[caption id="attachment_179318" align="alignleft" width="300"] Columbia Pictures[/caption]
Once upon a time, the future was going to be awesome. We were promised flying cars, robots that would wait on us hand and foot and possibly jet packs, just for the hell of it.
And now that we're actually living in that future, it is, in fact, awesome. Sure, we might not have any of those specific things, but we do have smartphones, the Internet and Video On Demand, allowing us to watch movies in high definition at our own convenience. Yes, the future is awesome.
Except in the movies. Because in the movies, man, the future royally sucks.
Think about it: When was the last time you saw a movie where the future actually seemed appealing? In "Oblivion," Earth is a bombed-out husk, covered in sand dunes and radioactive waste. In the upcoming sci-fi epic "Elysium," humanity has turned Earth into a giant garbage pit, with only the rich and powerful living in the lap of luxury high above the clouds while everyone else suffers.
And "After Earth"? Yeah, the title pretty much says it all.
[caption id="attachment_179321" align="alignright" width="300"] Paramount[/caption]
And that's just this summer! Heck, even "Star Trek," which used to be the one sci-fi franchise you could count on to give a rosy and optimistic look at the future, has now turned into a grim and gritty downer. If it's not a time-traveling psychopath blowing up planets in a genocidal rage (hi, 2009's "Star Trek"!) it's a bioengineered super-terrorist murdering people, setting off bombs in crowded cities and crashing space ships into the Golden Gate Bridge (thanks, "Star Trek Into Darkness"!).
How bad has it gotten? Not only have comedies like "The End of the World" gotten in on the future-bashing, but the most hopeful movie studio in the world, Pixar, won an Oscar for "WALL-E"'s depiction of a future where the Earth is a pile of rubble and humanity is reduced to literally spineless fools endlessly eating their way through space.
Whatever happened to the idea that the future is going to, you know, maybe be better than the present? Crazy talk, right?
Okay, so we get it. Hollywood is all about drama and spectacle and it's easier to create those if you have a despotic government forcing children to murder each other (we're looking at you, "The Hunger Games") or time-traveling assassins killing each other in the streets (like in "Looper"). Sure. Fine.
[caption id="attachment_179323" align="alignright" width="300"] Warner Bros.[/caption]
But here's the thing, you guys: There's room in the cinema for hope, too. Real drama comes from character, not from burnt-out cityscapes, CGI aliens or any of that nonsense. And we're not the only ones getting a little tired of the constant doom and gloom of these future fables, which may explain why period pieces like "The Great Gatsby" or "The King's Speech" have been doing so well in recent years — because if the future is so crappy, then by comparison the past looks a whole hell of a lot better.
So we'd like to challenge Hollywood to stop dumping on the future and start imagining a tomorrow where things are at least, you know, okay. Because as all these amazing technological and artistic advances keep piling up, it's clear that the future of Earth has never been brighter.
But the future of cinema? Well, that remains to be seen.