7 Sci-Fi Films Based On The Short Stories By Philip K. Dick

4. Minority Report (2002)

Minority Report (2002)

Based On: The Minority Report

Set in Earth’s future where the new system of Precrime means people are arrested before committing a crime and criminality has been reduced by 99.8 %, Commissioner John Anderton is showing his replacement around the station when he is amazed to receive notification that he, himself, is soon to become a murderer. After going on the run and meeting the person he is predicted to kill, Anderton makes his way back to the Precrime headquarters where he sees how the three mutant precogs can give different interpretations of the future. As the story unfolds, it explores two ideas: the acceptability of pre-emptive punishment and how knowing your future will ultimately cause you to change and act differently.

Tom Cruise played Police Commissioner John Anderton in this high-tech vision of the future. Hidden behind Cruise’s trademark action sequences, the movie still deals with the ethics of punishing the innocent for a crime they haven’t yet committed and whether it is correct to do so. Spielberg’s version of the future looks amazing and the way the touch screen technology is used to interpret the precogs’ glimpses of the future was almost prophetic in its accuracy. The movie never really deals with the concept of alternate timelines but makes up for it with the introduction of the future law enforcers’ sidearm, the aptly named, sick sticks.


5. Paycheck (2003)

Paycheck (2003)

Based On: Paycheck

Emerging from Rethrick after two years of developing a project so secret that he had agreed to have his memory erased afterwards, Jennings finds that he voluntarily forfeited his substantial pay off for a bag of trinkets. Later, he is arrested and interrogated by the police who want to know what Rethrick are up to. Discovering by chance that he can uses these random items to escape, Jennings soon uncovers a trail that his past self laid for him to follow. During the story Jennings build up such a sense of trust for his former self that he actually starts to view him as another person whom he relies on for help. The story explores the idea of how seemingly useless items can have great importance at a certain correct moment – when coupled with a knowledge of the future, that is.

John Woo’s 2003 movie Paycheck was much more of an action film than a sci-fi exploration of Dick’s original concept. Michael Jennings emerges from Rethrick after three years, with no memory, only to find he waived his rights to his paycheck in favor of a bag of random items. In order to give the original short story a more intriguing plot these items are now very specific, so much so that they become slightly unbelievable. These incredible coincidences are now so specific that they tend to shatter your suspension of disbelief and leave you with slick-looking John Woo action flick, which even Ben Affleck said would have wanted a refund for after watching.


6. Next (2007)

Next (2007)

Based On: The Golden Man

The Golden Man was first published in 1953, the titular character is Chris Johnson, a golden-skinned, mutant child from the outback who has the ability to see all possible outcomes in his own immediate future and to navigate his way through them. The story deals with the human paranoia of mutant evolution and the threat it poses to Homo sapiens’ existence. There is also a fascinating description of how, for the Golden Man, the map of time is reversed and how he looks at the future the same way we see the past with the ability to choose exactly which path to take.

In Next, Nicolas Cage plays a stage magician and small time gambler who uses his ability to see the future to eke out a living in Las Vegas. Knowing that the FBI are after him to force him to help in their war against terror, and that they will never leave him alone, he uses his power to stay hidden. That is, until he meets Jessica Biel, the girl from his premonition and tries to run away with her. Next isn’t the most intelligent movie adaptation and the protagonist’s selective use of his special ability becomes a little infuriating. As an action movie it flicks the switches and provides an interesting visual representation of how Johnson sees and explores the future.


7. The Adjustment Bureau (2011)

the adjustment bureau (2011)

Based On: Adjustment Team

In Dick’s 1954 short story, the Adjustment Team works behind the scenes to guide mankind to a better future. However, after a minor slip up, Ed Fletcher arrives late at the office to find his entire block and his colleagues in a grey and lifeless state, as they have all been de-energized for alteration. After his accidental peek behind the curtain of reality, Ed comes face to face with the people in charge, and learns how sometimes it is in our best interest to submit our free will for the greater good of human progress.

The Adjustment Bureau remains true to the original concept as the story in played out in a more complex and involving setting. Matt Damon is a promising young politician whose life and potential career path to the White House are being manipulated at the cost of his budding relationship with aspiring dancer, Emily Blunt. The more intricate story gives us a better insight as to how and why our fate is directed according to the grand plan. The chemistry between the two protagonists works to create a genuine sense of forbidden love which all hangs in the balance as the film’s caution-to-the-wind, thrilling chase finale crosses all boundaries.

Author Bio: Jodie Adam works as a professional copywriter in London. He has been passionately reading science fiction and fantasy since he first learned to read. His film interests also include horror, which has become more difficult to watch now with the arrival of his baby daughter. He has a degree in English literature and philosophy. See examples of his work here: www.jodieadam.com.