Unless you have a TARDIS stashed in your basement, odds are you don’t know what tomorrow will look like. But thanks to Hollywood’s computer-generated imagination, we’re guessing you have a pretty good idea of what it might look like: Flying cars, atomic wastelands, alien invasions, etc. Movies and television don’t always get it right (remember Back to the Future II’s hoverboard?) but when they do, they really hit the nail on the head. (BTTF II’s video billboards are all over the 405 now!) So what truths await us in the futuristic TV shows and movies coming out in 2014?
1. In the future, more people will hate technology.
Not only will people hate technology, there will be terrorists bent on destroying technological advancements. Johnny Depp’s new project Transcendence (Apr 18), directed by Inception and The Dark Knight cinematographer Wally Pfister, is set in the near future when a brilliant scientist attempting an artificial intelligence breakthrough known as singularity is gunned down by an anti-tech group. Then his wife downloads his dying brain into a computer and things get crazy.
Prediction accuracy? High. Given the growing agitation with our online world, a radical group of terrorist technophobes seems highly likely.
2. In the future, we will kill all vegetation on earth.
Though little is known about Christopher Nolan’s new film Interstellar (Nov 7), the recent teaser trailer hints at one of the film’s major plot points: humans have killed off their last remaining crops. This planet-killing event forces a team of scientists into deep space in an attempt to find a planet that can grow some new food.
Prediction accuracy? High. It’s widely known climate change is having an effect on vegetation. Still, this is a pretty bleak outlook. Hopefully we’ll act quick enough before a world-wide famine forces us into space.
3. In the future, being a teenager will still suck.
And you thought puberty was bad. In the future, teens will have to fight to the death and occasionally save the world from oppressive governments! Take Katniss Everdeen, who, after surviving two battles to the death in the first Hunger Games movies now sets her sights on taking down the evil President Snow in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (Nov 21). Similarly, Tris Prior of Divergent (Mar 21) fights against authoritarian figures in futurist Chicago; Jonas, the 12-year-old protagonist of The Giver (Aug 15) is burdened with all the memories of an emotionless dystopian future; and the space-residing juvenile delinquents of the CW’s The 100 (Mar 19) must travel to Earth and establish whether or not it is finally habitable years after a nuclear disaster. Then there are the boys of The Maze Runner (Sep 19) who don’t even have an identity yet are forced to survive a massive, beast-filled maze.
Prediction accuracy? Medium. It seems unlikely we’ll ever get to a point where society’s future rests on the manipulation of teenagers. If that were the case, MTV would be ruling the world by now.
4. In the future, our military will be no match for an alien invasion.
The technology and sophisticated weaponry that has protected us from each other is no match for an invading species—and Tom Cruise’s character in the Doug Liman directed time thriller Edge of Tomorrow (Jun 6) even has one of those cool exoskeleton suits! Meanwhile, over on the CW, the military is also no match for invading aliens in Star-Crossed (Feb 17), only these aliens have equality politics, not war machines, on their side, earning them the right to attend American high school.
Prediction accuracy? Medium. Microbial alien life is still a big mystery—let alone the world-destroying kind. But the futuristic weapons used in Edge of Tomorrow, like Cruise’s exoskeletal suit, are already on their way to being reality.
5. In the future, apes will ride horses.
A new breed of super-smart apes, the result of an Alzheimer’s experiment gone horribly awry, want our disease-ravaged planet for themselves in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (May 23), the sequel to the James Franco reboot, Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
Prediction accuracy? Unlikely. Given that the science in the film is a big pile of fiction, we don’t expect to see apes on horses anytime soon. But maybe that’s just wishful thinking.
6. In the future, robots will replace cops.
Would the world be safer if we removed human error from our security forces? That’s the thinking behind Fox’s Almost Human (returns Jan 6) where human cops have been paired with emotionless androids to fight vicious street gangs in 2024. Meanwhile, the reboot of the 1980s film Robocop (Feb 12) features a half-human-half-robot cyborg to stop crime in 2028 Detroit.
Prediction accuracy? Unlikely. Even if we do develop human-like robots—or cyborg technology—we doubt it will be in the next 10-14 years. A crime fighting iPhone, perhaps?
7. In the future, Mila Kunis will be the savior of the universe.
Problem is, she doesn’t even know it yet! Well, her character Jupiter in the Wachowskis’ new fantasy epic Jupiter Ascending (Jul 18) doesn’t, anyway. That is, until an alien played by Channing Tatum comes to Earth to save her. If Kunis isn’t your idea of a savior, don’t worry—she won’t be the only Earthling to save the world at cinemas in 2014. A buff Chris Pratt of Parks and Recreation fame steps into the shoes of Peter Quill, the leader of a ragtag group of ex-cons, for Guardians of the Galaxy (Aug 1).
Prediction accuracy? Pure fantasy. Maybe it’s a little self-centered of us to believe the fate of the known universe would all come down to some wisecracking human. But then again, we did think the sun revolved around the Earth for a few millennia. And Mila Kunis is a pretty good-looking human to pin our fates on.