Many science fiction and futuristic films take place far, far out in the future showing us dazzling possibilities of what life on Earth may be like hundreds or even thousands of years from now. Will we be floating in large spaceships fighting hideous monsters like in the Alien films? Will there be a Star Fleet with a USS Enterprise? Will earth be decimated by a cataclysmic event, a raging mutating virus, or nuclear war? Will our technology get the better of us? These are the ideas and thoughts we have watching futuristic movies.
The best part of many futuristic films is being given a glance at the impending years, the new technologies, the advances humans make, and in many cases, the ways we’ve figure out to destroy ourselves. In 1927 Fritz Lang showed us what life might look like a hundred years later in Metropolis. In 1968, Stanley Kubrick dared to take us on space odyssey set 33 years in the future. When we see these films we hope live to the dates shown in the film futures, wondering if the filmmakers got it right. So I am focusing on films in which the future portrayed has already come and gone.
20. A Trip to the Moon (George Melies – 1902)
Future – 2002
The Movie – Any film historian knows about George Melies’ A Trip to the Moon. It is one of the earliest preserved films, detailing a crew of astronauts launched from a cannon right into the eye of the man on the moon. As they sleep we meet the Selenites, bug-like aliens who try to kidnap them. Eventually they make their escape and travel home, not before capturing a Selenite themselves.
Got it Right? – Well, Melies got the title right. Amazingly seven years before the Wright Brothers created a controlled flying machine, Melies predicted we’d get to space and the moon. 67 years after the film was made, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin helped land Apollo 11 on the moon and change the course of history. In 2014, we’ve made countless ventures into space but have yet to meet any extraterrestrial life, let alone insect looking ones like the Selenites.
19. Time Cop (Peter Hyams – 1994)
Future – 2004
The Movie – In 2004, When the ability to travel through time is perfected, a new type of law enforcement agency is formed. It’s called Time Enforcement Commission or TEC. A cop, Max Walker, is assigned to the group. On the day he was chosen, some men attack him and kill his wife.
Ten years later Max is still grieving but has become a good agent for the TEC. He tracks down a former co-worker who went into the past to make money. Max brings him back for sentencing but not after telling Max that Senator McComb, the man in charge of TEC, sent him. Max has his eye on McComb.
Got it Right? – Nope. It’s scary to think 2004, is TEN years ago but there is still no time travel.
18. I am Legend (Francis Lawrence – 2007)
Future – 2009 – 2012
The Movie – The first of two adaptations of Richard Matheson’s story on my list. In 2009, a scientist has genetically engineered a strain of measles into a cancer curing vaccine. Unfortunately, it mutates and kills… EVERYONE! Well not everyone, just nearly 6 billion people worldwide.
Half the remaining humans have mutated in light-shy cannibal monsters hunting the city at night. The remaining people flee for safety leaving only Robert Neville (Will Smith) alone in New York City with his German shepherd. He is obsessed with finding a cure for the infected creatures and saving the two rogue human strangers he encounters. Dog lover may want to leave early.
Got it Right? – Nope. In 2014 we still have no cure for cancer, or subhuman zombie monsters that stalk the darkness.
17. Reign of Fire (Rob Bowman – 2002)
Future – 2008 – 2020
The Movie – Is there anything cooler than dragons? Before the days of Daenerys Targaryen and Game of Thrones and way before Christian Bale & Matthew McConaughey dueled for Oscars, they battled kick ass fire breathing dragons in Reign of Fire. While the majority of the film takes place in 2020, the dragons are discovered back in 2008 while excavating deep underground caves.
The film uses newspaper montages to show that by 2010, Earth was left virtually destroyed as humans used military force and nuclear weapons in an effort to defeat the quickly multiplying dragons. This was an underrated action flick featuring three of today’s top actors before they became super popular (the other is Gerard Butler). The best is McConaughey who chews the scenery as a crazy American dragon slayer with a Stone Cold-esque shaved head.
Got it Right? Well, maybe by 2020, but as of now we are sadly dragon-less and have yet to commit nuclear holocaust.
16. Class of 1984 (Mark L. Lester – 1982)
Future – 1984
The Movie – The king of early 80s schlock action flicks, Mark Lester brings one of his coolest films and most imitated, even getting an early appearance from 80s icon Michael J. Fox. The plot is simple; a new teacher at a wild high school quickly becomes enemies with the leader of the gang. The gang controls the school’s drug trade and is extra violent needing the school to scan students in metal detectors.
While films like Dangerous Minds and The Substitute are more famous and easily available, Class of 1984’s influence can be seen on all of them. The Troma production, Class of Nuke Em High was also a direct spoof.
Got it Right? ON POINT!!! In the post Columbine and 9-11 world many American schools go through the problems and deal with issues presented here, although maybe not the extremes. Schools deal with drugs, gangs, sex and violence. However, after events like Sandy Hook, school staff and students are taught to be ever vigilant in understanding rules and precautions for episodes of violence.
15. 1984 (Michael Anderson – 1956)
Future – 1984
The Movie – Not to be confused with the John Hurt film that came out in 1984, this was the original film version of George Orwell’s classic dystopian novel. In the future, the government controls everything and Big Brother is always watching. Winston Smith works for the Ministry of Truth, aka reinventing history the way the Party sees fit. Any free thought is illegal (thought-crimes) and propaganda rules the day. In this, Winston dares to fall in love and begins questioning the world around him.
Got it Right? – Scary enough, Orwell’s book was right about too many parts of modern society. The film came out during the heat of the Cold War and McCarthy era where the government was spying and jailing anyone who acted or appeared to be communist. The Watergate scandal in the early 70s showed the depths of government surveillance and corruption. In the year 1984 itself, Reagan reheated the Cold War across the globe. Today the news is filled with “Big Brother” style stories, from the NSA, to wiki-leaks. We have drones, roving cameras and someone somewhere is likely hearing your words, or reading your emails.