Post-apocalyptic motion pictures have always focused on “what if” scenarios, while also challenging viewers to think on what they would do so in such dire situations and how they would survive. The first movie to feature this idea was released in 1916 and was simply named The End of the World. It was followed by an astounding number of 258 movies focused on the same scenario, and the genre remains in trend even today. The best post-apocalyptic movies had viewers at the edge of their seats because of their unpredictable stories and complex relations between characters.
1. Mad Max Series
Year: 1979, 1981, 1985, 2015
Director: George Miller
Let us begin the top of the best post-apocalyptic movies with the Mad Max franchise. The title character was played by Mel Gibson in the first three movies, and only recently passed on to Tom Hardy. The lack of resources leads to humans reverting to their primitive nature and starting oil wars. Witness the fall of civilized society in this action-packed motion picture, featuring impressive car chases and explosive fights.
2. Terminator Series
Year: 1984, 1991, 2003, 2009, 2015
Director: James Cameron, Jonathan Mostow, McG, Alan Taylor
Probably the most well-known on our list, the Terminator franchise was the one that propelled Arnold Schwarzenegger to fame. After the United States government creates an incredible defense system based on artificial intelligence, the aforementioned system develops freewill and decides to eradicate all mankind.
3. The Matrix Trilogy
Year: 1999, 2003
Director: The Wachowskis
Certainly one of the most outstanding series of the 2000 decade, The Matrix trilogy is focused on the same idea of the conflict between humans and advanced technology. After the people block the sun and deploy nuclear bombs, they still end up enslaved by evil machines. It’s up to Neo to escape the virtual reality program and save the world.
4. Resident Evil Series
Year: 2002, 2004, 2007, 2010, 2012
Director: Paul W. S. Anderson, Alexander Witt, Russell Mulcahy
When someone releases a deadly man-made virus in a laboratory, most of the population traditionally turns into zombies. Featuring another malevolent computer, the story revolves around Alice, a person who resists the transformation and manages to make use of the best feats of having a fast regenerating body.
5. 12 Monkeys
Director: Terry Gilliam
The inspiration of one of the best post-apocalyptic movies came from a short motion picture from 1962, named Le Jetéé. The storyline can be considered quite tangled, as Bruce Willis travels through time to both the past and the future in order to uncover the cause of the end of the world: a deadly artificial virus that scared surviving people into hiding underground.
6. 28 Days Later
Director: Danny Boyle
The next motion picture makes sure to set the grim and lonely atmosphere at the beginning of its story. Similar to The Walking Dead, the protagonist played by Cillian Murphy wakes up from a coma only to find a completely deserted London that has been invaded by zombies. The particularity of this movie lies in its video quality: by using certain digital video cameras, the director gave the movie a home video look.
7. I Am Legend
Director: Francis Lawrence
Starring Will Smith, one of the best post-apocalyptic movies features stunning visuals of a nature invaded New York, complete with wild animals. The protagonist is accompanied by his dog, and has to face cannibalistic zombies. As most zombie stories are similar, the cause for the transformation in this case was a certain virus.
8. The Road
Director: John Hillcoat
This adaptation of the 2006 book by Cormac McCarthy presents the gruesome story of a man and his son who have to travel across a post-apocalyptic America. It is never revealed in what way the world ended. Viggo Mortensen stars as the protagonist who has to take care of his son and reach the shores of the ocean.
9. The Book of Eli
Director: Allen Hughes, Albert Hughes
Denzel Washington plays the role of Eli in this grim depiction of a post nuclear apocalypse United States. Eli has to face numerous deserts bandits on his way west, but also the mad leader of a ramshackle town. His sole purpose it to take a mysterious book to safety.
Director: Bong Joon-ho
Last but not least among our best post-apocalyptic movies is a motion picture with bold visuals and action scenes, starring Chris Evans and Tilda Swinton. Global warming is to blame in this story for the freezing situation of the characters. The movie is focused on a train that transports people to the other side of the globe. However, the train is split by social class criteria, and thus a rebellion ensues.