Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Beliefnet's Top 10 Apocalyptic Movies

You know that I love apocalyptic movies.  Even bad, Christian end times movies that hardly justify the term apocalyptic(from a greek word="uncover"; also a movie term=awesome sci-fi action).  

In that spirit, let me direct you to Beliefnet's Top 10 Apoclayptic Movies.  They have them listed on unhelpful separate pages, so I'll mention them with my comments below.  They make some half-hearted attempts to connect these films with Christian apocalyptic teachings, but mainly its just for fun.  

10.  When Worlds Collide:   I saw this years ago, and hardly remember it.  I read the book recently and it was a bizarre work of 1930s sci-fi, when the government was weak compared to the international scientific organizations(IEEE ruled the world), and minorities were suspicious and were excluded from the missions to save humanity.  

9.  War of the Worlds(1953):  Some of the best alien spaceships ever, but the rest of the movie is rather lame.  It leaves out most of the chills of the book, but the early sections do have a kind of intensity from the unstoppable nature of the alien ships.

8.  The Birds:  This movie understands what many modern movies don't:  you don't have to explain things.  Birds turn on humans, forming killer swarms that act with malovelent intelligence.  Not knowing why just makes it all the scarier.  I've always wanted to go to Bodega Bay, CA, just for this movie.

7.  Night of the Living Dead(1969 original, duh):  Single-handedly transformed zombies from the realm of necromancers and voodoo to the area of sci-fi.  Sets the standard for isolated siege movies, but also sets a precedent by expanding it to a global scale through the news reports.

6.  Beneath the Planet of the Apes:  A mostly awful movie, enjoyable only for the brief time that Heston is chewing scenery.  It also asks, in a post-apocalyptic world, can there be another apocalypse?  The final confrontation, featuring a crazed Heston, belligerent Gorillas, and A-bomb worshiping telepathic mutants, must be seen to be believed.  

5.  Mad Max 2:  The Road Warrior:  This movie made the apocalypse seem not only fun, but awesome.  It also stirs my imagination when I see stuff like this on the flickr.  

4.  Reign of Fire:  One of the best concepts ever, ruined by awful direction and a budget hundreds of millions short.  I wish they would do a big budget remake of this, with the same cast and a better director.  Everything about it is great, until you realize that you'll hardly see the actual dragons, and the final confrontation is just terrible.   However, Matthew Mcconaughey and Christian Bale are terrific in this, and Gerard Butler shows up in a small part.  

3.  The Day After Tomorrow:  The less said about this movie the better.  If it had taken place over a couple hundred years, perhaps with several stories at different stages, then it could have been cool.  Instead they pull out a ridiculous scientifc premise of everything happening in a matter of days, if not hours, and use it to make a movie that follows the Disaster Movie Cliche Bible to the letter.  Don't bother, for any reason. 

2.  Children of Men:  T.S. Elliot said "this is how the world ends, not with a bang, but with a whimper."  A masterpiece, mostly quiet, but loud in the right moments.  Alfonso Curan took the premise of P.D. James' book, and not much else, and crafted an love poem to the promise of children.  The essential concept is:  "what would it feel like if we couldn't hope that our children would learn from our mistakes, and all we were left with was our mistakes?"

1.  I Am Legend:  A really, really good movie, but not a masterpiece like the book.  My views on this are colored by reading the novel, seeing 3 movie versions, and reading the amazing 1996 screenplay that was custom written for Arnold.  The book is the best, by far, and the only one that uses the striking title in a way that makes sense.  That said, the quiet scenes in the first half of this film are shockingly powerful.  

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