20 Futuristic Movies Whose Future Has Passed Us By

7. Strange Days (Kathryn Bigelow – 1995)

Strange Days

Future – December 30th, 1999

The Movie – Are you lazy and lacking in life experiences? Try “jacking in”. That’s what it’s called in Kathryn Bigelow near future thriller. You can jack in using virtual reality discs that allow you to live the experiences of others, from daring adventures, to murder and criminal activity.

The discs are illegal and were invented to catch criminals. Black market disc traders make big money. Lenny Nero (Ralph Fiennes) is a former LA cop, who now deals in these SQUIDS. After accidentally witnessing a murder, Lenny, his ex-girlfriend, and a cast of underground characters are drawn into a murder conspiracy all set to climax as the ball drops for midnight and the year 2000.

Bigelow who won an Oscar for 2008’s Hurt Locker made it big the late 80s and 90s making off the cuff horror, action and sci-fi movies like Near Dark, Point Break, and this.

Got it Right? – Google-glass, iPhones, YouTube, Facebook… we basically can live vicariously through any form of social media, or computer program. So I’d call this a successful futuristic prediction.


6. 12 Monkeys – (Terry Gilliam – 1995)


Future – 1996 – 2035

The Movie – An unknown and lethal virus has wiped out five billion people in 1996. Only 1% of the population has survived by the year 2035, and is forced to live underground. A convict (James Cole) reluctantly volunteers to be sent back in time to 1996 to gather information about the origin of the epidemic (who he’s told was spread by a mysterious “Army of the Twelve Monkeys”) and locate the virus before it mutates so that scientists can study it.

Unfortunately Cole is mistakenly sent to 1990, six years earlier than expected, and is arrested and locked up in a mental institution, where he meets Dr. Kathryn Railly, a psychiatrist, and Jeffrey Goines, the insane son of a famous scientist and virus expert.

12 Monkeys is a sublimely intelligent sci-fi thriller that may take you a second viewing before you “get it” but it’s totally worth it to see Brad Pitt absolutely chewing the scenery in an Oscar nominated performance.

Got it Right? – Another time travel film and another doomsday thriller about viruses wiping out mankind: so no, the future in the film doesn’t come true. But horrifying cases of airline terrorism would unfortunately come to pass soon after.


5. Back to the Future 2 (Robert Zemeckis – 1989)


Future – 2015 (I know, but it’s so close I can’t help cheating)

The Movie – Doc interrupts Marty’s reunion with Jennifer and tells her there’s a problem in the future with their kids (specifically their son, who is arrested). So it’s off to 2015 where Marty is surrounded by flying cars, hoverboards, self-tying shoes, self-drying clothes, 3D movie images that literally attack the viewer, and a baseball team in Miami. Marty goes from 1985 to 2015 to alternate 1985 back to 1955 and then back to regular 1985… wow that’s tiring.

Got it Right? – The big things, time travel, and flying cars are unfortunately nowhere in sight. But Nike is promising those self-tying laces, and there’s always that Miami baseball team!


4. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick – 1968)


Future – 2001

The Movie – Maybe the most famous introductory music in film history aside from Star Wars and Jaws, “Thus Spake Zarathustra,” open Kubrick’s sci-fi Odyssey.

A giant monolith on earth before evolution triggers something in the ape like creatures. Now we’re on the moon where another monolith is discovered emitting a high frequency tone. 18 months later Frank and Dave are astronauts on a secret mission aided by their super computer HAL – 9000. HAL warns them of problems on board the ship but none are discovered and they assume HAL is faulty.

When HAL (reading their lips) sees they plan to disconnect him, he traps Frank outside the ship killing him. Dave manages to disconnect HAL and then the truth of their mission is known. They are in pursuit of another monolith with the same frequency found around the moons of Jupiter. When Dave discovers it, he slips through a wormhole and into evolves into the Star Child.

Kubrick’s epic film was nominated for Best Picture but altered the universe of sci-fi fantasy films. It opened the door for George Lucas and the Star Wars franchise, and at the time when Star Trek was on TV showing goofy monsters and quirky characters, 2001 showed science fiction could be taken totally seriously. HAL became an iconic movie villain, despite being just a red-light on a giant computer.

Got it Right? – One year after 2001, we reached the moon. Conspiracy theorists will tell you it was Kubrick himself who faked the moon landing using left over stock footage from 2001. By the turn of the century, computers were in fact smart enough to dominate mankind. Computers played the worlds’ greatest chess champions. Soon the world’s population would become obsessed with the internet and computer technology making HAL more realistic and believable than ever.


3. Escape from New York (John Carpenter – 1981)

Escape from New York

Future – 1997

The Movie – In the future, crime is out of control and New York City is a maximum security prison. Grabbing a bargaining chip right out of the air, convicts bring down the President’s plane in bad old Gotham. Gruff Snake Plissken, a one-eyed lone warrior new to prison life, is coerced into bringing the President, and his cargo, out of this land of undesirables.

Escape is the ultimate dystopian mish-mash with phony governments, global nuclear annihilation, and the collapse of society into violent gang culture. Snake was and is one of the great anti-heroes in movie history.

Got it Right? – NYC is prison, maybe to some, but no, not yet. Violent gangs patrolling the street at night, CHECK. Government willing to sacrifice its own to win wars, CHECK. So I guess you can say the Carpenter hit a few nails on the head here.


2. A Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrick – 1971)

alex clockwork orange

Future – 1995

The Movie – Protagonist Alex is an “ultraviolent” youth in futuristic Britain. As with all luck, his eventually runs out and he’s arrested and convicted of murder and rape. While in prison, Alex learns of an experimental program in which convicts are programed to detest violence. If he goes through the program his sentence will be reduced and he will be back on the streets sooner than expected. But Alex’s ordeals are far from over once he hits the mean streets of Britain that he had a hand in creating.

Got it Right? – Aversion therapy for criminals and constant attempts to fix America’s youth are prevalent. But England is not the cesspool of young criminality it was meant to look like. After all, it’s not Detroit!?


1. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (James Cameron – 1991)

The Terminator

Future – August 29th, 1997

The Movie – August 29th, 1997… the opening narration tells that on that date, the machines become self-aware and launch nuclear weapons that cause a global nuclear holocaust. In this post-apocalyptic future, the machines produced by Skynet are trying to stave off elimination.

They sent a killing machine, a Terminator through time to 1984 to kill the mother of the resistance before he was born, but that fail. Now they’ve upped the game sending the advanced T-1000 Terminator made of liquid metal that can change its form to various killing devices. The T-1000 is programmed to kill John Connor himself. Luckily the resistance sent another Terminator back to stop him.

What takes place is almost 3-hours of nonstop explosions, battles, machine gun fire and kick ass catch phrases from Arnold Schwarzenegger (“Hasta la vista, baby” and “I need a vacation”). 

Got it Right? – I had my alarms set for 8-29-97 for 5 and a half years after seeing T2 and thankfully it came and went without the nuclear annihilation of mankind. Although, I still have nuclear nightmares of Linda Hamilton’s skeleton clutching the fence.

Our dependency on technology is shown here through various characters including Miles Dyson, and John himself. This year, Her predicted a world where humans could fall in love with operating systems. Cameron shows John, a boy gaining a paternal love for a machine. To quote Arnold, “I know now why you cry, but its something I can never do.”

Author Bio: Dan Torkel grew up in Brooklyn, NY and has been watching movies since age 2 when his parents took him to see Sesame Street’s Follow that Bird. His first job was an usher at a UA theatre where he used his $5.15 an hour salary to stockpile a huge DVD collection and see all the free movies he could see. He currently teaches history at Abraham Lincoln (NOT Vampire Hunter) High School in Brooklyn, and is happily married with 2 kids.