Thanks for visiting again! Naturally, a post-apocalyptic author like me is well versed in the genre. We have an ample supply of great post-apocalyptic films that were made during multiple decades. Now the genre seems more relevant than ever. Here’s a list of my favorite dystopian movies with a variety of themes and settings.
Avengers: Infinity War
-I know people love Avengers: Endgame, but this one is better in my opinion. It’s the culmination of everything in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with one of the grandest alien invasions in cinema. This movie has tons of actions scenes and it showcases every beloved superhero from a decade of films. It has more substance than one would imagine and don’t expect the story to be completely predictable.
-This one is eerily similar to our current situation. It features a deadly version of the aviation flu that becomes a global pandemic. Contagion is a realistic drama that covers both the viral and human element in a global disaster. It shows how civilization and our sanity crumbles under plagues, but fear not. This movie has plenty of hope and we could learn a lesson from it.
-I’m not a huge zombie fan, but The Crazies is a nice variation on the genre. A government jet crash lands near a small town and releases an experimental version of rabies that infects the townspeople. This film combines action, horror, and apocalyptic undertones into an exciting tale about survival. Don’t trust anyone in this movie. People might appear sane one moment and then suddenly become homicidal.
-This movie fits in the mold with The Hunger Games and other YA adaptations. Generations after our current society was destroyed by global warfare, mankind lives in caste systems or factions behind the walls of a seemingly peaceful community. People grow up in a particular faction, but they can move to another one when they reach adulthood. The protagonist is a young lady who realizes one of the factions is planning world domination. Their entire civilization was built on lies and a civil war is going to erupt. The plot might seem a bit rote, but I find it interesting.
-A nuclear war turned the Earth into a desert wasteland and now the remaining humans live in towering megacities. Crime is rampant and the only people who can bring a marginal amount of justice to the world are soldiers called Judges. Dredd is the titular character who’s trying to stop a ruthless crime lord. The film is a violent and futuristic dystopia that illustrates what might happen if crime remains unchecked.
Escape from New York
-In a way, this movie is similar to Dredd. After years of famine, plagues, and overpopulation, New York City is now a makeshift prison for the worst criminals. Law enforcement is almost nonexistent, which means criminals can do whatever they want. The story is told through the eyes a shifty antihero who calls himself Snake. Escape from New York is a fun eighties film with the right amount of camp and violence.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters
-Who doesn’t love Godzilla? You totally do. Admit it. This movie is a battle royale with giant monsters who once ruled the Earth during prehistoric days. All of these creatures are waking up from hibernation and wrecking havoc on our civilization. Mankind’s only hope is benevolent monsters like Godzilla and Mothra. It’s an entertaining blockbuster and a lovely homage to the original Godzilla films.
-Heaven’s angels decide to exterminate mankind in this action thriller. A young woman is pregnant with the second coming of Christ and the angels will do anything to make sure he’s never born. Similarly to demonic possession, the angels have the ability to take over human bodies. It’s a very interesting, although unpolished film that spawned a spinoff tv series called Dominion.
Mad Max: Fury Road
-Many people love the original Mad Max trilogy, but Fury Road is the gold standard for post-apocalyptic movies. It follows our titular and crazy hero while he tries to survive one day at a time in a barren wasteland. This film is exciting, weird, ambitious, and simply incredible. It’s a surprisingly intelligent movie with many topical themes about society, feminism, survival, and more. Fury Road might not have enough mainstream appeal for some moviegoers, but it’s definitely worth a viewing at least once.
-This one is another good, although strange film. It’s also the only great entry in the Matrix trilogy. According to this movie, our entire lives are a lie. Machines enslaved mankind generations ago and everyone is comatose in an advanced form of virtual reality called the Matrix. The real world is just a technological wasteland that’s overrun by robots. Our idea of reality is artificial, which means certain people can warp the environment and their bodies to fight the robot menace. The Matrix has uncanny visual effects and action scenes with a handful of esoteric ideas. I’m not going to lie. This film can be really confusing. If you’re looking for a different robot apocalypse, watch The Matrix.
-Here’s an awesome movie for people who enjoy giant monsters. The world becomes overrun by Kaiju or giant aliens from another dimension. Our military dispatched soldiers who can operate giant robots that can battle these creatures. It’s a fun adventure with robots and monsters pummeling each other. Pacific Rim has a lighter tone than most post-apocalyptic films, but the stakes are still high. Check out this movie if you want less doom and gloom.
Planet of the Apes
-The original Planet of the Apes film is a bizarre and well made story about an astronaut who accidentally travels through a wormhole and crash lands on a desert planet that’s controlled by humanoid apes. On this planet, apes are intelligent and powerful while humans are very primitive. The apes capture the protagonist and he undergoes a daring escape. Unfortunately, he’s much closer to home than expected.
The Purge: Election Year
-I could toss a coin between this movie and Anarchy, but Election Year has more relevant themes to our modern climate. Every year, an event called The Purge takes place where crime is completely legal for one night, including murder. Can you imagine the mayhem? It’s awful! Supposedly, it keeps the human race more content and peaceful during the rest of the year. Now it’s an election year and a political party wants to use The Purge to kill one of their leading opponents. A leading presidential candidate wants to abolish The Purge and she’ll probably win the election if can survive the night.
A Quiet Place
-It’s one of the most unique takes on the post-apocalyptic genre and alien invasions. Years after an alien race invades Earth, the remaining humans must live in total silence, otherwise the creatures will devour them. The story is fascinating and intense with really scary monsters. The plot focuses on a specific family and how they must cope in this dystopian environment. It’s very emotional, relatable, and raw. A Quiet Place is also PG-13, so it should be easily accessible to viewers who can’t handle extreme scares and gore.
-This film might be a little more obscure, but it’s fun and A nice throwback to eighties cinema. Mankind is living in a desert wasteland with limited resources. Guns are a rarity, so most people fight with swords, maces, axes, and other forms of combat. A gritty roamer travels to a small community that has a secret water well. That’s better currency than gold! He bonds with a woman and her son, but their situation becomes disrupted by ruthless bandits who want to monopolize the well. I would recommend this movie for action fans, including people who enjoy Into the Badlands.
Terminator 2: Judgement Day
-Most cinephiles would consider the second Terminator film a classic. It’s an interesting combination of time travel and a robot takeover that has apocalyptic undertones. In a distant future, the robots are overthrown by a human rebellion, led by a man named John Connor. So, the robots send a specialized cyborg called a Terminator back in time to assassinate him as a teenager. The boy’s estranged mother rescues him with another Terminator who defected against his own kind. This film is convoluted, but it has great action scenes, lots of tension, fantastic VFX for a nineties movie, and several unique elements.
Vanishing on 7th Street
-This one is a total horror film. In fact, I wouldn’t recommend it for people who can’t handle scary movies. Vanishing on 7th Street has a direct connection with mass disappearances. Are you familiar with the Croatoan myth? Apparently, shadow demons have been wiping out entire civilizations for centuries. Now they’re going to swallow up the entire human race. Staying in the light is the only way to survive. Unfortunately, the sun is rising later, setting earlier, and the creatures are knocking out most of our electricity. Watch this film if you enjoy the horror genre.
-Even Disney and Pixar jumped on the post-apocalyptic bandwagon. WALL-E takes place in a distant future. Earth is a barren and toxic wasteland that’s being used as a landfill. The only being left on Earth is a small and adorable robot named WALL-E. He gathers up trash and moves it from one location to another. Eventually, another robot named Eve comes to the wasteland to see if Earth can support life again. She and WALL-E head to a space station where the human race is residing. Now robots do everything for the humanity. People are sedentary, overweight, and rotting their brains by watching tv all day. They don’t even have the physical ability to walk without help anymore. But there’s hope for mankind to develop a meaningful existence again. This film is a post-apocalyptic adventure for the whole family.
-This comic book adaptation is under the DC mantle, but it’s completely separate from Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, etc. It’s an independent title that features a gritty, dystopian society where crime, political corruption, capitalism, and ignorance is heading mankind toward an uncertain future. Vigilantes called the Watchmen are trying to keep crime under control, but it seems to be a losing battle. The only superhero who has real powers is a being called Doctor Manhattan and he was created by a nuclear accident. Can anybody save mankind’s future or will they head toward self-destruction? Watch the movie to find out. However, I must warn you. Watchmen has a hard R rating and it’s mostly suitable for niche audiences.
World War Z
-Here’s another good film for people who aren’t enamored with zombies. I would say World War Z is a more realistic approach to the zombie subgenre and it’s still a fun blockbuster. A zombie outbreak suddenly erupts and spreads across the entire world. People literally turn into zombies a few seconds after they’re bitten, so reaction time is limited and the pandemic is incredibly contagious. A small group of scientists and soldiers are traveling all over the globe, searching for a cure. Hopefully, they’ll create a vaccine in time to save the human race. It’s a very exciting movie and significantly different than most zombie flicks.
That’s it! I might create a second list at some point. The genre is vast and I enjoy many of these films. What are your favorite post-apocalyptic movies? Are you completely sick of this genre? If so, what are your favorite movie genres? Leave a comment. My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone who’s being affected by COVID-19. We're all in this together and I genuinely believe the human race will come out stronger in the end. Believe it or not, we can learn some valuable lessons from the post-apocalyptic genre, even though it’s fiction. Be safe, please find healthy forms of entertainment, and come back again next week. See you later!
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