Living in films of futures’ past

Welcome to 2018! Hope y’all made it through the celebrations in one piece. And, I guess I should say: “Welcome to the future, sorry it’s not a bit more futuristic”. This comes up every so often at the Watusi Country Club around this time of year – the impression that we’re now living in years with dates that seem to have come from science fiction movies. And I assume it’s a by-product of reaching an age that once used to be described as “advanced”.

Of course these days it’s not advanced any more. Your “senior” years have been re-branded as your “middle” years and those middle years seem to last from the end of puberty through till the time you hit the isolation ward of your retirement village. It’s confusing.

And those dates just keep rushing by. Not long ago we passed the ‘future’ they went back to in ‘Back To The Future 2’. “Where’s my hover-board?” a million baby boomers cried.

Last year, the largely unlamented 2017, was when ‘Cherry 2000’ was set. I want my Cherry 2000. Not really, as I think my Special Lady Friend might have issues. Fair enough.

Blade Runner 2019
But 2017 did bring us a ‘Blade Runner’ sequel which was set in 2049, a date that seems so unfeasibly far in the future that the world could well look like the grim dystopia the film portrays.

But when I first saw the original ‘Blade Runner’ in a cinema it also seemed perfectly reasonable: an extrapolation of current events into a collapsing future, with people leaving earth to live on off-world colonies and advanced robots that look like Rutger Hauer. That one was set in 2019. It now seems unlikely that even the orange-haired idiot currently installed in the White House can bugger up the planet that badly in a year. Or perhaps I’m being optimistic.

And there’s an alternative vision courtesy of Aussie vampire flick ‘Daybreakers’, also set in 2019. So perhaps the vampires will take over instead of us flying sky cars around a run-down futuristic Tokyo.

If not that, then 2020 offers the earth on the brink of capitulation to an invading army of future-predicting aliens. Let’s hope that Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt can team up as they did in ‘Edge Of Tomorrow’ to see off the threat.

Luckily, much like those of the many enthusiastic psychics who queue up to give us their insights into the upcoming year, often movie predictions are
a little off-base.

New York was meant to become an isolated prison city way back in 1997, if ‘Escape From New York’ was to be believed. I know it’s bad, but that seems a little extreme. Kurt Russell then escaped from L.A. But that was four years ago, in 2013.

Timely Travels
Likewise Jean-Claude Van Damme hasn’t been chasing crooks through time as he was predicted to do (2004 in ‘Time Cop’). That whole time travel thing has actually been a bit slow off the mark.

Especially when you think that it would just take somebody – anybody – to invent time travel at any time in the future, then they could come back and show us all how to do it...

Perhaps most disappointing of all, we still can’t go on holidays to totally enclosed worlds populated by robotic western gunslingers. And it’s been a long time coming. The original film foretold this as happening back in 1983.

I’ve studied history books extensively but there appears to have been no massacre of tourists at an adult role-playing holiday park in the early eighties.

Perhaps that’s why they needed a television reboot.  

But maybe I was ruined for such things at an early age: an irresponsible older cousin took me to the Civic in Auckland sometime in the early-1970s when I was just a very wee Watusi.

We went to see ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’. My tiny mind was duly blown. 2001 was so far in the future and sounded so...well, futuristic. How could we possibly still be living on earth, paying bills and worrying about the rent by then?

Oh well, it could be worse. ‘Soylent Green’ could be people (2022). 


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