Hollywood's best apocalyptic movies

Friday, 15 August 2014 - 6:35am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

These Hollywood movies raked millions while thriving on the fear of Doom's Day...

The world was coming to and end in 2012. Though the Mayan prediction did not come true, there are many who believe that Judgement Day cannot be avoided. Humna race should be ready to meet its creator, and that too pretty savagely (if our Hollywood movies are to be believed). Some predict that the Earth will be washed away others think that it will meet its fate when an asteroid hits her. For year, filmmakers are cashing on this fear of death and survival. A look at some of the popular, and fear-worthy, apocalyptic movies...

Dr Strangelove (1964)
The one true masterpiece among the dozens of films about the threat posed by the H-bomb features Peter Sellers in three roles, including that of Strangelove, the crazed scientific adviser to the American President. He is one of a bungling coterie of boffins who must try to reverse a bombing attack on the USSR triggered by a right-wing American general gone rogue. Stanley Kubrick had intended to make a straight thriller, but the sheer absurdity of nuclear proliferation persuaded him to make this pitch-black (and pitch-perfect) comedy instead.

Last Night (1998)
Bitter-sweet comedy about how a group of Canadians spend their last day on Earth, having known for months about an inevitable cosmic event that will destroy the planet. Horror auteur David Cronenberg has a great cameo as the employee of a utility company who personally calls each one of the company's customers and thanks them for their business before they die.

Armageddon (1998)
An asteroid 'the size of Texas' is heading our way, promising to smash the Earth to bits. Can Bruce
Willis get inside that speeding asteroid and blow it up before we all become stardust?

The Matrix (1999)
What if the world already ended and we didn't even know it? That's the startling discovery computer programmer Neo (Keanu Reeves) makes in the Wachowski Brothers' landmark 1999 hit. Sentient machines have taken over, plugging people into an alternate reality that looks and feels like life but is nothing more than an elaborate illusion designed to distract humanity while machines use us as batteries. When Neo "wakes up" to the truth he joins a small rebellion waging war on the machines. With its iconic visual style, breakthrough bullet-time photography and giddy mix of philosophy and genre filmmaking, some fans still prefer to think of "The Matrix" as a standalone work, and not the start of an increasingly disappointing trilogy.

War Of The World (2005)
This Steven Spielberg's version of the classic HG Wells story about an alien attack on Earth deals with last days of our plant. It's hard to forget Spielberg's scenes of large scale destruction as seen through the eyes of a single family: A divorced dock worker (Tom Cruise) desperate to keep his kids (Justin Chatwin, Dakota Fanning) safe. It's a massive disaster movie with the intimacy of a character drama, infused with the emotional flourishes that have always been present in Spielberg's work.

Children Of Men (2006)
The human race is ending thanks to everyone shooting blanks from their baby-making guns. Bleak, beautiful film with some of the coolest cinematography ever devoted to extinction. And Michael Caine is fantastic as a ganja-huffing gramps.

Wall-E (2008)
There's not a single living person left on Earth in Wall-E. Pixar's Oscar winning wonder follows a lonely robot performing trash clean-up duties on a planet long abandoned as unlivable by the humans who turned it into a giant dump. Wall-E's adventures ultimately take him into space, to pursue a crush on fellow 'bot EVE and encounter what's left of humanity. But it's the breathtaking animation, thoughtful storytelling and firm grasp of the magical powers of cinema in director Andrew Stanton's film that helps it transcend so many other "end of world" visions.

2012 (2009)
The Judgment Day is near and human race is in danger. The plot follows Jackson Curtis (John Cusack) as he attempts to bring his children, Noah (Liam James) and Lilly (Morgan Lily), former wife Kate Curtis (Amanda Peet), and her boyfriend, Gordon Silberman (Thomas McCarthy) to refuge, amidst the events of a geological and meteorological super-disaster. The film includes references to Mayanism, the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar, and the 2012 phenomenon in its portrayal of cataclysmic events unfolding in the year 2012.

Melancholia (2011)
Doom approaches in the form of a fiery rogue planet on a collision course with Earth. Most of the characters introduced by Danish maverick Lars Von Trier in the first half of the film are fixated on their version of normality – a wedding, the comically bitter feelings between family members, and the venal determination of the bride's boss to seal a deal between the speeches. They are all in terrible denial. Only the bride, a customary sufferer of depression, can look death squarely in the face; for the first time, she is the strongest person in the room. Kirsten Dunst deservedly won a best actress gong at Cannes for her complex, careful performance.

Take Shelter (2011)
Is Curtis (Michael Shannon) following his mother into paranoid schizophrenia, or are his dreams of coming catastrophic storms to be trusted? Watched by his increasingly frantic wife (Jessica Chastain), he builds an underground shelter and rants at his fellow midwest rurals, losing his job when the boss decides he's got too many screws loose. Or has he? Indie auteur Nichols masterfully maintains both this uncertainty and a relentless sense of dread right up to the final – absolutely final – shot.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012)
It's a curious mix between comedy, an apocalyptic scenario and romance that pairs Steve Carell improbably with Keira Knightley. With the end nigh in three weeks, both are trying to re-connect with loved ones for the last time; they hit the road together and love erupts.

These Final Hours (2014)
A rolling curtain of fire – the result of an asteroid's collision with Earth in the northern hemisphere – is steadily rolling down the globe, peeling it like an onion. In Perth, James (Nathan Philips) has resolved to party to the max in a haze of drink, drugs and high-pressure sex with the trophy girlfriend for the few hours before the curtain falls on the south; meanwhile, his girl-on-the-side wishes he would join her on the beach to see the end come. When James rescues a little girl from some rapists on his way to the party, however, he finds his focus changing. Sharp, pacy genre film makes the most of the Wild West's sunshine, suburbia and sybaritic lifestyle.

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