Since the dawn of civilization, human beings have obsessed over its possible demise. The Mayans spent most of their time calculating the date that this would happen, rather disappointingly getting it wrong, while even the Bible has included a whole chapter on how life as we know it will cease to exist.
Perhaps inevitably Hollywood has weighed it with its own vision of the end times. Here, for your amusement, entertainment, and – in case the apocalypse does by some chance occur – edification, are the best post-apocalyptic movies ever made.
1. Mad Max
Thinking of immigrating to Australia? Things won’t be much better there in the event of an apocalypse, if the film Mad Max is anything to go by. Oil supplies have been exhausted and law and order has broken down, with violent motorcycle gangs terrorizing the Australian outback.
Fortunately Me Gibson is around to punish the evil doers in this cult classic. And if that isn’t enough for you, there are two more sequels where you can watch Mad Max get – well – madder.
2. The RoadThe Road manages the neat trick of making the apocalypse seem even more horrible than you imagined. The movie, based on Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, follows a man and his young son who have to fend of roving gangs of cannibals as the fight for survival in a post-apocalyptic world.
The bleak landscapes and melancholy music highlight the grimness of the film – but you already know it was not going to be a walk in the park when the boy’s mother kills herself at the start of the movie.
3. Planet of the Apes
In a rather disturbing inverse evolution scenario, the apes have conquered Earth and rule over humans in Planet of the Apes. A time traveling astronaut has to deal with the machinations of the super-intelligent animals when his ship crashes on Earth sometime in the distant future. Soon he finds himself locked in a battle of wits with a power-hungry chimpanzee. With the humans forced to be slaves to the simians, it is safe to say that only the apes get to do any monkeying around in this film – something you would do well to keep in mind the next time you visit the zoo.
4. World War Z
If the apocalypse does occur and everyone gets devoured by a pack of frenzied zombies, Earth will clearly need a hero – preferably someone with long hair, a six-pack and well developed pecs. Who better to save us then Brad Pitt, who stands against hordes of flesh-eating monsters in the latest summer blockbuster featuring a zombie apocalypse, World War Z.
As the result of a rabies-like pandemic, the zombies have the added advantages of lightning speed and have invaded virtually every country, toppling governments around the world. Fortunately our globe-trotting hero is there to save the day.
All these harrowing stories of survival against zombies and cannibals can create morbid fears about the apocalypse especially among the timid. How about some light relief? In this enchanting animated Pixar film, a robot finds both life and love on Earth after it has been deserted due to the collection of garbage created by mass consumerism. Now he has to convince the humans, who have become morbidly obese after 700 years in space, to return to their home planet.
6. I Am Legend
What would you do if you were the last man alive and you were Will Smith? This is the question answered in I Am Legend, in which Smith is the sole survivor in New York City of a deadly virus that has mutated as a result of a botched cancer cure. The rest of humanity has either been killed or, even more disturbingly, changed into flesh-eating, vampire-like creatures that prey on the living. And you thought muggers and rude cabbies were the biggest threat in New York.
7. This Is the End
Being surrounded by zombies after the world ends is one thing – what would happen if you ended up with Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Micheal Cera, Paul Rudd and James Franco? Would that be better or worse?
Once the world comes to an abrupt and, let’s face it, rather amusing end, the comics spend their time fighting over Milky Way chocolate bars, masturbating and waiting for Rihanna to show up – which, you get the sinking feeling, is all you’ll really end up doing in the event of an apocalypse.
Just because the world has ended and flesh eating zombies are inexorably hunting you down, doesn’t mean you need to get all serious. Life may have come to the end, but the laughter can surely continue. That is the premise behind Zombieland, where Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin have all manner of hilarious encounters with undead creatures who want to kill and eat them – though not necessarily in that order. Staying alive in a post-apocalyptic world has never been so much fun.
9. The Day after Tomorrow
As any dedicated apocalypse watcher knows the world can end for a million reasons. In this case, its global warming that turns Manhattan into a giant ice rink. But with freezing temperatures and starving wolves roaming the streets, it’s safe to day no one’s going ice skating. As massive storms decimate much of the US, refugees flee to Mexico and while in New York people burn book to stay alive in the hostile weather. Watch the movie, and then go buy a hybrid. At the very least, switch off a light.
10. The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games eschews storms, viruses and zombies for an even more frightening post-apocalyptic scenario– an authoritarian government which host tournaments where children have to kill each other. There may not be any cannibalism or undead hordes, but the results are quite disturbing all the same, perhaps because of the undisguised glee of those who watch the televised combats. This enormously popular film confirms that our long-standing suspicion that survival may, in fact, ultimately depend on nifty archery skills and a killer turn on prime-time TV.