When we think about apocalyptic, dystopian futures, we don’t like to imagine them happening anytime soon. However, plenty of dark movies about the future were set in 2017, or, at least, the era their creators imagined as 2017. Populated wizards to leather-clad bounty hunters and deadly game show contestants, how does the cinematic version of 2017 stack up?
7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2
If only the real 2017 took place in the same universe as Harry Potter. That would mean he Who Must Not Be Named is already a distant memory — sort of. It seems Harry and Ginny Weasley, along with best buds Hermione and Ron, saw their kids off to Hogwarts to the first time in the infamous “19 Years Later” epilogue of the latter Deathly Hallows in 2017.
Nearly Headless Nick apparently celebrates his 500th deathday in Chamber of Secrets with his cake saying he died in 1492, meaning Harry’s second year was 1992 to 1993. The Battle of Hogwarts takes place at the end of Harry’s seventh year, which would be 1998. Add 19 years to that and it’s 2017. But this year isn’t all peachy for Potter. Technically, the events of Cursed Child pick right up where the Deathly Hallows epilogue left off, which (spoilers) means He Who Shall Not Be Named isn’t quite as gone as we think.
Stuart Gordon’s schlocky 1992 film Fortress, starring Christopher “how-do-I-keep-getting-work-in-Hollywood” Lambert is a surprisingly prescient story about privatized prisons. Lambert’s character John Henry Brennick and his wife Karen (Loryn Locklin) are forced to cross the U.S.-Canada border for her to give birth after they violate the country’s strict one-child policy. They haul Lambert back to serve time in an underground prison owned by an evil conglomerate which keeps its inmates in line using mind control and conveniently nasty devices called “intestinators” that inflict severe pain with the push of a button. This kind of thing isn’t happening yet, but considering the President-elect’s views on torture who knows what will happen in 2017 and beyond.
5. Cherry 2000
Don’t be fooled by the number in the title, this post-apocalyptic jaunt starring Melanie Griffith from 1987 takes place 30 years later. It envisions a bizarre 2017 where simple human interaction and dating are an absolute nightmare. Men are self-involved pigs, women are conceited harpies, and a meaningful relationship can only happen through complicated litigation. The future — sexually speaking — sucks. The movie’s solution? Sex robots called “gynoids,” of course! Don’t expect this hopelessly dated sci-fi cheese-fest to address this kind of thing with a thematically robust Westworld-esque approach, but give it props for life finding a way when the main character chooses Griffith’s strong lead character over a bot.
4. Terminator Genisys
Remember this fifth Terminator movie? Yeah, unfortunately we do too. It’s somehow a worse retelling of the movie James Cameron did impeccably well in 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and director Jonathan Mostow did less well but still competently enough in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (there was also Terminator: Salvation, but let’s just not even with that one). Trying to explain the continuity of the annoyingly titled Genisys should earn you Pulitzer Prize or something equivalent, but just bear with us.
This time the original Judgment Day has been altered from 1997 to 2017, sending badass commando Sarah Connor and her freedom fighter main squeeze Kyle Reese to the latter year to try and stop it evil computer system Skynet (which is now called Genisys for some reason) from destroying the planet. They stop the threat, which also weirdly enough is an evil robotic version of John Connor, previously seen as humanity’s savior. But a mid-credits sequence basically spoils it all as Skynet or Genisys or whatever it’ll be called in the next one is seen as still operational. According to the Terminator franchise, the future always gets worse.
When you think of this year, please think of Adam Sandler. On second thought, don’t. The funnyman, now relegated to patently unfunny extended fart jokes on Netflix that definitionally qualify as “movies,” ushered in the twilight of his once sterling cinematic reign with 2006’s Click, wherein the SNL alum can move back and forth through time using a magic TV remote. He zips to 2017 in one section of the movie and makes such dated jokes as everybody in 2017 is obese, Britney Spears has nearly two dozen children, Michael Jackson is alive and well, and Adam Sandler is still funny. The only thing Click has to say about 2017 is that most cord-cutters have become savvy enough to use their remotes to turn the movie off.
2. Barb Wire
The high point of Pamela Anderson’s big-screen career is also a low point for the year 2017. Leather-costumed cleavage abounds, but so does a trusty post-apocalyptic storyline about the fallout from a second Civil War that also happens to be loosely based on the plot of Casablanca. Barb (Anderson) owns a nightclub in a place called Steel Harbor, the last completely free city in the country following the debilitating wars, but wouldn’t you know she also earns her keep as a scantily clad bounty hunter who happens to be a feminist icon too. For how goofy it is, it’s the definition of a schlocky cult classic, and honestly parts of it would be preferable to the foreseeable future we’re looking at in real life.
1. The Running Man
Reality TV is king. It — sadly — birthed the U.S. President-elect, and it’s also kind of the point of some of the biggest blockbusters of the past decade like The Hunger Games. But this prescient 1987 film, adapted from a Stephen King novel of the same name, is about a future 2017 where all other cultural activity is censured besides a gameshow where convicted criminals called “runners” (the lead is played by Arnold Schwarzenegger) must escape death by trying to outwit professional killers. Considering the sensationalized media landscape of real life, it seems like King was more like Nostradamus with this one.