"Can a movie show a programmer who is not working on a Macintosh (Apple's product placement team should get a medal)? Can the exposition describing the virus/program/whatever not make me wince and/or laugh out loud? Can a programmer work without muttering under their breath to explain to the audience what they are typing? Can the breakdown of a system be indicated in some other manner than every screen in the room flashing in exciting patterns?
As a programmer, I recognize that part of the problem is that real programs rarely look cool when they work. Just about every one of my favorite programs has had pathetically uninteresting results to the uninitiated. "Look, it printed a 6 instead of a 3! That's so great!" Or, for the glorious day when the test suite is passed without errors, there's no response at all. I realize that this is not easy to make exciting on screen.
In the interests of research, we went out and rented "WarGames" and "Tron" last night. "WarGames" was just fantastic -- and the hacking was generally excellent, I thought. I don't have a phone phreak bone in my body, so I have no idea how silly that stuff was, but I enjoyed it all. "Tron" was boring and silly and we had to give up not a half hour in.
Any other votes/recommendations?"
My take? Hollywood just has problems fitting in the all of the non-verbal and cerebral aspect of compter use and falls back on the tried and true method of glitzing things up to make up for the shortcoming. What do you folks think?