Post-apocalyptic films to enhance your pandemic experience

In this time of grave uncertainty and the world going into an increasingly dark place, sometimes it’s important to take your mind off these scary things. 

So, to make sure all potential world-ending disasters are removed from your head, I have written here are three reviews for three very different apocalypse movies! Wait a minute…

Snowpiercer (2013)

Directed by Bong Joon-ho 

Starring: Chris Evans, John Hurt, Kang-Ho Song, Go Ah-sung

Snowpiercer is Bong Joon-ho’s first of two American films. You may be more familiar with Bong’s recent domination of the Oscars, winning 4 awards including best director and best picture this past winter. In the story, we find the world turned into a frozen wasteland after a human-made chemical meant to fix global warming goes terribly wrong. 

With most of humanity now extinct, all of the survivors live on an ever-moving train whose populace is divided into separate sections by virtue of their economic class. Fed up with the conditions and oppression enforced by those in control, Curtis (Chris Evans) launches a revolt of the lower class. 

I am a very big fan of the unique concept of the film, of our protagonists moving their way from the back to the front of the train that holds all of humanity. Like many of Bong’s other films, I appreciate the social commentary on class division (even if it isn’t done in the most subtle way).

With such an interesting setting, I was very happy to see Bong use the space creatively for action and exploration scenes. I thought the casting was very well done and it made the characters easy to invest in. I thought many of the props were well used and added a lot to the story. 

There is violence: however it is not to a gratuitous amount. And as a final random note: Tilda Swinton has a relatively minor role in the film and absolutely nails the part (as she always seems to do). This is a great watch and I highly recommend it.

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981)

Directed by George Miller

Starring: Mel Gibson, Bruce Spence, Kjell Nilsson

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior is an Australian post-apocalyptic action-adventure film and the second film in the Mad Max series. While not the best film in the franchise, (such a distinction I’d give to 2015’s Fury Road) Mad Max 2 should not be looked over. 

Set in a desert wasteland where society has long since crumbled, everyone scavenges and risks their lives for gasoline, which is in limited supply. The story follows a loner scavenger, the mysterious road warrior known as Max (Mel Gibson) as he too scavenges the barren land for any gas he can, so he can power his car and keep moving. 

He finds a group of survivors with a large quantity of gasoline, that is being harassed by a rival gang led by their terrifying leader, Humungous (Kjell Nilsson). With a set up reminiscent of classic western films, Max Max 2 is a fun action-filled adventure. Everything on screen is very gritty and grimy, and despite some cartoonish characters and elements, the film has a dark consistent tone that effectively engages the audience. 

Nothing gets me more excited than practical effects and this film is full of them. The costumes/makeup are very well done and make different characters very distinct. The environments are simple but realistic and help you buy into the setting the film presents you with. 

It also doesn’t really require you to have watched the first film in the franchise which is a factor I’d appreciate in any series. When talking about apocalyptic movies I’d say that is the quintessential film for the genre. 

28 Days Later (2002)

Directed by Danny Boyle

Starring: Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Megan Burns, Brendan Gleeson

28 Days Later is an English zombie apocalypse film that puts a unique spin on the zombie horror subgenre. The plot follows Jim (Cillian Murphy), a man who has just woken up from a coma only to find his surroundings deserted upon waking up. 

After meeting some survivors, he learns that the U.K. was destroyed over the last month by a virus that turns people into rapidly moving cannibalistic beasts that lose all senses of their former selves. There are many things this film excels at, leaving many other zombie films in its wake. 

The environment, especially in the first half of the film, is astounding. Seeing empty streets in a typically busy London is an awe-inspiring visual. In addition to that, there are many really good realistic environments in the film that really help invest the audience. I am a big fan of the infected themselves. 

As opposed to their typical slow-moving counterparts, Boyle’s zombies run fast lunging at their targets at a horrifying speed. This idea of fast zombies inspired later zombie films such as Train to Busan and World War Z. The two leads have good chemistry and are great actors, and I must compliment the writing of Alex Garland as it became very easy to care about our characters based on the events the script presents them with. 

This film belongs on the Mount Rushmore of all zombie films, in my opinion. It’s a must-watch for any horror or zombie movie fan.

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