It’s not been scientifically proven, but the majority of predictions of the future that cinema tends to throw at us tend to be on the grim and downbeat side.
After a year that most of us could charitably describe as a ‘challenge’, it’s with some trepidation we examination there the predictions of where forward-thinking filmmakers figures we’d be here in 2021.
Here, if you believe in what the movies tell us, is what’s to come in the year ahead…
The world’s going to end!
Well, we may as well get it over with early. There’s not a packed shelf of movies that try and squeeze some kind of romantic comedy into the end of times, but credit the impressive Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World for making a decent fist of it.
Steve Carell and Keira Knightley headline Lorene Scafaria’s film, which sadly brings us the news that an asteroid is set to strike the Earth and end all life. Basically: we’ve made it all the way through 2020, just so we can be obliterated in 2021.
A smashing start to this list, am sure you’ll agree. Spoiler: it doesn’t get cheerier fast.
Aliens will invade and want to kill us
Had Covid not wreaked its havoc, then John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place – Part II would have made it to cinemas in April 2020 and perhaps told a jollier tale to Part I. The first movie was set across 2020 and 2021, so it’s fair to assume that the actions towards the end of the original took place this year. Not wishing to go particularly spoiler-y, a few recommendations.
One, try not to talk about a whisper. Two, don’t rustle crisp packets. Three, avoid nails. Four, be keenly aware that for the next year if you make too much noise a CG alien may rip you apart.
Read more: The best horror films of 2020
Part II is now set for Easter. Do not expect too many smiles.
Sentient machines will want all the power
Christopher Nolan’s long-time director of photography Wally Pfister made his directorial debut back in 2014 with the science fiction flick Transcendence. In it, Johnny Depp plays a man who is an artificial intelligence expert and researcher, who wants to create a sentient machine.
This does not go down well, people try and kill him, but through – again, spoiler-light – some plot stuff, he wants to acquire knowledge and power. Lots and lots of knowledge and power. The world is thus under threat, and Johnny Depp is very much in the headlines of it. Moving on.
The planet’s doomed
It’s not getting cheerier yet.
Back in 2003, Danish director Thomas Vinterberg foresaw a 2021 where the planet has been ravaged by climate change. A world where it snows in summer, and where people are willing to made a trans-continental journey in order to get divorce papers signed. Cinema and escapism: it’s the best.
The film in question is the all-but-forgotten about It’s All About Love (a collaboration between several nations made over five years). Joaquin Phoenix, Claire Danes, Sean Penn and Douglas Henshall are the English-speaking cast of the film, which then adds in a few clones to potentially eradicate the need for a human for good measure. A bit of kicking us all down really.
The internet is not to be trusted
Keanu Reeves may have starred in science fiction movies that have resonated more, but 1995’s Johnny Mnemonic, based on the story by William Gibson, feels eerily on the mark. What does it teach us? Well, basically, if you’re sending information across the internet, then there’s a sporting chance that somebody’s going to try and nick your data. Who knew?
Which is where Reeve’s Johnny comes in. Rather than sending that important file via Dropbox or WeTransfer, the world of 2021 now sees couriers such as he having data storage implanted into their brains. That way, they can securely take data from A to B.
Mind you, the fact that Johnny’s brain has a capacity of 80GB might be a struggle, although compression techniques double its capacity. Could use some of that on the new Xbox.
The key takeway from all of this is that there’s a version of 2021 out there somewhere where Keanu Reeves will come to you and offer to take your data away. Given lots of us are looking for glimmers of hope at that moment, we’d contend that’s not a bad place to start.
We’re all moving to the moon!
If you subscribe to the theory that we’ve knackered the planet and 2020 was the Earth’s revenge, then spin a copy of Hammer’s 1969 sci-fi flick Moon Zero Two. In this one, humans are in the midst of colonising the moon, with a view of sending humans to live there.
Still, wouldn’t you know it, there’s a rich person interfering. In this case, Warren Mitchell’s J J Hubbard, who spots a quick buck and comes up with a ruse to capture an asteroid made of valuable material. It breaks the law, but he’s rich, so there’s a sporting chance he’s going to get away with it.
The film was billed on its poster as ‘the first moon western’. Hardly a crowded subgenre that. Moral of this particular story: if anyone offers you a lunar condo, check there’s not a money-grabbing future sitcom star behind the plan.
Charlize Theron wants to be president
Who’s the hero we need to drag us away from all the misery the movies want to inflict on us? Well, it might just be President Charlize Theron. The film Long Shot sees her co-starring with Seth Rogen and a heavily-disguised Andy Serkis as a media mogul for whom human beings are collateral damage. It also posits that in 2020, the President of the United States is a former television star who… no, let’s leave that.
Anyway: not to give the ending of the film away, but the movie takes place in 2020, and the thrust of its underlying narrative is Theron’s bid to be sworn in as the new US President come the start of 2021.
Separately, we learn that Seth Rogen will self-gratify in front of a laptop at the end of 2020, and thus there’s a chance too he will continue the practice in 2021 as well. Thankfully, not even the deleted scenes of Long Shot explore that further.
Only by watching the film will you know if America will get its first female president – according to the movies at least – this very year…