What movies called 'the future' is now our past - so how much did they get right?

By Matthew Dunn

Back To The Future is one of the few films that got some things right about the "future". Photo / Supplied
Back To The Future is one of the few films that got some things right about the "future". Photo / Supplied

The other day I sat down to escape reality and watch one the best antihero protagonists the world has ever seen.

Portrayed by Kurt Russel in the Escape from New York and Escape from LA films, Snake Plissken is a former Special Forces operator turned criminal.

What makes both of these films of interest is they were set in the then-future, which is now our actual past.

The 1981 classic Escape from New York was set in 1997, while the 1996 sequel Escape from LA explored a world set in 2013.

Other than providing landmark moments in cinema, the films both made predictions about the future, which has obviously now passed in real-life.

So did any of the concepts in the film become a reality?

Escape from New York predicted Manhattan would be transformed into a giant maximum-security prison purposely built to hold criminals responsible for a 400 per cent increase in crime in the US.

To ensure criminals remained in prison, a 15 metre-high wall was constructed around the island, while the roads out were fitted with landmines and the water was patrolled.

Obviously, this didn't, still hasn't and likely never will happen.

Escape from LA is a little more interesting as it explores a world in which an earthquake floods Los Angeles, making it become an island from Malibu to Anaheim.
Like its predecessor, this island is made into a floating prison.

The island was home to those not conforming to the new "Moral America" laws, which banned tobacco, alcoholic beverages, red meat, firearms, profanity, atheism, freedom of religion and extramarital sex.

After brainwashing the President's daughter via hologram, a Peruvian revolutionary in the prison gained the remote control for a super weapon capable of disabling all electronic devices on the planet.

In a twist, Snake Plissken managed to retrieve the control, but then used it to plunge the world into darkness.

Many of the concepts of this story never came to fruition, which was highly disappointing for me given I purchased bulk leather jackets and sweet eye patches in anticipation for 2013.

However, one thing the film did correctly predict was the use of holograms - need I remind anyone of Tupac's legendary performance at Coachella in 2012?

*Warning: This video contains explicit language*

After watching the above films, it got me thinking what other movies have been set in the then-future - and if they correctly predicted the world in which we now live.

THE END OF THE WORLD

The obvious movies to mention here are the concepts exploring the end of the world, because we clearly haven't seen doomsday.

This includes the 1999 action thriller End of Days, which used influences from Catholicism to predict the end of the world at the new millennium.

The film suggested Satan would return to Earth, walking the streets of New York City in search of a woman to bear his child.

Roland Emmerich already destroyed the world in Independence Day and Godzilla, but this wasn't enough - he needed to return for the 2009 science fiction disaster film 2012.

As the name suggests, this film was set in 2012 and explored a geological and meteorological super-disaster.

With the Mayan calendar predicting the real-life end of days at this date, a number of references were made in the movie suggesting it was influential.

Another concept predicted was the emergence of a post-apocalyptic wasteland, which was explored in the 2007 film I Am Legend.

Set in 2009, the movie showed a world in turmoil after a genetically re-engineered measles virus - originally created as a cure for cancer - became lethal.

As a result, 90 per cent of the world's population is killed by the infection, 9 per cent became mutated into vampire-esque creatures and the remaining 1 per cent were left to fight for survival.

From Catholicism to the Mayans to virus outbreaks, none of these concepts have come to fruition, which is obviously something to cheer about.

TIME TRAVEL

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jean-Claude van Damme were both polarising action heroes of the 90s, and they were both stars of films that predicted time travel would already exist in our world.

In the 1994 film Timecop, JCVD played a Time Enforcement Commission agent tasked with policing those using time travel for illicit purposes.

Set in 2004, the film saw JCVD heading back in time to stop his ex-partner from making money illegally on the US stock market crash in 1929.

James Cameron's 1991 American science fiction film Terminator 2: Judgment Day also explored the concept of time travel.

However, it is slightly more complex as the film saw a Terminator sent back in time to protect the future saviour of the world from a liquid metal, shapeshifting T-1000.

While the Terminators time travel back in time from the future, you could still argue that time travel did exist in the film, which was set in 1997.

The most obvious addition to this list is the Back to the Future franchise, which saw Marty McFly and Doc Brown time travelling from the year 1985.

The duo manage to head back in time to 1955, forward to 2015 and then back to 1855.

Unfortunately, there is no proof of time travel existing in any of the dates from the movies, nor is there any suggestion it exists today.

ULTRA-VIOLENT SPORTING EVENTS

The UFC is arguably the most violent sport in current day existence, but if the predictions made by a few movies came to fruition cage fighting would seem tame.

The 1975 cult political satire action film Death Race 2000 took place in a dystopian American society in the year 2000.

Following massive civil unrest and economic collapse, the government was restructured into a totalitarian regimen under martial law.

In an effort to quell the anger of the population, the government organises for a group of drivers to take part in a Transcontinental Death Race, which is broadcast on national TV.

The rules stipulate the drivers race across the country in their high-powered, heavily armoured cars, with the winner being the only survivor to cross the finish line.

Rollerball is another 1975 film - also remade in 2002 - which explored a futuristic ultraviolet sporting pursuit of the future.

The extraordinarily violent extension of roller derby involved motorcycles, a metal ball, and characteristics similar to the WWE.

As expected, current-day society is yet to agree to the public broadcast of sporting events where people die on screen and it's hard to argue this isn't for the best.

PREDICTIONS THAT WERE NOT THAT FAR OFF

Based on the novel of the same name, 2006 film A Scanner Darkly is set in Orange County in the then-future of 2009-2012.

America had all but lost its war on drugs, with the world in the midst of a drug addiction epidemic related to Substance D.

Then a powerful and dangerous drug causes bizarre hallucinations and has close to 20 per cent of the total population addicted.

As a result, the government has developed an invasive, high-tech surveillance system and a network of undercover officers and informants to save the people from themselves.

While Substance D doesn't exist, the failing war on drugs and heavy government surveillance of citizens have become a reality, meaning this film's predictions hold more merit than most.

While Terminator 2: Judgment Day wrongly predicted time travel, its depiction of artificial intelligence system Skynet has some home truths.

After gaining self-awareness, Skynet attempted to exterminate the human race in order to fulfil the mandates of its original coding.

Using servers, mobile devices, military satellites, war-machines, androids and cyborgs, Skynet attempted to complete its mission.

While AI is yet to try and destroy mankind, as the film is set from 1995-2023, there is still time for this to happen.

What makes this more troubling is that tech heavyweights Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk and Bill Gates have suggested the theory explored in Terminator 2: Judgment Day and 2001: A Space Oddyssey could soon become a reality.

As mentioned earlier, Back to the Future might have also wrongly predicted time travel, but the second film in the franchise did nail some of the technology that would exist by 2015.

From hoverboards to fingerprint recognition to wearable technology and video calls, the movie was a lot closer to reality than we might appreciate.

- news.com.au

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