With Tom Cruise roaming a destroyed Earth in this week's release of Oblivion, and Will Smith experiencing much the same in forthcoming flick After Earth, we look back over ten of the best post-apocalyptic movies ever. These are the movies that are set after the destruction of our planet, but still manage to be great despite being mostly set in and around a load of old rubble...
12 MONKEYS (1995)
Its 2035, and most of the population have been killed by a devastating plague. Bruce Willis is a prisoner of the state who can earn parole if he goes back in time to 1990, six years before the plague hits, and stop it before it happens. But once he goes back and tries to warn folk of the impending doom, he's locked up in a mental hospital for being a suspected loon, where he meets Brad Pitt, who is the insane son of a virologist. Do you see where this is going? Trust us, you don't. A must watch.
THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY (2005)
Martin Freeman - who we love as Watson and Bilbo - has just found out that his best friend (played by rapper/surprisingly good actor Mos Def) is actually an alien. But that's not all, as Mos smuggles Martin off Earth just seconds before it gets destroyed to make way for the space version of a motorway. Funny and weird, with a stellar cast including Sam Rockwell, Zooey Deschanel, John Malkovich and Alan Rickman providing the voice for Marvin, a depressed robot.
I AM LEGEND (2007)
This June's release of After Earth will not be the first time Big Willie has had to face the end of the world, having stopped it in the likes of Independence Day and Men In Black, and having a hand in it in this adaptation of Richard Matheson's novel. Having accidentally created a virus that killed 90% of the world's population and turned most of the rest into blood-hungry monsters, Will gives a mesmerizing performance is the last man left in New York, as he alone tries to find a cure for the disease.
MAD MAX 2: THE ROAD WARRIOR (1981)
A superior sequel in every way, Mad Max 2 sees Mel Gibson return as the vehicularly armed nomad who is taking on the tribes that have taken over the Australian outback. In this version of the post-apocalypse, oil is considered more valuable than gold, and everyone is really into gimp-y masks and S&M-y leather outfits. Which doesn't seem like too much of a stretch from today's reality, really.
THE MATRIX (1999)
You might forget this, but The Matrix is very much post-apocalyptic. Keanu Reeves plays Neo (aka The One), who may or may not be the saviour of the human rebels fighting the computer generated versions of reality, while they use us as batteries. Because the ACTUAL reality is a nuclear wasteland caused by a war between us and those nasty uprising machines.
PLANET OF THE APES (1968)
To anyone who hasn't seen the movie, or countless cultural references over the years, SPOILERS! Charlton Heston is an astronaut who lands an alien planet where monkeys are the superior species, and humans are their slaves. Except…. SERIOUSLY, SPOILERS!..... it's not an alien planet, as Heston was hurled forward through time, and he's been on Earth all along. But they kinda gave away the ending with the poster, to be fair.
THE ROAD (2009)
Without a doubt the bleakest and most depressing film on this list, The Road is not a movie to be enjoyed so much as endured. Viggo Mortensen and his son Kodi McPhee are heading south in search of warmer climes, barely surviving in a world that has been mostly destroyed by an unspecified disaster. When you're two greatest worries are death by starvation or death by cannibalism, you know you're not in for a good time, but the two lead performances really bring Cormac McCarthy's Pulitzer Prize winning novel to life.
The year is 2700, and it's been centuries since Earth has been habitable, having been polluted almost beyond repair. Our hero, the little Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class, has been going around, cleaning up and collecting items of interest, before running into EVE, who he instantly falls in love with. Almost entirely dialogue free for the first two thirds of the movie, Wall-E represents Pixar films at their most original and most adorable.
The most expensive movie ever made at its time of release - $175 million - Waterworld was originally seen as a massive flop. But it actually made its budget back in cinemas, and hindsight has been kind to this ambitious but uneven sci-fi actioneer. Kevin Costner is the fishman-out-of-water, forced to protect a woman and a young girl who may hold the key to the future of mankind's survival. Definitely worth a second look, especially for Dennis Hopper's OTT villain.
An energetic and funny take on the zombie tropes, this movie sees Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin team up in search of a safe haven, and perhaps more importantly, a Twinkie. Featuring some inventive kills and one of the best cameos in the history of cinema, Zombieland fills the undead genre with laughs and romance. Take note, Warm Bodies!