The Apocalypse Is Coming... Pass the Popcorn
Hollywood, it seems, has it in for us. Beginning with the alien-invasion flick 'District 9' (in theaters now), this movie season is chock-full of earth- and earthling-shattering epics. From angry E.T.s and brain-eating zombies to Mayan doomsday prophecies, we're in for a hurtin' for certain, thanks to those bozos. Highfalutin' theories abound as to why all the apocalypse, and why now. The Guardian says it's a reaction to changing times; the Wall Street Journal suggests post-9/11 cultural anxiety and the financial crisis. But nuts to that. We just want to know how to survive when the sh#t goes down.
With that in mind, Switched took a look at what flavors of doom await us on the big screen, and the likelihood of our making it through, should things really go south. Our only other piece of advice? When in doubt, destroy the brain. Always destroy the brain.
'District 9,' in theaters August 14
Plot: A group of shrimp-like alien visitors spend decades in a Joburg (Johannesburg, South Africa) slum called District 9, enduring 'inhuman' treatment at the hands of their captors -- minions of a weapons manufacturer that hope to exploit their advanced technology.
Star Power: Music video director Neill Blomkamp gets support from LOTR's Peter Jackson on his debut film, which features a bunch of no-name actors. And that actually isn't a bad thing.
Threat to Mankind: The 'Prawns,' of course, have advanced weaponry and are treated like crap. If you've ever seen a sci-fi movie, you know that's a recipe for pain.
Likelihood We'll be Wiped Out (Out of 10): 4. If they could destroy us, wouldn't they have done so already? That said, Blomkamp seems like too intelligent of a director to let Joburg residents get off scot-free.
History Lessons: The parallel between the disenfranchised aliens and South Africa's apartheid-era black Africans is clear. If John Carpenter has taught us anything, it's that horror and sci-fi always make the best social commentary.
'2012,' in theaters November 13
Plot: Knowing that the Earth's days are numbered, as foretold by a Mayan prophecy, world leaders act just as you'd expect; they create a secret ark to shelter only the powerful and elite. A ragtag band of disaster-movie clichés – the single father and his estranged ex, a wacky radio DJ, a scientist with a heart of gold -- race to make it to these fortified boats before it's too late.
Star Power: Director Roland Emmerich is no stranger to big-budget disaster flicks, having helmed both 'The Day After Tomorrow' and 'Independence Day'. With John Cusack as the sci-fi writer/protagonist and Amanda Peet as his ex-wife, we smell a pretty by-the-numbers disaster epic.
Threat to Mankind: The Earth disintegrating is pretty harsh stuff. Yet, with the battle being over the elite-only 'arks,' is it possible that Emmerich is suggesting the real culprit is (duh-duh-DUH) humanity itself?
Likelihood We'll Be Wiped Out: 9. Naturally, Peet and Cusack will survive and surely reunite, but the rest of us are probably SOL.
2012 Believers Beware: The mysticism of the Mayan predictions are only a trope for fast action and big special effects. Don't expect to get any insights for your anthropology term paper.
'9,' in theaters September 9
Plot Rundown: Nine "LittleBigPlanet'-type sack dolls must destroy a corrupted synthetic brain that has already decimated most of the world. It's adorably creepy, with the best toy-based fight scenes since 'Toy Story.'
The only kids' movie that takes on the end of the world, '9' follows nine little 'LittleBigPlanet'-type sack characters that try to destroy a corrupted synthetic brain that has already decimated most of the world. Each character, given a number and a personality, navigates a post-apocalyptic landscape with adorable creepiness. And it's got the best toy-based fight scenes since 'Toy Story.'
Star Power: Produced under the auspices of creative genius Tim Burton, it features an all-star cast of voice talent: Elijah Wood, John C. Reilly, Jennifer Connelly, and Christopher Plummer.
Threat to Mankind: People still exist as rebels-in-hideout form, cowering from their synthetic enemies. Think 'Terminator', but with stitched dolls instead of Christian Bale.
Likelihood We'll Be Wiped Out: 6. Most humans are already gone, and since we root for the dolls, we're okay with that.
Child's Play: Though technically a kid's movie, its the first animated film to receive a PG-13 rating. Take that parents!
'Zombieland,' in theaters October 9
Plot: Finally, a comedy! Woody Harrelson plays the requisite badass, forced to cross the country with two young girls and a coward named Columbus. Part buddy flick, part road trip movie, and all gore-fest, it's one of those zom-coms that begs the question: What's worse -- Zombies or ninety full minutes of Woody Harrelson-isms?
Star Power: Woody leads the cast, which also features Abigail Breslin (continuing her descent from high-art darling to weird action-movie fixture). Jesse Eisenberg (of 'Adventureland' fame) obviously got the director's note to "act like Michael Cera."
Threat to Mankind: Man-eating zombies have ended society as we know it. Nothing we haven't dealt with before -- using blunt household objects.
Likelihood We'll Be Wiped Out: 7. It's a comedy, so most folks will survive.
Good Bill Hunting: Look for the tragically funny Bill Murray, who is supposed to cameo as a character with a, erm, biting sense of humor.
'The Road,' in theaters October 16
Plot: With the sun gone and plants incapable of growing, The Man and his Son (the only names given) struggle to survive their journey across America, pursued not by zombies or tidal waves, but by hungry, cannibalistic people who kill, eat, and ravage for pleasure and survival. Dark, huh?
Star Power: Adapted from Cormac McCarthy's critically acclaimed novel, it's directed by John Hillcoat, who also did the expansive Aussie western 'The Proposition.' Viggo Mortenson plays the ragged, starving father. Up-and-coming Kodi Smit-McPhee is already garnering attention for his excellent portrayal of The Son, which is better than, say, a Smith kid.
Threat to Mankind: Fans of the book will know that there are no greater threats than hunger and time. The 'event' that caused the apocalypse is never named, but all that's left are decaying buildings and savage people -- which is scary enough.
Likelihood We'll Be Wiped Out: 9. If the uninhabitable environment doesn't get us, the other humans will. By eating us. Which is worse than zombies for some reason.
On Location: To achieve the bombed-out look of a post-apocalyptic landscape, the producers discovered a ready-made locale -- the outskirts of Pittsburgh!
'The Book of Eli.' in theaters January 15, 2010
Plot: Thirty years after a war "tore a hole through the sky," Eli safeguards a special book that is said to be capable of bringing civilization back from the brink. Set in a small Western town, there's lots of fighting, lots of moody Western-y stuff, and, of course, lots of Denzel.
Star Power: Yeah, we said Denzel. Oh, and Gary Oldman and Mila Kunis, so not too shabby. It also marks the Hughes Brothers' return to movie-making after almost a decade, their last project being "From Hell."
Threat to Mankind: The earth is pretty desolate, and it seems that if Eli fails, so does humanity.
Likelihood We'll Be Wiped Out: 2. Unless the book Eli carries has the secret to cold fusion in its pages, we're probably in for some large-scale social lesson, like the Earth is what we make of it, etc.
Twilight Passing: The film was initially slated to star Kristen Stewart, but she passed up the film to finish the 'Twilight' sequel. Mila Kunis took her place.