Anything is possible in the movies. Skilled and imaginative writers and filmmakers can create entire universes that boggle the imagination. They weave stories so gripping and engrossing that we lose ourselves in the entertainment. The key to total immersion in the fiction is the detail. Without the detail, we never really buy the beautiful deception playing out before our eyes. Every detail is important, and plays its own part. But occasionally – every once in a while – something pops up on screen that makes us think, “Wow – I wish I had one of those!”
These are the movie props that would have excellent real-world applications -the movie props that would be helpful in our daily lives, if only somebody would actually invent them. Like, if you could have a real lightsaber, and use it for topiary. These are the top ten movie props we wish were real.
1. The Time Travelling Phone Booth (Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, 1989)
Used by slacker teens Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) to pass an important history class – and thus avoid future catastrophe – the Time Travelling Phone Booth has much potential. Imagine the global tensions and international conflict that could be resolved, if we could get historical figures to testify personally as to the lessons we should learn from the past – creating a truly informed future. As our technological advances continue apace, seeming to prioritise immediate gratification, surely the next logical step is for us to enjoy the benefit of hindsight, right now? The Time Travelling Phone Booth is too good an opportunity to miss. Although, if Back To The Future taught us anything, it is that we must implement safeguards to protect the fragile space-time continuum, and avoid awkward flirting with family members.
The other thing Back To The Future teaches us is that in 2015, we won’t need roads. We won’t need skate-parks either, as cars and skateboards will hover. There may be some scepticism now, in 2014, about the likelihood of such a revolutionary technological advance in the automotive industry, but hover boards would be an excellent invention. Why? Because they are almost silent. No clattering of tiny plastic wheels on the pavement. Also, no requirement for pedestrians to dive out of the way when an unwieldy skateboarder comes hurtling along towards them at high speed. Yes – hover boards are definitely the way of the future.
While everyone can appreciate a good pair of shoes, this pair are quite literally the stuff that dreams are made of. Stuck in her Kansas home during a tornado, Dorothy Gale (Judy Garland) awakes to find the house has landed in the strange and wonderful Land of Oz – right on top of The Wicked Witch of the East. Her sister – The Wicked Witch of the West – arrives in search of her squashed sister’s ruby shoes. Glinda The Good Witch enchants the ruby shoes onto Dorothy’s feet, and The Wicked Witch of the West vows to get them back. So begins a story of wish fulfilment and shoe obsession. It is warranted, however, as it turns out that just by clicking their heels together three times, and stating your wish, all is granted. This would be particularly handy at 5pm on a Friday, when the work-week is over, and you simply cannot face the train ride home.
Yes, this would essentially involve strapping a small nuclear reactor to your back, but the go-to gadget of Venkman (Bill Murray), Stanz (Dan Aykroyd) and Spengler (Harold Ramis) would be incredibly useful around the home. There is the obvious use of removing those hard-to-budge, unwanted phantasms that may be causing problems on your property – but where would you store them once you trapped them? On the contrary, there is a far better use, against a far worse foe: the common house-fly. You know in the summer months, when a few flies appear in your home, zipping around aimlessly and bumping into stuff? They bounce along closed windows until they reach the open pane, then turn back into the room and refuse to leave. Then they spend hours circling the light fitting, keeping you awake with their incessant droning. Round and round and round. At that point, wouldn’t you pay good money to have a Proton Pack to hand, so you can zap that irritating little buzzer, like Slimer in a ballroom? You bet you would. Just don’t cross the streams.
5. The Neuralizer (Men In Black, 1997)
Had a bad day? Did you finally stop biting your tongue and tell your boss what you really think? You need a Neuralizer. Ably demonstrated by Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) and Agent J (Will Smith) in Men In Black, this small device enables the user to erase the memories of their target – as far back as necessary. No more regret, no more next-day awkwardness. Simply ask your target to look closely at the little red dot, zap them, and replace the memory with new, approved information. Clearly, oversight would be needed. In the wrong hands, an invention like this could wreak havoc. Imagine a world where powerful authorities could do as they pleased, and then simply re-write history to fit their white-washed narrative. Oh, hang on…
Featuring many sci-fi staples, such as flying cars and technologically advanced weaponry, The Fifth Element succeeds in creating an engrossing vision of the future. One prop stands out above all the others, however, as the single most revolutionary invention ever conceived: the food pellets. Saving mankind is both a time-consuming, and appetite-building endeavour. While Korben Dallas (Bruce Willis) is off dealing with his superiors, Leeloo (Milla Jovovich) makes herself a snack. Placing food pellets in a bowl, then into a machine that resembles a microwave, she presses a button and within seconds, retrieves a whole roast chicken with all the trimmings. Not only does this invention resolve the dilemma of dinner time in every family home, it also relieves us of the hundreds of ‘reality chef’ TV shows, featuring people getting yelled at for not drizzling their oil properly. Everyone’s a winner.
7. The Invisibility Cloak (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, 2001)
Spun from the hair of magical herbivores called Demiguise, these cloaks render the wearer invisible to most, though still solid to the touch. The possibilities are endless. Apart from the obvious applications in terms of personal protection, imagine the fun that could be had wearing an invisibility cloak during the daily train commute, or in the cinema. The most important usage, however, would be for those that are resolutely not ‘morning people’. This breakthrough would enable these sleepy souls to go about their business, undisturbed, until such time as they are ready to interact. This invention could be the biggest advance ever in Morning Grump Management.
8. The X-Ray Vision Eye-glasses (The World Is Not Enough, 1999)
They are self-explanatory. Regular eye-glasses that provide the wearer with x-ray vision. They are given to James Bond for the purpose of spotting concealed weapons. How stream-lined would airport security be, if every member of staff had a pair of these eye-glasses? No need for bulky scanners, and no humiliating images being displayed on screens. Just trained professionals with x-ray vision. And maybe some sniffer dogs, just in case.
You’ve just dragged the kids around the crowded supermarket. Everyone’s giving you the hairy eyeball because your offspring are getting bored and fidgety. You have fifteen bags of groceries, two tired and hungry infants, and one burning desire – to have the ability to mumble into your wristwatch and have your comfy, air-conditioned vehicle automatically arrive at the kerb next to you. Batman (Michael Keaton) uses his to make his escape with Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger) in Tim Burton’s franchise opener, but such technology would be much better used for the general populace. As long as we promise to exercise as well, obviously.
Though it seems, at first, slightly anti-climactic to put money in an arcade game just to have its puppet head move a bit, then spit out a card stating “Your Wish Has Been Granted”, this is no ordinary arcade game. When 12 year old Josh Baskin (David Moscow) used it, he didn’t realise it was still working without being plugged in. Then he turned into a 30 year old Tom Hanks. That’s quite some wish fulfilment for 25 cents. With that kind of return on your investment, there is only one thing to wish for: the remaining contents of this list, of course.
What brand-new inventions will we really be enjoying in the coming years? Not many, if Dragon’s Den is anything to go by. In the absence of revelatory real-world innovation, it is to the cinema screen that we continue to look – for inspiration, if not motivation. We can watch, and we can dream.