Being trapped in Melbourne’s lockdown for the past six months, I’ve found myself passing the time by watching way too many films, particularly those of the science-fiction variety.
While most of the films I’ve been binging feature dystopian futures and the destruction humankind, I’ve discovered it’s not all doom and gloom, and there are actually a few uplifting gems that showcase the good in humanity. As we are currently living through what feels like the end of days, here are six optimistic films about the future that’ll leave you feeling hopeful for the human race.
2001: A Space Odyssey
Stanley Kubrick’s iconic masterpiece continues to inspire debate among film lovers, critics and academics some five decades after its release. Many see the film as a dark illustration of the apocalypse and the end of the human race, while others believe it to be a hopeful take on the future of humanity. Generally a fan of depressing endings, I view 2001 as an optimistic vision of the human lifecycle and the positive steps we are taking as a species towards survival. While a little hard to believe considering our current predicament, I have faith humans will make it work for generations to come.
Close Encounters Of The Third Kind
I know this one is set in the 70s, but it presents a bright vision of the future where humans and aliens interact in peace without trying to kill each other. The plot involves various alien sightings and people having cryptic visions, culminating in a meeting between aliens, US government officials and a handful of believers. This classic from Stephen Spielberg poses the question: ‘If we can communicate with aliens in a friendly manner, why can’t we do the same amongst ourselves?’ This has never been more relevant than today.
Although a commercial failure receiving mixed reviews from critics, Tomorrowland is a highly original flick featuring time travel elements, alternative dimensions and ideas from the futurism movement. George Clooney stars as a disillusioned inventor who embarks on a journey with an optimistic teenager to save the world. They visit the visually stunning Tomorrowland where they must use science to change the future as Clooney’s passion for science is reignited and his faith in humanity restored. It’s not one of Clooney’s best, but the positive message and feel-good influence of Disney will leave you content as the credits roll.
Children Of Men
The premise of this award-winning dystopian flick from Alfonso Cuaron isn’t exactly cheerful (humanity is on the brink of collapse after decades of human infertility), but the message of hope carried throughout will leave you optimistic about the fate of the human race. The normally boring Clive Owen is fantastic as Theo Faron, an everyday fella charged with escorting refugee Kee to safety as nefarious types purse them. While it strays a fair bit from P. D. James’ excellent novel of the same name, Children Of Men is an invigorating sci-fi action flick with incredible cinematography, eye-catching action sequences and a melancholy finale, proving humanity still has a chance.
The crowning jewel in Pixar’s animation crown, there aren’t enough words to describe how great Wall-E is. The first half-hour is a visually stimulating story within itself as the lonely robot manoeuvres about our abandoned earth. A clear social criticism on the way humans treat the planet and the damage we are doing to the environment, Wall-E is also a sweet animated flick about love, life and the very future of our planet. The ending might be too cutesy for some, but it’s a great reminder of how important it is to look after the environment before it’s too late.
Terminator 2: Judgement Day
While I’m more a fan of the original, there’s no disputing Terminator 2: Judgment Day is one of the greatest sci-fi action films ever made. Turning Arnold Schwarzenegger’s hulking killing machine into a good guy protector and upping the action stakes with never seen before CGI, T2 is a master class in Action. It’s also surprisingly uplifting, with both this film and the first fuelled by themes of fate, choice and destiny. No matter what the proposed outcome of our future is, it’s entirely up to us on how it plays out, with Sarah Conner once again taking her destiny into her own hands and reshaping the future for the better. While further sequels lean towards the future being predetermined no matter what we do, the first two films are more focused on the change we can make. If you think I’m reading too much into it, check out this deleted ending from T2 that confirms my theories and will give you some hope the machines won’t destroy us.