After its beginning in the heydays of German expressionism, post-apocalyptic cinema truly came of age in the Cold-War era, fueled by the anxiety of a nuclear collapse. Since the amplification of the climate concern, filmmakers have found new ways to warn the audience of the fall of civilization. Soon they realized that the spectacle sells more than anything, and with the looming threat of the apocalypse, they could churn a few more cinematic gems before calling it a day. If ‘apocalypse’ in the original sense of the word means revelation, these films we have compiled truly unravel a harrowing landscape for humanity’s future. You can binge-watch all of them on HBO Max.
7. Equilibrium (2002)
Nobody knows why Kurt Wimmer’s sci-fi action venture ‘Equilibrium’ did not make a lasting critical impression. It is probably because the movie employs several post-apocalyptic genre tropes that seem straight out of a Kafka novel. Christian Bale‘s Preston lives in a world governed by an oppressive rhythm, where emotions are prohibited, and so are art and literature.
While Preston is tasked with implementing the authoritarian regime, he has enlightenment on the way and ends up revolting against it. Interestingly, rebellion is often a theme intricately linked with the apocalypse. If you want to experience an oppressive post-apocalyptic landscape with vivid cinematography, this movie will not fail to impress you.
6. The Matrix (1999)
Lana and Lilly Wachowski have bent all millennial minds with the sci-fi action movie ‘The Matrix.’ Have you ever felt that you are part of an illusion and that reality is not entirely within your grasp? If so, you would relate to Neo, who heads into the titular Matrix, to go head-to-head with diabolical and powerful computers.
Guided by the all-powerful Morpheus, he begins to look at reality from other vantage points and ultimately fulfills his destiny by rejecting and morphing reality at his will. If you ever thought of a post-apocalyptic virtual space, this movie presents a good enough representation, with octopus computers and replicating secret agents.
5. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
After the success of ‘Terminator,’ James Cameron upped the ante with technological innovation in ‘Terminator 2: Judgment Day.’ The narrative opens as Sarah Connor is admitted to a psychiatric facility, and as she preaches a destined doomsday, the old terminator descends on Earth to protect her son, John. The latter would become the leader of human resistance in a future world dominated by robots. The movie takes the myth forward with the presence of Arnold Schwarzenegger in a heroic role. If you are looking for a classic post-apocalyptic venture, it cannot get better than ‘Terminator 2: Judgment Day.’
4. Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
Denis Villeneuve carries forward Ridley Scott‘s groundbreaking vision in the sci-fi dystopian movie ‘Blade Runner 2049.’ The past haunts the present as officer K from Los Angeles Police Department is tasked with retiring replicants. A storm brews in the distance, and he must hunt down a fabled blade runner who has been missing for over three decades to fulfill his destiny.
Harrison Ford retains his role as Rick Deckard, while Ryan Gosling and Ana de Armas join the cultural icon in delivering the second chapter of the enthralling saga based on Philip K. Dick’s novel ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ If you are fond of post-apocalyptic landscapes, here is a movie you should add to your watch list.
3. Oblivion (2013)
With Joseph Kosinski at the helm, the sci-fi action movie ‘Oblivion‘ is a treat to your senses. The narrative takes the viewers to an Earth rendered unrecognizable by wars and extraterrestrial invasion. At this juncture, Jack Harper, a drone repairman, rescues the woman who keeps appearing in his dreams. In the process, he questions his identity and existence while a deep-seated secret remains to be discovered. With Tom Cruise headlining the cast ensemble and an immersive world, the post-apocalyptic feel of this movie is enough to leave a lasting impression in your mind.
2. Mad Max 2 (1981)
Following the success of the first ‘Mad Max‘ movie, Australian auteur George Miller returns with more blazing gunslinging in ‘Mad Max 2.’ Mel Gibson retains his role as the titular police officer, who becomes a drifter in a curious turn of fate. Although reluctant, he takes up the duty of protecting a small group of honest people running an oil refinery. The movie brilliantly explores the pertinent issue of the burgeoning threat of global warming. In the backdrop of desolate Australia, the post-apocalyptic film holds the right amount of anxiety to immerse you.
1. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
After a long hibernation, George Miller again revives the titular steampunk hero in ‘Mad Max: Fury Road.’ In the fifth part of the celebrated dystopian franchise, drifter law keeper Max (Tom Hardy) teams up with Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), a rebel warrior. Together, they must overthrow the oppressive state order that reigns supreme. With a cerebral soundtrack and eye-catching spectacles, this movie takes the post-apocalyptic theme to new heights. If you are planning to binge on such movies, ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ deserves a winning place on the list.
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