It’s The End of the World As We Know It: 10 Great Movie Apocalypses

With controversial Nazi-gaffe prone director Lars Von Trier releasing Melancholia – a film which imagines the days leading up to the end of the world – tomorrow, we’ve trawled through the movie history books and dredged up the finest examples of apocalyptic action this side of Domesday. So quick! Get watching before the world’s leaders announce our imminent destruction and you are left wandering along a lonely beach damning the human race to hell. In no particular order…

Planet of the Apes (1968)
NOT the one with Mark Wahlberg but the one with chimp-chaser, Charlton Heston. After crash-landing their ship crash on a mysterious planet, two US astronauts wander about believing they are alone. Nope. The “damn dirty apes” who live there (some of whom appear to have been voiced by Stephen Fry) have locked up all the humans. This film manages to combine action, adventure and allegory into an ape-solutely brilliant bar of solid Hollywood gold.

28 Days Later (2002)
This blood splattered, low-budget zombie horror considers the implications of our endless meddling with DNA, monkeys and…stuff. So maybe it’s message got a bit lost in all the guts but it’s still a damn good watch. Featuring some of the best zombies since George A. Romero, Danny Boyle’s end of days zombie-fest makes it into our top ten with ease.

Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
If you haven’t seen Stanley Kubrick’s dark satire about those in power setting us on a course towards total destruction, you obviously won’t have “heard of cobalt thorium G”. Peter Sellars stuns in all of his three-roles – a masterclass in comic acting and a joy to watch.

The Road (2009)
Perhaps not the most explosive contender on our list, but a thought-provoking translation of Cormac McCarthy’s tragic novel about a father and son trying to find any trace of life on a dying planet. A grey Viggo Mortenson leads his grey son though the dying grey wilderness, encountering Mad Max style gangs of dirty, grey thugs every so often. According to this film, the future is definitely not orange.

Deep Impact (1998)
Groan all you like. Death by asteroid has to make it onto the list of and Armaggedon ended too darn well to be considered. To be fair, it had Bruce Willis instead of Elijah Wood to save the day. Wood and his stony-faced girlfriend manage to outrun a tidal wave… eh hem…after he rejects his invitation to a secure underground bunker to be with his unlucky gf who does not make the cut. Also, Morgan Freeman should be president.

Children of Men (2006)
It’s 2027 and the human race can no longer procreate. But when a woman miraculously becomes pregnant, former activist (Clive Owen) does his best to get her to safety at sea. As with all the very best apocalyptic sci-fi thrillers, the future of the human race depends on his success. The impressive hand-held camera work in this clip is also worth a mention.

Wall-E (2008)
Pixar’s 2008 post-apocalyptic offering forecasts a miserable and rather chunky future for any surviving humans. According to Wall-E, our future predecessors are destined to forever pootle around on futuristic mobility scooters, eating loads of food and being fairly obnoxious. I can’t see that ever happening.

12 Monkeys (1995)
In a future world devastated by disease, a convict (Bruce Willis) is sent back in time to gather information about the man-made virus that wiped out the majority of the human race. Is he crazy? Are we crazy? How does Brad Pitt look that good with a cock-eye?

Mad Max 2: Road Warrior (1981)
All films of the Mad Max variety would be appropriate in this slot but number two gets our vote because Max really got into his unshaven, thug-slaughtering stride by this point. Not only that, but the second installment includes the wild boomerang kid (rumoured to be director, George Miller’s son) who would give Odd Job a run for his money. If the end of the world means Mel Gibson in the Interceptor, bring it on.

Independence Day (1996)
This list would not be worth its weight in terror and destruction without the appearance of a good old fashioned alien invasion. Huge explosions, mass doom and Jeff Goldblum – what is not to love? This was also the film which encouraged Will Smith to ditch the neon sneakers and backwards baseball cap and do some “serious” acting…granted, it was the start of a long path.