Honorable Mentions: Robocop (1987), Demolition Man (1993), Trancers (1985), Automatic (1995), Gamer (2009), Total Recall (1990), Nemesis (1992), Daybreakers (2009), The Fifth Element (1997), Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man (1991), The Running Man (1987)
5. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
Out of the first six Star Trek movies, The Wrath of Khan is probably the least hopeful of the franchise, mostly because of Ricardo Montalban's villain Khan. Khan is just a bastard. And there's the whole Spock dying thing, which is still an incredibly sad event eventhough we all know that he comes back in the next movie. And yet, like all of the other Star Trek movies, Wrath of Khan isn't an indictment of humanity and a pessimistic look at the future. The future is hopeful and full of life and possibility. How often do you see that in anything that deals with the future? I mean, think about the whole Genesis thing. Khan is a bastard, Spock is dead, and yet, by using Genesis, the Federation created a new planet. That's great news. Thin of the possibilities!
4. Blade Runner (1982)
I've always found Blade Runner a bit of a bore. It has a great cast, a great director, and an absolutely iconic look. Its story, though, is kind of plodding, and it's probably a little too grim for its own good. However, there's no denying that director Ridley Scott hit it out of the park in terms of creating a fully realized science fiction world. Even when the movie goes on and on and on you can't take your eyes off the screen. The movie never looks boring. And there's no denying that without Blade Runner we wouldn't have had the great dark science fiction boom of the 1980's and 1990's. Low budget, big budget, just about everyone stole something from Blade Runner. That, to me, is why the movie will live on forever. It's where the modern idea of movie science fiction began.
3. The Road Warrior (1981)
This Mad Max sequel ups the ante in terms of badass action and scope. The Road Warrior is just a bigger movie, a bigger story. Mel Gibson, if he didn't become a movie icon after the first movie became one after The Road Warrior. The outfit, the car, the gun, even the bit where he eats a can of dog food; it's all amazing stuff. And much like Blade Runner, which came out a year later, without The Road Warrior we wouldn't have had the post apocalyptic movie boom of the 1980's and 1990's. Yes, there were other dystopian wasteland movies before The Road Warrior, but The Road Warrior set the standard for everything that came after it. And, yes, we're all still stealing from it. We are.
2. Escape From L.A. (1996)
Escape From L.A. is both a sequel to and a sort of remake of Escape From New York. Kurt Russell is back as Snake Plissken, and he's forced to enter a wasteland prison to retrieve something; in the case of L.A. the controls to a super weapon that will allow the fascist United States rule the world forever. He's also charged with assassinating the President's daughter Utopia, a traitor to the new U.S. cause (ultra right wing religious fanaticism). L.A., mostly because of its bigger budget, features a more fully realized hellhole future. We get to see what allowed the fascists to take over the U.S.; we get a better sense of what the United States Police Force is all about; and we get a better sense of what's at stake. The U.S. may be a terrible place, but it's not like Los Angeles Island is a great place to live. Los Angeles is an awful place, too. So, when you look at the movie that way, you understand what it is Snake was really doing when he "shuts down the Earth" at the end. The world needed to start over. How often do you get to see that kind of thing in a movie?
1. Starship Troopers (1997)
Paul Verhoeven's Starship Troopers, still the greatest movie ever made, features one of the most frightening futures ever. The world is now in the clutches of an ultra right fascist government that just can't stop going to war. It's spending oodles of money and resources to fight giant insects in space. Why? No one seems to know, or if anyone does no one is willing to say why. It's just something the world does now. And yet, even with all of that going on, this fascist government doesn't really make anyone do anything. No one is forced to join the Mobile Infantry to go fight the bugs. If you just want to make lots of money and sort of keep to yourself, maybe play pro laser ball, the government has no problem with you doing that. You just can't vote. You're not a citizen. And there's a chance that you'll be caught in the crossfire when the bugs decide to "launch an attack" on Earth (look at what happens to Buenos Aires). It's a safe world that isn't very safe. Still brilliant stuff seventeen years later.
Honorable Mentions: I'll hold my hands up and admit I haven't seen many future films like iconic Blade Runner but I limited myself to those which were at least a solid 5 years or so beyond their year of release as there is simply too many to mention one or two years in the future. Not the same.
The Purge is set only 10 years further into our time period and yet you can pick up so much from it's world where future America is allowed to cut loose, unconfined by punny laws. Cool concept but that one night stands out as particularly sucky to sit through compared to the rest of the year. Real Steel doesn't show much of it's future either, but the fact it has real life rock 'em sock 'em robots is a plus.
The post apocalypse is an often explored future but rarely do we see a mass gathering of humanity as we do in Mega City 1 in Dredd. Way over 100 million people are crammed into a ridiculously sized city to preserve humanity from the poisoned wasteland from outside and to say crime is rifle is an understatement. It would SUCK to end up living somewhere like the complete dive that is Peach Trees and even worse to be under the boot of an admittedly needed totalitarian law enforcement agency. Judge Dredd gets the proper due big screen movie he deserves in a "day in the life of..." plot but the tremendous job his titular movie does in casting an eye on the post-nuclear war apocalypse could perhaps not be further away from the truth.
I'm a casual to middle usage Playstation 3 owner but I used to be into my video games massively. Nowadays, I just prefer to watch the console wars whatever generation it is play themselves out, whilst sitting on the sidelines, but I'm always interested by the future technology. What does the future of videogames hold? Well Gamer is happy to show you a group of actors getting desperate and being signed up to become real life Sims characters for people to manipulate and control. We scoff, but would it be that far away when we have virtual reality headsets like Occulus Rift are starting to roll out? Away from that, Gerrard Butler kicks ass as a solider controlled by a videogame nut kid in a Call Of Duty knockoff whilst other troops teabag others in the background. I enjoy Gamer for what it is and that's a Neveldine and Taylor from Crank fame super awesome action flick with video games as it's subject matter.
Dating has come on leaps and bounds with the internet explosion with online relationship being explored as a theme in reality TV series Catfish and with numerous portrayed as comical but real life stories of people marrying their dogs and similar, Spike Jonze's Her can't be far off an accurate prediction. A man ends up falling in love with his advanced system operating system's AI and Jonze is more than keen to explore a presented as equals relationship in a future not far off the present day. Whilst recovering divorcee Joaquin Phoenix and the voice of Scarlett Johannson are not the only couple seen, we actually see how these AI's integrate into human society in a commentary on how technology could eventually supersede our understanding. A charming triumph and visually tasty, the future of love is an interesting discussion and one worth watching.
I like how some futures depicted in movies are a commentary on the way of life when the film was being made and the topics touched on in Robocop of crime getting so bad, they have to resort to extreme measures... like a ridiculously over-the-top badass half man, half robot policeman is no different. Future Detroit is still the same as the current one. A crumbling, former working city which decayed when the work dried up and is prone to crime and illegal activities now and the tougher the crime got, the tougher the police have to. Nothing has changed in the commentary in the still applicable, kick-ass action film here and it's still relevant, yet if anything it inspires hope for a better, cleaned up city.
1. Back to the Future Part 2
In terms of a future you want to happen when you're an influential boy, look no further. Think about what the future Hill Valley California in the super futuristic year of 2015 promised us - Flying cars. Super express ovens. Self fitting clothes. And most importantly, HOVERING SKATEBOARDS. I love these films so much as a kid and there's still a massive well of nostalgia for me here for the time travelling misadventures of Michael J. Fox's teen Marty McFly and Christopher Lloyd's mad scientist Doc Emmett Brown.
A decent sci-fi comedy sequel in it's own right doing things bigger and better than the first, the playing about within it's own franchise time frame linking back to the events of the first is a masterstroke and still an untainted idea within film plot devices. Some of the future jokes are even more appreciative today, with the Cubs still not winning a world series to my limited knowledge and Steven Spielberg having remastered Jaws how many times. It's the little things like this that makes Back To The Future Part 2 a true piece of cinematic wonder.
5. The Hunger Games
The reason Suzanne Collins' novels, and the movie adaptations, have their power is the terrifying idea that it's not too far off. It's a dystopian future in many ways, people in the various Districts living in poverty while the Capitol is lavish for the rich. The genius of the movie is showing how the people of the Capitol aren't evil for cheering on the Games, they honestly don't see this brutal murder of children as more than entertainment, it's how they are. Jennifer Lawrence's performance as Katniss is terrific and helps suck you into the film's story but the various aspects of this future, a society that treats murder as entertainment, isn't that fantastic for today and why it's as troubling as it's great.
4. Planet of the Apes
Some may yell at me for giving away the plot twist by putting it on a list of "future films" but come on; even people who have never even seen Planet of the Apes know the ending to this movie. That actually mades second viewing even better as we see Charlton Heston on what he thinks is an alien world gone mad, apes talking and walking while humans are dumb animals. It's still chilling to see sequences like Heston finding one of his fellow astronauts stuffed and mounted in display and trying to convince fellow humans to be more intelligent. It all builds up to that stunning final ending that shows just how easily humanity's hold on Earth can be broken and asks who are the true animals.
3. Ghost in the Shell
Long before The Matrix, this Japanese anime hit was exploring the idea of virtual worlds. Made in 1995, it wonderfully predicts how powerful the Inernet would be, showing a future where humanity is literally jacked into it, it explores the concepts of changing reality around you and what happens when one hacker tries to change the status quo. The animation is stellar but the story is what draws you in, challenging the questions of reality and how your humanity can be affected by it and the reliance of people on technology for everday lives can echo more today than it did in '95.
The granddaddy of them all. Fritz Lang's 1927 classic has influenced pretty much every single future-set story ever since. The art deco sets still are striking as are the first views of an android put to film. But even as it's a silent film, it asks the important questions of technology dominating humanity and how a utopia can turn into a dystopia very easily. A groundbreaking film in every way imaginable and still holds up as one of the most fantastical views of humanity's future where anything can be accomplished...even if it shouldn't be.
1. Blade Runner
The film that paved the way for so many dystopian futures that followed, Ridley Scott's 1982 masterpiece is still a brilliant piece of work. The constant rain pounding on a city built on top of itself, the advertising abounding, the mix of cultures, it's all so damn real that you can believe it's quite close to our world. The plot of Harrison Ford hunting "replicants" still gets you, the questions as to what makes one human and such but aside from the flying cars, this future is still so grounded that it affects you deeply in the story. Still powerful for a vision of a future that's not as far off as it once seemed and a classic in its own right.
Shawn S. Lealos
Let's start off with an animated film from Pixar. Wall-E takes place in a future where Earth in uninhabitable because we suck and are destroying it more and more every day. A number of survivors are aboard a space craft just floating around in outerspace where robots remain on Earth cleaning up the mess until, one day, humans can finally return to the planet. There is also something I love in the movie when it comes to the people on the spacecraft, who have robots and more waiting on them hand and feet to the point where they are so fat they can barely get to their feet. It looks like where the world is heading with social networking and online shopping. People don't have to get off their butts and leave their homes anymore. Anyway, the movie is almost completely silent and is just a fantastically told story.
The first alien movie was a fantastic haunted house in space movie, although it was an alien and not a ghost. Still, it had the same set up. However, the second movie, directed by James Cameron, just took the idea of the alien creature and amped it up to 12. In this one, it was not about claustrophobic scares and no one hearing you scream. It was about Marines with big ass guns blowing the hell out of everything trying to kill the alien – and failing miserably. Bill Paxton and Michael Biehn were awesome and Sigourney Weaver was better than ever. This was a true sci-fi epic war movie and just remains one of the best action movies of all time.
I loved the idea of Looper. I loved the execution of the movie. I loved the actors. This movie was just such a shot in the arm to a sci-fi genre that had gotten boring and predictable in recent years. The movie takes place in the near future and the distant future, as the distant future has perfected time travel and the underground criminals use it to send people back to the near future to die at the hands of assassins known as Loopers. The one downfall is that, if a Looper is sent back in time, their younger self has to pull the trigger and then retire in luxury until they are sent back to die. When Bruce Willis is sent back for his younger self, played by Joseph Gordon Levitt, to kill, things go wrong and both men are on the run for their lives. It is smart, fun and just a great movie.
2. Children of Men
Alfonso Cuaron won his first Oscar for directing Gravity, but honestly, he should have been in the race for Children of Men – and he wasn't even nominated. It was a crime. Children of Men takes place in the future world where something happened to sterilize the world and no child had been born in 18 years and the world is starting to fall apart. The movie takes place in the United Kingdom, which has the only still functioning government in the world, although they are now a police state to stop illegal's from entering the country. The movie then has Clive Owen's Theo called in by his old associates to help a young pregnant girl get to safety while the government, militants, scientists and radicals all want to capture her for their own reasons. The movie is damn brilliant and shot perfectly. It's a masterpiece.
1. 12 Monkeys
Terry Gilliam's 12 Monkeys is one of my favorite movies of all time, regardless of genre. I know Gilliam has a ton of amazing pieces of work, but I still consider this the most entertaining of all his work. Bruce Willis is a criminal in the future who is sent back to discover what happened to kill almost all the Earth's human population. The purpose is to discover what was used so the scientists in the future can find a way to repopulate the world and make it livable again. When he gets to the time period where everything goes wrong, he is slightly insane, no one believes he is from the future and he meets a bat shit crazy Brad Pitt in an insane asylum, and things just get better from there. I. Love. This. Movie.