A-List: Best Movies in the 22nd Century

By J. Don Birnam

November 19, 2015

Damn! I was hoping to win Most Unique Costume.

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Hunger Games is set to rule the box office this weekend, and likely all weekends until the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Does anyone know what year The Hunger Games is set in? I am genuinely curious if I missed it when reading the books, so please tweet me if you know.

I figure the movie is set at least in the late 2000s, given that by the second chapter they are in the 75th annual Hunger Games. But given that the post-apocalyptic wars still have to happen between now and the first games, the movie is most likely set somewhere in the 22nd Century. Today, therefore, we will look at the best movies set during that time.

Before we get into that, it is worth pausing to consider the incredible box office year that was 2015. When the Hunger Games franchise was conceived as motion pictures, I cannot imagine that the distributors expected they’d run into not one but two movie juggernauts in the year of the release of their last movie. With Twilight and Harry Potter gone, it seemed like Hunger Games would be home free to reign supreme. Instead, Jurassic World will certainly do better than Katniss’ final exploits, and it is likely that Star Wars will eclipse it as well.

Alas, no doubt Jennifer Lawrence will laugh all the way to the bank in any case.


The good news for me today is that, according to my research, only 34 full-length movies are listed as being officially set in the 22nd Century. Many of them are truly obscure at least to me (The Black Hole, anyone?), and those that are not do not belong anywhere near a top-movies list. Justin Timberlake’s bumbling In Time? Ugh. Hellraiser IV? No thank you. And, while I’m sure that the Doctor Who spinoff movie Daleks – Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D. is good in its own right, eh…I’ll just leave it at that.

So, short and sweet today. On with it.

Two honorable mentions: the main competition and/or knock-off of the Hunger Games series, Divergent, is explicitly set in the 22nd Century. I don’t think the movies are particularly good, but you kind of have to mention the movie if you are talking about the Hunger Games.

And I will give kudos to Elysium, the movie by the acclaimed director of District 9. The political commentary woven into the plot of that movie, the perils that can befall us if we permit the gap between haves and have nots to continue to widen, is straight-forward but not pervasive as a theme in 22nd Century movies. Ultimately, the movie falls a bit short with its overdrawn dramatic action sequences and a bit of repetition from the much more solid District 9. Still, in such a small field of movies set in that time period, you can do a lot worse than evil Jodie Foster and mechanized Matt Damon.

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