The year 2017 is here and people are terrified. For decades, authors and filmmakers have predicted the end of days for humanity via nuclear war, oil and water crises, and other forms of global devastation. From science fiction to action to drama, every genre has touched on the possibility we will eventually sink as a society into desolation and dystopia.
This year is a significant one. World politics are shifting massively, and the balance of power is more unstable than ever. Many of us are wondering if the next decade will resemble Mad Max or some other hellish and terrifying future. Here are five movies that when they were made, showed us what 2017 could be. Hopefully, none of these visions of our future come true.
The Running Man
If you refuse to obey, you will be forced to submit. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Ben Richards defies a military order to murder unarmed protestors during a food riot. He winds up in a correctional work program where inmates are fitted with exploding collars around their necks. With the help of two fellow prisoners, he manages to escape only to be forced into a gladiator-style reality show. John must fight to survive, otherwise, he will be killed and vilified as a traitor.
The Running Man is terrifying right now. Anybody familiar with the film and the current state of politics has to wonder if the events of this story are just around the corner. Written by Stephen King under his famous pen name Richard Bachman, the book and the film are both dystopian nightmares despite being somewhat different from each other. We recently discussed how relevant this movie is right now, so let’s just hope we can avoid this future for as long as possible.
The relationship men and women have together has changed. In a world where recycling is the number one economic industry and much of the country is zoned off, robotic companions are commonplace. A waste facility manager named Sam loses his artificial partner when she malfunctions and breaks down. He then finds himself traveling deep into the wastelands of former Nevada to find a replacement model while accompanied by a female tracker named “E” Johnson.
Writer Lloyd Fonvielle’s tale of a desperate man trying to find companionship is very reflective of how relationships are today. It’s common knowledge that people are losing touch with each other and have become almost entirely dependent on technology. Reports of manufacturers producing robots that are capable of advanced human interaction show that the demand for personal androids is growing. Cherry 2000 may be a universally panned film, but it is relevant now.
Barb Wire is the trashiest version of 2017 ever filmed. Made in the mid-90s when everything was black leather and industrial music, Pamela Anderson’s superheroine vehicle was self-aware schlockfest. The film hangs on a very thin premise of a rebel group trying to smuggle identification scrambling technology out of the country. The government has become a police state, and without authorization, its citizens are unable to travel. Rebels are identified and killed left and right.
The main point of this film other than showing off its star in gratuitous comic book fashion is to show that the states have become a war zone. Barb Wire lives in one of the last free areas in the US called Steel Harbor. She runs a bar and club where all sides of the law come to do business. Barb also works as a mercenary but when her world gets invaded by fascist military police, she must stand up and fight the power. Barb Wire may be ham-fisted, but at least it’s a fun ride.
When all aspects of life and the country’s citizens are denied their basic human rights, people are forced to defy the law. Christopher Lambert is another John “Everyman” in this dystopian tale directed by From Beyond and Re-Animator director Stuart Gordon. John and his wife Karen live in fear of being discovered for illegally having a child. While trying to travel through a checkpoint, John and Karen are found out and quickly sent to an underground penitentiary filled with criminals.
This version of 2017 plays heavily on the reality of overcrowded prisons waiting to explode. Fortress has its characters fighting each other in a facility that resembles a hotel atrium, and each of the rooms are packed with inmates. The film has an excellent cast of genre greats and features plenty of sci-fi surprises to amplify its disturbing premise. The underlying message of the film deals heavily with birth control and corrupt control of our rights and principles. Fortress is a warning.
The latest and possibly last movie in the Terminator series brought the story of John Connor to 2017. In Terminator Genisys Arnold Schwarzenegger again stars in a film showing us an alternate version of our reality that hits way too close to home. Terminators, T-1000s and the Connors are all works of fiction, but Genisys takes their story and adapts it to fit in with our dependence on modern tech. Skynet isn’t just a computerized boogeyman anymore. It’s in our smartphones.
This film gets very little love from audiences and fans of the franchise. Terminator Genisys spoiled all of its secrets in marketing, but despite having a bad reputation it actually has a few notable moments. The overall plot is a mess, but the world of 2017 shown in the movie is kind of accurate. Judgement Day is the moment Skynet becomes self-aware, and who’s to say that our first encounter with truly conscious AI won’t be from an operating system. Let’s try not to make it mad.