Between false alarms of nuclear bombings, the outing of predators, and a president who uses Twitter to address the country, 2018 feels like a dystopian future to many. Movies about the future did not prepare us for this type of world. According to movies set in 2018, we should be living in a desert wasteland, fighting each other to the death, and fending off an alien invasion in Europe. In a twisted way, 2018 according to science fiction helps alleviate some of the anxiety that accompanies living in actual 2018. Some of the things that works of science fiction predicted - such as a second civil war - are arguably more horrifying than the reality in which we live.
Some of the greatest science fiction films may not accurately predict the future, but they do serve as an advisory on how society can progress if certain elements are left unchecked. Plenty of predictions sci-fi has made in the past have not come to pass, and hopefully in the next year, none of these (with the exception of curing AIDS and cancer) will come to fruition, either.
The timeline of Terminator: Salvation places the infamous “Judgment Day” in the year 2004, but most of the main plot takes place 14 years later. Young John Connor has now grown into a Christian Bale-sized man, and mankind has been reduced to a few small communities by the ever-evolving hordes of Terminators. Salvation portrays the Skynet-produced robots as an evolving technology with the ability to create gigantic flying drones and near-human replicants. Fortunately, this is not just beyond modern human capability, but far beyond the abilities of the Skynet portrayed in the original trilogy.
Mad Max: Fury Road is a quasi-reboot that still functions as a sequel of the original Mad Max films, which means it adheres to the original franchise timeline. This puts the events of Fury Road in 2018, meaning that by now, we should have been living in a dystopian desert wasteland for decades. The world has long since dried up and run out of most usable resources, leaving its inhabitants with no decision but to create heavy metal warrior rigs and do battle on a desert landscape. Obviously.
Both the 1975 original and 2002 remake of Rollerball take place in the then-distant future of 2018. The dystopian world of Rollerball is controlled by something described as a “global corporate state." The giant companies all own Rollerball teams, using the barbaric bloodsport as a substitute for warfare and as a demonstration of the futility of individual effort. Corporations are disproportionately influential in today’s political system, and many of those same corporations do own teams in the NFL where players give each other brain damage in the name of entertainment. It's not exactly like Rollerball, but it is eerily similar.
Barb Wire was a box office flop, but it did offer some interesting predictions for the future. The film is set in the year 2017 when America is in the midst of a second civil war that has left only one “free city” remaining. America may not currently be experiencing a literal civil war, but it is more divided than ever after the results of the 2016 Presidential Election, making Barb Wire’s prediction borderline accurate.