Where are all those futuristic tech toys that were supposed to be gracing our lives by now?
Sure, we've got gadgets and gizmos a-plenty; we've got whozits and whatzits galore. But we still need time-traveling DeLoreans, damn it, and shoes that lace themselves up without all that finger-draining effort.
To be fair, Nike did release those self-lacing sneakers from Back to the Future. The only problem: They were missing the self-lacing capability. The shoes had the look and lights of Marty McFly's famous kicks, but they lacked the coolest feature of all.
Still, their presence was enough to get me thinking about all the awesome movie gadgets I'd like to have in my life. Some of them are pure fantasy; others could conceivably exist one day. All of them, though, have been the subject of countless geek dreams -- and all of them would be amazing to own.
So fasten your seatbelts, friends, and get ready to revisit some of the greatest movie gadgets of all time. Oh, and it probably goes without saying -- but where we're going, we don't need roads.
1. The Hover Board (Back to the Future Part II)
Forget the shoes: The Back to the Future gadget we really need is the high-flying transportation tool Marty McFly loved to ride. Not the DeLorean, mind you (though I'll take one of those, too), but rather, the hoverboard.
The hoverboard was the futuristic version of the skateboard Marty discovered while visiting the year 2015 in the second film of the series. Its defining characteristic -- duh -- was that it hovered without the need for wheels.
For a while, folks thought the hoverboard actually was real. Back to the Future director Robert Zemeckis fueled the rumors, publicly claiming that the floating wonder had been around for years and was withheld only due to safety concerns from parental groups.
Unfortunately, ol' Bobby Bob was just joking, and the hoverboard is not yet here. An artist named Nils Guadagnin made a replica of one last year, but alas, it was not able to support a human rider.
Let us not release this dream. One day, the hoverboard will hover into our lives -- and when it does, just remember: You can't ride it over water.
2. The Invisibility Cloak (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone)
We may be a bunch of muggles -- well, some of us may be, anyway -- but that doesn't mean we aren't entitled to certain magical pleasures. And yes, I'm talking about real magic here, not the heavily air-quoted kind that Apple sells.
One of the coolest creations to come out of the Harry Potter series is undoubtedly the invisibility cloak. First seen in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, the cloak lets Harry creep through any room without being seen. Just imagine the things you could do with that device (and keep your mind out of the gutter, pal).
Researchers have been talking about a real-world version of the cloak for years now. From the looks of it, though, they may need to learn the Accio spell: Thus far, the cloak has yet to actually apparate into our lives.
3. The Neuralyzer (Men in Black)
Also known as the "flashy-thing" (and sometimes the "flashy-thing memory-messer-upper"), the Neuralyzer helped maintain a sense of calm in 1997's Men in Black and its 2002 sequel. Agent K and Agent J -- aka Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith -- used the device to wipe the memories of anyone who encountered an alien or had a run-in with the top-secret M.I.B. team. Only a special pair of protective sunglasses could keep you from getting flashy-thinged into blissful oblivion.
I'm not saying there'd necessarily be an ethical way to use this, but I'd be lying if I said there weren't a few moments in my life when I wish I had one. Speaking of which, put on your glasses...
4. The Point of View Gun (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy)
If you can't flashy-thing someone's memory away, why not at least make them see things from your point of view? The Point of View Gun, introduced in the 2005 film version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, accomplishes just that: You fire the gun at someone, and suddenly, he understands exactly where you're coming from.
Before you get too excited, though, take note: The gun won't work on just anyone. According to the movie, it was created by the "Intergalactic Consortium of Angry Housewives," whose members were fed up with their husbands' lack of empathy. As such, the weapon works only on men.
On second thought, maybe we shouldn't bring this thing into the world.
5. The Bond Watch (various James Bond movies)
Oh, come on: We couldn't possibly make a list of must-have movie gadgets without including a couple of 007 classics. And if there's one quintessential Bond item, it's gotta be the magnetic Rolex watch.
Bond's watch has done a lot of impressive things over the years. It's sawed through ties, disarmed mines, set off bombs, and even unzipped ladies' dresses.
Hey, it's Bond -- give the guy a break.
6. The Bond Glasses (The World Is Not Enough)
The other Bond gadget that might be fun to own? You guessed it: The X-ray glasses. Used in 1999's The World Is Not Enough, the special shades let our agent see through clothing to look for hidden weapons and -- ahem -- other "assets."
One caveat: If these ever get invented, please: No one tell the TSA.
7. The Replicator (Star Trek)
You know, I'm in the mood for a steak sandwich. If only I had some kind of contraption that could whip one up in a jiff...
Wait a minute: There is such a contraption. It just isn't in our universe quite yet. I'm talking about the replicator, the Star Trek-series device that synthesizes meals on demand. It doesn't stop with digestible delights, either: The replicator can create almost any object, ranging from breathable air to spare parts for your interstellar vessel.
Scientists have been working on similar technology for us earthlings for years -- and to their credit, 3D printing has come a long way -- but until I can get my on-demand steak sandwich, there's plenty of work left to be done.
8. The Transporter (Star Trek)
Star Trek's most famous gadget may also be its most impressive. The transporter takes you from one place to another in seconds, converting your body into energy and beaming you to a new location. And you don't even have to be named Scotty to operate it.
Just think: You'd never have to squeeze into a coach class seat again.
9. The Helicopter Hat (Inspector Gadget)
Speaking of avoiding airports, how nice would it be to handle your own air travel -- by simply starting up the helicopter on your hat?
The Inspector Gadget helicopter hat could save us all time, money, and frustration. It could also give us great satisfaction in being able to shout "Go, go, gadget hat!" without being whisked away to an asylum.
10. The Sonic Screwdriver (Doctor Who)
From the TV series to the movie, the sonic screwdriver from Doctor Who has more than proven its value. This normal-looking gizmo is anything but ordinary: It can open any lock, expose any alien, and even repair any faulty electronic equipment.
I don't know about you, but that's one gadget I'd happily put on my tool belt.
(Note to self: Buy a tool belt.)
11. The Universal Remote (Click)
The all-powerful remote from Adam Sandler's 2006 movie Click is like TiVo on steroids: It lets you pause, skip, fast-forward, or replay any moment in your life.
Of course, Sandler's character in the movie gets a little out of control with his clicker-given powers. But if we had one, we'd totally use it in moderation -- right?
Oh, and a bonus: The remote comes with Christopher Walken as your personal (albeit somewhat creepy) tech support agent.
12. WALL-E (WALL-E)
Taking out the trash could be a thing of the past if we all had our own personal WALL-E assistants. WALL-E, the star of Pixar's 2008 film of the same name, is a robot built to clean up the junk-laden planet humans have left behind. He takes trash into his robot tummy, compacts it, and gets it out of the way.
Put him in a happier environment -- say, my apartment -- and WALL-E could do wonders. Plus, I suspect he and my Roomba would really get along.