If, like us, you began the New Year with the thought that it’s only five years ’til we get to ride hoverboards, the decade ahead would seem to be full of amazing technology and stuff. But if movies are to be believed, there’ll be a lot more to worry about in the next 10 years than the matter of “Where the hell are our flying cars, anyway?” It starts with alien contact and a viral outbreak. Then there are nuclear wars, economic collapses, killer tsuanmis, fascist takeovers, unhinged replicants and giant lizards to look forward to. If the movies are right, the future’s so bright you’d better wear those 3-D glasses as protective shades.
According to 2010: The Year We Make Contact, this is the year we travel to the moons of Jupiter, reboot HAL-9000 and get flashed by alien lightning. This 1984 film did correctly predict that Beijing would host the 2008 Olympics so we should assume the rest of the vision will play out in the next 11 months! But much more tangible aliens are already on Earth, living in South Africa and due to be evicted from their District 9 slum on the specific date of August 9. Another bad decision made in 2010? Putting Jason Vorhees into cryogenic suspension until it can be decided what should be done with him. WTF? He’s a demented serial killer, people! Thus, the hideous events of Jason X in 2455.
Future-feature Aeon Flux brings the cheery news that next year 99% of the world’s population dies in a viral outbreak. As you’ll soon see, though, considering what’s coming after that it seems like something of a merciful outcome. But the 1% who do survive get to hang with mysterious assassin Charlize Theron, decked out in figure-hugging black leather — reason to live right there.
Roland Emmerich’s spectacular disaster mega-mix 2012 declares that space-neutrino-hoodoo-voodoo will cause the Earth to be first rocked by massive earthquakes, then subsumed by massive tsunamis and finally swallowed by gaping plot holes. But according to I Am Legend, by 2012 Will Smith will be the only human left alive in New York City, with most of humanity killed or mutated by bad CGI. Either way, the outlook’s grim. And sometime in this tumultuous year, the US economy will also collapse, leading to so many criminals that private prisons will have to stick inmates into the remade Death Race to secure funds.
In The Postman, we’ve been all but wiped out by one of those pesky Road-style non-specific apocalypses. Happily, though, Kevin Costner provides hope in 2013 by donning a dead mailman’s outfit and delivering letters. Couldn’t he just have hooked us back up to Twitter? This is also the year the US president’s daughter turns traitor, giving America’s super-weapon to a Peruvian freedom fighter holed up in what’s left of Los Angeles. Thankfully, Snake Plissken’s ready to enter this hellhole so he can Escape From LA. But, if A Scanner Darkly is to be believed, Snake’s probably so totally high on Substance D he thinks he’s signing up for a trip to Disneyland. Hopefully, across the pond, the Brits have a good supply of the drug, too, because this is the year the Norsefire fascists purge the United Kingdom of undesirables — a crackdown that’ll lead to V’s vendetta some 14 years later. Whew!
Japan’s economy suffers such a blow in Moon Child that citizens have to move to mainland China to survive. There, a gang of kids turn to crime. And hang with a vampire teen. So it’s City Of Let The Right One I Ching! Oddly, mainstream western feature filmmakers have avoided 2014 like the (vampire-mutant-creating) plague, which left it to Robin Sloane to make this awesomely believable “future fiction” about 2014 for the Museum Of Media History.
A relative benign 12 months, this one. Obviously, we humans recover quite quickly from previous apocalypses because, according to Back To The Future Part II, the cool thing to do is ride your hoverboard to the movies and see the awesome new Max Spielberg flick Jaws 19 at the Holomax. So far Max’s biggest credit is as an assistant on The Rage: Carrie 2. Get cracking, young Spielberg! Also this year, according to The Sixth Day, you’ll be able to get your sick pet cloned — or get an animatronic version at Re-Pet. Downside: when you get home, you might find you’ve been cloned and that the company wants the original you dead!
In Ghostbusters II, our favorite spirit wrangler Peter Venkman has a TV talk show, on which a guest declares that Valentine’s Day, 2016, is when the world ends. As Bill Murray puts it: “Bummer.” Not so romantic but possibly preferable to sitting through the Valentine’s Day in cinemas this February.
According to Surrogates, crime and fear is a thing of the past because humans live in isolation, interacting with each other via good-looking robot versions of themselves. Hang on, isn’t that Facebook? Spooky. And if The Running Man is right, this is also the year a police state is declared and we’re all pacified by a reality show in which criminals fight for literal survival. Damn, can’t the Jersey Shore producers take note of this for next season and rename it Death To Snooki? According to Barb Wire, this is also the year of the “Second Civil War”, in which a hero will rise in the form of a half-naked Pamela Anderson. So it’s not all doom and gloom for some.
So sayeth Terminator Salvation, this is the year that John Connor and the human resistance destroy Skynet Central. But, when they’re taking a break from blasting hell out of the machines and wondering whether they ought to trust the shifting accent of that Marcus fellow, at least they can distract themselves by tuning into the hell-on-wheels entertainment that is the original Rollerball!
In Daybreakers, a plague sweeps the Earth, turning most of the human population into vampires. Thing is, the blood supplies are dwindling, which makes you wonder why they don’t just tap the endless supply of hot haemoglobin-filled human clones being harvested for their organs over at The Island. Complicating matters for hungry bloodsuckers is that by this year our robot replacements, now called Replicants in Blade Runner, will be indistinguishable from us. On the upside — flying cars! Things are dicey over in New Tokyo, too. Despite rising from the ashes of nuclear Armageddon, the mega-megalopolis depicted in Akira is under threat from anarchists, terrorists, criminals and the ever-expanding superpowers of a gang kid named Tetsuo. At least they don’t have to worry about Godzilla. Oh, hang on…
Aaaaggggh! It’s Godzilla: Final Wars and the big lizard and his monster pals, along with aliens and earthly superhero types, are attacking, well, everyone and everything! Not surprisingly, sane people like Gary Sinise and Tim Robbins take a Mission To Mars to escape the threat. And not a moment too soon because, in addition to Godzilla, Reign of Fire says the world will by 2020 be ruled by fire-breathing dragons and our only hope is a hero who looks a lot like a greased-up John Connor.
Rotten Tomatoes’ contributor Michael Adams is the author of the new book Showgirls, Teen Wolves and Astro Zombies — join him as he spends a year trawling for the worst movie ever made.