Eric's Top 10 Movies That Prove the Future Will Suck

by Eric Melin on March 18, 2008

in Top 10s

Alfonso Cuaron’s masterful “Children of Men,” the best film of 2006, takes place in a not-too-distant future where women are unable to give birth and the planet is dying out. It’s a metaphor for the way things are going today. Everybody is so excited to look into the future, but if art is truly a reflection of our culture, then these movies prove that we should be lucky we’re not going to be around to see the next century. The world is going to pot, so to speak, and these films are way ahead of the game. Excepting “Children of Men,” here are some other interesting movies that prove the future will suck. Celebrate your mortality because it’s all downhill from here, kids. On J.D.’s turn to spruce up his list, he made a few changes, but have no fear, the dragons are still making the cut. Read J.D.’s “Top 10 Movies that Prove the Future Will Suck” here.

simmons selleck runaway10 ½. Runaway (1984)

The tagline for this campy sci-fi thriller, which takes itself far too seriously to realize how funny it really is: “It Is The Future. He fought the horror of robots programmed to kill.” Tom Selleck is a cop who must contend with housekeeping robots who look like dishwashers and accidentally kill the families they are supposed to be assisting. KISS bassist/reality TV star Gene Simmons is a nasty man named Luther (Lucifer=Devil=Satan) who makes smart-missle bullets that can follow people around corners and mechanical spiders that hop around and squirt poisonous venom. It all adds up to loads of ridiculous fun, and a really sucky future where novelist Michael Crichton is allowed to continue directing movies.

Luther: That wasn’t very nice, Ramsay!

yul brenner westworld10. Westworld (1973)

More Crichton silliness. In this imaginative-but-laughable dystopia, Yul Brynner’s Wild West outlaw robot takes a licking and keeps on ticking. He is stuck in a fun-filled theme park where robots mingle with humans and, for recreation, the humans can do whatever they please. Every day Brynner’s robot is shot to shit by wealthy assholes who want to live out their John Wayne fantasies. When Brynner’s robot brain finally decides he’s Dee Snider and he’s not going to take it anymore, he fights back! It’s kind of like the evil KISS robots at the theme park in “KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park,” but without all the KISS.

Interviewer of Delos Guests: [voiceover] Why don’t you make arrangements to take our hovercraft to Medieval World, Roman World and Westworld. Contact us today, or see your travel agent. Boy, have we got a vacation for you.

original terminator 1984 cameron9. The Terminator (1984)

Although this future is glimpsed only briefly in James Cameron’s original sci-fi suspense thriller, it consists of a brutal war between man and machine, and the machines are kicking our asses. Those soulless hunks of metal think they are so smart that they’ve sent one back in time to kill our leader’s mom and stop him from ever being born. Their evil machine stayed, of course—and continued to kill lots of bad guys and utter punny catch phrases post-kill, eventually becoming the governor of California. Now, if we could only go back in time to find his mother.

The Terminator: I’m a friend of Sarah Connor. I was told she was here. Could I see her please?
Desk Sergeant: No, you can’t see her she’s making a statement.
The Terminator: Where is she?
Desk Sergeant: It may take a while. Want to wait? There’s a bench over there
The Terminator: [looks around then looks back at him] I’ll be back!

alphaville godard8. Alphaville (1965)

Jean Luc-Godard directs an unusual black-and-white sci-fi noir with very little costumes, special effects, or set design. Its chilling effect comes from a grating soundtrack, stark cinematography, and the mechanical manner of its characters. “Alphaville” is a confusing and truly disturbing movie that opines that, in the future, we may have a lot less of the traits that we closely identify with human beings.

Natacha Von Braun: You’re looking at me very strangely.
Lemmy Caution: Yes.
Natacha Von Braun: You’re waiting for me to say something to you.
Lemmy Caution: Yes.
Natacha Von Braun: I don’t know what to say. They’re words I don’t know. I wasn’t taught them. Help me.
Lemmy Caution: Impossible. Help yourself; then you will be saved. If you don’t, you’re as lost as the dead of Alphaville.
Natacha Von Braun: I… love… you. I love you.

costner postman7. The Postman (1997)

Sometimes it is hard to see how certain pictures ever get greenlit. Here is a truly terrifying post-apocalyptic version of the future from Oscar-winning director Kevin Costner (he who dances with wolves!) where delivering mail is the noblest profession of all and Tom Petty pops up dressed like he was in his “You Got Lucky” video, minus the cool song, or his 4X4 with sidecar. This lame-ass “Road Warrior”-ripoff-looking future really sucks ass.

Postman: I know you. You’re… famous.
Tom Petty: I was once… sorta.

General Bethlehem: You see the reason you don’t want to die for anything is because you have nothing to die for. That’s the difference between you and me. You don’t believe in anything.
The Postman: I believe in the United States.

ghost in the shell6. Ghost in the Shell (1995)

Rather than simply creating robots to do the things we don’t want to do, the humans in this strikingly original anime classic from Mamoru Oshii simply use robot parts to fix their own bodies. Consequently, “life” takes on a different meaning, since very little human parts are left on anybody. The future truly sucks in this movie, but it looks cool as hell. It’s refreshing to see old school drawn animation (rather than the computer animation that’s so prevalent these days that its now the status quo) with visual inventiveness to spare.

Batô: Chief, you ever question the ethics of the neurosurgeons who monkey around inside your brain?
Section 9 Department Chief Aramaki: They undergo psychiatric evaluations, especially those in security. They’re subjected to a stringent screening of their personal lives. Of course, the ones who check are only human.
Batô: I guess once you start doubting, there’s no end to it.

a.i. artificial inelligence osment kubrick5. A.I.:Artificial Intelligence (2001)

Humans are selfish assholes who blow up robots for fun at state fairs, and Haley Joel Osment is an android who just wants to be loved—is that so wrong? The film’s first fake-out ending is bleak, as the poor little android is left at the bottom of the ocean forever. Many people complained about the ending that directly followed because it seemed to give us the warm, fuzzy feeling of a typical Spielberg movie (and it seemed tacked on). If you really think about it, though, (SPOILER ALERT) having the kid see a fake version of his mother for only a day before he lives forever without ever seeing her again is a far bleaker ending that’s more depressing and twisted—in a sick, virtual reality way.

David: Mommy? Will you die?
Monica: Well, one day, David, yes, I will.
David: I’ll be alone.
Monica: Don’t worry yourself so.
David: How long will you live?
Monica: For ages. For 50 years.
David: I love you, Mommy. I hope you never die. Never.

heston soylent green4. Soylent Green (1973)

The future sucks all the way through this B-movie camp classic, which features people eating green slop like horses from a trough, and no less than Edward G. Robinson (”Little Caesar,” “Double Indemnity”) slumming it, big time. But it all really comes down to Charlton Heston at the end, screaming at the top of his lungs. If you haven’t seen it, I don’t want to reveal it, but then again, I don’t know if I can recommend sitting through the entire film to hear just one pristine, ever-quotable Shatner-worthy moment from Mr. Heston.

Richard: …is brought to you by Soylent red and Soylent yellow, high energy vegetable concentrates, and new, delicious, Soylent green. The miracle food of high-energy plankton gathered from the oceans of the world.

alex clockwork orange mcdowell kubrick3. A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Stanley Kubrick adapts Anthony Burgess’ novel, creating a whole slew of dumbasses who misconstrue the film’s meaning by glorifying its brusque style of violence. When I saw Motley Crue include the movie’s rape scene in a montage of “cool violence” at a concert on their Generation Swine tour, I knew things were only getting worse. When I witnessed the audience cheering and whooping to the images, I realized they already have.

Alex: There was me, that is Alex, and my three droogs, that is Pete, Georgie, and Dim, and we sat in the Korova Milkbar trying to make up our rassoodocks what to do with the evening. The Korova milkbar sold milk-plus, milk plus vellocet or synthemesc or drencrom, which is what we were drinking. This would sharpen you up and make you ready for a bit of the old ultra-violence.

blade runner tokyo japanese design2. Blade Runner (1982)

Ridley Scott was way ahead of the curve on this one, creating a production design that has yet to be topped in its absolute uniqueness. Using real-life futurist scholars as guides, he gave Philip K. Dick’s philosophical novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” the full treatment, creating backstories upon backstories for a world that changed the way we look at science fiction films. Humans have created replicants, and must retire them when they go bad, or “outlive their usefulness.” Advertisements are annoyingly blared from a neon cityscape that mirrors modern-day Tokyo, minus the flying machines. And poor Harrison Ford has poopy pants, wearing a perma-frown through the entire film.

Batty: I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.

brazil terry gilliam torture baby mask1. Brazil (1985)

Forget Terry Gilliam’s “12 Monkeys.” This is the real Gilliam deal. “Brazil” is an absolute classic, a darkly comic dystopian nightmare where a boring office drone lives a rich fantasy life flying through the air and fighting giant samurai warriors. Terrorist bombings abound (sound familiar?), and renegade air conditioner repairmen stalk the streets, helping the common man cut through inefficient bureaucracy. A family is issued a refund check when the government accidentally executes its father due to a typo error. On top of all that, true love does not conquer all.

Sam Lowry: Give my best to Alison and the twins.
Jack Lint: Triplets.
Sam Lowry: Triplets? My how time flies!

Eric is the Editor-in-Chief of and writes the Screen Stealers column for The Pitch. He’s President of the KCFCC, and drummer for The Dead Girls and Ultimate Fakebook. He is also Air Guitar World Champion Mean Melin. Eric goes to 11. Follow him at:

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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Alan Rapp March 18, 2008 at 11:02 am

What, no Demolition Man? That’s a pretty bleak f’ing future! (heh)
Seriously though, nice list, though I have to disagree with you (and Aaron) about the end of AI which you want to read somthing into to make it seem less lame. If the entire epilogue was cut, and the film ended in that underwater scence it would be a huge improvement.


2 Michael March 18, 2008 at 1:53 pm

You left off Robocop. The world will not be run by governments, but by large corporations that will control all of our necessities (including the police). The future as Robocop seems less far fetched then some of the movies listed here.


3 Logan Mauldin March 18, 2008 at 4:12 pm

Al Gore would have you place Waterworld on this list. It’s just An Inconvenient Truth on steroids.


4 ChrisKnudsen March 18, 2008 at 11:32 pm

Brazil is my all time favorite science fiction film. I did a 20 page paper in college about it. Isn’t that impressive? Ok, not really. Man, I want to rewatch that right now.


5 Reed March 19, 2008 at 12:44 am

“Poopy pants.” Heh.

Superb list! I can’t quibble with too much, though a mention of Futureworld would have been nice. (Westworld’s sequel which was pretty much the same damn movie all over again). Incidentally, a remake is supposedly in the works:

Thanks for not including:
Battlefield Earth
The Running Man (2017 is still the future – for now)
Roller Blade (worst movie I’ve ever seen –

But what about:
Planet of the Apes


6 Eric Melin March 19, 2008 at 1:39 am

Wow. You guys are sharp! I could easily expand this list with Robocop, Gattaca, Metropolis– all great films. (Did you hear a remake of Robocop has just been greenlit? Ugh.) Reed, Idiocracy is a very inspired choice. That future would really, really suck. Too bad Roller Blade was the worst movie you’ve ever seen, its imdb page makes it look kinda fun. Is it ‘worst’ in a good way, at least? Battlefield Earth was definitely that way…someday I’ll have to write about the drinking game we created for that one.


7 Reed March 19, 2008 at 11:27 am

To be honest, it’s been quite a while. Perhaps like Battlefield Earth, but in a really low-budget kinda way. Basically, if you left the house without your roller skates on, it pretty much meant someone was going to roll by and kill you because you’d be too slow. And there’s no Travolta to laugh at. And there’s a kid who can’t sake yet, so his dad pushes him around in a shopping cart. Apparently shopping carts survived the apocalypse.

In other words, more painful than funny, but perhaps I was still a surly youngster back then.


8 ben grimes March 19, 2008 at 12:23 pm

Eric, JD… its been a long time and I deeply miss drinking with you both. I love the site, and you have posted a list that I simply must comment on.
I propose that maybe ‘the postman’ is taking up valuable space on your list that ’12 monkeys’, ‘road warrior’, ‘thx-1138′, ’1984**’, ‘fahrenheit 451′, ‘logan’s run’ or ‘city of lost children’ might like to inhabit. I’d also like to officially endorse the aforetomentioned ‘metropolis’, ‘gattaca’, ‘delicatessen’ and ‘robocop’.
I have a very special place in my heart for Bleak and/or Hokey Sci-Fi, and I could probably geek-stretch this into a very cumbersome list. I choose not to.


** I acknowledge the fact that ’1984′ is not technically set in the future. now fuck off.


9 Eric Melin March 20, 2008 at 12:39 am

Hey Ben, good to hear from you!
The Postman is taking up all kinds of valuable space that another, better film could have inhabited, but that future really did suck and putting Tom Petty in your movie as himself from an 80s video is just too easy a target. About half of the list are pretty bad films. That said, Fahrenheit 451 is wholly appropriate (and it didn’t age well– it’s kinda obvious now) and would fit snugly right between Runaway and Westworld, which also appear on this list because of no other reason than they fit and I wanted to write about them! They still hold some sort of morbid fascination for me, I guess. Maybe we can have a dystopian nightmare list (able to take place in whatever time period you like!) and 1984 can be #1. You can never have too many lists…


10 Karl March 27, 2008 at 4:43 am

I would actually include Minority Report in there. It’s not explict, but the whole movie has this aura of creeping facism (pre-crime, adverts that lock onto your eyes and send you personal messages). The action covers most of it up but if you look for it it’s there.


11 Ammar Kalo March 27, 2008 at 4:53 am

what about Children of Men!!! … its one of the most realistic sci-fi movies ever!


12 Adrianne March 27, 2008 at 5:29 am

What about Dark City……..that would totally suck…those of you who have seen it will know what i’m talking about


13 Eric Melin March 27, 2008 at 7:02 am

I loved “Minority Report,” but there’s only so much room. Luckily, it was #1 on JD’s list and there is a healthy discussion about it over on the page. Read J.D.’s “Top 10 Movies that Prove the Future Will Suck” here.

Read the intro to this piece. “Children of Men” was at the top of my Best Movies of 2006 list.

I like the way you think. Now you have me wondering if there is something explicitly said in “Sin City” that places it in the future. For some reason I remember that there might be. Is there?


14 Joker March 27, 2008 at 8:01 am

No ‘Road Warrior’? Considering the times and our ever important emphasis on oil I am surprised this wasn’t mentioned.


15 Adam March 27, 2008 at 8:24 am

Prayer of the Rolllerboys!

People leaving the US for Mexico, Japan has bought and transported all of our Ivy League Universities overseas, everyone is taking the “Mist” which makes them go sterile “Day of the Rope.”


16 Dayv March 27, 2008 at 9:26 am

Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome
Escape From New York/L.A.

Just a couple more that prove the future will REALLY suck.


17 Sammy D March 27, 2008 at 10:43 am

Idiocracy should’ve at least been given an honorable mention. And the way gas/oil is going, we might be seeing some thunderdomes real soon.


18 John March 27, 2008 at 10:46 am

Great list. And I do agree with you on AI, which, with all its flaws, I loved. The ending is perfectly heartbreaking.


19 Eric Melin March 27, 2008 at 11:10 am

“The Road Warrior” is a great one. Kind of the template for Costner’s disasters “Waterworld” and “The Postman,” but without being almost unwatchable! Maybe Costner was more inspired by “Thunderdome” than “The Road Warrior.” That would make perfect sense!


20 Filmdoc March 27, 2008 at 11:18 am

There’s a Korean sci-fi noir called “Natural City” that takes place in the same future as “Blade Runner.” In this bleak urban world, one of the things the replicants (although they’re not called that) are used for is casual sex. Among many other things, the plot involves a burned=out cop who falls for a pleasure android, and his efforts to extend her lifespan. It’s about as dystopian as it gets. A brilliant film.


21 Mike March 27, 2008 at 11:53 am

What about Dark City, Escape from NY/LA,


22 Amy Peterson March 27, 2008 at 2:37 pm

What about Fifth Element?


23 MrsAsh March 27, 2008 at 3:00 pm

Yeah, Brazil is really the ultimate in bleak yet funny…. teh ending breaks my heart every time!


24 Brent Johnson March 27, 2008 at 4:45 pm

What about the “Matrix” movies. Being regarded as nothing more than CROPS by machines (thanks to a different “war with the machines)??


25 Eric Melin March 27, 2008 at 5:17 pm

Great comments!

Yeah, “The Matrix” is on JD’s list, which you can access from the top of the page or comment #13. Being a crop for machines is really sucky.

I remember “The Fifth Element” as being kind of fun? Am I offbase? I haven’t seen it since the theaters…

“Dark City” is a great movie. Again, humans as pawns. Yes. Really sucky indeed.


26 RickDVD March 27, 2008 at 5:58 pm

It’s BRYNNER…. Yul Brynner! Great list, but learn to spell!


27 Alex March 27, 2008 at 7:06 pm



28 Aranea March 27, 2008 at 10:09 pm

Pity that this list is restricted to 10 only missed some very noteworthy movies. Would have like to have seen included Equilibrium, Code 46, Gattaca & Minority Report.

To all those that vote for The Matrix – the future can only suck if you aware that its happening, all of the coppertops would be unaware that they are food for robots.


29 Alan Smithee March 27, 2008 at 11:20 pm

All good movies, but what about “Alien”? An all-powerful Company throws away a multimillion — multibillion? — dollar ore refinery, a tow ship and a crew of seven — six, plus Ash the android, if you want to be technical — to bring a known-to-be-deadly alien species back to Earth. Sounds like a pretty ugly future to me. Bonus: the space ships are just as nasty as cargo ships are today.


30 anonymous March 27, 2008 at 11:41 pm

How about “A Boy and His Dog”?


31 Shane May 29, 2008 at 1:42 pm

Planet Of The Apes


32 macedonia December 18, 2009 at 2:58 pm

hahaha robocop is actually a good movie that give us what future will bring. the world IS ruled by corporations if you didn’t know that :)


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