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5 classic sci-fi films that got the future totally wrong #BladeRunner2049

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Ridley Scott’s 1982 sci-fi thriller Blade Runner is one of the most iconic ever made.

Visually stunning with stupendously brilliant effects, it revolves around a compelling mystery, features intelligent commentary on human nature (taken from Philip K. Dick's original novel) and is set in an incredibly stylised (then future) world of 2019.

We're poised to return to this landscape when Blade Runner 2049 arrives in Cineworld on 5th October.

According to a 2012 BBC article, a large proportion of Blade Runner’s vision of the future has actually come true including a shift in language in L.A (the city where it’s set), gesture-based computer interfaces, iris recognition software and personalised advertisements.

While Blade Runner did get a lot right, it did also predicted that by the start of the 21st century we would have begun to colonise off-world settlements using highly advanced humanoids known as replicants as slave labour. 

Blade Runner wasn’t the only sci-fi film to get the future wrong, however. Just take a look at these five classic sci-fi movies that, for better or worse, didn’t get things quite right.


Just Imagine (1930)

Released before television was adopted in America, this sci-fi flick from Hollywood’s Golden Era was ambitious about its futuristic setting of 1980 New York.

When a man known as Single O (El Brendel) is revived by scientists 50 years after being struck by lightning, he finds himself in a world unlike his own where names are replaced by numbers, cars are replaced by aeroplanes, all food is taken in pill form, and babies come from vending machines.

In retrospect, it’s easy to find Just Imagine hokey and ridiculous but it was set half a century in the future from when it was made. Considering how far we’ve come in technology recently, we can’t blame the movie too much for its overly ambitious vision of the future.


2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece follows the voyage of two astronauts (played by Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood) on a mission to uncover a mysterious alien artefact known as The Monolith.

However, their journey becomes more dangerous than expected when on-board computer HAL 9000 attempts to kill them to make the mission more efficient.

Set three decades after the year of its release, 2001 was pretty optimistic about how far humanity would advance in space travel with interstellar travel becoming the futuristic equivalent of boarding a plane.

Now, over 15 years after 2001’s prediction, we’re still no closer to boarding a shuttle to Jupiter for our daily commute.

On the bright side, we’re relieved that artificial intelligence hasn’t quite reached the level of HAL 9000 – but then again, with voice recognition software dominating smart technology, just how long will it be until we are?


Rollerball (1975)

As we approach 2018, the year in which this violent dystopian sci-fi is set, the movie's events are far from becoming a reality.

A totalitarian society is run by corporations who engross audiences in the titular sport. More than just a sport, Rollerball is used to subdue the public insofar as the corporations attempt to force star player Johnathon (James Caan) into retirement when he becomes too popular.

What’s really odd about this world, though, is that its fashion sense doesn’t seem to have evolved past the year the movie was made. Who knows, maybe next year will see the return of 70s chic after all?


Escape from New York (1981)

Set in a dystopian future of 1997, John Carpenter’s sci-fi action romp saw Kurt Russell portray one-eyed cinematic icon Snake Plissken assigned to escort the president of the United States (Donald Pleasence) out of Manhattan.

Doesn’t sound too taxing, right? Maybe if it were set in the 1997 we know, but in this version of 1997 America is overrun with crime with Manhattan now servicing as one massive prison. There’s nothing more exciting than a prison break and Escape From New York is the biggest of them all.

With high-octane action throughout in a hyper-violent Manhattan, Escape From New York is certainly one of the most entertaining sci-fi adventures made but, now twenty years after the time it’s set, Manhattan hasn’t become a prison yet. Perhaps this is for the better.


Back to the Future Part II (1989)

Whereas in Back to the Future the charismatic Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) had to find his way back to 1985 from the fifties, Part II saw Marty and Doc (Christopher Lloyd) travel to October 21st 2015 where there were flying cars, self-tying shoes, and 19 Jaws movies.

This was the future that every child who watched this film craved, but unfortunately 2015 didn’t quite work out the way the film predicted; it did come remarkably close, however.

3D films are part of our cinema experience, virtual reality videogames are becoming more prevalent, we have multi-screen television, and we can now even get our very own hoverboards – just not the kind seen in the film.

It’s not all bad that this 2015 never came to fruition, though, as this future was still very 80s with fax machines and payphones still at the height of technology. We’re still waiting for those hoverboards, though.


Come 5th October, we cannot wait to see how the Blade Runner world will have advanced and, more importantly, if its prediction of life in 2049 is likely to come true.

Andy Murray is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.