Abraham Lincoln once said “The best way to predict your future is to create it”. Though, contextually he might have had different implications, this very possibility has inspired artists over aeons to paint a picture of the future they have in mind. Umberto Boccioni, Giacoma Balla, Benedatta Cappa or Natalia Goncharova are the few names that come to mind, preceding a discussion on the portrayal of futurism through visual arts. Futurism shaped many genres like surrealism, cyberpunk, neo-futurism, steampunk and others that blended their preferred sciences with abstractness. Though the depictions were inclined towards a very art-house approach because of the post war changes in Europe, it slowly transformed into a more accessible version to cater to the intellectual capacity of a layman. While a part of this new movement achieved this by staying orthodox at the core, the other part opted to enter a never-ending experimental loop, toying with different sub-genres along the way.
The American New Wave had ended, and though it set an optimistic tone for film-making, it did leave behind a nihilistic feeling about the state of affairs amongst the people. This is the time when B-grade futuristic movies started coming out in numbers and flourished. Though being satirical and pessimistic views of the succeeding decades, they had optimistic heroes and endings, which instilled faith and a sense of relief in mainstream movie-goers. These heroes were victims of the evil society like Travis Bickle or Michael Corleone, but did not give in, managed to beat the adversities and stand out as a miniscule messiah (no matter how impractical their methods were). Interestingly, some of these futuristic movies were also set in 2017, and have their own unique representation of how this year would have been. Though some of them are light-years from being close, the one at the top does possess an uncanny resemblance. Let’s look at the Top 5 Futuristic Movies Set In 2017:
5. Terminator Genisys (2015)
Starting off the list, unfortunately, with this unnecessary addition to the iconic ‘Terminator’ series. ‘Terminator Genisys’ might have been an improvement over the ridiculous ‘Terminator Salvation’ but in all honestly it is still a poor film that discards the aim of the first two movies. The movie shifts its attention to the time traveling aspect that was never really developed in the first place. This film tries to adhere to the growing demand for complex sci-fis in the present world, but completely fails at acknowledging the importance of characterization or plot development. Regardless, it gets Arnie back as T 800 after a gap of 12 years his charismatic presence brings nostalgia and the gritty action the last movie lacked.
4. Fortress (1992)
‘Fortress’ is a cleverly thought prison escape film. ‘Die Hard’ had started a trend of action movies with minimalistic settings and heroes in the form of common men, and this movie continued it. It’s universe is a dystopian 2017 with strict child policies where a second pregnancy is punishable by imprisonment in a private maximum security prison called, you’ve guessed it right, Fortress. The film may not follow-up to its premise, but it’s set design is very imaginative and the action scenes are executed at a great pace, compromising for the poorly constructed story. It’s definitely entertaining and the surprising plot twists never make you feel bored. It may not explore the situation of the outside world, but it does display the situation of the world in general through its characters.
3. Barb Wire (1996)
‘Barb Wire’ is the definition of a B-grade sci-fi action flick. It’s so cheesy, you won’t need to spend that 50 bucks on extra cheese for your hamburger, the next time you decide to watch this. Don’t be surprised if I tell you the plot was inspired by the 1942 classic, ‘Casablanca’. Imagine an over-sexualised leather-lad, gunpowder laiden Pamela Anderson instead of Humphrey Bogart and a fictionalized Second American Civil War setting in lieu of World War II, add a lot of B-grade post apocalyptic tropes and Barb Wire is what you get. The movie isn’t as bad as the reviews might say, because it parodies sci-fi action movies and was never intended to be taken seriously. The movie makes great use of its incapable actors, source material and low budget to create something so downright silly, you can not help but enjoy it. And frankly speaking, who wouldn’t enjoy the diva from ‘Baywatch’ flaunting some skin and crushing some bones.
2. Cherry 2000 (1987)
There are some movies that sound ridiculous when you read the plot, but turn out be something entirely different from what you expected. This movie is similar, it has a protagonist who’s hellbent on finding a replacement for his sex robot, ‘Cherry 2000’. The movie takes place in a ‘Mad Max’ like post apocalyptic future with wastelands and limited civilized areas. The society is depicted to be both economically and morally chaotic, with manufacturing at a standstill and hypersexuality being a prominent trait due to sexual activity conducted only after obtaining a legal contract. The protagonist preserves his robot’s memory and travels to the outlawed Zone 7 to find a replica, while encountering explosions and crime-lords on the way. The movie continued the trend of female bad-asses, with Melanie Griffith playing a hired tracker, who only deals in lead. Though there’s all the cool over-the-top action splattered over it, it is a sweet romantic comedy at the core. Also to be noted, it never gets its priorities muddled up, the sci-fi is restricted to production designing while the love story to the plot.
1. The Running Man (1987)
‘The Running Man’ is a highly entertaining sci-fi built on subject matter that cannot be more relevant today. The 70s and 80s were dominated by a brand of dystopian sci-fi movies that focused on the worst case scenario of the future that lay ahead. An important thing, you have to differentiate dystopian future from a post-apocalyptic one, as in, these movies weren’t stocked up with images of monumental ruins or rotting skeletons. The Running Man is a movie set in the time period 2017-2019, and revolves around a TV show where convicts have to battle professional killers for freedom, a concept that was borrowed later by ‘The Condemned’, ‘Death Race’ and ‘Battle Royale’. Arnold Schwarzenegger plays Ben Richards, a policeman wrongly convicted of massacre and has to face absurdly dangerous situations to get out alive.
The movie’s depiction might be exaggerated but the addition of campiness was a staple move for satirical pieces, which otherwise would have turned to be too dark. Looking at the current state of affairs, the reality TV frenzy is completely getting out of hands with every upcoming show diving deeper and deeper into the muck to appease and compete. The government is hands in glove with the media, and the perception of masses is being slowly being distorted to the advantage of the aforementioned. The situation reminds me of a quote in ‘They Live’, “They Live, We Sleep”.
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