Every once in a while, a movie about post-apocalypse releases challenges the creativity of directors and writers. Often set in a futuristic world, these movies portray an imaginary world where the world couldn’t be weirder. Post-apocalyptic movies generally show the world when humanity faces a calamity and struggles to survive through it. With action, drama, thriller, mystery, and even comedy, these movies easily make us fall in love with them. These high-budget movies are always attractive to the audience and critics alike. People are always eager to see something unique that would give them goosebumps. Maybe people are fascinated with these movies because they explore human imagination to the very extreme, like floating cities, human-like robots, artificial reality, and much more.
Combining post-apocalypse with Sci-Fi elements has been a trend since the early 1900s. It started with the first post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie, “The End of the World,” released in 1916. This Danish silent movie was the first to explore a worldwide catastrophe. However, it wasn’t until the 1960s when these movies start gaining popularity. Here, we have shortlisted the 10 post-apocalyptic movies that sci-fi fans would love to watch. Our list ranges from box office successes to underrated masterpieces. So, let’s get started with our list, and don’t forget to add these movies to your watchlist.
1. The Road (2009):
IMDb Ratings: 7.2
Director: John Hillcoat
Writers: Joe Penhall (screenplay), Cormac McCarthy (novel)
Stars: Viggo Mortensen, Charlize Theron, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Guy Pearce
This post-apocalyptic movie is the adaptation of American novelist Cormac McCarthy’s award-winning novel of the same name. Though the movie didn’t make its mark at the box office, many critics still received positive reviews. The Road is a tragic story of a father and son trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. Apart from acting, this tear-jerking movie received many praises for its cinematography and music as well.
The movie follows a father and son as they try to survive in a world after humanity is almost extinct due to a global cataclysm. Several years before the movie’s events, a cataclysmic event caused frequent quakes as further potential hazards. As a result, the world became gray, and it’s only getting worse with plants and animals continuing to become extinct. The father and son continuously travel on the road as they head south, hoping to find a more habitable place to live. However, as they continue their journey, they face many life-threatening situations where they have to save themselves from savage humans who will turn them into slaves or maybe cannibalize them.
2. Oblivion (2013):
IMDb Ratings: 7.0
Director: Joseph Kosinski
Writers: Karl Gajdusek, Michael Arndt
Stars: Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Andrea Riseborough, Olga Kurylenko, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
This post-apocalyptic action movie was a huge box office success. It was based on the director’s unpublished novel of the same name. The novel is a tribute to 1970s science fiction movies. Following a futuristic story, the movie explores the theme of outer space wars. The movie tells the story of Jack Harper in the year 2077. Sixty years ago, humanity won the war against a race of alien scavengers. However, nuclear weapons and the loss of the moon made the planet almost inhabitable. Now, after so many years, remaining humans live on “Titan” in hopes of survival.
Jack Harper works as a technician sent back to earth to service drones used in the fights against the aliens. Left with only weeks, Jack has to complete his mission and join his fellow survivors at humanity’s new home. Victoria Olsen works as Jack’s communications officer. With her help, Jack tries to find and repair the combat drones. Jack’s concept of the real world crashes when he rescues a beautiful woman, Julia. However, her arrival leads to a series of life-threatening events when the scavengers capture Jack leaving him with the only option to fight against a new and evolving alien race that may threaten humanity again.
3. 28 Days Later (2002):
IMDb Ratings: 7.6
Director: Danny Boyle
Writer: Alex Garland
Stars: Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Christopher Eccleston, David Schneider
This is one of those post-apocalyptic movies that has a full package of suspense, action, horror, thriller, and even zombies. This British post-apocalyptic sci-fi drama received praise for its screenplay, acting, soundtrack, and atmosphere. 28 Days Later is considered a zombie movie despite the director claiming otherwise. The movie was a worldwide box office success and one of the most profitable horror movies of 2002.
The movie depicts the collapse of society after the accidental release of a highly infectious virus. This all started when ignorant animal rights activists freed a caged chimp from a medical research lab. The animal was infected with a virus “rage.” 28 Days Later follows the struggles of four survivors; Jim, Selena, Frank, and Hannah. These four try to cope with the destroyed world while they evade those infected by the virus.
One month after the virus spread, Jim wakes up from a coma only to find that the world as he knew it was gone. He finds nothing but empty streets, abandoned vehicles, and no signs of normal human beings. Jim eventually encounters a group of survivors and joins them on a risky path to ensure their survival.
4. Equilibrium (2002):
IMDb Ratings: 7.4
Director: Kurt Wimmer
Writer: Kurt Wimmer
Stars: Christian Bale, Sean Bean, Emily Watson, Dominic Purcell
Following the third world war, the world as we know it is destroyed. Libra is a city-state established by the remaining survivors of the third world war. Humans live in a world where feelings are illegal, and citizens take daily injections of psychoactive drugs to suppress their daily emotions. The state enforces this rule as they think that humans won’t wage another war if they don’t have any emotions, and they practice extreme measures to ensure that. The offense of having emotions is punishable by death.
Set in a futuristic world, the movie follows a high-ranking enforcement officer, John Preston. His wife Vivana is executed on the grounds of having emotions, leaving John to become a single parent of his children. However, John begins to experience emotions for the first time in his life after accidentally missing a dose. He starts to question his morality and tries to change his ways while attempting not to arouse suspicions. Eventually, he helps a resistance movement and begins a rebellion against the despicable rules of the state.
5. 12 Monkeys (1995):
IMDb Ratings: 8.0
Director: Terry Gilliam
Writer: David Webb Peoples, Janet Peoples
Stars: Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe, Brad Pitt, Christopher Plummer
Inspired by a 1962 short movie, La Jetee, 12 Monkeys is a box office hit sci-fi post-apocalyptic movie. After releasing a deadly virus in 1996, humanity is on the brink of extinction, forcing the remaining humans to live underground. The people believe that a group called “Arny of the Twelve Monkeys” is responsible for releasing the virus. The movie tells the story of James Cole, a prisoner living in an underground compound beneath Philadelphia. This is one of the classic post-apocalyptic movies.
James is selected to be sent back in time to find the original virus to help the scientists develop a cure. However, James arrives in 1990 in Baltimore and not in 1996. Things get only worse for him when he ends up in a mental hospital of an unknown world. As he tries to escape, he finds himself back in the year 2035. After given another chance for his mission, he ends up during the first world war, and then again in 1996. The movie shows his struggles as he tries to complete his mission by overcoming the obstacles of time.
6. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015):
IMDb Ratings: 8.0
Director: George Miller
Writers: George Miller, Brendan McCarthy
Stars: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne
From sci-fi post-apocalyptic movies fans’ favorite Mad Max franchise, this movie received nominations in ten categories. The movie won six awards for film editing, costume design, sound mixing, sound editing, and makeup and hairstyling out of the ten nominations. This Australian movie is a fourth installment and a reboot of the Mad Max franchise. The story is about a post-apocalyptic desert wasteland where water and petrol are rare commodities.
Years after humanity’s collapse due to a nuclear catastrophe, Immortan Joe enslaves the remaining survivors inside his Citadel, a desert fortress. Imperator Furiosa, a warrior, fights against Joe and eventually teams up with Max Rockatanksy. Max is a former captive who still have visions of his traumatic past. The movie follows their story as the two rebels fight to restore peace in the world.
7. Alita: Battle Angel (2019):
IMDb Ratings: 7.3
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Writers: James Cameron, Laeta Kalogridis
Stars: Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, Keean Johnson
This movie has everything post-apocalyptic movies fans need; cyborgs, a futuristic world, and lots of action. Alita: Battle Angel is an adaptation of Yukito Kishiro’s manga series. The movie shows the post-apocalyptic world during the 23rd century after an outer space war that destroyed the earth. In the year 2563, a scientist discovers a female cyborg with an active human brain scouting through the junkyard. The scientist, Dyson Ido, gives her a new body and names her Alita after his late daughter.
Alita has no memories of her past, and she starts living with Dyson. She befriends Hugo, who lives near her house. Hugo dreams of living in the sky city of Zalem, where only the wealthy can live. However, as Alita gets close to him, she realizes that Hugo is hiding a dark secret from secret. As the secret unravels and starts to threaten their life, Alita tries her best to help him. When she remembers something about her past, she is better off forgetting so it won’t come back to haunt her.
8. I Am Legend (2007):
IMDb Ratings: 7.2
Director: Francis Lawrence
Writers: Mark Protosevich (screenplay), Akiva Goldsman (screenplay), Richard Matheson (novel)
Stars: Will Smith, Alice Braga, Charlie Tahan, Willow Smith
This movie is an adaptation of Richard Matheson’s novel of the same name and a remake of the 1971 movie “The Omega Man.” This is another one of those post-apocalyptic movies where civilization is compromised due to the virus’s outbreak. In the year 2012, a human-made virus that was created to cure cancer turns deadly. The virus destroys 90% of the world’s population and turns 9.8% into cannibalistic mutants, “Darkseekers,” who are vulnerable to sunlight.
Now, the remaining 0.2% of the population immune to the virus are left as the prey of the Darkseekers. The movie revolves around a genius scientist Robert Neville, a survivor of a plague that converts humans into bloodthirsty mutants. Three years after the outbreak, Robert lives in the isolated ruins of Manhattan. He searches for other survivors as he wanders alone in New York City. Robert is immune to the virus, so he tries to find a cure for the plague using his own blood.
9. WALL-E (2008):
IMDb Ratings: 8.4
Director: Andrew Stanton
Writers: Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter
Stars: Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, Jeff Garlin, Fred Willard
Does a post-apocalyptic world in the year 2805 where humanity is destroyed, and all that’s left in the world is billions of tons of garbage sound scary to you? Well, it’s not! WALL-E is a heartfelt science fiction romance movie from Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios. The movie received praise for its story, voice, characters, visuals, and scenes of romance. The movie won an Oscar and a Golden Globe for the best animation film and many other awards in different categories. WALL-E is a rare category among post-apocalyptic movies.
WALL-E stands for Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-class. He is the only remaining robot on earth, and he spends his days cleaning the planet, one piece of garbage at a time. However, after 700 years of solitude, Wall-E now has a personality, and he feels lonely. One day, he spots EVE, a sleek robot sent to earth to prove that it is still habitable. WALL-E falls in love with EVE. Smitten by the robot, WALL-E takes off on a journey as he follows EVE across the galaxy.
10. 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016):
IMDb Ratings: 7.2
Director: Dan Trachtenberg
Writers: Josh Campbell, Matthew Stuecken, Damien Chazelle
Stars: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman, John Gallagher Jr
This psychological thriller is a bit different from our regular post-apocalyptic movies. 10 Cloverfield Lane is a directional debut of Dan Trachtenberg, for which he received many positive reviews. This Paramount Pictures production is the second movie of the Cloverfield franchise. 10 Cloverfield lane is a full package of horror, science fiction, drama, thriller, and action. The movie follows a young woman, Michelle, who wakes up in an underground bunker after a car crash. She wakes up only to find two men beside her who claim that an event has left the surface of the earth uninhabitable.
Michelle packs up her apartment and leaves New Orleans after she breaks up with her fiance. On her way, she meets with an accident, which she survives, and meets Howard, who explains to her that he saved her from the outside air filled with radiation from a nuclear or a chemical attack. Howard starts taking care of her starting from then. However, soon Michelle finds herself wanting to escape from him due to his controlling nature. As Michelle struggles to get away from him, she finds a shocking truth about the outside world.