Natural Disasters, Pollution, & Mistreating the Planet: Top Apocalypse Movies

By: Elizabeth Eckhart

Global warming. It’s on everyone’s minds now. We rely heavily on nonrenewable fossil fuels and when these fuels are burned they can drastically alter the Earth’s atmosphere and temperature. Even the smallest changes can become the most dangerous. If we keep going down this path, abusing Mother Nature, it won’t be long before she finally strikes back and someone will be watching our disaster movie. Here are some films that predict just that:

12 Monkeys (1995)

When a virus breaks out it kills millions forcing the survivors to live underground. James Cole (Bruce Willis) is sent back in time to gather information about the epidemic as a means to cure it. However, he doesn’t get his timing right and things take a turn for the worse. This movie is quite a fascinating case, aside from the mystery and action, it makes one consider: if or when we destroy ourselves will we have the ability to go back in time and right our wrongs?

28 Days Later (2002)

This movie warns of the dangers of animal testing. After activists free chimps from scientific testing they discover these chimps are infected with a highly contagious and vicious disease that spreads across London. Jim, played by Cillian Murphy, meets up with fellow survivors Selena (Naomie Harris) and a few others to set out for a platoon that promises safety. But in a country where civil order no longer exists can you really trust what you hear? This is a great survivor movie that plays off the very real fears of altering Mother Nature’s creatures.

The Day After Tomorrow (2004)

No movie showcases the extreme devastation of global warming more than The Day After Tomorrow. When paleoclimatologist Jack Hall, played by Dennis Quaid, fails to convince the UN of the disasters of global warming he is, unfortunately, proven right when a series of natural disasters eclipse the Earth. On the other side of the country his son (Jake Gyllenhaal) helps to keep the few people around him alive as a new ice age rolls in. This is definitely a favorite and a must for anyone who wants to see, firsthand, just how unforgiving nature can truly be.

Children of Men (2006)

In Children of Men, when a pregnant, refugee, woman named Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey) is discovered she must be guarded by Theo (Clive Owen) and escorted to a facility in the hopes of curing the world’s infertility crisis, otherwise humanity will cease to exist. But murderous men will stop at nothing to kill the woman and prevent a cure, but why? This is a great action and thriller movie and offers a new twist on the apocalyptic genre.

I Am Legend (2007)

I Am Legend stars Will Smith. He plays a lone New York survivor of a vicious cure for cancer gone wrong. It kills 90 percent of the population and mutates the other 10 percent into terrifying and unrelenting vampire-like monsters. Smith works to find a cure in the hopes that he may one day be reunited with the rest of humanity. This movie can be quite the tearjerker but will keep you on the edge of your seat.

The Road (2009)

In the 2009 film The Road, a father (Viggo Mortensen) and son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) must look out for themselves when society crumbles after an cataclysm and everyone has turned to looting and cannibalism in order to survive. Having already lost his wife this father is determined to take care of his son, no matter the cost. This can be a little emotional at times but definitely suspenseful. The ending, however, depending on your views of how one should survive an apocalypse, may have you cringing. But don’t all good movies force us into a love-hate relationship?

Snowpiercer (2014)

Snowpiercer tells the story of a failed attempt to counteract climate change which, in turn, brings about a massive ice age that destroys all life on the planet, with the exception of the people on board a Noah ark-esque train. Society, as they know it, has dwindled down to locomotive size and a rebellion is started by Curtis Everett, played by Chris Evans, in order to overthrow their ruler Minister Wilford (Ed Harris) to free the people. A great action-packed film that has you rooting for the rebels in the hopes that they may change their tiny world for the better, but will they be able to?

Disaster movies like these can become an enlightenment tool for skeptics. These are just a few of the handful of disaster movies which blur the lines between fantasy and reality as the growing threat of global warming looms over us, whispering our self-destruction. We need to continue to find less damaging and more reliable ways to fuel our planet so that we don’t become another disaster movie.

Elizabeth Eckhart is a film and entertainment writer. She has written for Thunder Treats before and currently her home base is in Chicago. You can follow her on Twitter at @elizeckhart.

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