So I (Nastassja) am a huge movie buff - I am particularly obsessed with speculative fiction. Toni Cade Bambara said the purpose of a writer, or storyteller, "is to make revolution irresistible" and the stories told in speculative fiction often do that by highlighting the potential of the future. The potential isn't always good - more often than not these stories highlight futures to watch out for, and tell the stories of visionaries and leaders trying to right the wrongs of a system meant to erase or squander the beauty and potential of humanity. They often speak to our fears, and mirror or reverse major events from history - whether it is a fear of robotization that highlights our existential fear of limitation & our humanity in a capitalist and production oriented world; or a fear of some foreign species coming out of nowhere, colonizing our lands, committing genocide, and trying to enslave us...hmmm sound familiar?
Lea Roth and I (partners, storytellers, and founders of Spring Up) open up our TEDxNYU talk with a dramatic poem made up of quotes from science fiction trailers about dystopian & apocalyptic futures. The research and preparation to make that poem was really fun and entertaining so we decided to make a post with most (not all) of the trailers we combed to find these great quotes. Can you tell which lines came from which trailers? Let us know your answers / guesses in the comments below. I've sorted the video's into different types of horrible apocalyptic disturbances like Robots, Global Warming, Zombies, Aliens, etc. I thought it would be a good resource to find out some cool movies, or just trailers, to check out for any movie buffs or just folx who are trying to figure out what to watch next!
Here is our TEDx talk called "The Millennial Mindset Can Save the World" as a reference.
These are some of my favorite trailers and movies - some are visionary fiction that cause us to reflect on the way we treat others and what we should value within humanity, and others are just plain entertaining.
P.S. I give a brief explanation of each movie here but if you want to just watch the trailers straight through most of them are on our youtube playlist here.
Ex Machina: This film is cray in a very white techy male fears power femme "does she actually care about me or is she just manipulating me to escape imprisonment and torture" kind of way. It definitely links to this issue of like, why do these inventors always use the robots they make for sex? It definitely toys with your emotions, but I think its a really good conversation starter. Plus this trailer has some really great moments.
Terminator: there are like 5 Terminator movies, so I included the most recent trailer. In the first few movies its so obvious that Arnold is the good/bad guy and the girl he is trying to save is basically oblivious (+ its not really about her anywayz its about saving her unborn son...) but the newest one she looks like a badass so I am optimistic. This is a total classic tho and defo worth it for any scifi fan.
The Matrix: this is also a series / trilogy, so I included the last film trailer that focuses more on the robot world. This is a total masterpiece. Like there have been dissertations written about the depths of this series. I personally make references to it regularly. FYI tho a black woman, Sophia Stewart, claims that the Wachowski sisters (the directors) actually ripped off this idea from her book from the 1980s - you can look into it and decide for yourself (she says the above terminator ripped off her story too).
IRobot: So you will see that Will Smith is a recurring figure in the dystopian future - maybe the only black person other than Samuel L Jackson who consistently seems to survive lol. This movie is ... a lot. Honestly I went to see it in theaters with my friend and she fell asleep. I still think its worth a watch - and this trailer definitely is.
RoboCop: the original is a classic, but the trailer for the 2014 remake has Samuel L Jackson and some great quotes. This definitely can cause some anxieties about the future of militarized police, and explores the line between man and machine (like all of these). I haven't actually seen this movie but I'm pretty sure I've seen the trailer like 5 times.
Climate Change & Water / Food Shortages
Mad Max: Fury Road. So people seem to love this movie. The visual effects are AWESOME, and in my opinion totally show up for being based on a graphic novel. It has some pretty feminist themes but I found the story line a bit difficult to follow / slow / not all that much there. Still totally worth the watch, I mean I love absurdist end of the world kind of crazy stuff so I reallllly wanted to love this - you check it out and let me know what you think. It is making some clear references to climate change and water / gas scarcity in the future though.
Interstellar: This movie is MIND-BLOWING! It plays with time in a super innovative way, and honestly blew me away. I think its not super identity conscious, and the idea that we are just leaving the earth behind to colonize the stars kind of rubs me the wrong way but idk I like it when Lauren Olamina says it so...
The Day After Tomorrow: This movie is literally the most. Like I remember seeing it in theaters and being like WTF is this what global warming is gonna be like! Would it really all happen overnight? They successfully convey the urgency that we don't want to wait until it's too late. Its a total classic, and the scenes in the library really stick with you / make you think where would be your safe haven?
San Andreas: So I haven't actually seen this film but from what I gather... its mostly like this trailer. It explores the idea of the tectonic plates shifting and causing even bigger earthquakes in California... and then the rest of the USA or world? Thank goodness Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson is there to save as many people as possible though - what would we do without him?!
Wall-E: FAV. like literally if you haven't seen it you have to. It is so well done and thought provoking - I wasn't sure if I should include it in this section but it takes place after the Earth is no longer inhabitable so I decided to put it here. It manages to say so much without having all that many words and being a kids movie. My favorite line is pretty far in when one of the humans says "I don't want to survive, I want to live!" - it's totally a moment about humanism and value to life that is super moving.
Children of Men: ok actually I lied... this is my FAV. If you haven't seen it, close this - no scratch that don't close this you can come back to it after - but open another tab and find this movie and watch it right now. It is SOOOO good. That is all. Go watch now.
Gattaca: Ok so total classic, also a must see. This movie explores self-determination and accessibility and the idea of designer babies. Uma Thurman is great, Jude Law before his hairline started receding so much, a space mission to Mars. Super worth it.
Handmaid's Tale: OK I know its a TV show not a movie but I HAD to. There are a lot of mixed feelings about how the tv show handles race / moves away from the book later in the season, but it was done in partnership with Margaret Atwood and I think is completely worth watching and then having those conversations about race.
Arrival: so don't kill me but I haven't seen Arrival yet! It looks great and I really want to see it, but I just haven't gotten a chance yet. Let me know what you think though! Yay Amy Adams.
District 9: MUST SEE. Like for real... this movie was on a shockingly low budget for the quality of the effects, it is brilliantly written and directed. Its a bit difficult to watch but ultimately completely worth it. This would definitely be on my top 3 or 5 speculative fiction movies so if you haven't seen it you totally have to.
Avatar: Avatar is basically a beautiful outer space rendition of Pocahontas. Its about space colonization (No I don't mean that in a good way) - this white dude becomes the savior of this indigenous community in a gorgeous land that he was brought to colonize. That said, I think the effects are literally out of this world, like super good, and I think its worth the watch. I know I wanted to go to Pandora (and now we can since Disney opened up the Pandora park).
Alien: Like Terminator, this is a series that started a long time ago and has a new one coming out soon so I included the new trailer. This series is SO INTENSE. It seriously fucks with you - so if you like that go for it, if not - be prepared.
Independence Day: the first movie came out in 1996 and a new one came out in 2016, but I decided to include the original, so enjoy this classic trailer! This is another Will Smith moment, the film is kind of kitchy and funny and the trailer does a great job of capturing the tone.... or maybe its just from the 90s?
World War Z: ok I also haven't actually seen this one. I'm not super into zombies - sorry! but I have heard pretty good things about it & the trailer is pretty sick.
28 Days Later: This is a classic - the creators have made some other awesome trippy movies. Its pretty low budget and avant garde but a really good reference. Also I think relatively realistic of what it would be like if shit hit the fan and everyone really became zombies like a terrible epidemic.
Equilibrium: this movie is totally underrated but awesome. It has Taye Diggs.. the concept is awesome. I'm hoping it will have a come back / moment some time soon.
Planet of the Apes: This is another epic movie series, because there is the oldie original and then a contemporary trilogy. This one - Rise of the Planet of the Apes is my favorite. It really explores some complex ideas about intelligence, scientific research, and self-determinism.
The Giver: so I LOVED this book - did you know it is actually a whole series of books? I think they did a good job with the movie (+ there is Meryl Streep).
Minority Report: They made a TV show of Minority Report recently but I haven't seen it. The movie is a total classic and I think is you know, like any Tom Cruise vs world movie, but in the future and with some really interesting concepts like the precogs and fate / destiny.
Misc. / Bonus
In Time: so despite a terrible rating on RottonTomatoes, I think this movie is hilarious and awesome. It's a really interesting frame on capitalism with the idea that time is the currency. I mean it is totally scientifically coming from nowhere so a lot of people dislike it, but I genuinely enjoyed it.
The Hunger Games: I had to include it!! This trilogy is epic and Katniss Everdeen is a badass. This is the trailer for the first film - they are pretty easy to watch and pretty seamless with each other so I would suggest watching them back to back if you have the time / energy. It is kind of a less gory / scary Battle Royale that explores the idea of gladiatorial battles for entertainment / a social scapegoating mechanism and has a really interesting social stratification. The costumes & make ups are awesome.
Enders Game: ok one more young adult book adaptation. This one is about video games and is still a great watch if you haven't read the books.
Black Panther -- I couldn't make a list of trailers right now without including it!!! If you haven't sen this trailer WATCH IT NOW! the movie doesn't come out for another year, boo :( but the trailer is awesome for sooo many reasons. I mean the poster of the movie is a reference to Huey Newton of the Black Panthers, allllll the black actors showed up for it, and its a gorgeous take on afrofuturism.
CONGRATS on making it to the end!!!
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