There is an endless supply of good apocalyptic movies. And every year we add a few more. It is truly a remarkable time for our favorite genre.
But what is the greatest post-apocalyptic movie of all time? Which one is the most rewatchable?
We polled several of our writers to list their top 5 favorite post-apocalyptic movies of all time. Here are the results.
#1 Children of Men
You can really feel the despair and hope of the characters as they struggle to find purpose as the last humans on earth. This one is a must see for fans of the post apocalyptic genre.
#2 Pacific Rim
In Pacific Rim the world is being invaded by giant monsters, much like Godzilla. Mankind has united to fight them off, primarily by constructing giant mech suits.
This is a layered, clever, and visually pleasing take on the Kaiju genre. If you haven’t traditionally loved Godzilla movies, don’t let that keep you from giving Pacific Rim a try.
#3 The Matrix
This movie was groundbreaking in its approach to philosophy and future technology. And it planted the idea in my head that maybe we really are in a simulation. Now I can’t stop thinking about it.
#4 Starship Troopers
When aliens attack earth, killing billions, all of humanity mobilizes for war. What would that look like?
War, propaganda, genocidal aliens, retribution – Starship Troopers tackles the ugly side of war as well as the justifications.
#5 The Hunger Games
A strong central government is prospering in a world of false scarcity. Young people from among the poor must risk everything for a small chance to leave poverty. To do so, they will have to survive the arena. Sound familiar? No, it’s not the NFL. But you may recognize that much of this plot was lifted straight from the 1999 book Battle Royale, and the 2000 movie by the same name.
I Am Legend
10 Cloverfield Lane
Mad Max: Fury Road
Z for Zechariah
28 Days Later
The Book of Eli
#1 Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior
Most of the movies on this list have 2 things in common: childhood memories and the word “Road.” The second Mad Max film is a masterpiece for so many reasons, but mainly it was also a huge part of my childhood.
#2 The Road
As a parent, this one was especially powerful to me. What would I do in each crazy situation? It actually took me a long time to watch it a second time, but I’ve been able to appreciate it a few times since, and it never gets less sad.
Another one I loved as a kid, especially since I could relate to the boy in the family. This one was brutal because it showed a nuclear blast, the ugly effects of radiation fallout, and was super sad when (spoiler alert!) the family members died off one by one.
An incredibly gritty and depressing story of the effects of nuclear war on two families in the UK. I watched this one as a kid (that explains a lot!) and it has always stuck with me for obvious reasons. Side note: not a kids’ show.
#5 Mad Max: Fury Road
This movie is a gateway drug to a more serious post-apocalyptic movie addiction, and for good reason. If you don’t like this one because it’s just one big car chase, then realize that’s exactly why I like it.
Mad Max 1
The Book of Eli
#1 The Matrix
Matrix broke a lot of tropes and conventions back when it first came out, in both visual effects and storytelling. I remember having no clue about the twist in the plotline and feeling so inspired when I watched the movie. It is one of the highest quality post-apocalyptic movies out there, in my opinion. Now, my opinion of Matrix 2 and Matrix 3 is less enthusiastic, but I’ll save that for another time. :)
#2 I Am Legend
Although I prefer the alternative ending to the one in theaters, I thought I Am Legend was really good. The scenes involving the dog still haunt me to this day, and I haven’t seen the movie in years. Whenever I hear the song “Don’t worry, about a thing,” I think about the scenes with Will Smith and his dog. And I feel SO sad. Even all these years later, it is the only think I think about when I hear the song. To me, that’s a sign of a really powerful movie, which is why this is my #2.
#3 Independence Day
Oh my gosh, the original Independence Day was so much fun! And yes, it’s another Will Smith movie in my Top 5. I adored Independence Day and watched it so many times. I still think about the scene when all the people were standing on the rooftop, welcoming the aliens, and… Well, you know what happened after that. This was a great movie.
I’ll admit – I am drawn to any science fiction movie that tries to tackle some of the crazier sides of quantum physics and explore those deeper issues. I liked Interstellar so much that I wrote about it for Post Apocalyptic Media right here. To show why this is in my top 5, here’s a quote from my article: “I absolutely LOVE the new post-apocalyptic movie Interstellar, partially because it really speaks to the physics geek in me and my love for all things time travel. My favorite classroom moments of all time involved learning time dilation equations and figuring out just how much time slows down as someone approaches c. Length contraction is also pretty crazy, along with the thought experiments that go along with it… What’s amazing to me is how this stuff is real.”
Chalk this up to another movie that really made a lasting impression on me when I watched this. Here’s another movie where they tried to approach the cinematography from an original and unique angle, and it worked. I was scared while watching the movie, and I also felt a little sick too haha. It was really good, and it spawned 10 Cloverfield Lane, which was also really good.
Children of Men