The future is here – but what have science fiction movies gotten right and wrong about life in 2019? For whatever reason, a number of films have used the year 2019 as a setting for their speculative future. For some, like Blade Runner, it was an attempt to guess at what our near-future might look like - at least, based on an '80s understanding of things. For others, like The Road, it's a year that felt close enough that not much had changed, and far away enough that radical change would be possible.
Among them there have been some good educated guesses on modern technology and our relationship to it, and some of the broader discussions therein on artificial intelligence and convenient tech are only becoming more relevant. But there are some real misses, too, and while flying cars would be cool, we've dodged some very dark futures for ourselves by not making some of these realizations a reality.
Here's what sci-fi movies had to tell us about 2019, the surprising details that they got right, and the things that they got very wrong.
- This Page: Blade Runner, Daybreakers, Geostorm, and The Island
- Page 2: The Running Man, Akira, and The Road
Ridley Scott's cult classic Blade Runner is perhaps the most well-known for its 2019 setting. Since release, Scott's blockbuster has been a subject of fascination for sci-fi lovers for its dreary, noir-ish dystopian Los Angeles, which was recently revisited in Denis Villenueve's 2017 sequel Blade Runner 2049.
Led by Harrison Ford's Deckard, a former investigator specializing in killing rogue replicants (human-like androids) Blade Runner promised a future that was over-populated, with barely enough space among the ever-expanding high-rises to hold all the humans, constantly overcast and on the brink of man-made disaster.
The amount of neon and constant billboards isn't too far away from what can be seen in some major cities, minus all the air traffic, and Deckard's small grungy apartment will feel familiar to many trying to rent in increasingly steep property markets. Voice-control aside, the analog tech is very rudimentary by our standards, but the replicants aren't. So far, our robots are just here to tell us the weather and play Spotify, and aren't quite ready to improvise any "tears in rain" speeches.
Humans have not, as yet, had to deal with any kind of zombie plague. According to Australian-American sci-fi horror Daybreakers, however, we should have all become vampires by now, as a transmittable infection cripples us and makes us dependant on human blood.
A thinly veiled metaphor for slaughterhouses and corporate farming, Daybreakers is a story of humanity's last stand as regular humans become an increasingly small tribe. In the new vampiric age, humans are hunted down and forced into blood-farms so their veins full of delicious red blood can be harvested and distributed. Vampirism hasn't been all that much of an equalizer, mind you – classism is still rife and many starve as blood-numbers dwindle.
Released in 2007, the blue-and-grey cityscapes of Michael and Peter Spierig's 2019 is mostly an exaggeration of what's already here. Everything is either slightly bigger, slightly more horrifying (because vampires) or slightly more dilapidated. Needless to say, turning everyone into raging bloodsuckers won't solve much.
Climate change is what many consider the greatest known threat to mankind's future. We need to figure out a way to be kinder to the environment before it is too late. Unfortunately, building some form of climate-controlling satellite just isn't a feasible quick-fix solution.
Directed by Dean Devlin, Geostorm was itself a natural disaster for Warner Bros. back in 2017, requiring extensive reshoots that involved recasts and new characters before failing to make a storm at the box office. In the film, 'Dutch Boy', a UN-sanctioned satellite that can control the weather, goes rogue and starts causing horrific, deadly weather anomalies in various locations in the world, forcing Gerard Butler's satellite designer Jake Lawson to save the day.
Technically we have until 2023 to see if any of Geostorm comes to pass, but even the opening events in 2019 are enough to tell us this is all pure fiction.
Before Michael Bay was all about transforming robots and after he'd finished with Bad Boys, he directed The Island, an outlandish romp about human cloning.
Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johannson play two members of a colony who discover their whole existence is a lie constructed to cover up that they're clones, created for organ harvesting. After the pair break out from their clean, idyllic, regimented prison, they must run from capture as they try to destroy the organization that made them and set their clone brethren free.
Cloning as seen here isn't something we've managed yet, but like artificial intelligence, the questions posed here do feel inevitable. Is it okay to create a fully-conscious human being just to harvest them for their body parts? Those who have access to the service are the rich and powerful – no surprises – and the whole island enterprise would take some hefty engineering to pull off using today's tools. Keep an eye on any corporations buying remote islands, though.