Friday, 24 May 2013

Can movies predict the future???

Movies are always predicting how life in the future might be but how often do they get it right???

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Movies love predicting the future and we love watching it.  Who doesn’t love a movie set in the future giving us a glimpse of how things may be.  More often than not it’s a future where there’s been some kind of nuclear catastrophe leaving the world barren, regressing civilization and reducing mankind to a primitive primeval state.  Sometimes the future is depicted as some kind of utopia where crime and sickness is a thing of the past.  Sometimes it’s a dystopia where everything is controlled and freedom is lost or social inequalities have become even more extreme.  Whatever the case, it’s intriguing and it stimulates our imagination.

It got me wondering, how often do these movie predictions come true?  Let’s have a look at some classics and see if they got it right.

1.  Escape from New York (1981)

This cult classic set in 1997 predicted that crime in the US would have risen by 400% leading to the conversion of the entire island of Manhattan in New York to a maximum security prison.  Following on from World War 3, Air Force One is hijacked and crashed into Manhattan leaving an eye patch-toting ex-soldier by the name of Snake Plissken to go in where no one else dares in order to save the president.

Well, although I’m sure crime is bad it’s nowhere near as bad as this film made out.  Manhattan, arguably, is not a prison.

Great film.

Predictive accuracy – FAIL

2.  The Terminator (1984)

The seminal time travel action flick where Arnie as the evil Terminator is sent back in time to kill Sarah Connor, the woman who would give birth to John Connor who would eventually lead the future resistance against the evil machines.  Never made that much sense due to the paradox that if Sarah Connor was killed and there was no John Connor in the future then the Terminator wouldn’t have been sent back in the first place.  But arguably it could be a different time line.

The franchise predicted that between 1997-2011 a computer called Skynet became so smart it became self aware and triggered judgment day, a nuclear attack on mankind with the loss of 3 billion human lives.

A classic movie but real life artificial intelligence is nowhere near there yet.  Just look at how lousy predictive text messaging is on our phones and okay, Siri was kind of cool when it was first released but I can’t even get my phone to synch with my laptop properly sometimes. 

Recently there were headlines about a breakthrough in artificial intelligence research where a computer had learned what cats were from watching YouTube vidoes.  I think it’s pretty safe to say, thankfully, that we don’t have to worry about self-aware killer machines yet.

Predictive accuracy – FAIL

3.  Robocop (1987)

Predicted that in 1990 we would have cyborg super-cops patrolling our streets.  Always an interesting satirical franchise with its views regarding the media, corruption, dystopia and capitalism.

Predictive accuracy – FAIL

4.  The Running Man (1987)

Set in the economically crushed world of 2019 where the US has become a totalitarian police state.  Well the global economy has definitely taken a hit so that’s one vaguely positive prediction.

The story involved people taking part in deadly televised games for the amusement of the masses.  This was the first Arnie movie I saw and I remember when the UK version of The Gladiators started to air in 1992, I thought that the movies predictions were coming true.  Thankfully things never reached the macabre level depicted in the movie. 

Gladiators, what a classic show.  Brings back some real rose-tinted memories of my childhood.  It was like a family event as we all huddled around the TV on Saturday nights.  It’s the reason I still feel like running up escalators sometimes and the amazing theme tune still gets me:

Predictive accuracy – FAIR

5.  Back To The Future 2 (1989)

Probably the most loved franchises out of all the movies here.  Marty travels to 2015 to stop his future son getting into trouble but of course we know that things were not that straight forward.

A great movie with loads of crazy ideas about things to come.  Flying cars, hoverboards, super pizza machines, videophones and Jaws 19 the movie in 3D.  Well of course we don’t have flying cars and functioning hoverboards but some of the other ideas may not be as far-fetched as they seem.  The iPhone is definitely something that would have blown my mind had I seen it as a kid.  Movies and games on such a device is firmly in the realm of the future.  I never thought, growing up, that I would one day be able to play Street Fighter 2 on my mobile phone – crazy!! 

Thankfully there's no Jaws 19 but 3D movies, as everyone knows, are huge right now.  What’s more is that there are already TVs that feature 3D and do not require glasses.  Although not mainstream it already exists so that’s another successful prediction.  

This week NASA just announced that they are funding the research and development of 3D food printing for their astronauts with the first item on the menu being pizza.  How amazing is that, this is firmly within the realm of sci-fi.

Despite how funny and silly some of the scenes looked, predictive accuracy – GOOD

6.  Demolition Man (1993)

An excellent action movie that tried to scare people into thinking that LA was going to be in chaos in 1996 with a flaming Hollywood sign featured at the beginning.  Wesley Snipes (Simon Phoenix) is imprisoned, which kinda happened in real life when he was arrested for tax evasion.  The movie then jumps forward to 2032 when the evil Phoenix is released from cryo-prison only to go on a killing spree.  An apparent utopia with no crime or murder, the police can no longer handle a criminal as dangerous as Phoenix.  This leaves no choice but to thaw out 90s former super-cop John Spartan (Stallone) to track and take down Phoenix.  The movie mentions that Schwarzenegger had been president, predicting his foray into politics before he became governor of California in real life. 

Shockingly, up for parole the same day as Phoenix in the movie is a man called Scott Peterson who, a decade later in real life, would kill his wife and unborn child.  
Eerie stuff!

A great movie that everyone should watch.

Predictive accuracy – GOOD

7.  Timecop (1994)

Van Damme’s wife died 10 years ago, there’s still time to save her.  One of the best movie tag lines and Van Damme’s highest grossing movie to date.  A decent action film with some time travelling shenanigans that allowed Van Damme to do what he does best, be on the screen as multiple personas at the same time.  He’s done it in Double Impact, Maximum Risk, Replicant, briefly in The Order and of course in Timecop as well.

The movie suggested that in 2004 we would have the crappest looking cars ever and still be listening to minidiscs.

Predictive accuracy – FAIL

8.  2012 (2009)

The date I’m writing this post is Friday 24th May 2013.

Predictive accuracy – FAIL

So there you have it.  Movies on the whole are pretty terrible at predicting the future but that won’t stop them from trying and it sure won’t stop us from watching.

Take it easy until next time,


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