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  1. #1

    Default Your possible futures

    I will be examining various science fiction films/novels and rating their likelihood of societies as portrayed in these stories becoming reality. I will also rate societies featured in these films on my Dystopian/Utopian Scale, with -10 equal to most Dystopian and 10 equal to Least Dystopian/Most Utopian. Feel free to contribute. I will start with one of my favorite science fiction films, Children of Men.

    Children of Men (2006) - IMDb

    Children of Men - Wikipedia

    Basic premise, minus spoilers: A virus has made humanity infertile. Several governments have crumbled, with the UK being one of the few to survive, albeit in the form of a Police State where immigrants are routinely rounded up and either shot or placed in camps.

    Likelihood: Possible/Probable, and I think we already may be headed down this path. However, I'm not sure it will get as bad as this film portrays, barring such an infertility virus sapping any collective desire to maintain society. However some other disease epidemic might plague humanity. We've had near scares in recent years with things like Ebola, not to mention the possibility of something like Zika getting out of control. Even without some disease epidemic, an economic crash or rampant warring could lead to a similar scenario. Very scary.

    Dystopian scale: -8, as there is still some semblance of law and order and government still appears to function in at least the UK, so we can assume a few other countries (likely small and contained nations like North Korea) have maintained order. However, the gov't appears to be losing a grasp and fear and paranoia is high. The presence of some hope remains, so this isn't a total dystopian -10, as the film does suggest, by its ending, we can "come back" from this hell.

    Coming up I will rate each Mad Max film individually, as each seems to present our descent at a different stage and different reasons are cited for the demise of civilization (The Road Warrior suggests the fuel ran out and contributed to the collapse while Thunderdome says there was also a Nuclear War). I also promise it won't be all doom and gloom and we'll get to some Utopias like Star Trek. But mostly dystopias, because frankly they're more entertaining and better reflect the nature of humanity, in my opinion. Guess I'm a pessimist in that regard.

  2. #2

    Default Mad Max (1979)

    Mad Max (1979)

    Mad Max (1979) - IMDb

    Mad Max - Wikipedia

    Basic premise: nothing is explicitly explained aside from the "A few years from now..." at the beginning and various onscreen evidence. There's still some government, as evidenced by the Main Force Patrol and some court officials mentioned when discussing one of the biker thugs who was to be tried for the rape of a girl. This is a very seventies film, in that it concerns vigilante justice and very lightly touches on the inability of "the system" to maintain order, a theme that permeates other films from the era such as Dirty Harry and Death Wish. Filmmakers seemed obsessed with vigilantes and the broken justice system in the seventies (also evidenced in films such as the sobering Al Pacino drama And Justice for All), and it is obvious that vigilante fascination influenced Miller a bit when he made Mad Max. Luckily, it doesn't get too weighted down in high horse preaching and moralizing (aside from some brief "we're no better than them" exchanges between Max and the MFP chief in one scene) and instead provides an entertaining and stark visual of a society in decay and its effect on the main character. The themes of what loss and violence do to a person (evidenced as Max literally becomes a vengeful shell of a man, arguably gaining little comfort and vindication from his revenge rampage) would make for an interesting discussion in and of itself but I'm not going to get too offtrack with that.

    We can see "biker nomads" roaming the Australian outback, and in one scene we see them stealing fuel from a tanker in mid-transit, somewhat akin to a modern day stagecoach robbery from an old western film. So it's clear fuel is in short supply, though it isn't stated, as it is in the sequel, that this may be the direct cause of the apparent unrest and violence plaguing society. It is very loosely implied, at best. As far as the viewer is concerned, the villains in this film are only concerned with getting their rocks off via the torture and terrorizing of the weak.

    Dystopia Rating: -8. It looks like shit is pretty hopeless at this point, but society isn't completely broken down--there's still (barely) functioning hospitals, police forces, and even diners and nightclubs . Some people live alright, as evidenced by Max's cozy little beachside home. Even the misfit bikers don't appear as completely desperate and hopeless, but rather, as already mentioned, just roaming around and getting their jollies from fucking with weaker people. The film, taken on its own and apart from the sequels, feels more like a portrayal of some backwater community being overrun by outlaws than it does a portrayal of society as a whole breaking down, probably in part due to the low budget which limited George Miller's scope. It's basically a western set in the near future. It's only when rating this in the context of the entire Mad Max series that I might change the rating to -9 or -10, as it then displays as a snapshot of society's last death throes in its decline toward oblivion and chaos.

    Likelihood: Possible
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  3. #3

    Default Mad Max 2 aka The Road Warrior

    Mad Max 2 (aka The Road Warrior) (1981)

    The Road Warrior (1981) - IMDb

    Mad Max 2 - Wikipedia

    Basic premise: Everything is fucked. Society has completely decayed and all that remains are small bands/tribes fighting over the scraps of resources. The intro video sets it up nicely through stock footage and narration:

    This is a nice set-up, as it removes the need for any clunky exposition dialogue later on and allows the viewer to be dropped right into the midst of the action without any further set-up. It even explains Max's backstory enough so people who missed the first film won't be wondering what is happening. I'm sometimes wary of these sort of world-building intros, but this film gets it right.

    A worldwide fuel shortage has led to the collapse of the economy and governments. A caveat, sometimes people refer to this as a film set in the wake of a nuclear conflict, but nothing is ever mentioned of nuclear war in this film. Besides, we'd be living in a nuclear winter, not a desert wasteland. Fury Road suggests a water shortage could have led to the desertification of the world, but that is never really stated in this particular film.

    Dystopian index: -10. This is the bleakest entry in the series, in my opinion. Everything seems utterly f**ked and the survivors are only surviving, and barely. What semblance remains of civilization is the visage of a ghost, at best. There seems to be little hope for the protagonists Max ends up helping, aside from a brief tidbit from the narrator at the film's end. I would take my chances in the worlds of any other Max film, but this is the last one I'd want to be dropped into. It is, however the most enjoyable in the series. When seen back-to-back with the first film, it becomes even more terrifying that civilization has so rapidly degraded.

    Likelihood: Possible (with one or two caveats). While I could see society reaching this point, there's a few things that stretch credibility. Fuel is very rare in this film, yet everyone speeds around the desert as though it were a resource in abundance. In particular, the marauders speed circles around the protagonists' encampment in one scene as a form of psychological terror. Why not just wait and starve them out, then storm the walls when they're too weak to fight back? Otherwise, I don't see anything too far-fetched about the film's premise. A fuel shortage would really screw things up. We have alternatives like solar, wind and nuclear, but the economic effects of our petroleum running out could still cripple society, and the subsequent warring as nations fought over access to reserves could also be devastating.
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  4. #4


    I'm thinking this belongs in Arts and Entertainment subforum, moderators.

  5. #5

    Default Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome

    Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985) (I'm going to take a break from Mad Max films because I want to do some others, but I will get to Fury Road at some point in the near future).

    Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985) - IMDb

    Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome - Wikipedia

    Basic premise: Civilization has been decimated by nuclear holocaust but appears to be slowly rebuilding into tribes and communities. There is some exposition in the form of the children's tribe explaining how the children were led to their oasis as the nuclear holocaust was set in motion.

    Dystopian Index: -7.5 This one gets a higher rating than the previous two films because the situation is not that bad. It's still not great, but the utterly fucked world of The Road Warrior has been replaced by a civilization that is rebuilding and regaining some sense of order and well-being, however remote. Bartertown looks like a terrible place to live, but I'd choose it over the two warring factions portrayed in the previous film, and maybe even over the biker plagued towns of the first film. There's some basic laws in place (two men enter, one man leaves!), so even though it's brutal, you can see people are at least trying to work toward something more fair and peaceful by replacing absolute anarchy with controlled violence/chaos. There appear to be the beginnings of a barter-based economy in place, and it's reasonable to assume the traders we see in Bartertown are travelling from other communities to trade their wares and fallout water. The children Max later encounters seem to live in a sufficient oasis that meets all of their basic needs, despite some Lord of the Flies overtones.

    Likelihood: Low, unless you ignore the nuclear holocaust aspect of the backstory I'm not sure why the writers didn't just stick with the premise that the fuel ran out and caused the world economy to crumble, but instead they added a notion that there was also a nuclear war. Assuming this was a global nuclear war, I'm not sure humanity in particular and life in general would survive. Would we be seeing a desert wasteland, or would the planet have cooled as a result of the nuclear winter? I'm not sure how the plants would survive (let alone Max's camels), and the children in this film live in a mini jungle paradise. Now, some fans of this film have suggested only Sydney was hit by an atomic strike (why only Sydney would be hit, I have no idea). I've never read the novelization of the films but apparently they go into more history. This film is said by some to be set over ten years after The Road Warrior (note the graying hair on Mad Max, who was only in his twenties in the first film) (Timeline of events (original trilogy) | The Mad Max Wiki | Fandom powered by Wikia), and that might explain how the world has had a chance to recover from the supposed nuclear holocaust, and also why some of the oldest children Max meets still have a very hazy memory of the adults who initially led them to safety at the oasis. This film's a mess if you think about it too hard, so it's best to just accept it as a fun, visually appealing and cheesy action film. The Previous films' scenarios bordered on credibility but Thunderdome crosses over into fantasy, in my opinion. Even the methane-fueled vehicles, while a nice solution to the fuel shortage problem of the previous entries, seem a bit of a stretch. I would have to do more research, but I have a hard time believing people in this broken world would have the means and the knowledge to successfully pull off this level of technology. I'm not even sure methane is a viable source of fuel for cars. Also, why does Jedadiah the Pilot take the Children to the burntout Sydney, likely still irradiated? Why the hell wouldn't they want to return to their oasis, having seen that Bartertown is a shithole and everything else is either desert or ruins? The more I think about this film, the more I see gaping logic holes.
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  6. #6


    These are turning into pseudo-reviews but that's fine with me. I like nitpicking the things I love to death.

  7. #7


    Let's get some people who science better than I do in this thread to rate the likelihood of these films' scenarios. Is methane a viable fuel source for post-apocalyptic dune buggies? Can I really fuel my V8 Intahceptah with methane harvested from pig manure?

    To me, the bigger issue seems to be the energy and material we would need to expend in order to have enough pigs around to create all of the pig shit we needed to produce enough methane to run multiple vehicles, not to mention all of the flashing light signs in our Bartertown arena. Seems like too much effort for too little payoff. Better to use that manure as plant fertilizer.

  8. #8
    Cosmic Storm Cat Brainz's Avatar
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    Star Wars (1970s-present)

    Basic premise: Star Wars is a space opera set in an undefined time but for this thread lets say future. The basic idea is that there are two groups of space wizards one "good" and one "evil" who both try to secure power over the galaxy.

    Dystopian Index: Overall a 5-6 as while overall it seems good always wins out in the end there is a lot of chaos,war and dystonian governments and again the score goes up and down depending on the film. Prequels are overall a 3-4 as while it seems stable and democratic there is a corrupt and bloated government in charge plus the shadowy background events being set in motion for example. Not too dystopian as ovreall even in the worse times (The age of darkness I have heard of in the olden days plus the IV-IV films in which a dictatorship controls the galaxy) there always seems to be hope about and places to shelter from the evil so to speak plus day to day life for most isn't harsh or risky.

    Odds of SW happening: Apart from the Force I dont see anything thats implausible going by current science knowledge. Sure some of the things like FTL travel are probably pushing the boundaries but ti still fits into a science framework. The technology is very realistic and fairly hard-science fiction and it all fits into what we currently know not excessively speculative or magic tech so to speak. However one hole I have to pick is the fact that due to the speed light travels at we would have disparate timelines like for example in theory Luke could look through a scope and see his father on Tattoie were he roughly 30 light years away which isn't that far in galactic terms (Presuming the galaxy in SW isn't far smaller than ours. The diversity in alien races is likewise probably realistic far more so than Star Trek which has all aliens look like deformed humans when evolution on various planets would lead to very different looking forms like we do on Star Wars. Overall id say a 7/10 or so.

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  9. #9
    The Dark Lord The Wailing Specter's Avatar
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    Star Trek, the next generation

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  10. #10
    SpaceCadetGoldStarBrigade Population: 1's Avatar
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    I hope you're going to cover Blade Runner in future posts. It's one of my favorite movies and the subjects of what is life and what does it mean to be human and are androids a species unto themselves are fascinating. I don't think I'd do a synopsis of that classic film justice. Look forward to more.

    If anyone is interested there's an article on Mad Max: 'The Craziest Stories About the Making of Mad Max and The Road Warrior'. My phone apparently hates me and I can't get the link to work. Anyway lots of interesting facts in this if you're a Mad Max fanatic like me.
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