It seems Hollywood’s infatuation with the end of the world has found its place in 2009 with releases such as Knowing this past March and upcoming releases such as 9, The Road and 2012 later this year. I never saw The Horsemen, but I know it had an apocalyptic theme, and films such as Terminator Salvation and even Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen threaten the continued existence of the human race. So, with such a situation at hand what better time than now to take a look at what I believe to be the best apocalyptic films of all-time… or at the very least of those I have seen…
We all have a morbid curiosity when it comes to the world’s end. Will it go with a whimper or a bang? Will the apocalypse be man-made, ape-made, E.T.-made, nature-made, or God-made? Will I be holding Nicolas Cage’s hand when the fireball hits or will I survive and roam the wasteland in my Toyota Prius searching for gas and Twinkies? Who knows? The only thing I know is I dig a good film involving the apocalypse. And for decades Hollywood has obliged by giving us several glimpses into what could be the end. Here are the ones that have made a lasting impression. I must warn though. Spoilers lie ahead… just as may the end of life as you know it. BEWARE!
The Quiet Earth (1985)
Here’s a cult classic all the cool people know about. When it comes to “last man on Earth” movies, everyone trots out one of the adaptations of Richard Matheson’s “I Am Legend” for discussion. Bah. The Quiet Earth nails the lonely madness of the concept better than any of those movies and without including silly vampires too. Oh, and then there’s the ambiguous ending, which catapults the film into a territory of genuine, thought-provoking science fiction. Try to track down this gem if you can.
Chance of Apocalypse via Dimensional Mishap: 30%
Huh? Network, the movie with the newscaster who’s mad as hell? Yes, that Network. However, the inclusion of Network is not a massive typo on this list. Sure, no comets strike Earth. Yet, the film is as apocalyptic as any other presented here. It just details a silent Armageddon. One in which the human species continues to breathe and live, but our humanity is dead, crushed and dissolved by corporate culture with us being none the wiser. If we go with a whimper as opposed to a bang, this is how it will happen. Or maybe it already has. Sidney Lumet’s film remains as relevant as ever.
Chance of Apocalypse via Corporate Takeover: 99.9%
The Rapture (1991)
Don’t let the lame trailer fool you. Instead, let’s quote Roger Ebert’s review for a better perspective: “Here is one of the most radical, infuriating, engrossing, challenging movies I’ve ever seen.” The Rapture depicts the biblical Judgement Day – you know, the one where four horsemen will tramp across your front yard and God will vacuum up Stephen Baldwin to the heavens. Yet, this isn’t preachy drivel such as the odious Left Behind franchise. Same source material, but The Rapture illustrates the lunacy a literal belief in Revelations inspires and the insanity of a God who would deliver the end under such rigid conditions.
Chance of Apocalypse via an Old-fashioned Yahweh Rapture: 1%