During a global crisis like this, watching post-apocalyptic movies might not seem like the greatest idea, but, hey, not all these films are bleak. The post-apocalyptic genre typically has memorable heroes and stunning landscapes, but most importantly, they offer a timeless look into how society reacts and responds in times of crisis. What’s fascinating about this genre is how it highlights humanity’s adaptability in challenging situations, wholly conceptualising brand-new societies and imagining the best of people. These movies can be a great reminder for us to take care of the world and each other, a reminder of a future we don’t want to happen.
Here we share a list of some of the greatest post-apocalyptic movies ever made:
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Released in 2015, Mad Max: Fury Road is an Australian post-apocalyptic action film directed by Australian filmmaker George Miller. The fourth instalment in Miller’s Mad Max film franchise, Mad Max: Fury Road was a critical and commercial success, becoming the highest-grossing Mad Max film. Mad Max: Fury Road received 10 nominations at the 88th Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, winning 6 awards for Costume Design, Production Design, Makeup and Hairstyling, Film Editing, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing.
Set in a post-apocalyptic future, in the barren deserts of the dystopian Wasteland, civilisation has collapsed and survivors have been enslaved by the tyrannical Immortan Joe (Keays-Byrne) in the desert fortress called the Citadel. When Joe’s elite lieutenant, the fearless Imperator Furiosa (Theron), flees with the tyrant’s five wives in her heavily armoured truck, the War Rig, she crosses paths and forges an unlikely alliance with former captive and lone wolf, Max Rockatansky (Hardy), to outrun the powerful warlord and his marauding gangs, the Wild Boys, in a high-speed chase across the deadly immense Wasteland.
Over the top, vigorous and bizarre, the film was praised for its direction, screenplay, action sequences, score, cinematography, editing, costume design, visuals and the performances of its two leads, making Mad Max: Fury Road a successful revival of the franchise, a cinematic revelation and one of the greatest films of the 2010s.
Starring: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Riley Keough, Zoë Kravitz, Abbey Lee and Courtney Eaton.
Directed by: George Miller
Written by: George Miller, Brendan McCarthy & Nico Lathouris
Runtime: 120 minutes
Release date: May 15, 2015
Children of Men (2006)
Released in 2006, Children of Men is a dystopian action thriller film directed by acclaimed Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón. Based on the 1992 P.D. James novel entitled The Children of Men, the film received positive reviews upon release, praised for its excellent screenwriting, cinematography, art direction and ground-breaking single-shot action sequences. The film received 3 nominations at the 79th Academy Awards, including Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography and Best Film Editing.
Set to a backdrop of a dystopian London in 2027, mankind faces the imminent threat of extinction when women around the world have been rendered infertile for the past 18 years due to unknown reasons. The last youngest citizen of the world has died at the age of 18 and with science unable to explain the reason, societies collapse and the world is thrown into nationalistic violence. When a woman miraculously becomes pregnant, Theo Faron (Owen), a former peace activist turned bureaucrat, works together with his revolutionary ex-wife, Julian (Moore), in the quest to save mankind by protecting the expecting mother.
Regarded as one of the best films of the 2000s, Children of Men is driven by an astonishing cautionary tale that works as both a compelling human drama story about struggling societies and a violent chase thriller, elevated by its technical marvel and visual artistry.
Starring: Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, Michael Caine, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Charlie Hunnam and Clare-Hope Ashitey.
Directed by: Alfonso Cuarón
Screenplay by: Alfonso Cuarón, Timothy J. Sexton, David Arata, Mark Fergus & Hawk Ostby
Runtime: 109 minutes
Release date: December 25, 2006
Released in 2013, Snowpiercer is a science fiction action film directed by celebrated Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho. Based on the French novel entitled Le Transperceneige by Jacques Lob, Benjamin Legrand and Jean-Marc Rochette, the film is a South Korean-Czech co-production and Bong’s first English-language feature film. Snowpiercer received critical acclaim upon release, with many critics regarding it as one of the best films of the year.
Set in 2031, the film takes place aboard the Snowpiercer, a revolutionary train that navigates on a globe-crossing track, transporting what remains of civilisation after a failed attempt at stopping global warming through climate engineering seventeen years prior has resulted in a new Ice Age. Citizens of the train are divided into class systems, with the wealthy living in the front wagons, while the lower-class citizens live in poor conditions on the tail-end of the wagons, oppressed and punished by Minister Mason (Swinton). When the lower-class citizens become fed up with their living conditions, they launch a revolution against the elite, led by Curtis Everett (Evans).
Ambitious, visually striking and amply satisfying, Snowpiercer is driven by a bold vision, marvellous direction and strong performances, offering a piece of cinematic excellence with its refreshing take on the often-done planetary destruction and human extinction concept.
Starring: Chris Evans, Song Kang-ho, Tilda Swinton, Jamie Bell, Octavia Spencer, Ewen Bremner, Ko Asung, John Hurt and Ed Harris.
Directed by: Bong Joon-ho
Screenplay by: Bong Joon-ho & Kelly Masterson
Story by: Bong Joon-ho
Runtime: 126 minutes
Release date: August 1, 2013
The Matrix (1999)
Released in 1999, The Matrix is a science fiction action film written and directed by the Wachowskis. The film utilises the cyberpunk subgenre of sci-fi, with influences from Japanese animation and martial arts films, The Matrix was a critical and commercial success, winning all 4 nominations at the 72nd Academy Awards for Film Editing, Sound, Sound Effects Editing and Visual Effects.
In the year 1999, Thomas Anderson (Reeves), lives a seemingly ordinary life, working in a cubicle as a computer programmer by day and a hacker nicknamed Neo by night. When a mysterious woman named Trinity (Moss) contacts him and introduces him to Morpheus (Fishburne), he reveals that the world isn’t what it seems. In reality, it is a dystopian future closer to the year 2199, where intelligent machines have unwittingly trapped humanity inside a simulated reality entitled the Matrix to distract humans as they use their bodies as energy sources. When Neo finally uncovers the truth, he joins others who have been freed from the Matrix into a rebellion against the machines.
Utilising the perfect combination of spectacular action sequences and ground-breaking special effects, its not surprising that this wildly imaginative film is considered to be one of the greatest science fiction films of all time.
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving and Joe Pantoliano.
Directed by: The Wachowskis
Written by: The Wachowskis
Runtime: 136 minutes
Release date: March 31, 1999
Released in 1979, Stalker is a Soviet science fiction art film directed by Andrei Tarkovsky. Based on the 1972 novel entitled Roadside Picnic by Boris and Andy Strugatsky, the film received less than favourable reviews upon release but more recent and modern reviews have been highly positive.
The plot follows the story of a man known as the “Stalker” (Kaidanovsky), who leads an expedition with his two clients – the Writer (Solonitsyn) and the Professor (Grinko) – to the dreary and barren area in the wilderness simply known as the “Zone”. The Zone is said to house a mystical location only known as “The Room”, which grant’s one’s innermost desires. As they travel through the daunting areas filled with the remains of modern society, they realise it may require more than just willpower to succeed.
Beautifully shot, superbly acted and exquisitely written, Stalker is a strange, complex and oblique film that is an allegory of the human consciousness. Modern times have regarded Stalker as one of the greatest science fiction films ever made, taking viewers on a rich, spiritual and philosophical journey through the fantastic inner world of human desirers.
Starring: Alexander Kaidanovsky, Anatoly Solonitsyn, Nikolai Grinko and Alisa Freindlich.
Directed by: Andrei Tarkovsky
Written by: Boris Strugatsky & Arkady Strugatsky
Runtime: 161 minutes
Release date: May 1979