Summary

  • Films set in the future, like “A Boy and His Dog,” offer imaginative and dark portrayals of post-apocalyptic wastelands in 2024.
  • “The Quickening” envisions a bleak 2024 where a mega-corporation controls the world through a solar radiation-blocking shield.
  • “Narcopolis” depicts a corrupt and dystopian 2024 UK where all drugs are legalized, showcasing advanced technology and reality-warping effects.


Science fiction movies have always had the tricky task of depicting the future, and 2024 has already had its share of representation. Any time a science fiction story envisions a drastically different future, whether it’s a technologically-advanced utopia or a bleak, devolved post-apocalyptic wasteland, it’s always difficult to gauge exactly how far into the future the calendar should be. While it’s easy to laugh from the vantage point of the present at the overly-ambitious dreams of sci-fi writers, it’s exceedingly difficult to predict the flow of technological advancement and societal change.

Now that 2024 has arrived, the genre has been around long enough for the year to feel like a science fiction logline to even those living in the present. Movies set during 2023 already had their fair share of near-future predictions, but 2024 has hit a new benchmark for bizarre sci-fi visions for the future that never came to pass. It’s fascinating to look back on what previous filmmakers thought the year could bring in terms of technological innovation and sweeping political change, landing on 2024 as a year far enough ahead to warrant their ideas.


9 A Boy And His Dog

1975

A Boy and His Dog movie poster

Not boding well for the year to come, A Boy and His Dog takes place in a post-apocalyptic American Southwest lined with bloodthirsty raiders, advanced military robots and mutant creatures. An eccentric dark comedy, A Boy and His Dog makes no serious assertions about what the future could realistically hold, considering the film revolves around the sexual conquests of a sociopathic orphan scavenger and a telepathic talking dog. Inspiring the video game series, Fallout, soon to be adapted to TV, the film’s wasteland also features hidden enclaves of survivors within bunkers, emulating strange pastiches of industrial society.

8 Beyond The Time Barrier

1960

Beyond the Time Barrier

A pulpy, low-budget science fiction adventure from a simpler time, Beyond the Time Barrier has an absurd premise for the future that lives up to its deliciously goofy title. Eight years before the Planet of the Apes series did the same, Beyond the Time Barrier‘s protagonist accidentally travels into the future after a failed space flight, finding himself on an Earth scoured by cosmic rays, devastating the planet’s surface. The only survivors are a bizarre underground society that has largely gone deaf, mute, and infertile, save for a few fellow time-displaced travelers from the previous age.

7 Highlander II: The Quickening

1991

A closeup of Connor in Highlander 2

After the success of the original Highlander, the series went downhill fast with the release of Highlander II: The Quickening, a universally reviled sequel to an already cult science fiction classic. Beyond sinking the nascent Highlander franchise, The Quickening also offers a vision of 2024, featuring an old Connor MacLeod. The series’ interpretation of the future is bleak, depicting a mega-corporation that controls the planet via a shield that blocks solar radiation, as the ozone layer had long been depleted.

6 Illang: The Wolf Brigade

2018

Robotic soldiers point weapons in Illang: The Wolf Brigade

Illang: The Wolf Brigade is an anime live-action adaptation from South Korea based on the critically acclaimed animated movie, Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade. However, Illang: The Wolf Brigade wasn’t afraid to take some liberties with its portrayal of the story, changing the setting from a post-war diesel punk Japan to a futuristic Korea. In the film’s 2024, North and South Korea have re-unified fearing a re-militarized Japan and an encroaching United States and Russia. The film re-imagines the original anime’s advanced exosuits for the future rather than the past.

5 Narcopolis

2015

character looks at advanced display in Narcopolis

A weary look into the future, Narcopolis is a British science fiction thriller that postulates a future United Kingdom in which all drugs have been legalized, leading to pharmaceutical companies experimenting with dizzying chemicals in the name of profit. A moody, cyberpunk noir film, Narcopolis’ dystopian 2024 is rife with advanced technology, from hyper-spec holographic computers to handheld devices capable of scanning DNA within minutes. But the rampant corruption of the drug giant, Ambro, makes Narcopolis‘ future no easy place to live, even if it is home to chemical cocktails capable of producing reality-warping effects.

4 Songbird

2020

character holds up arm in Songbird 2020

One of the most recent films to dare to use 2024 as a futuristic setting, 2020’s Songbird was a film quickly produced to represent the fears of the COVID-19 pandemic. In Songbird‘s estimation, the rampant mutation of the virus has morphed the United States government into a totalitarian fascist state, forcing infected individuals into quarantine camps with terrible conditions. Perhaps too on-the-nose, the hazmat suits and mandatory temperature checks of Songbird‘s 2024 haven’t aged terribly well, much to the relief of everyone who has lived through the pandemic.

3 The Thirteenth Floor

1999

A lone figure walking from their car into digital mountains in The Thirteenth Floor promo image

The same year that The Matrix came out, The Thirteenth Floor offered another look into a future characterized by advanced simulation, depicting the city of Los Angeles across three years: 1999, 1937, and 2024. Though much of the film is spent being a period piece thanks to the varied setting of the artifical worlds within, the convoluted plot of The Thirteenth Floor eventually does emerge in 2024. While not much is shown of the film’s concept for the year, it’s at least advanced enough to be able to produce startlingly real copies of the past via computer generation.

2 Thunder Force

2021

Even more recent than Songbird, Thunder Force applies a generous lense of superhero fantasy wish fulfillment into its depiction of 2024. The genre mashup comedy, starring Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer, reveals a near-future in which a freak cosmic event has somehow bestowed superpowers on only the Earth’s most psychotic individuals, creating a horde of supervillains. Spencer’s character, Emily, in turn develops a drug capable of granting the same powers to anyone who ingests it. Not much is different about Thunder Force‘s 2024 beyond the super powered antics, despite the villains’ activities dating back to the 80s in-universe.

1 The Last Days Of American Crime

2020

Another alternate history that extends less than five years into the future from the movie’s filming, The Last Days of American Crime adapts the graphic novel of the same name, imagining a United States government that is developing an advanced broadcast signal for use against its citizens, preventing them from committing crimes. Beyond the implications of this premise, the film is a rather straightforward heist movie, not taking advantage of its setting compared to others who dared to breach the year 2024.