Movies and TV shows where the coming disaster is the focal point of the film. Having especially risen in popularity in the 90s when big destruction became more realistic, there are abundant disaster movies out there. This list (in no particular order) is an intro to the films you can find where the fate of life on Earth is at risk, concerned with surviving the catastrophe (rebuilding society comes in the post-apocalypse). Please not I haven’t included all the zombie apocalypses out there, only the most significant ones. And clicking the images will take you to more information/viewing options on Amazon.
Director: Michael Bay
Stars: Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, Billy Bob Thornton
What it’s all about: As a comet hurtles towards Earth, the US government enlists the help of a rough group of oil drillers to fly into space and stop it. Because it’s easier to train drillers to survive in space than to train astronauts to drill.
Deep Impact Director:
Mimi Leder Year:
Robert Duvall, Tea Leoni, Elijah Wood What it’s all about:
A comet on collision course with Earth leaves people across America scrambling to get into the select few secure shelters available.
Title: Independence Day
Director: Roland Emmerich
Stars: Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman
What it’s all about: Invading aliens blow up familiar American landmarks in the film that started a whole craze of “exploding big things we recognise”.
The Day After Tomorrow Director:
Roland Emmerich Year:
Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal What it’s all about:
A storm pits the world into a new Ice Age, leaving climate-expert Jack Hall with the arduous task of rescuing his son from a freezing New York library.
Title: World War Z
Director: Marc Forster
Stars: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos
What it’s all about: Gerry Lane travels the world racing to stop a zombie pandemic that’s rapidly destroying the human world. Based on the novel.
Dawn of the Dead Director:
Zack Snyder Year:
Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames What it’s all about:
A group of survivors band together in a shopping mall as zombies tear the world apart. High octane remake of the Romero classic.
Title: Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
Director: Lorene Scafaria
Stars: Steve Carrell, Kiera Knightley
What it’s all about: Abandoned by his wife, a man makes a roadtrip to find his high school sweetheart as an asteroid hurtles towards Earth, befriending his neighbour along the way.
This is the End Director:
Evan Goldberg, Seph Rogen Year:
Evan Goldberg, Seph Rogen, James Franco What it’s all about:
A group of celebrities hole up in James Franco as the rapture descends on Earth, in a rawkus self-deprecating comedy.
Title: The World’s End
Director: Edgar Wright
Stars: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost
What it’s all about: A group of old friends find they are humanity’s last hope against an evil invasion, as they attempt to relive an old pub crawl.
Shaun of the Dead Director:
Edgar Wright Year:
Simon Pegg, Nick Frost What it’s all about:
A man and his bestfriend fight through zombies to find his girlfriend, in a horror-comedy that started a craze of imitations.
Title: Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Stars: Peter Sellers, George C. Scott
What it’s all about: A warmongering general instigates a nuclear war as politicians squabble in an attempt to prevent it.
The Day the Earth Stood Still Director:
Robert Wise Year:
Michael Rennie, Patricia Neal What it’s all about:
A judgemental alien tells the human race to live peacefully or face annihilation for being so troublesome. Ineffectively remade in 2008.
Title: War of the Worlds
Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning
What it’s all about: As aliens savage the human race, an ordinary family man races across America to protect his children. A reimagined adaptation of the novel, also a classic 1953 film.
Alex Proyas Year:
Nicolas Cage, Chandler Canterbury What it’s all about:
A professor uses a list of numbers from a time capsule to predict a world-ending catastrophe.
Director: Roland Emmerich
Stars: John Cusack, Thandie Newton
What it’s all about: A series of global catastrophes threatens to wipe out the human race as a struggling writer strives to protect his family.
Wolfgang Petersen Year:
Dustin Hoffman, Rene Russo What it’s all about:
As a deadly airborne virus spreads across the world; scientists and the military clash over how best to contain it.
Title: Mars Attacks!
Director: Tim Burton
Stars: Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Pierce Brosnan
What it’s all about: A humorous spin on 90s disaster movies, Martians invade and start trashing Earth. Including, in a rare twist, landmarks outside the US.
The Core Director:
Jon Amiel Year:
Aaron Eckhart, Hilary Swank What it’s all about:
The Earth’s trying to stop spinning, so an elite crew need to drill to its center and give it a boost. As absurd as it sounds.
Title: On the Beach
Director: Stanley Kramer
Stars: Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner
What it’s all about: The surviving Americans in a world where the northern hemisphere has been anihilated by atomic war reach Australia, where life continues, but the end is coming. Based on the book.