The Top 5 Post-Apocalyptic Movies for the Summer
When the dog days of summer arrive and the sun bears down real hot, it really feels like the end of the world is near - in other words, it's the perfect time to revisit some of the classic examples of post-apocalyptic cinema! And what better format to watch the end of the world as we know it then in the backyard on an inflatable screen, where you can enjoy cinema in the cool night air? Open Air Cinema invites you to beat the heat by experiencing some worlds that are far more uncomfortable to live in - all vicariously, of course, via your outdoor movie setup. Listed below are some of our most favorite post-apocalyptic films!
I Am Legend
(Francis Lawrence, 2007)
Richard Matheson's best-known horror novel has been inspiring classic adaptations for 50 years. We've seen this story before - 1964's The Last Man on Earth, starring Vincent Price; and 1971's The Omega Man, starring Charlton Heston. Both of these films are well-made and feature strong performances from iconic actors. While both feature some grotesque monsters, neither of them succeed in capturing the psychological horrors of this tale quite like the 2007 adaptation. For how cheesy the CGI infected may look, Will Smith's turn as the lone - and achingly lonely - survivor. Bonus points to the set designers, who turned downtown Manhattan into a neglected wasteland of ruins which seem as ancient as they are familiar.
(Kevin Reynolds, 1995)
1995's aquatic answer to Mad Max was generally panned upon its theatrical release. Many critics felt that the final product failed to live up to its historically lavish budget. But, it has maintained a steady cult following throughout the years for its high-octane action and for Kevin Costner's turn as The Mutation with No Name. Dennis Hopper also fit comfortably into the role of an oil baron as eccentric as he is ruthless. Not a bad flick, especially on a night when it feels like the polar ice caps really will melt.
(Andrew Stanton, 2008)
WALL-E takes a slightly different look at the apocalypse on earth - and not solely for the fact that it's animated, either. This film gazes at the wasteland (magnificently rendered, by the way) through the eyes of the last robot on Earth. When the planet finally becomes hospitable to precious plant life, it falls to a plucky, nearly-obsolete trash disposal unit to alert the morbidly-obese remnants of the human race, floating lazily above the planet in a Huxleyan pleasure pod. A chilling prophecy of the future wrapped in a hopeful hero's journey, WALL-E is definitely a must-see apocalypse film that's suitable for all ages.
The Planet of the Apes
(Franklin J. Schaffner, 1968)Is there any more final shot more often imitated? More beloved? In spite of its over-the-top elements of melodrama - supplied liberally by a scenery-chewing Charlton Heston - The Planet of the Apes remains a classic for its brilliant satire, its iconic design, and its menacing jungle-beat score. Moreover, it's one of the few sci-fi flicks from its era whose makeup effects have stood the test of time. The world created by Schaffner and crew is so complete that the viewer often still feels shocked by its final, bleak revelation - even those of us who knew it all along.
Mad Max: Fury Road
(George Miller, 2015)It's not even available for home viewing yet, we know. But it doesn't matter. George Miller's long-awaited new installment in the continuing adventures of the Road Warrior himself is nothing short of a revolution - as a post-apocalyptic film; as an example of fast-paced science fiction; and as a film in general. The film lives up to all aspects of its hype. The visuals are breathtaking. The practical effects reflect an attention to detail comparable only to Terry Gilliam. The performances are strong and atypical - damsels who take on their own distress; war boys meted out on the promise of a warrior's paradise; a strong-willed clench jawed heroine who is three parts Clint Eastwood cool for every deserved comparison to Tank Girl; and finally our muttering leading madman. Progressive without being preachy and never condescendingly expository, Mad Max: Fury Road is a new standard of post-apocalyptic cinema. No matter what poison you pick for your post-apocalyptic experience, remember that it can always be much. much bigger - a viewing to match the scope of your cinema. All you need is five minutes, your inflatable screen, and a clear sky full of stars.