‘Blade Runner’ and 11 Other Sci-Fi Films Set in a Future That’s Already in the Past (Photos)

Brian Welk
·4-min read

The future is now. As of today, Nov. 1, 2019, “Blade Runner,” one of the quintessential science fiction movies of all time, is currently set in the present. The opening title card for the film begins “Los Angeles/November, 2019.” But rather than the rainy, noir hellscape that Ridley Scott imagined, 2019 Angelenos awake to a present that’s dry, hot in November and at threat of devastating wildfires. That’s not to say that “Blade Runner” is any lesser since it didn’t pick a year crazy far enough away for its reality to come true. But it’s amusing to see how these sci-fi movies have dated themselves — and in some cases even gotten some things right.

“1984” (1956)

You’ll find a recurring theme on this list is that movies whose titles are years are inherently dated. And there’s no better example of that than the adaptation of George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984.” The book was first adapted to the screen in 1956, then again in 1984 itself. But the year still has an unusual connotation with the future, as even the next “Wonder Woman” movie will be set in 1984.

“2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968)

Stanley Kubrick’s magnum opus did not manage to predict a future of commercial space travel or intergalactic exploration that will lead to a new paradigm of existence and meaning in the universe. But it did predict that we would have intelligent computers. Thankfully, Siri and Alexa are not as murderous and conspiring as HAL 9000.

“Death Race 2000” (1975)

While the new millennium did not bring about TV shows featuring violent street races to the death as imagined in this David Carradine and Sylvester Stallone thriller, we have seen a surge of reality TV programming not unlike the one in the film. “Death Race” was later remade in 2008 with Jason Statham.

“Escape From New York” (1981)

John Carpenter’s “Escape From New York” imagines that all of Manhattan has been turned into a giant, maximum security prison to manage violence and crime run amok — and that we’d realize this future by 1997.

“Blade Runner” (1982)

Perhaps realizing that we would not have lifelike, sentient robot “replicants” by the year 2019, “Blade Runner” actually got a sequel in 2017 that kicked the can to the year 2049.

“The Running Man” (1987)

Another example of how reality TV has taken over the airwaves, Arnold Schwarzenegger stars in this campy sci-fi set in 2017 where he’s recruited for a deadly, futuristic game show in which he’s forced to fight for his survival.

“Akira” (1988)

The futuristic anime “Akira” is set three decades after a nuclear bomb fell on Tokyo and caused WWIII, causing gangs of motorcyclists to take to the streets in battle against oppressive government forces. That didn’t happen, but then neither has a planned live-action remake of the film, which has been in development hell for so long that it’s now passed when the movie is set in 2019. Fun fact though: the main character of “Akira” awakes to start the film underneath a stadium that’s currently under construction in Tokyo, and Japan is actually building a stadium for when Tokyo hosts the 2020 Olympics.

“Back to the Future Part II” (1989)

Damn if scientists haven’t tried hard to give us hoverboards by the year 2016 when Robert Zemeckis’ “Back to the Future” sequel is set. But we did get an obscene amount of “Jaws” sequels, some of them in 3-D no less. And perhaps even more of a sign of the apocalypse, the Cubs broke a 100-year curse to win the World Series in 2016 just as the movie predicted.

“Terminator 2: Judgment Day” (1991)

The events of “Terminator 2” are set in 1995 with the expectation that Judgment Day and a nuclear apocalypse triggered by sentient machines was right around the corner in the year 1997. I guess we have Sarah Conner to thank for that.

“Freejack” (1992)

In “Freejack,” just before a race car driver played by Emilio Estevez is about to die in a horrible car wreck, he’s transported to the year 2009 where wealthy billionaires harvest young bodies and implant their own minds inside them so they can live forever. The trailer explains that they harvest people from the past who aren’t poisoned by years of a deteriorating ozone layer. Anthony Hopkins, Mick Jagger and Rene Russo also star in the sci-fi.

“Strange Days” (1995)

The events of Kathryn Bigelow’s “Strange Days” are set in 1999 just four years removed from when the movie was actually released, playing early on Y2K paranoia and predicting that technology would advance so quickly that we’d have advanced virtual reality and the ability to live within other people’s memories in no time at all.

“2012” (2009)

Roland Emmerich maybe didn’t get the year right, but he’s ahead of his time when it comes to imagining a global catastrophe tied to climate change, a story he also told with his film “The Day After Tomorrow.”

Read original story ‘Blade Runner’ and 11 Other Sci-Fi Films Set in a Future That’s Already in the Past (Photos) At TheWrap