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Top Ten Apocalyptic Movies of the Decade

As the end of the decade approaches it’s time to reflect on some of the best and most influential apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic films of the last 10 years. There are so many great movies to choose from but which could be considered the top 10?

10. Knowing – 2009

Knowing (2009) Starring Nicholas Cage

So in at number 10 we have the eerie 2009 blockbuster Knowing starring Nicholas Cage. I really enjoyed this movie and had to fit it into the top 10 somewhere, even if it is in last place.

Summary:
To celebrate a schools anniversary, a ceremony is held during which a time capsule containing messages written by children 50 years ago is unearthed. Each child gets a message, but little Caleb’s (Chandler Canterbury)message is unreadable because it’s an incoherent series of numbers.
At first amused, his father (Nicolas Cage,) a statistician tries to find a meaning to the numbers. He gradually discovers that each sequence of numbers corresponds to the exact date of a recent disaster. When he realizes that the last 3 sequences are prophesies of cataclysms yet to come, a race against time begins

9. The Day after Tomorrow (2004)

The Day After Tomorrow (2004)

Taking 9th place is the impressive climate change disaster movie The Day after Tomorrow which stars Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhaal. This was incredibly successful at the box office and one of the highest grossing films of 2004, adding it to the list was a no brainer, but a few of you may be disappointed it’s only in at number 9.

Summary:
Climatologist Jack Hall (Dennis Quaid)had predicted the coming of another ice age, but never thought it would happen in his lifetime.
But a sudden and unexpected change in the climate causes violent global events including devastating floods, hail, tornados and temperatures of an unprecedented magnitude. Jack has little time to convince the President to evacuate the country to save millions, including his son Sam (Jake Gyllenhaal) who’s in New York, where the temperature reaches – 20 ° C. Jack undertakes a perilous journey in a race against time to save him.

8. War of the Worlds (2005)

War of the Worlds (2005)

In at 8 we have the 2005 remake of the 1950s classic War of the Worlds. Steven Spielberg threw all of his directorial know how at this project and still managed to disappoint avid fans of the original. Well you can’t please everyone I guess, but here it is the eight best apocalyptic movie of the decade.

Summary:
Ray Ferrier (Tom Cruise)is a dock worker and a divorced father with a less than perfect relationship with his son Robbie (Justin Chatwin,) and daughter Rachel (Dakota Fanning)
A short while after his ex-wife leaves their children with him for the weekend, a powerful storm gathers outside. Ray rushes out to witness a spectacle that will change their lives forever. The earth splits open, revealing a war machine perched on three huge metal legs. Before anyone has time to react, the machine begins to destroy all the houses in the neighbourhood disintegrating anyone that gets in its way. An ordinary day suddenly turns into a nightmare, the first phase of a massive extraterrestrial attack has just begun…
Ray and his children begin a perilous journey through both desolate landscapes and hordes of people fleeing in distress. Danger is everywhere, and no shelter is strong enough to give the trio the slightest respite.

7. I Am Legend (2007)

I Am Legend (2007)

At number 7 we have the 2007 Christmas Blockbuster I Am Legend starring Will Smith. This is an up to date adaptation of the Richard Matheson novel of the same name. I was really impressed by this movie when I first watched it at the cinema. So much so I pre-ordered it on Amazon and when it finally arrived I excitedly shoved it into my DVD player and sat back to watch, what I remembered to be an amazing movie. Only to find that it really didn’t have any staying power. In fact I’ve only watched it once more since then. And so taking into account an amazing cinema experience it takes the number 7 spot on the list.

Summary:
Despite all his knowledge, Robert Neville, (Will Smith) a brilliant scientist, could not stop a mysterious epidemic which turned the world’s population into mutants. Miraculously spared from the virus, Neville is now the last man in New York, perhaps the world. It’s been three years since the outbreak and he spends his days searching for food and sending radio messages, in the hope of finding more survivors, whilst trying to evade the Infected. His last hope of saving humanity is to produce an antidote using his own blood. But he is alone and time is against him …

6. 2012 (2009)

2012 (2009) Starring - Nicholas Cage

In at 6, the global smash hit and box office record breaking apocalyptic movie of the year 2012. I could quite easily have placed this at number 1 or 2 that’s how much I love this movie. But until I’ve seen it on DVD and it’s had time to weather number 6 seems like a good spot. It is however one of the most awesome cinema experiences I’ve ever had and if this was a top 10 movies to see at the cinema, then this would be at the top spot.

Summary:
The Maya, one of the most fascinating civilizations to have ever inhabited the Earth, have left a prophecy: their calendar ends in 2012… And our world will too.
A group of geophysicists and government scientists come to find this horrifying prediction will come true. And when the event occurs and the world’s tectonic plates begin to slip, causing earthquakes and destroying cities around the globe. Novelist Curtis Jackson (John Cusack) and his family find themselves headlong, in a desperate race to keep ahead of the oncoming destruction. Along their perilous journey they come to find that some people were long since warned and that an Ark being built overseas maybe their only hope of survival.

5. Matrix Reloaded / Revoloutions (2003)

The Matrix (2003)

In at 5 we have the highly anticipated sequels to the 1999 movie Matrix starring Keanu Reeves. This trio of movies really do have the watch ability factor. When I get the time, there’s nothing better than watching them all back to back. And so they take the number 5 spot on the list.

Summary:
In the second and third chapter of the Matrix trilogy, Neo (Keanu Reeves) learns to better control his supernatural gifts, as Zion is about to be attacked by the Machine Army. Within a few hours, 250 000 Sentinels programmed to destroy every last trace of humanity will invade the last human enclave on Earth.
Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) galvanizes the citizens of Zion, reminding them of the prophecy and so their hopes of survival now fall on Neo … who is still trying to find his way and is haunted by disturbing nightmares.
An epic battle between man and machine ensues and the fate of them both eventually rests in the hands of Neo.

4. Dawn of the Dead (2004)

Dawn of the Dead (2004)

At number 4 we have the 2004 remake of the George A. Romero classic Dawn of the dead. With a good balance of horror, suspense and a few laughs along the way this was one of my favourite movies from that year.

Summary:
Nobody can explain how it happened, but this morning the world is one huge nightmare. The population of the planet is now turning into a horde of bloodthirsty undead and pursuing the last humans alive. Having miraculously escaped from her home when her husband became infected after being bitten by a child. Ana (Sarah Polley) along with a small group of survivors barricade themselves in a shopping mall. While outside the situation is getting worse by the minute, inside they must cope with what’s becoming a bigger problem, each other.

3. 28 days later (2002)

28 Days Later (2002)

The post-apocalyptic ‘zombie’ movie 28 Days Later comes third in the countdown of the best apocalyptic movies of the decade. When I saw this at the cinema I knew I was watching a film, that would one day be considered a classic. Danny Boyle really delivered with this one and set a new standard for British cinema, with what is one of the best PA movies in British cinema history.

Summary:
In 28 days, the population of England is decimated by a virus that causes murderous rage in those who are infected. One morning in London, Jim (Cillian Murphy) wakes up in an abandoned hospital. He wanders out, alone into the empty streets of a devastated London. After hooking up with some other survivors they decide to leave the zombie infested city and travel North, following the instructions of a radio message that promises a safe haven. When Jim and his companions arrive they find that all is not as they’ve been told, a desperate struggle ensues as the group try to escape whilst avoiding becoming infected.

2. Children of men (2006)

Children of Men (2006)

Now I knew when I placed this movie at number 2 it would probably become the most contentious film on the list. It seems that people have divided opinions about this movie. I know quite a few that wouldn’t have even put this on their top 20. But I also know many more, that would have it at the top spot. Some even praise it as a masterpiece in modern cinema; I wouldn’t quite go that far but I think it deserves its place here at number 2.

Summary:
The year is 2027, and man has exhausted all the resources of the planet. Global infertility has meant that the last human birth took place almost twenty years ago. Desperation and despair has enveloped the globe leading to a worldwide climate of violence and anarchism.
Great Britain is the only country to have avoided this descent into hell, by establishing a totalitarian regime. However in preserving this state of “normality” the government has lost their humanity and ruthlessly packs thousands of refugees into camps when they are captured on arrival.
When Theo (Clive Owen) is kidnapped by a covert cell that fights for the rights of refugees, he is asked to obtain papers for a young woman from the organization, Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey.) He and a small group of comrade’s set off on a perilous journey towards the coast in an attempt to get her to a safety.
During their journey Theo discovers the real reason for this mission: Kee is not an ordinary refugee. Eight months pregnant, she represents the last hope of mankind, the miracle that everyone has been waiting for.

1. The Road (2009)

The Road (2009)

And so we reach the number 1 best apocalyptic movie of the decade, The Road. Based on Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, this movie is one of the most poignant and memorable movies that I’ve ever seen. However it is one of those movies that you may only want to watch once, but is still a truly outstanding piece of post-apocalyptic cinema. This film represents everything that I love about this genre and it truly was a viewing experience that I’ll never forget.

Summary:
It’s been over ten years since the world as we know it suffered an apocalyptic ending. Nobody knows what happened. Those who survived remember a huge blinding flash and then nothing. No more energy, no more vegetation, no more food … The last survivors roam in a world now devastated and covered in ash, which is a mere shadow of what it once was. Against this apocalyptic backdrop a father (Viggo Mortensen) and son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) wander a road southwards, pushing a shopping cart filled with their meagre possessions – what little they have they must protect. They are constantly on their guard as danger lurks at every turn, as humanity has returned to savagery. As they continue on their journey following an old Highway leading to the ocean, the father is haunted by memories of his dead wife. Even if the father has neither hope nor purpose, he tries to remain standing for one who has now become his only universe.

Just for fun I checked to see what this list might look like had IMDB created it and this is the result:

1. The Road 8.1/10
2. Children of men 8.1/10
3. 28 days later 7.6/10
4. Dawn of the Dead 7.4/10
5. Matrix Reloaded / Revoloutions 7.1/10
6. I Am Legend 7.1/10
7. 28 Weeks later 7.1/10
8. War of the Worlds 6.6/10
9. Land of the Dead 6.5/10
10. Knowing 6.5/10
-The Day after Tomorrow 6.3/10
-2012 6.2/10

The Best of the Rest

28 Weeks later (2007)

28 Weeks Later (2007)

The sequel to the spectacular post-apocalyptic movie 28 days later, starring Robert Carlyle. Some were disappointed with this sequel, I guess it didn’t quite have the Danny Boyle touch. But I think Director Fresnadillo did an excellent job with what was on paper a fairly formulaic script.

Summary:
Six months ago a virus had decimated England and transformed most of the population into bloodthirsty zombies.
The U.S. occupation forces declared that the infection was finally cleared and that the rebuilding of the country could begin.
Don (Robert Carlyle) has survived these horrific events, but he failed to save his wife and the guilt is slowly eating at him. When he finds his children, Andy and Tammy, who he had not seen since the disaster, he’s torn between the joy of the reunion and grief. All three try to rebuild a normal life in a city set up by the U.S. military. However, somewhere in the city, a terrible secret awaits, not everything is as they’ve been told…

Reign of fire (2002)

Reign of Fire (2002)

This movie was a departure from the usual, with dragons being the cause of the Earths demise instead of nuclear war, meteors or plagues causing the carnage. Definitely should be up here as one of the best apocalyptic movies of the decade.

Summary:
Young Quinn is a boy obsessed with geology. But while accompanying his mother on the construction of a new subway in London, a terrible event occurs. A huge column of fire escapes from the excavation killing his mother. The boy escapes the disaster just as a dragon escapes and begins to destroy everything in its path.
Twenty years later, in 2024 the earth is now living its final days, ravaged by the dragon and its offspring. Quinn, (Christian Bale) haunted by the memories of his deceased mother tries to survive in this hostile world, protecting those close to him in the ruins of an abandoned castle. When American soldiers arrive seeking shelter the lives of both Quinn and those close to him are changed forever.

The Core (2003)

The Core (2003)

Yes it was all a bit silly and scientifically dubious but it’s a fun movie and 7 years later it’s still guaranteed to get your family gathered around the telly.

Summary:
For unknown reasons, the inner core of the Earth stops spinning. As a result the magnetic field of the planet collapses, resulting in a dramatic and spectacular series of climactic events. In London, the pigeons of Trafalgar Square, confused, fly into a crowd of tourists, vehicles and buildings. In San Francisco, the cables of the Golden Gate Bridge, subjected to intense radiation, give way, leaving vehicles falling and stranded in the chaos. In Rome, thousands of tourists witness the disintegration of the Colliseum…
Faced with this unprecedented disaster, the U.S. government calls in geophysicist Josh Keyes, (Aaron Eckhart) astronaut Major Rebecca Childs (Hilary Swank) and Commander Iverson (Bruce Greenwood.) Objective: to launch deep into the Earth’s mantle and explode a series of nuclear bombs, in the hope of creating a chain reaction to reactivate the core.

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28 Comments

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  1. dale says
    January 11, 2010, 6:23 pm

    Cool you’ve obviously gone for full global meltdown here but I would still have put Cloverfield somewhere on the top 10. And maybe Diary of the Dead instead of Knowing? Other than that great list!

  2. BO says
    March 30, 2010, 4:03 pm

    Personally I liked 28 Weeks Later more than I liked the first movie. I Am Legend is much better with the alternate ending included on the BLU-RAY disc. I liked Reign of Fire more than 6 of your top 10, but hey it’s your list.

  3. Leah says
    September 13, 2010, 8:41 am

    Now that it has come out and it’s part of the decade, might want to add Book of Eli. It’s similar to The Road though. I made a list of post-apocalyptic flicks with a water (or lack of water) theme here: http://aswm.org/wordpress/1230/strange-wetlands-it%e2%80%99s-the-end-of-the-wet-world-as-we-know-it/

  4. Mike House says
    April 4, 2011, 7:25 am

    Great list of post apocalyptic movies. I’m downloading them as I type. Should make a fun day of viewing.

    Thanks again!

  5. Jeff says
    April 9, 2011, 7:03 pm

    Book of Eli should be on the list.

  6. brandon says
    April 21, 2011, 9:27 am

    i love that you put the road as first that is my favorite movie ever i also like how you pit war of the worlds in there because tom cruise is awesome and so is the list you made

  7. Jamie says
    May 3, 2011, 7:17 am

    I am also a big fan of, The Road. I just watched Book of Eli again last night. Great movie,, Great list.

  8. mike says
    June 8, 2011, 1:45 pm

    the postman 1997?

  9. Oliver S. says
    June 24, 2011, 8:07 am

    Wow… there are some horrible movies on this list. I’m shocked that IMDB would have them rated so high, especially the Matrix sequels. Absolutely horrible.
    Must have been a hell of a slow decade.

  10. T. Santy says
    September 1, 2011, 5:39 am

    @Mike: Best apocaliptic movies of the decade, 1997 is not part of this decade…
    @Oliver: Really? The 3 Matrix movies are amazing classics. I dont see how it shouldnt be on the list. Special effects are not that good, but they were made 10 yrs ago, duh… Watching them is still awesome.

    Great list =)

  11. Balachandar says
    September 24, 2011, 11:38 pm

    For me the best movie is 2012

  12. September 27, 2011, 11:45 am

    Great rundown, Shaun. I was surprised by a few of the entries, but whatevs. I liked the premise of Knowing but hated its execution. And The Day after Tomorrow was just awful for me! But all in all, I have to agree with your ranking.

    It’s been a really wonderful decade for the end of the world! Let’s hope the next 10 years brings equal destruction!

  13. Ronald says
    October 4, 2011, 8:29 pm

    Overall a great list very close to my own if I were to create one although Cloverfield would have been a nice addition. Glad to see you added reign of fire though it’s a very underrated movie.

  14. MovieDude says
    October 20, 2011, 9:36 pm

    I didn’t really like the list, but again, it’s your opinion. I would add 30 Days of Night, Land of Dead, and Book of Eli

  15. Limatot says
    October 23, 2011, 6:29 am

    Stake land should ve on this list

  16. Ronald says
    October 23, 2011, 1:52 pm

    I’m surprised at how few of you understand the concept of a decade, book of Eli and stake land were released in 2010, they are part of this decade not the noughties.

  17. Kate says
    November 2, 2011, 1:31 am

    What about In Time, The Island, and Aeon Flux?

  18. MAD MAX says
    November 15, 2011, 4:07 am

    WHERE THE FUCK WAS MAD MAX?

  19. Moschops says
    November 23, 2011, 8:01 am

    “WHERE THE FUCK WAS MAD MAX?”

    He’s busy in the decade before the decade before the decade before the last one. Wrong decade, buddy, by about 30 years.

  20. Gree Guy says
    December 17, 2011, 2:56 am

    28 days later and 28 days later are cool

  21. Sam says
    February 26, 2012, 12:34 pm

    The Road. Best and probably most accurate depiction of how post-apocalyptic survival would be. 28 days later, was great as well. As for the rest of the list… Not so much. Viggo Mortensen is phenomenal in The Road. I can watch that movie over and over. It ranks up there with There Will Be Blood, for me.

  22. FaolanFox says
    March 10, 2012, 3:33 pm

    Apocalyptic and Post-apocalyptic are not one and the same.
    also the core is literally awful in every sense of the word, imo.
    Save your family the effort.

  23. Edward says
    March 15, 2012, 8:38 pm

    plus Stake Land, and for sure Horde, maybe Horde is almost better than 28 days, there are other couples UK and Frenchy movies but agree with the list but not in that order and no with the Nicolas Cage…

  24. Jae says
    April 6, 2012, 4:08 pm

    Great list, alot of epic movies but I would of put ‘The day after tommorow’ higher up in the list. Still though great list with great movies.

  25. damien says
    April 19, 2012, 3:05 am

    You have forgotten the best one ! The Stand by Stephen King is untouchable. 9 hours of brilliance

  26. Konrad says
    May 9, 2012, 1:06 am

    Good list. But I think the atandard should be post-apocalypse. Therefore movies like 2012 and Day After Tomorrow, along with War of the Worlds and Knowing should be pulled. Definitely Reign of Fire is top 10. Book of Eli should be in. Also Terminator Salvation should be in and Resident Evil: Apocalypse. Also, a movie worthy of consideration should be Zombieland. Who says the movie can’t be comedic to be good! Also, keep your eye out in the future for World War Z and The Zombie Survival Guide coming to theaters.

  27. Bommer says
    September 25, 2012, 3:33 am

    Very well developed and conveyed critique of these movies. I agree with your view on most of them. Thank you for taking the time to share.
    -b

  28. Hyder Ali Bhayo says
    December 12, 2012, 11:31 am

    Its a great list. I really enjoyed this. I liked war of the worlds and I am legend. Thanx.

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