Tossin’ It Out There: What’s YOUR favorite “Dystopian Future”?

12 monkeysMany films take a bleak look ahead at the eventual destination of society. The so-called “Dystopian future” often features miserable living conditions, repressive governments, or post-apocalyptic worlds.

The opposite of Utopia, Dystopia is a hell on earth. It’s a common setting for sci-fi films. “Blade Runner”, “12 Monkeys”, “Children of Men”… there’s no shortage of films that envision a world we would NOT want to live in.

What’s your favorite? Or least favorite, for that matter, since it’s a negative? “Dark City”? The Mad Max series? The Terminator films? Here’s a list of some for those in need of suggestions.

Whatever it is about a bleak future full of despair, Hollywood is at no shortage of films about it. Which ones are YOUR favorites?

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165 thoughts on “Tossin’ It Out There: What’s YOUR favorite “Dystopian Future”?

  1. If I had to name only one, it would be Escape from New York…or Blade Runner…or Children of Men. No wait, I pick Brazil. Yep, Brazil is my final answer. :D

  2. “Brazil”. It’s just not only to showcase how silly the future can be but also how drab it is where everything is supposed to work but it doesn’t while a mistake can impact a man’s life. Truly Terry Gilliam’s best film.

    • Yeah, I think it probably is. Catch me on a different day and I might argue 12 Monkeys just because its more accessible for a broader audience. Both are great movies though!

      And obviously, Brazil is a great answer here (actually, 12 Monkeys is too, LOL) and its been very popular today!

  3. My favorite would have to be The Matrix – man, I’d be plugging my brain into that all day long.

    Of course, I’d also hate to be trying to outrun the machines all my life, so if there’s future I’d NOT want to be in, it’s probably that one.

  4. 12 Monkeys, for sure. Terry Gilliam at his best. Bruce at his best. I love the scene when he’s in the car with Madeline Stowe and he smells the air. “You’ve got great air!” How simple and elegant that scene. Not to mention, Brad Pitt’s best performance ever….

    • Ohhhhh… I don’t know that I can agree with that LAST sentence. Pitt was great, no doubt, but I’m not sure it’s his best performance ever. 8O

      Meanwhile, though, it definitely is a great answer here. You don’t get to see much of the time that Willis is from. But you get to see enough to think that its a god awful hell. LOL

      • Yep. Big Brother and the TVs. I remain firm on Brad. Yeah, Snatch and Fight Club were great, but he stole the movie with his acting in 12 Monkeys. :)

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  6. Well … huh… hmph…

    Well, um… erm…

    Blade Ru….

    um…Matri….

    Erm…. um….

    Escape from New Y… but, on the other hand…

    Definitely, V for Ven… no wait…

    Maybe, Roboco… no thats not it…

    WAIT! I’ve got it!

    THE WIZARD OF OZ!

    Dig it. Kansas is a desolate Black and White hellscape, blasted by tornadoes and populated by boring WASPs, and yet the brainwashed little girl turns her back on the beautiful wondrous fantastic world to return to the drudgery of dust bowl depression era America. There’s no place like home indeed! The Wizard of Oz is a dystopian nightmare!

    or, you know, Blade Runner. ;)

  7. Not gonna lie, this is a subject I haven’t exactly thought about much. Let’s see, Dystopian futures. Um, so this in fact, a failed, bleak future-world, and not just any future world, like “Minority Report” for instance? Okay, let me think, um… I guess my favorite of that nature of that nature, would probably “Children of Men,” if I had to pick a movie, but favorite world. Actually, I think I’d go with, what Terry Malloy’s Pigeon Coop, said, “A Clockwork Orange”, that’s gotta be the best, and coolest of the worlds. That the one I can imagine thinking, “Alright, this world sucks, but I can still have fun, and there’s milkbar, with naked statues and Beethoven’s still around. I can live in that. I’ll give nod to “Melancholia” too, I don’t know how “Dystopian” that is, or futuristic, but, I’ll go with that one too.

    Least favorite. Um, well, I think “Blade Runner” is overrated, so that jumps to my mind a bit, but the universe is done well there, I think the movie’s two-sided and that the secret of “Deckert’s character”, doesn’t matter, but I really wouldn’t want to live in “Mad Max”‘s universe. That seems like no fun, in any of the movies. Good movies though, but no fun to live in. It’s all desert, and no oil, and everyone’s racing and killing, ugh.

    And another one just for fun, don’t know if it counts, but “Zombieland”, if you can get with the right people, that seems a cool future, despite the zombies. But, anything at the end of the world with Bill Murray though, that’s gotta be cool.

    • Blade Runner is overrated? That’s blasphemous around these parts Dave… one of the greatest movies ever made, hands down. Its in my top ten 8O

      LOL at the reality that Bill Murray can even make the zombie apocalypse cool. :D

      • Jesus, saying anything truthful about a movie is blasphemous. Okay, here’s are my issues with “Blade Runner”, the first one is actually more of a Ridley Scott issue I have, in which he constantly, instead of telling a story, he spends, it seems like hours in his worse films, slowing the plot and the story, to a stand still, to make a grander elaboration of, some metaphor, some feeling of some kind. “Blade Runner”, does it, although the worst examples are “Gladiator,” “Black Rain”, and “Robin Hood”, “Prometheus” is the bad too. I mean he stops the movie, in the middle of a death-defying action, to go back to the spaceship, and do that, light show thing, which was spectacular, but he couldn’t find a better spot in the movie? (And that I still gave that a positive recommendation, barely) He does it also, in “Blade Runner”, he never stops, setting the scene, instead of just letting the story, get told. He does it in every other movie it seems, occasionally it helps a movie, like “Thelma and Louise,” when he uses that time, to develop the characters more, but he usually doesn’t. In “Blade Runner,” in most versions, there’s just too much of it, not enough things moving the story forward, quickly enough. His best films, “American Gangster,” “Black Hawk Down”, “Matchstick Men”,…etc. they don’t do that, and the films flow much more naturally.

        The other reason is that, I contend that it doesn’t matter whether Deckert’s a replicant or not, and it doesn’t change the story at all, either way. Yes, there’s multiple versions, and he’s was tinkering with it for decades, which is more proof that it doesn’t matter, to me anyway, but he’s already a cold character we can’t get close to, so it’s already for us to care, and all the clues in the movie, in most versions, work both ways, they make sense if he is a replicant, and they make sense if he isn’t, so the fact that that’s a core part of the story and mystique, bothers me, ’cause I don’t think it changes the film, one scene. If it can be one or the other, than why does it matter? That’s my big issue. I know it’s a landmark film, it a great world Scott creates, he manages to combine film noir and sci-fi; the first to do that. (First, not best, that’s Spielberg’s “Minority Report”, which is also the best Philip K. Dick adaptation) but yes, it’s an okay film overall. I do like it, but yes, overrated. Their are issues with, and I bet Scott knows that too, ’cause I believe that’s why he’s tinkered with it so often.

  8. Oh it’s gotta be Dredd. For once, I actually don’t have to think! My favorite film of 2012, and in my all time top ten, rich gritty atmosphere, interesting, well developed characters, beautiful soundtrack (yep that was the icing on the cake for me), and nice pacing within a pretty short time frame. Dark, colorful, gory, right up my alley! I don’t really hope our future ends up like that though haha :)

  9. Hi, Fogs:

    I’m a bit divided on this one.

    I’m a big fan of Alex Proyas’ ‘Dark City’. Can’t be topped for nightmarish grit and griminess and beautifully shape shifting buildings and cityscapes that change on a moment’s notice. Plus Keifer Sutherland owns the time he’s on screen!

    On the flip side. It’s hard to beat Michael Radford’s ‘Nineteen Eighty Four’. That has the shabby, dust laden, desolate feel of Orwell’s novel. Plus one of Richard Burton’s finest performances on film!

    Post Apocalyptic: ‘A Boy and his Dog’.

    • You know, I’ve actually never seen 1984… (or A Boy and his Dog for that matter) I’ve read the book, what high schooler didn’t? But I’ve never seen the movie.

      I HAVE however, seen Dark City. That’s a great, great movie. Very hardcore sci-fi, I’m a big fan. So that’s a good choice! Much like the Matrix, I don’t think most of those people even knew what was going on!

    • I have to make a rebuttal: that movie wasn’t dystopian! It wasn’t a utopia, but it was a pretty normal future all things considered. There’s still pop music, opera, resort villas in space, and even a poor dude like Corbin Dallas has a sweet fridge that’s capable of cryo-freeze. No dystopia do I see!

  10. Firstly, Children of Men, just the finest camera work from Alfonso Cuaron I’ve ever seen and a terrifying future that I wish I’ve never had.
    Lastly, V for Vendetta, perfect interpretation of Alan Moore finest work before Watchmen, and a perfect blend of vigilante things and politics.

    • That is unexpected, yeah… a couple of folks here have said they actually wouldn’t mind living on that space ship. Drinking Slurpees and motoring around in their hover craft. LOL ;)

  11. Man, am I late to this little tea party.

    Gonna go with the popular choice: Blade Runner. I recently saw images of the Kowloon Walled City (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kowloon_Walled_City) and I thought to myself: “Holy crap! That’s totally Blade Runner!” Like, for a while the crazy cyberpunk ideal of claustophobia and dark grays and patches of sunlight and neon Asian signs everywhere was a real thing!

    Plus I like the idea that even in this future a hard-boiled PI still exists. Which is, horrors of horrors, I kinda like the dubbed version that Ridley Scott apparently hated. Also this was the number one reason I picked up the Ultimate edition the day it came out. So I could get a copy of the one with the Ford narration. I’m also something of a long-time gamer, and back in the early days of PC gaming I was playing the Tex Murphy Game “Mean Streets” (a series which would go on to produce legendary classics like “Under A Killing Moon” and “The Pandora Directive.”) It took me a while to realize that those dudes totally ripped off Blade Runner, so you can say that the dystopian future of that movie was coded into my DNA long before I even laid eyes on the movie.

    (Par for the course, though. “Under A Killing Moon” was basically a riff on “Moonraker” and “The Pandora Directive” was “X-Files.”)

    • Well, the video game stuff went right over my head, but I AM a huge fan of Blade Runner and the city design is an enormous reason why. I love the fact that its supposed to be LA but it looks like Asia ;)

      Meanwhile, when I got that 5 movie set myself, I also went back to the theatrical version (which is on its way to becoming the forgotten version 8O ) and while I wouldn’t say its the best version or anything, it definitely didn’t damage the movie as much as I thought. The Final Cut is astonishing… in my opinion, that’s the best that Blade Runner has ever been ;)

  12. I liked the mortality aspects of Logan’s run and children of men. It made both those futures very bleak and final indeed, Even though there was hope in children of men. great film for me. Good list ;)

    • I think it’s a great film in everyone’s opinion, Kev, you’re certainly not alone! There was hope in Children of Men… at the freaking end! LOL Right at like the last second, as the credits rolled.

      I have to rewatch Logan’s Run. I wonder if it still holds up today…

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  14. Just to throw out another name, I liked a lot of the consensus likes noted here, but no comments on Equilibrium? That was a good flick.

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