Top 10 Apocalypse Movies: Oblivion & Beyond

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With the arrival of Oblivion, the film starring Tom Cruise (what's your favorite Tom Cruise movie moment?), the flick continues a long legacy of Hollywood fare that celebrates and explores what happens when the end arrives.

Apocalyptic movies are a standard and right now seem to be a massive trend in Tinseltown with not only Oblivion hitting theaters, but Will Smith's After Earth, Matt Damon's Elysium and the Seth Rogen, James Franco-starring comedy This Is the End -- all coming soon.

So, what are the top 10 movies that set their landscape with the end of the world? Movie Fanatic looks back... so we can look forward to it all coming to an end.

10. Children of Men
In the world of Children of Men, it has been eighteen years since a single new human birth. The world is slowly coming to an end because women are infertile and no one knows why. When Clive Owen encounters a woman who is pregnant, the drama unfolds and the end of civilization as we know it genre gets a shot in the arm with a wildly original premise.

Children of Men Clive Owen

9. I Am Legend
Will Smith is a commanding screen presence and that was on display in no better way than in I Am Legend. When a cancer vaccine is found to in fact have the opposite effect, it wipes out the entire human population… save for Smith’s scientist. With Smith’s larger-than-life movie star presence and the most loyal of German shepherd’s by his side, I Am Legend is one thrill ride that no movie fan should miss.

8. The Day After Tomorrow
The Day After Tomorrow (one of the Top 10 Jake Gyllenhaal movies) took our fears about global warming and put them in the context of a big Hollywood blockbuster. Dennis Quaid stars as a scientist who has been preaching the coming environmental apocalypse for years, and when it starts to happen, the government turns to him for help. Only… it may be too late.

Jake Gyllenhaal stars as his son, who is trapped in an Ice Age-covered New York City and the thrills arrive in the form of him trying to be reunited with his father.

7. The Andromeda Strain
The 1971 thriller finds the threat to mankind arriving in the form of an alien organism that has attached itself to a satellite that comes crashing back down to Earth. Those who are sent to retrieve the space item immediately die and it sets in motion the horrifying story that strikes a nerve to anyone who fears the potential terror that can come from above.

6. The Terminator
Although the crux of the film takes place prior to mass world destruction, The Terminator is still a movie that firmly sits in the apocalyptic genre. Arnold Schwarzenegger famously established himself as a massive movie star as the cyborg sent to Earth to kill the mother of the future’s rebel leader, before he is even born.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Terminator 2

Machines have launched an all-out attack on the planet, leaving it a deserted wasteland except for a handful of rebels, and the machines that seek to completely wipe them out.

5. On the Beach
The 1959 film landed during a time when the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States was starting to get serious. Both sides had nuclear weapons and each were pointing hundreds of warheads at the other. In On the Beach, the story takes place in Australia after World War III has decimated much of the planet. Given that country’s isolated place in the corner of the world, the fallout has yet to hit the land Down Under.

A band of people gather together (led by Gregory Peck as an American military officer, Ava Gardner and Psycho star Anthony Perkins) and spend what they believe will be their final days by the sea, cherishing the last moments of life before a nuclear cloud arrives via the wind currents that causes them to perish as much as the rest of the world already has.

4. The Matrix
What if the world we happily lived in, was solely in our minds? What if we were really human beings in a catatonic state, being “milked” for our “power” that fuels a world run by a supercomputer that has turned our planet into a world where the only humans can live underground… and in fear? That is The Matrix… and so much more. We can forgive the two subsequent sequels because The Matrix is about as perfect of a movie as they come.

Keanu Reeves in The Matrix

3. 12 Monkeys
Speaking of living underground, 12 Monkeys is a fascinating study in apocalyptic cinema. Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt star as two individuals who are somehow involved in a virus that was released and subsequently decimated the world’s population.

Willis’ living in the future character is sent back in time to discover how the virus started, all in an effort to stop it, and therefore, stop the apocalypse from ever happening. Pitt stars as a rich man’s son, who seeks to wreak havoc on the world in the form of his “terrorist” group the Army of the 12 Monkeys. Are they responsible?

2. Mad Max
This time out, the reason for the world to fall into chaos is the dwindling of our resources. Mad Max finds a world (set in Australia) where Mel Gibson’s character is doing his best to survive, despite the onslaught of evil-doers who seek to kill for the sake of killing. The film introduced the world to Gibson and started a Mad Max franchise that is still as powerful today as when it debuted. In fact, a “next” Mad Max film is already in the works.

1. Planet of the Apes
Charlton Heston starring in a sci-fi post-apocalyptic movie? Heck yeah, and in Movie Fanatic’s opinion, Planet of the Apes is the absolute best. In 1968 when the film debuted, audiences got a view of the future world where life as we know it has been extinguished for centuries and now apes run the world.

Planet of the Apes Still

What we adore about this film is we’re not really sure that this landscape of the drama is our planet… until that iconic scene at the end where Heston discovers an up to her elbows in sand Statue of Liberty. Oh, the horror, indeed. And to see how it all began... be sure to check out the solid Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

Honorable mentions: I Robot, The Book of Eli, The Last Man on Earth, The Omega Man, 28 Days Later, The Road and City of Ember.

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