a few years since this indie techno-psychological suspense story appeared, but it's already on its way to being considered a minor cinematic landmark. The story centers on two human men and an android named Ava, all stuck in a claustrophobic facility. Alicia Vikander takes on what must have been a difficult role as an android with a see-through tummy, and the plot's twists and turns play with audience perceptions right from the beginning. This is probably going to be one that people talk about for a while.
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You could probably fill a list with different versions of Blade Runner, one of the most famous movies of the modern age to get a Director's Cut. Feel free to seek out as many of the different editions as you want. You may want to start with the 2007 Final Cut, which is supposedly the one director Ridley Scott wants you to see. At any rate, the movie itself is a must-watch story of a bounty hunter in the future who's tracking down rogue replicants. Whichever version you watch, be sure to add it to your list. Fun fact: The title and the phrase "Blade Runner" are unique to the movie and had nothing to do with Dick's source novel, "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?"
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Give this movie points for existing at all. Something of a forgotten gem, this hallucinogenic crime story of mind-altering drugs and split personalities is worth the trip for its unique rotoscoped animation alone. The visuals serve as a perfect fit for the bizarre imagery and creeping paranoia infusing Dick's story. Keanu Reeves is a cop in way over his head on an enforcement case attempting to disrupt the flow of a potent drug dubbed Substance D. Memorable moments include a dude with a bunch of eyes, as well as the scramble suits, cloaking devices that mask the wearer's voice and constantly change appearance to make them impossible to track.
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This (mostly) cherished and addicting remake of the 1970s space series is possibly the only on-screen examination of robot personhood to rival Scott's film. Like many epic sci-fi dramas, the series finale is a polarizing topic to this day, but the road leading there is paved with captivating characters and gripping ethical questions. In this reboot, survivors of a cataclysmic war between humans and the android Cylons desperately search for a new home on a planet with a familiar name. Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell are the parent figures for an entire generation of fans who grew up with this show, but Katee Sackhoff steals the show as the freewheeling, swaggering Lt. Starbuck. The mystery surrounding the various Cylon models will keep you guessing for seasons.
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A movie that's getting scarier by the day, Minority Report presents a washed-out world where people can be arrested before they commit a crime and Tom Cruise hasn't yet embarrassed himself on Oprah. Cruise's character is part of the Precrime division, until his number comes up and he finds himself fighting the system instead. Arguably the next best Dick adaptation after Blade Runner, it's an entertainingly bleak, ahead-of-its-time vision from Steven Spielberg. It also spawned a short-lived TV show.
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