5 Films That Challenge Our View Of Reality

As virtual reality proliferates, in gaming and beyond, we find ourselves thinking more and more about the implications of what VR means for reality itself. A divisive topic of both philosophical and scientific debate, themes such as identity, societal evolution and deterioration have taken center stage. Informed in part by a century of works of science fiction, the concept of fully immersive virtual reality has never garnered so much interest.

Plenty of works, films specifically, have delved into the concept of VR and beyond, offering unique perspectives on its potential implications, as well as challenging us to consider what base reality even is and how easily our understanding of it can be swayed.

Here are five notable examples that creatively explore themes relevant to VR and make us fundamentally question the way we perceive reality, both physical and virtual:

"Ready Player One"

Ready Player One offers a glimpse into the OASIS, a vast VR universe that serves as an escape from a dystopian reality. Adapted from the 2011 book by Ernest Cline, the film, directed by Steven Spielberg, beautifully illustrates the potential of VR as both a playground and a battleground for the future. Playing on themes such as physical versus virtual identity, escapism and corporate greed, it offers both a lesson and a warning about what the future may hold if we aren’t careful.

"The Matrix"

The genre defining classic that introduced many to the idea of a simulated reality. It questions the nature of our own reality, suggesting that life as we know it could be a complex VR simulation controlled by an external force. Having become the foundation for all thought on simulated realities, it serves as a stark reminder that what’s real may some day become indistinguishable from what’s not.

"Tron" (1982) and "Tron: Legacy" (2010)

The neon drenched Tron films have captivated imaginations for decades. Set within a digital universe accessible through a retro arcade machine, they explore the concept of digital consciousness and the integration of human identity with virtual environments, highlighting the potential for VR to transcend beyond games. With interesting characters and a dystopian setting, the films carefully navigate the idea of factionalism and power in alternate realities.


The 1999 cult classic by David Cronenberg, starring Jude Law, explores the blurred lines between the virtual and the real, as a game designer navigates the dangers of a virtual world of her own creation. The film explores themes of creation and the human experience, while acknowledging the potential for technology to run rampant if we aren’t careful.


Though not specifically about VR, Christopher Nolan’s mind-bending masterpiece deals with manipulating dreams and creating layered realities. The film's exploration of constructed realities shares thematic parallels with VR, emphasising the power of the mind to create and truly feel immersive experiences. The concept of real life is routinely called into question and viewers are provoked to reconsider what they deem to be the truth.

These films not only entertain but also provoke thought about the future of VR and other extended realities, and their potential impact on society. They reflect the growing fascination with VR technology and its potential to transform how we live, learn, and connect with each other, while serving as a warning about what could transpire without careful thought and regulation. As VR technology continues to evolve, it will be interesting to see how future films will interpret its possibilities and challenges, and see how the debates surrounding alternate realities develop.

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