Apocalyptic movies have a way of getting our attention. The more recent versions are packed with great stories and amazing visual and sound effects. We can’t seem to get enough of this genre of film. Newer versions of the same stories continue to pack movie houses and make a killing when released for home viewing. The best films show mankind triumphing over whatever cataclysmic event is taking place.
Here are our picks for the top 20 “end of the world” movies of all time
John Cusack leads the cast including Amanda Peet and Oliver Platt in the story of the world heading towards total annihilation. Dr. Adrian Helmsley is a member of an international geophysical team investigating the heating of the earth’s core. The team further investigates to learn that the crust of the planet is destabilizing. They predict that this will lead to mass flooding over the earth after a series of earthquakes are other national disasters. With a few years’ warning, the government creates escape vessels to house a select few people who will replenish the earth after the disaster, and prevent the human-race from becoming extinct.
“The Road” (2009)
This film takes place many years after a catastrophic event created a post-apocalyptic environment for the survivors. A man and his adolescent son become road warriors in search of a better location to live. The condition of the environment is bad and it is quickly getting worse. With each passing day, more plants and animals are dying. The goal of the pair is to reach the coast in hopes that the area will be in better condition than the place that they are leaving. The man considers ending his life and taking his son with him, because the prospects for staying alive are dim. As the two make their journey, they must be careful because any stranger that they may meet, brings with them the potential for danger and even death. Cannibalism is on the rise because of the scarcity of food.
“War of the Worlds” (2005)
This movie is a contemporary remake of the H.G. Wells classic sci-fi. Tom Cruise plays the role of Ray Ferrier who is a dockworker, and single dad that gets occasional visitation with his kids. He hasn’t been a great father to Robbie, his teenage son and his younger daughter Rachel, played by Dakota Fanning. Right after Ray’s ex drops the kids off for their weekend with him, a large storm hits the neighborhood without warning. As it turns out, it’s not just a lightning storm, but rather, an alien invasion and the inhabitants of the world are forced to fight for their survival.
“28 Days Later” (2002)
A laboratory containing chimpanzees is penetrated by a group of animal activists. They release the animals not realizing that they are the subjects of an experiment to test a rage inducing virus. The scientists beg them not to release the animals, but they do it anyway. Within twenty-eight days, Jim awakens from his coma in a hospital that has long since been abandoned. He leaves in search of somebody that can tell him what has happened, only to find the streets of London deserted. He stumbles onto a church that is filled with people who have been transformed into zombies and is forced to run for his life. He is rescued by a couple who fill him in on what has transpired since his hospitalization. It is a fight for survival against challenging conditions.
“28 Weeks Later” (2007)
This film is the sequel to “28 Days Later” and picks up where the prequel left off. It has been six months since the city of London has been decimated of its population. The US Army has since intervened and is beginning to relocate people back into the city, which has been quarantined. It looks as though things are going to go back to normal until a carrier of the virus makes their way to London and the whole thing starts over again.
This film tells the story of a fleet of ships that are internationally based, have an encounter when they are out on the sea conducting naval war games. The group comes across a group of alien ships and they are forced to engage in a battle on the open seas, and it moves inward to land. A navy captain who has been retired for a time is called back to pit his wits against new communist technology that could signal a cataclysmic disaster. The movie is based upon the famous “Battleship” game that is manufactured by the Hasbro toy company.
Armageddon or Deep Impact
Pick your poison. Both of these films are about a deadly comet that’s ready to smash into earth and destroy all of mankind and its inhabitants. You can either go with the funnier one starring Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck and their crew of misfits, or you can go with the slightly more serious one which features Morgan Freeman as President and a young Elijah Wood as the kid who discovers the comet. Either way it’s fun family entertainment.
“Children of Men” (2006)
There have been no children born on the earth for the past 18 years. Scientist cannot figure out why. The world’s populations begin to wither and mass migrations begin to take place to the wealthier countries. The world is in chaos and violence becomes rampant. The youngest person on the planet has just died and the prospects for the survival of mankind are becoming bleak. Miraculously, one woman in the entire world has become pregnant. It is up to a revolutionary and his ex-wife to protect the woman and save the future of the human-race.
“Daybreakers” is a film about a world that is made up of 95% vampires, and the remaining 5% are humans. This is an issue because humans are quickly disappearing. They are the primary food source as vampires must drink their blood to survive. Human blood becomes a valuable commodity that is being rationed. The story centers around Dr. Edward Dalton, who himself is a vampire and a hematologist who is employed at a pharmaceutical company. He is trying to develop an artificial blood product that would be a suitable replacement for human blood. He is sympathetic to the plight of humans and attempts to help them. He meets someone that has the knowledge to transform Dalton from a vampire back to human form, which gives the doctor a completely different perspective on the situation.
“The Day After Tomorrow” (2004)
Jack Hall, played by Dennis Quaid, is a paleo-climatologist who has been studying the planet at Antarctica. When he discovers that a very large sheet of ice has melted off and separated in this region, he attempts to share his concerns about global warming with politicians who could start taking the crisis more seriously. He has no clue that the global catastrophe that he believes is years in the future, will happen in just a few short weeks. A massive climate shift is triggered and it affects the population of the world with the equivalent of a short-term ice age. His son is in New York City at a high school competition when the United States begins to freeze. Unable to use any type of public transit, or even gas-powered vehicles, Hall sets out with two colleagues to reach the library where his son and the other students have taken shelter. He doesn’t know what he will find when he arrives, but he knows that he must try. Meanwhile, there is a mass exodus from the countries being affected by the ice age, to areas which have warmer climates and are unaffected. Mexico briefly closes its’ borders to stop the influx of American’s into their country.
“The Day the Earth Stood Still” (2008)
An alien spacecraft makes a landing in New York City. The alien Klaatu, and his giant robot, wielding mind-blowing powers make their appearance. A group of scientists are called in to attempt to determine more about the aliens. Dr. Helen Benson feels sorry for the alien and helps him to escape. He tells her that he has come to save the Earth, but he is there to facilitate the destruction of the population because they have been deemed unfit for existence. Benson attempts to persuade Klaatu to reason with his superiors and prevent the annihilation of mankind.
“The Happening” (2008)
This film is a science fiction thriller that begins with Elliot Moore quizzing his students about an article that they were assigned to read. It was a piece on the mysterious disappearance of honey bees. The movie quickly shifts gears as a more serious problem suddenly strikes Central Park. People on the streets begin to act out in strange and bizarre ways. This soon escalates and begins to spread outwards to other cities. Elliot, is wife and a friend’s daughter do not know what is happening. They do know that they must escape the madness as they frantically search for places to run and hide.
Woody Harrelson leads the cast in this zombie apocalypse movie about a college student and a rambunctious redneck (Harrelson), who get into the habit of killing zombies as they search for other people who have not yet been infected. The two head out in search of family for the younger college student, and Twinkies for Harrelson. The show has a bit of comedy sprinkled throughout, but there are plenty of tense moments as well as a liberal smattering of gore. The good old boy played by Woody is on a journey to get to Florida and the two have several tense encounters along with way.
King Hyperion, played by Mickey Rourke, has just made a declaration of war against all humanity. The show takes placed a long time after the Gods emerged victorious against the Titans. Hyperion represents the latest threat to the land. He has amassed a large army and has already burned Greece in search of the Epirus Bow. This is the artifact that would give him the power to unleash the Titans. They have been incarcerated in Mount Tartaros for several millennia and they are anxious to take their revenge. Hyperion has the goal to acquire the bow so he can use the Titans might to destroy mankind and while he is at it, he plans to annihilate the Gods as well.
The story of this film takes place in 1959 where students are asked to draw pictures for inclusion in a time capsule. They are to create images of what they believe life will be like fifty years in the future. Lucinda is a major character. She is considered by others to be odd because she hears voices. She creates a unique drawing that contains a very long string of numbers. It is placed in the capsule. When the time capsule if opened fifty years later, Lucinda’s drawing is there. Caleb Koestler discovers that the drawing is a list of number with the dates of everyone on the list who has died in the past fifty years. There are three dates left on the list, but they are coming quickly. Koestler hunts for Lucinda because he believes that his son is in danger. He starts to hear voices and he was visited by a stranger who gives him a vision of destruction and fire. Caleb’s goal is to find out before the dates on the list are here.
“12 Monkeys” (1995)
A new virus hits the world in 1996 and it wipes out five billion people. It is lethal land quite mysterious. With only one percent of the population left, the remaining population must live underground if they want to survive. A convict is chosen to go back in time, from 2035 to 1996 to learn more about the epidemic that was rumored to have been spread by the” Army of 12 monkeys.” His assignment was to find the virus before it mutated so the scientists would be able to study it. The time travel was off and he was accidentally sent back to 1990 which was six years earlier than the original goal. Upon his arrival in 1990, Cole is arrested and locked up in a mental ward. There he gets to know psychiatrist, Kathryn Railly and Jeffrey Goines, who is the mentally disturbed son of a famous virus expert.
“Miracle Mile” (1998)
This film tells the story of young love and nuclear war. A guy falls in love with a girl at the La Brea Tar Pits, located in Los Angeles. The area is called the Miracle Mile and this is where the entire movie takes place. He meets her and the two agree to a date. He doesn’t show up on time and while he is busy looking for the girl, he hears tht the United States is poised to start a nuclear war against the Soviet Union. He picks up the pace in his search for the girl he has fallen for with the goal of taking her out of the city with him. He knows that their survival will depend on making it out of Los Angeles.
“The Day After” (1983)
The storyline of this movie begins with the weeks that lead up to a nuclear strike that was made against the United States. It continues with the weeks after wards. The frightening story of the weeks leading up to and following a nuclear strike on the United States. The focal point of the story is in a small town called Lawrence, Kansas. The time is the mid-1980s. Dr. Oakes is the chief of surgery at the local hospital and he’s keeping busy, while another family in the town is preparing for a wedding in the family. Although everyone knows that there is a potential for nuclear war to break out, they are still going on with their normal lives. When the nuclear attack becomes a reality, viewers see a graphic and visually disturbing simulation of what would happen if a small town of this size were to be hit with a nuclear bomb.
Justine has just been married, and although this should be the happiest day of her life, her mind is on other things. There is a huge blue planet that is on a crash course with the earth and it is projected to hit soon after the festivities occur. The name of the planet is Melancholia and it could be a total earth wrecker. The guests at the wedding are struggling to find a little bit of happiness before the disastrous event takes place.
“Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (1978)
This film is a remake of the classic tale of people who are being replaced by aliens. Matthew Bennell starts to notice that his friends are upset because their relatives and friends are beginning to act oddly. When confronted, they deny that there is anything wrong and find excuses for the changes in their behaviors. Bennell sees an attempted replacement and it is at this point that he understands that if he and his friends don’t get out of the city, they too will be replaced.