Just a couple of weeks ago, we officially passed the time frame that the original 'Blade Runner' film was set in (November 2019, for those who aren't movie nerds), and it got me to thinking: what other movie milestones are we on the cusp of hitting as we enter a new year?
I know movies aren't real (duh!), but there's something about reaching a date that was previously only imagined on the silver screen that feels interesting to me - I love seeing how the real world stacks up to what Hollywood thought things might be like by now. Let's take a look at what we've got supposedly got coming to us in the year 2020!
1) Mission to Mars (2000)
First up, we've got 'Mission to Mars,' a sci-fi adventure film that imagines the first manned Mars exploration mission occurring in 2020. An initial crew of astronauts led by Don Cheadle finds a massive structure of crystallized water on Mars before natural calamities kill everyone but Cheadle.
A secondary rescue crew is dispatched from the nearby World Space Station and after suffering a few more dramatic casualties, they decode an encrypted signal that opens up a secret chamber on Mars. That's where they find a message from Mars' previous inhabitants saying that the planet was once teeming with life before an asteroid hit it. The world's inhabitants all evacuated to another planet, but not before also sending DNA to kickstart life on a young planet Earth. Humanity is descended from Martians, and one of the astronauts (Gary Sinise) accepts an invitation to visit the Martians' new homeworld.
What They Got Right: Most of the human tech in the film is actually not too far off from things we have now, and we do have a completed International Space Station (which was only pretty recently launched back when the film was released). We still haven't had a manned mission to Mars yet, though NASA expects it to happen by around 2030.
2) Reign of Fire (2002)
This was legit one of my favorite movies when it came out. Christian Bale and Matthew McConaughey fighting dragons in a post-apocalyptic future? Hell yes!
Essentially, the plot is that at some point in the early 2000s, construction on the London Underground opens up a deep underground cave where a dragon had been hibernating for eons. The dragon wakes up, global calamity ensues. Apparently, dragons are what killed the dinosaurs, then went to sleep while Earth repopulated so they could f*** s*** up all over again when they re-awaken. Mankind tries to fight, and even uses nukes in the 2010s, but that only hastens our demise and by 2020 humanity is nearly extinct.
Christian Bale's character leads a small band of survivors whose dreary existence is shaken up by the arrival of an American (McConaughey) and his crew who claim to know how to kill dragons. Bale and McConaughey butt heads as two alphas for a while, but eventually figure out that there is only one male dragon worldwide (the one woken up at the start of the film) - if they kill it, the threat will be over. After some more alpha headbutting and posturing about who's in command and who's got the best plans, they team up and get the job done, although McConaughey's character dies in the process.
What They Got Right: Well... expansion on the London Underground has been a pretty constant thing. Oh, and that humanity would respond to a serious threat by bombing the s*** out of it regardless of a potential nuclear winter that screws us over. This is not a film trying to ground itself too hard in reality, and there's nothing wrong with that.
3) G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009)
Like any self-respecting young lad who grew up in the 90s, I was hugely into G.I. Joe back in the day! I must've had several dozen action figures, vehicles, and playsets back in the day, and I spent hours concocting elaborate battles between good and evil where the good guys always won and the bad guys almost always got redeemed into becoming good guys too. EVERYONE'S A GOOD GUY IN MY CHILDHOOD FANTASY.
Full disclosure - as an adult, I definitely cared a lot less about G.I. Joe and I have not watched the films (though I probably will at this point). As far as I know, 'G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra' is set in 2020, where a scientist develops weaponized nanomites that eat anything in their path. He then puts these nanites into four warheads, and most of the movie is about the good guys losing said warheads to the bad guys and then going out and getting them back. Lots of cool near-future weapons and armor, tons of action and explosions, the scientist turns out to be evil and one of the bad guys defects to the good guys at the end (HASBRO WAS LISTENING TO ME! YAY!), and we end with a sequel teaser about a double-agent President who's secretly Cobra.
What They Got Right: As of now, some of the technology in the movie is still a little far off, but not by much! The Army has actually been developing various exo-suits to grant soldiers the ability to perform at "superhuman" levels. Nanotechnology is also definitely a very real and exciting new frontier of science, though it's not nearly as advanced as it's portrayed in the movie. Finally, we've got a President who's faced accusations of working for Russia, so who the f*** knew 'G.I. Joe' would end up being a source of political commentary?
4) Real Steel (2011)
'Real Steel' takes place in a future where boxers have been replaced by robots. Essentially, this is "Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots: The Movie." Hugh Jackman plays a former actual boxer who now owns a fighting robot. He's in trouble with a bookie/promoter for money he owes, and also recently discovered that his ex-girlfriend is dead so now he actually has to talk to his estranged son. Thankfully, a rich aunt and uncle will essentially settle his debts and take the kid, provided Jackman can just watch him for a few months first.
Jackman and his kid find a new robot in the scrap heap and rebuild it together - a fun father-son project centered around robotics and violence - and the bot turns out to be pretty good and also has a rare feature that lets it "shadow" its user's body movements (more on this later). The Jackman and the kid win a few fights with the bot and make it to a big-time fight and win that too. There, they challenge the current world champ to a fight but Jackman and the kid get estranged again shortly after. The kid says he really wished his dad would fight for him.
Eventually, the big fight with the champ arrives and Jackman's bot barely survives through the first few rounds, taking a serious beating along the way. After its regular control functions are damaged, Jackman takes over the bot in its aforementioned "shadow" mode. Now literally fighting for his son, Jackman slips into his old boxing knowledge and manages to beat the champ bloody. Sadly, he still loses the judges' decision but is still hailed as the "People's Champion."
What They Got Right: Robotic combat is actually a thing, with several leagues around the world. We also have some rudimentary human-piloted mech suits in existence. We're still a few years behind on some of the tech seen in the film, but it's around the corner.
5) Pacific Rim (2013)
'Pacific Rim' is basically 'Transformers' meets 'Godzilla' meets 'The Matrix.' In the film, an interdimensional portal opens up beneath the Pacific Ocean and giant monsters collectively called "Kaiju" spew out from it and wreck s***. Humanity responds by building giant robots called "Jaegers" to fight them. The robots are piloted by multiple human pilots who must be mentally linked (this is the semi, sightly 'Matrix'-ish part) together.
While most of the film takes place in 2025, a key part of the main character's origin story takes place during a Kaiju-Jaeger showdown in 2020.
The plot is essentially, "How do we nuke the portal at the bottom of the sea?" while a bunch of seriously f***ing awesome CGI robot-monster fights happen. You're not watching this because it's Shakespeare. It's Transformers vs. Godzilla and it's honestly pretty fun.
What They Got Right: The film "predicted" a portal opening up several years before 2020 so obviously that never happened. As I mentioned earlier though, we do have some early-stage mecha suits, and we have seen some giant robot fights.
6) Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
In 'Edge of Tomorrow,' an alien race known as "Mimics" lands on Earth in 2015 and proceeds to conquer most of Europe. In 2020, humanity's United Defense Force finally scores a victory against the Mimics through the use of mech-suits (am I sensing a theme here? The future is mech suits, clearly) at the battle of Verdun. Tom Cruise plays a non-combat soldier who gets roped into a hopeless battle where he kills an alien but also dies himself as a result of getting sprayed with the alien's blood.
At this point, the film turns into 'Groundhog Day,' and Cruise keeps reliving the day he died over and over again - picking up some cool fighting skills along the way. He eventually meets Emily Blunt's character, a hero of the Verdun battle, who eventually finds out Cruise's looper ability. She reveals she won the Verdun battle for the same reason - she was also sprayed with alien blood and the aliens have the ability to reset time whenever they lose so they can eventually figure out a way to win. Cruise and Blunt use this knowledge over the course of many loops to finally get a major win over the aliens.
What They Got Right: As I mentioned earlier on, the use of exoskeleton and mech suits has been something that armies have been toying with for a few years now. What we have available today is obviously not as advanced as what's seen in the film, but it's cool to think we're getting close.
7) A Quiet Place (2018)
'A Quiet Place' was the surprise horror hit of 2018. Shot on a relatively modest (by Hollywood standards) budget, the film was able to turn the sound of silence into some serious ka-ching at the box office.
The film starts in the early part of 2020 with a race of aliens quickly wiping out most of Earth's human and animal life. The aliens, who are sightless, hunt by using their extremely developed sense of hearing, killing anything that makes a sound. The aliens' nearly-impenetrable skin also makes them virtually impossible to kill.
The plot centers around a family - headed up by real-life couple John Krasinski and Emily Blunt - surviving in this new world with their kids, one of whom is deaf. They have largely adapted to life, partially due to a hard lesson they learned after one of their kids was killed early on.
There are some really scary moments when Blunt's character has to give birth in total silence as an alien stalks around right next to her, but the family eventually discovers that the deaf daughter's hearing implant can actually emit a frequency that disorients the creatures and causes them to expose a weak spot in their armor where they can be killed.
What They Got Right: Other than the whole "aliens came and killed everyone" thing, this film is pretty much set in the world we know and (sorta) love today.
8) Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)
The most recent entry to this list is 'Terminator: Dark Fate' which came out in November of 2019. It turns out that the threat of Skynet was just replaced by a different AI called "Legion," which went ahead and followed pretty much the same procedure of using robot soldiers called Terminators to kill and enslave humanity.
A plot summary for this film is virtually impossible without significant references to events from previous films (this being the sixth film in the franchise), but suffice it to say that it's about evil robots who come back in time to kill humanity's future leaders, and the good robots/people who go back in time to save them.
What They Got Right: The film's version of present-day existence isn't really too different from what we know, though their version of the future/alternate timelines obviously differs pretty drastically. As of now, the closest we've come to potential robot soldiers who could one day kill us all is the crazy s*** Boston Dynamics is doing.