Sci-fi movies are impactful because they envision a future for society. Dystopian society and post-apocalyptic scenarios have been a common setting in these movies; Metropolis - one of the earliest sci-fi films - is set in 2026 with wealthy industrialists ruling over the proletariat class. This bleak depiction of society has grown and become common among modern movies today. Not to say that all movies set in the future are dystopian, but most are embedded in a deep societal conflict. WALL-E is a good example of this; humans have made earth uninhabitable and they themselves have become slaves to consumerism, while society is not dystopian, it is unfortunate. So what does this all mean?

Sci-fi movies are depicting a bleak picture of humanity because people are becoming increasingly concerned about the future on a global scale.

For example:

Serenity: people have terraformed planets and a totalitarian government wants control,

I am Legend: we all died back in 2012 because of a man-made disease,

Planet of the Apes: the planet is ruled by apes,

And the list goes on.

The argument can be made that many of these movies are character driven and the future just acts as a setting for characters to develop. That is completely true however it is important to keep in mind that the setting is grounded in reality, the Terminator series plot, for example, is grounded by the idea of artificial intelligence. The reason for human extinction is Skynet, a very advanced computer system that becomes self-aware and destroys humans for self-preservation. While artificial intelligence may be years away, constant progress towards that goal is happening, people are already concerned about data breaches without AI thrown into the mix. Elon Musk, founder of Tesla, has expressed concern over the dangers in computer intelligence.

Looking back at WALL-E, the earth becomes uninhabitable because of environmental pollution. The environment is a contentious topic in society today. Scientists argue that people are damaging the environment particularly through carbon emissions. Other people believe natural disasters will occur regardless and we should always be prepared for emergencies. WALL-E does a good job of exploring this contemporary issue by making garbage the cause of environmental pollution; garbage is tangible and cannot be refuted as a modern problem. What the filmmakers are showing us here are the potential consequences of our actions.

In fact, most of these scenarios are a direct result of human action or inaction. While many of these futures seem bleak, there is still hope in them where humans overcome their circumstances. These movies are an allegory for what humanity can become one day.