Old Futuristic Movies Whose Futures We've Passed

Most of the visions of the future from old movies have not completely come to be. Flying cars are still a sci-fi dream, and no one has set foot on a distant planet, let alone colonized it. It's fun to dream, though, and even more fun to revisit retro visions of what people thought was just ahead. Here are 15 future movies we've passed in time.

Now that the future has passed in these movies, it’s interesting to see which aspects came to fruition. Perhaps computers do not have the capability to be self-aware and murderous like HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey, yet consumers are more dependent now on their personal technology than ever. Just ask the table of people eating dinner out at a restaurant who can’t stop checking their phones. Or any driver that still needs to use their GPS systems to find a location that they’ve been to a dozen times.

But for every movie that got the future wrong, there are a few that guessed some things right. Imagine the dystopian Big Brother-type world predicted in the science fiction film 1984. Even though humans do not live in a society where free thought is banned and falling in love is a crime, one can’t argue that government security and surveillance doesn't heavily exist in everyday life.

Check out both the hilarious futures from old movies and the ones that came pretty close to getting the future right. Then share some of your favorite future movies whose times we passed in the comments section below.


  • Free Thought Is Illegal
    Photo: Columbia Pictures

    The Film: 1984 (1956)

    Takes Place: 1984

    The Futuristic Vision: Based on George Orwell's 1949 high school literature staple, the Michael Anderson-directed movie of the same name reveals the dystopian totalitarian world of 1984. In the movie, Big Brother sees everything and free thought is illegal. The job of the film's protagonist Winston Smith is to rewrite history the way the government wants its people to see it. Trouble begins when Winston falls in love with Julia – as falling in love is a crime punishable by way of torture. 

    Prediction Accuracy: Although surveillance in the name of national security may seem an awful lot like Big Brother, free thought is still legal and so is falling in love.

  • Teen Accidentally Creates Paradox
    Photo: Universal Pictures

    The Film: Back to the Future Part II (1989)

    Takes Place: 1955, 1985, 2015

    The Futuristic Vision: Doc (Christopher Lloyd) sends Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) into the future (2015) in order to save his son from going to prison. However, when Marty returns to 1985, he realizes that what he did in the future has greatly affected the past (his present). Most troubling of all, Biff (Thomas F. Wilson) is a rich casino owner and now married to Marty's mom. Marty then has to travel back to where he was in the first film, 1955, to make sure Biff doesn't get his hands on the sports almanac that made him rich.

    Prediction Accuracy: Scientists haven't been able to figure out the whole time travel thing yet. And while the film accurately predicted the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series, such amenities as instant pizza, flying cars, auto-fitting shoes, hoverboards, and floating signs are still just dreams.

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  • Computers Become Sentient
    Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

    The Film: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

    Takes Place: Millions of years ago; 2001

    The Futuristic Vision: In a nutshell, Stanley Kubrick's sci-fi epic is about evolution. The film starts millions of years ago when evolution begins on the planet Earth with the placing of a monolith. Fast forward millions of years, and another monolith is discovered on the Moon signaling another step in evolution. The next part of the movie takes place a few months later when a five man crew and the computer HAL (who claims to be incapable of error) take off on a mission to Jupiter, where the fight essentially becomes man versus machine in an attempt to find the next step in evolution. 

    Prediction Accuracy: Just one year after 2001: A Space Odyssey hit the big screen, man walked on the Moon for the first time (unless you believe the conspiracy theory that Kubrick made a fake video of the Apollo 11 moon landing). Today, computers are not self-aware nor villainous like HAL, who was able to read lips and plan a murder. However, you certainly cannot argue with how attached people have become to technology.

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  • Man Creates Life
    Photo: Universal Pictures

    The Film: Frankenstein (1931)

    Takes Place: The book takes place in the late 1700s, but the film most likely takes place in the middle part of the 20th century

    The Futuristic Vision: Adapted from Mary Shelley's 1818 novel of the same name, this classic monster movie features scientist Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) and his humpback assistant Fritz (Dwight Frye) as they set out to construct a human man by piecing together dead body parts. They are then able to give life to the creature with a jolt of electricity. The major problem is that the feeble-minded Fritz mistakenly puts the brain of a murderer into Frankenstein's monster (Boris Karloff).

    Prediction Accuracy: So far, scientists have not been able to create human life with dead body parts. However, doctors have been able to take certain organs from the deceased and successfully place them into sick patients in need.

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  • Aversion Therapy "Cures" Violence
    Photo: Warner Bros.

    The Film: A Clockwork Orange (1971)

    Takes Place: 1995

    The Futuristic Vision: A Clockwork Orange was adapted from Anthony Burgess's 1962 novel of the same name. Stanley Kubrick's British dystopian crime movie follows Alex (Malcolm McDowell), a  young sociopath convicted of rape and murder. While he is in prison, in order to get his sentence reduced, Alex volunteers to participate in an experimental program using the Ludavico Technique. The goal of the aversion therapy is to change Alex's violent behavior by using his favorite classical music and juxtaposing it with horrifying imagery.

    Prediction Accuracy: Aversion therapy is a psychiatric tool used with varied results. The film also centers on the issues of youth and the problems with extreme rioting, which is certainly prevalent today, though perhaps not to the degree shown in the film.

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  • Time Travel Is Just Another Job

    Time Travel Is Just Another Job
    Photo: Universal Pictures

    The Film: Timecop (1994)

    Takes Place: 2004

    The Futuristic Vision: Timecop exists in a world where self-driving cars and time travel represent the norm. Because time travel is so prevalent, an agency called Time Enforcement Commission (TEC) is established to regulate time travel so it's not used illegally to alter future events. Max (Jean-Claude van Damme) works as a Time Cop and must stop a crooked politician who changes the past in order to control his future.

    Prediction Accuracy: While self-driving cars are not yet the standard mode of transportation, they do exist. However, time travel does not seem any closer today than when the movie was made in 1994.