With the loss of Bowie, Prince, Alan Rickman, and Carrie Fisher, to name but a few, it’s safe to say that 2016 had an apocalyptic feel to it for many pop culture fans. Many are hoping that the next couple of years are going to usher in a more peaceful and hopeful era, but it turns out Hollywood science fiction has always had a very different idea.
Over the last few decades, a number of movies have presented some, shall we say, peculiar visions of 2017 and 2018. But, as weird as these visions might be, you’ll be surprised at how close to home some of them might have hit.
Running Man (1987) – Tristar Pictures
The majority of TriStar’s Running Man might have featured a lycra-clad Arnie battling his way through a brutal gameshow in the year 2019, but its intro painted a bleak picture of what 2017 might look like.
The movie’s opening crawl suggests that, in 2017, the World’s economy has collapsed with food, natural resources, and oil all in short supply. Now, we might not be at the level of watching humans destroy each other with elaborate weapons on TV (we’ll stick with BattleBots, thank you very much), but for a movie as ridiculous as Running Man, it’s a little concerning to think about how much its vision 2017 got right. As well as environmental issues, there are also nods to modern-day issues with media censorship, and police brutality.
Rollerball (1975) – United Artists
According to the 1975 James Caan cult classic, Rollerball, in 2018 we’ll all be obsessed with a sport in which the livelihood of athletes is secondary to the popularity of the sport itself. In this vision of 2018, the world is run by massive corporations that dominate every piece of society, including Rollerball. Given the many controversies surrounding athlete wellbeing in modern day sports, and the concerns about corporate monopolies, it would seem that Rollerball still has a lot to say more than 30 years after its creation.
Barb Wire (1996) – Gramercy Pictures
For every ridiculous plot that gets something about our future right, there are dozens that are more concerned with being weird than being accurate. It only takes a quick squint at its trailer to know which side of the fence Barb Wire falls on. In this vision of 2017, America is gripped by its second civil war, and Pamela Anderson is a leather-clad mercenary/bar owner. Most cities have been ravaged by the war, and shots of Washington DC look like Donald Trump took that whole ‘drain the swamp’ thing a bit too far.
Fortress (1992) – Davis Entertainment
After storming our screens as the Highlander, Christopher Lambert starred as the decorated war hero, John Henry Brennick, in the 1992 American-Australian sci-fi flick, Fortress. Riffing on China’s one-child policy, Fortress paints a picture of a 2017 in which the USA has outlawed multi-child families. Unfortunately for Brennick (whose wife has just had his second child), the punishment for such a crime is imprisonment at a high-tech facility which mentally and physically tortures its inmates to keep them in line. Thankfully, we’re struggling to find much synergy between our 2017 and the one depicted in Fortress.
Iron Sky (2012) – Energia Productions
Of course, we saved the most ridiculous until last.
If you haven’t yet watched Iron Sky, you’re really missing out on catching one of the weirdest movie premises in years. This international production sees a team of Nazi scientists escaping the second world war and successfully setting up shop on the dark side of the moon. While on their moon base hideaway, they develop ‘advanced’ technologies (flying saucers and low-grade computers) to help them bring about the Fourth Reich back on Earth. In 2018, this haphazard group of Space Nazi’s successfully invade Earth, with bizarre and occasionally comical consequences.