Must-see movies are futuristic classics that shouldn't be missed. Of course, not every must-see is perfect. That's why we've rated them 1-5 on the patented "crunchy goodness" scale.

Title: The Matrix
Date: 1999

Vitals: A hacker named Neo discovers what every hacker hopes is true: he is living inside a giant, hackable computer simulation and may be the only person in the world smart enough to defeat evil AIs called Agents who are trying to crush a human rebellion against leading the simulated life. Plus, it turns out his hacker ally Trinity is a hot babe, and all the things he learned about Marxist poststructuralism from Cornel West in his cultural studies classes are not only true, but a matter of life and death.

Famous names: The Wachowski brothers, Keanu Reeves, Carrie Ann Moss, Laurence Fishbourne

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Crunchy goodness: 5

Sequels: The Matrix was followed by The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, which were released within months of each other (a release method later employed by Quentin Tarantino for Kill Bill I and II). While both sequels were as visually stunning as the first, many criticized the second film for getting bogged down in long, philosophical debates and a 6-minute rave sequence that appeared to serve no purpose other than to allow Neo and Trinity to have sex with bad music in the background.

Design breakthrough: Director/producer pair the Wachowski brothers spent a lot of time and money on special effects for The Matrix, resulting in visual extravaganza that influenced science fiction films of the early twenty-first century as much as Bladerunner influenced those of the late twentieth. Chief among their innovations was something they called "bullet time," where a 360 degree arrangement of cameras around their subject allowed them to create "virtual cinematography" where the audience's point of view whirls in real-time around a slow-motion (fight) sequence.

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Memorable product tie-in: Trinity uses a real-life hacker's tool, a port scanner called nmap, to break into a power plant. This caused thousands of geeks everywhere to embrace the trilogy as the only movie that had ever represented hacking "realistically."


What Is The Matrix? Official Site