Movies are all about creating another world. Sometimes these worlds mirror reality, other times they are stark opposites. Either way, the depth and believability of these fictional worlds is key to absorbing audiences into your story. The viewer has to get lost in a film’s world, and believe that, no matter how fantastical, they could actually exist. Other times they are just rad as hell. Here are five universes, ranked in no particular order, that capture some of those aspects.
5. “The Incredibles”
This one I admire for taking such a daring turn with the superhero formula. ‘Superheroes everywhere’ is a fun and easy idea for a children’s film. Turn it into a world where superheros are outlawed? Dang that’s neat. Turn it into a world where these outlaws are being murdered one by one? Double dang, son. It’s all the proof you need that just because something’s for children, doesn’t mean you can’t take risks and try to be a little more mature with your ideas. Dang, “The Incredibles” ruled. Watch it again.
4. Pacific Rim
Here, it’s all about what Pacific Rim wasn’t. It would have been all-too-easy just to make this film about the first ever monster to surface, and oh-no-he’s-destroying-famous-landmarks-in-sexy-locales-around-the-world! We need to build a robot! That way is cheap, easy, and boring. Pacific Rim goes all the way, putting us years into a grueling war, where giant robots fighting monsters isn’t just commonplace, but almost turned into a kind of spectator sport, where giant robot pilots are celebrities. Entire cities are built around monster skeletons, and there’s a thriving monster organ black market. This is a world people really cared about and put a ton of work into, even if most of it exists only in the background.
The universe of one of the most terrible movies of all time – it’s incredible. Projects with 20-year deadlines are expected to be delivered in one day. One of the world’s top robotics scientists looks like an olympic bodybuilder and does karate kicks on cyborgs. There’s a wisecracking Robot Cop who is just a “Lost In Space” style robot with a police hat. For some reason people decided that, in the future, all law would be settled by a cyborg cop shooting you in the face, no matter how minor your offence. It rules. Watch R.O.T.O.R. Watch videos about R.O.T.O.R. Forever. Do it for Robot Cop’s sake.
2. Robot Jox
In the future, all political conflicts are decided by making giant robots punch each other for global supremacy. We’re done here.
1. Blade Runner
Dang, what a dark, authoritative vision of the future. These kind of “cyberpunk” universes are my favorite, and Blade Runner is the ultimate cyberpunk film. It takes our scientific and industrial achievements and shows how they destroy our humanity. The set design is absolutely great, and informed basically every “dystopic future film” after it. It’s a world you didn’t want to be real, yet at the same time were forced to accept the reality of it.