It might seem counterintuitive, but all I want to watch lately are apocalyptic movies. The country is literally on fire, civil unrest has reached a pre-Civil Right Act-era tenor, we’re in the middle of a century pandemic, bees are dying, and we lost King T’Challa. Why on earth would anyone want to watch apocalyptic cinema? What a bummer! Personally, I find it soothing. Our timeline is full of hardship, but at least we didn’t need to gamble on time travel to figure out how to avert a deadly virus from destroying most of humanity (12 Monkeys; 1996) or search for petrol while dealing with berserk motorcycle gangs (Mad Max; 1979). Apocalyptic movies are escapism, pure and simple. Plus, it’s September and if y’all get to celebrate Christmas for three months, I can get spooky a month before Halloween. Below, I listed four apocalyptic films that can be accessed on DVD and/or BluRay in the Monarch catalog.
Akira (1988; R)
Regarded as one of the greatest animated films for adults as well as one of the best science fiction movies of all time, Akira set the bar for both in the subsequent 30 years since its release. Following a disaster that destroyed Tokyo, we find our protagonists, a group of aimless, motorcycle-riding teenagers, drifting through a world that is packed with visual stimulation and violence. One of the teenagers gets in a horrible accident after running afoul of another biker gang. Mysterious military men take him away to a facility where he develops powerful abilities he does not understand and has little control over, to disastrous effect. While this IS a cartoon, it is not for children. The animation is ahead of its time, the pacing is breakneck and the soundtrack is one of the all-time greats, but it is violent as hell! I still watch a couple scenes through my fingers because it’s too intense for my delicate sensibilities.
Dr. Strangelove (1964; PG)
Stanley Kubrick’s finest, as far as I am concerned. This war farce is a must-see for anyone who loves film and cares about film history. Marvel at the towering performances of Peter Sellers as not one, not two, but THREE distinct roles in the film. His understated British liaison officer is a nice counterpoint to the bizarre titular Dr. Strangelove, who served under Hitler prior to WWII, and whose left hand acts independently of the rest of his body. A top-notch George C. Scott is not to be ignored, and rivals Seller’s portrayal of the Doctor in hilarity. What’s the brand of apocalypse in Dr. Strangelove? Nuclear annihilation, brought about by an American general’s paranoia surrounding the corruption of the nation’s water supply, and therefore our precious bodily fluids.
Pontypool (2008; rated R)
Think you’ve seen all the zombie movies out there, and know all the possible premises? Think again! This under-the-radar horror gem came out to little fanfare, but discerning horror fans in-the-know were pleased to encounter a new take on an old favorite trope. Set mostly in the confines of a claustrophobic radio broadcast booth, Pontypool examines what would happen if zombification transmitted via speech as opposed to the classic bite. Is meaningless conversation a plague? Please watch to find out.
10 Cloverfield Lane (2016; PG-13)
Where’s all the ladies at the end of the world? A lot of apocalyptic movies are really dude-centric, produced for men by men, so I try not to yeet my television out the window when the token lady has perfect hair, shaved armpits, and winged eyeliner? Like? What are they using, the reflection off a pool of stagnant water to see if the line is straight? Does one swing by the Walgreens while outrunning ravenous zombie hoards to stock up on one’s favorite Wet ‘n’ Wild eyeshadow? Bruh. Anyhoo, the protagonist of 10 Cloverfield Lane, played to perfection by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, gives us a depiction of what I think is a closer approximation to how a smart person would react in the face of the apocalypse. If you don’t know much about this movie, keep it that way and watch without reading criticism first to enjoy the surprises. A review at rogerebert.com sums it up nicely as “a cat and mouse game at the end of the world.”
Keep in mind, just like any genre, apocalyptic cinema varies wildly in quality and personal taste must always be considered. That being said, I absolutely hated The Road (2009) which is actually really depressing and affecting in a way I do not enjoy. What have you been watching lately? Do you need more movie recommendations? Let me know and I can help! Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy watching!