While they may have seemed futuristic at the time, some of our favorite movies have pretty funny or just completely outdated looks at what might have come. WatchMojo shows us 10 examples, and while I've got my own thoughts on this topic and how it's been treated here, check out the video for yourself:
What's actually impressive about a lot of these are the things they did get right. For example, the technology has finally caught up with the science fiction and we've got high quality video chat that allows us to converse with people all over the world from devices that fit in our pockets. While certain elements of this in Back to the Future II and Blade Runner do seem silly, they are grounded in reality enough to not seem that far-fetched (in fact, a better example from Back to the Future II that really missed the mark is the dehydrated pizza, but that's a different story). I actually think the fax machine example isn't the best one, especially with how prevalent fax machines still are in 2015 (Really, we have all the technology in the world, and somehow we're still dialing a number to send a piece of paper). I'll also bet the makers of all of these films couldn't have predicted 30 or more years later that we would not only still have vinyl records, but that they would be making a comeback.
Blade Runner got the payphone part of the equation wrong (and both movies got flying cars wrong — as did many others), but it works for the world that's been built. In some ways, Blade Runner is like an alternate version of our current reality, which is partly why it's still such an enjoyable film. In a lot of ways this is why Alien is still so good. Yes, the technology is dated, but it's weathered and beat-down in a way that allows us to suspend disbelief at just how old it really is. In fact, this was beautifully recreated in the game Alien: Isolation:
The wireframe examples are spot-on, and it's one of the dangers of writing something in your film that you don't really have the technology to pull off. If you're going to be dealing with spaceships or future cities, you have to make sure you get the post budget or have enough connections to actually pull off something that's photo-realistic. We're in a time now when the good CG can be indistinguishable from reality, so if you're trying to cut corners it's one of the first things that's going to date your movie. This is one of the reasons why I think even though some of the movies got the future a bit wrong, they still manage to entertain us because they're so grounded in the worlds that have been created, and they were forced to use lots of practical effects that have stood up better through the years than some of the earlier CG in the late 90s and early 2000s.
For example, while the new Fox show Minority Report certainly doesn't have the budget of the Steven Spielberg film, it's significantly newer and we've got far more advanced computer technology than we had back in 2002 when the movie was released. Even though it's based on a previously-created world, and they do have some money behind it, the show is likely going to feel dated long before the film does, probably due to the way it's shot, but also because the movie did a fantastic job combining practical and CG elements (something we're seeing less of as projects movie to completely CG worlds):
And to add some further fuel to the fire, trailers can actually do a pretty great job dating something that might otherwise not feel that way. Below we've got two versions of the trailer for the film, the first is one of the original trailers, and the second is a fan-made trailer from Taylor Chan:
So what's the real lesson in all of this? Is it to avoid the future at all costs if you don't have the budget (or even if you do)? In my opinion, I think the more grounded films have a better chance of being watchable in the years to come even if they get certain technologies wrong. The right practical effects at the right time can also be a benefit — one of the reasons the space battles of the original Star Wars films still hold up today. You may very well disagree with that, and there are likely cases that don't work, but if you're trying to create something that takes place in the future or on another world and you don't have the resources to pull it off, there's a good chance it's going to feel cheap and take your audience right out of the story. Good acting or a great story can make people forgive a lot (one of the reasons so many of the films above are still loved by so many people), but knowing the limits of what you have at your deposal can save you a ton of hurt in the end. On the other hand, if you're trying to make a B movie on purpose — have at it.
On a side note, not to pick on WatchMojo, but we've still got plenty of professional cameras that are just as big as the one from Death Race 2000, and they're being used on some of the biggest budget projects. The Alexa M, for example, has been used countless times in exactly that way, with a kitted out body on or near the shoulder and the larger recording/processing part worn as a backpack. But this video is meant for a mainstream audience, so I guess nitpicking is a little unfair...
What do you think about the video above and do you agree or disagree with any of the examples? Which futuristic-looking technologies do you feel are more dated than those above?