There aren’t many differences between an apocalyptic story and a dystopian one. After an apocalypse, dystopias are prevalent, and the true nature of a dystopian civilization can only be revealed after a series of subtle discoveries. In “The Sleeper Awakes,” H. G. Wells used a Douglas Adams gag, which today’s sci-fi enthusiasts may recognize, to popularize dystopian literature. For ages, a man has accrued financial interests that make him the world’s owner. Intriguing story. His money is used by an elite council to create an authoritarian hellscape.
Dystopian films depict worlds that have been ravaged by greed or violence. Corruption is endemic in society. It is common for dystopias to be used as a metaphor for current and future issues in our society. Many of the films on this list have protagonists who are given a glimpse into the causes of their dystopias, and some of them even find ways to defy their oppressive regimes. Perhaps we can learn from the mistakes made by the people who live in these desolate places before the same things happen to us.
Willem Dafoe plays a sludgy vampire in “Daybreakers,” a raunchy horror flick. Is there any shortage of resources in the world today? Of course there is. The vampires triumphed, overthrowing the realm of humans and creating a nightly reproduction of their old lives. However, Big Blood has taken the role of Big Pharma in the new world order. As a result of the vampires’ globe dominion, their once-expanding supply of human victims is now in short supply.
Ethan Hawke works for a vampire hydroponics lab because he enjoys popping up in the most unexpected locations. Efforts are on to develop new blood substitutes in order to avert the approaching food crisis. To be fair, it’s a great spin on a familiar story line, but the movie has an insistence on keeping its basic concept simple, which is a little disappointing. Vampire hunters and a fresh approach on recovering the globe from the bloodsuckers characterize the third act of “Daybreakers,” which by this point has devolved into a standard action flick. It’s still a lot of fun.
“High-Rise” was adapted for the big screen by Ben Wheatley in 2015, with a little budget and a stellar cast. One of the most thematically persistent stories by J.G. Ballard. In “High-Rise,” the ultra-wealthy live isolated from the rest of society in a high-rise apartment building, where the architecture of social hierarchy is melting away at an alarming rate. As long as the tower can provide the demands of its people, questions about what’s going on outside fade into insignificance. The tower is a metaphor for social standing; the higher your apartment is, the more prestigious you are. Even from the inside out, it’s dissolving.
This picture has a lot of “Dredd” in it, even though it’s a little disjointed at parts. All of these factors combine to create a terrifying situation in which people are held hostage by a kingpin who has a psychological grip on them, cops are bribed to keep out of it and a hero must climb the tower to get to him. But Tom Hiddleston’s character, Robert Laing, does not overthrow the tower’s architect, played by Laing. The tower’s godhead, played by Jeremy Irons, entices Laing to join him in the architect’s huge experiment. Having accepted the architect’s offer of a position in his kingdom, Laing has been doomed to wild, dog-eating mania. At the very least, the view from his balcony is spectacular.
Immediately following the release of “The Matrix,” there was a competition to determine who could produce the most elegant, obscure pseudo-philosophical movie involving firearms and martial arts. For its courage to combine firearms and kickboxing into “gun-kata” in 2002, Equilibrium is the clear winner. THX 1148’s dehumanization and Fahrenheit 451’s authoritarian controls get a Play-Doh makeover in “Equilibrium,” which combines the two with a generous dollop of white buttercream. Even for a movie this silly, the battle choreography is amazing.
When Christian Bale determines that, yes, there will be an incident today, he pulls out his “American Psycho” face for the most of the movie, a marble sculpture of slowly accumulating emotions. This sedated kingdom’s fascist monarch is, of course, a complete hypocrite. Bale twists himself into a terrible maelstrom. This is the end result: a truly awful film that we could watch again and over again without tiring of it.
It’s hard to make out the premise of “Scanners,” but looking back, the film is a chilling example of David Cronenberg’s avant-garde style. It’s no longer a body horror film that gives political radicals their first taste of power; instead, it’s a look at what might happen if private military corporations gained access to psychics. The outcomes are shocking.
“The Men Who Stare at Goats,” a film concerning the US military’s use of hippy power and psychic phenomena in the Cold War, was based on a non-fiction book. That isn’t a prank call. In the actual world, this happened and had long-lasting effects. It’s a world in which the military-industrial complex has been raised to the status of an unelected shadow government in “Scanners” that allows these men to unleash the potential edge they wanted. Even worse, it’s one that can be easily influenced by these new psychics, such as the wicked Revok.
5. THX 1138
George Lucas directed “THX 1138” before he became famous for “Star Wars.” In its simplicity and complex philosophical conceits, it’s an odd film, almost Russian in style. Similar problems plagued Lucas during the prequel trilogy, as well: Without assistance, the man can’t conjure up an emotionally compelling tale despite his incredible wit and creativity. The fact that Lucas’ debut film is set in a universe devoid of feelings works in its favor. Although Robert Duvall’s dull existence is under control thanks to his meds, there is no profound connection. In contrast to the sex, there is a lack of affection.
Religion has a role to play in this, serving as a mechanical and impersonal reminder of the consequences of transgression. OMM is the new name of the renovated confessional, which now features a massive image of Jesus. As shown in the image above, nature is slowly taking back control of OMM, and it doesn’t seem to care about what THX has to say.
Even the epilogue is a brutalist allegory of death. THX is able to elude the robot police and escape, but only because the cost of bringing him back is too high. In the universe of “THX 1138,” no one really cares, and the sun’s awe for this free individual isn’t evident. It’s possible he’s no longer able to appreciate it. What do you think?
A horrific event had destroyed Neo-Tokyo some 30 years previously, but the forces responsible for that devastation had not learned anything from their mistakes. “Akira,” released in 1988, is regarded as an anime classic. It was the first film to demonstrate that the medium could present a thrilling plot while also incorporating trippy moral lessons. Armed forces in “Akira,” like those in “Scanners,” are trying in vain to unlock a new psychic army known as Espers. Akira, the Japanese Defense Ministry’s most powerful creation, had blown everything to waste decades earlier “Why, exactly? Here we go again.” Everything goes wrong, as the movie will demonstrate.
For aficionados of body horror, Tetsuo undergoes some of the most horrifying transformations outside of a straight-up guro film as evidence of the importance of friendship in “Akira.” With the enormous city racked by acts of terrorism and gang violence, the rest of society isn’t holding up. As gang members, our heroes’ behavior is more complicated. The film’s ending is as symbolic and acidic as Kubrick’s “2001,” and the manga series by Katsuhiro Otomo might be a tremendous assistance to viewers who want to dig deeper into what’s going on.
7. The Running Man
The book that served as the inspiration for the film “The Running Man” is a bittersweet tale. Stephen King’s alter ego was Richard Bachman, and using that pen name allowed him to vent a lot of pent-up wrath. With a tale that exalts violence and spectacle, the Arnold Schwarzenegger-led film adaptation expresses its rage at a world that has turned justice into a gameshow. It also helped to develop a strong opposition movement that knows how to turn the medium against those who exploit it.
Criminals are made into primetime entertainment by the US Justice Department, which funds fatal game programs. Ben Richards, played by Arnold, is a former police officer who has been converted into fodder for the mill. As ludicrous as “The Running Man” may be, the idea that the public’s perception of reality can shift based on what is being broadcast on television nevertheless rings true in the midst of its corny one-liners and over-the-the-top dialogue. The fact that the first response to this film’s success was to start developing reality shows about gladiators has never stopped being “Black Mirror” levels of strange.
8. Minority Report
At the very least, we may appreciate the limitations of the American legal system by binge-watching reruns of “Law & Order: SVU”. In general, we are aware of our legal rights and the proper and improper functions of the legal system. The operative word here is “should.” Based on Philip K. Dick’s short fiction and starring Tom Cruise, “Minority Report” explores themes of free choice and judicial system corruption. When it comes to arresting criminals before they commit a crime, the police in this country are confident that they’re always correct due to the predestination of fate. Anyone would be scared to death by this thought.
Instead of delving into Dick’s story’s philosophical conundrums, the film focuses on police corruption. There are many different ways to look at the concepts of fate vs. free will in this movie, and the ending is an excellent way to bring them all together in a satisfying way. It helps that the actors do a fantastic job. For the most part, Max von Sydow’s performance as Precrime’s Director is solid, only crumbling at key moments. There are some good points in this picture, but it’s not quite as good as other of Spielberg’s better works.
9. Soylent Green
It’s a strange experience to read the original reviews of “Soylent Green” from 1973. An uncomfortable read, yet one that can provide some sour laughs. The film, a murder mystery set in a dystopian future in which humans face extinction due to climate change, was criticized at the time for being melodramatic. Pompously prophetic was how The New Yorker described it, with the critic wondering, “Where are our democratic leaders to push back against a tragedy that is teetering all of human society on a final, hungry brink?”
To be fair, the film “Soylent Green” is a melodramatic and frequently hammy piece of entertainment. That’s an inescapable criticism when Charlton Heston is grimacing his way through the film. Edward G. Robinson’s moving farewell to the world that was, on the other hand, is harrowing to see. With Attenborough narrating, the closing moments of Robinson’s life are brought into the present day, when sea levels and temperatures are rising and causing more commodity shortages than ever before. To the New Yorker’s credit for bringing our impending environmental catastrophe to public attention, we’ve been doing it for some time. Those who refuse to listen are the real problem. Learning from this imaginary world’s faults isn’t too late, but progress is being made.
10. Logan’s Run
Imagine a planet ruled by the young, who rule that everyone above the age of 30 is too old to get it… oh, wait. That’s a lot of what’s happening on social media today. Fortunately, we’re not at risk of being tossed into a woodchipper because of our youthful fatigue. “Logan’s Run” is an excellent example of how to attain social balance. The Carrousel, a ritual of renewal that kills and recycles unprofitable people, is required participation for anybody who turns 30. Other than that, they’re free to live their lives in a gorgeous and nearly nude paradise.
Because of the careful management of its resources, this utopia has been able to preserve itself and keep humans from progressing into more sophisticated species. It’s as if everyone in the dome is a child who’s only here to grow up and become somebody else’s food. In contrast, freedom shows the world as it was before it was wrecked. An elderly man who thrives in his old age is something to be admired since it shows that life can go on indefinitely. While Logan’s Run finishes on a note of hope, he does it with a vengeance.
11. Total Recall
As a thinker, Philip K. Dick explored the meaning of being human, living, and rational in a world that was anything but. As a result, the fact that Arnold Schwarzenegger is the star of not one but two distinct Dick adaptations is perplexing. “Total Recall,” a bloody, macho movie based on the short story “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale,” was the result. For its premise and early turn, it borrows heavily from the original novel, and then it launches into high-octane action before reverting back to Dick’s classic questions. This adaptation has a less absurd climax than the book, which has an invasion of Martian mice.
To one of the strongest themes of “RoboCop,” Paul Verhoeven’s additions to the plot include the empowerment of giant companies through privatized paramilitaries and the functional absorption of governments. Paranoia from the film’s nebulous Agency serves as a metaphor for people’s rights vs the monolithic authority of the government. It’s today if you don’t watch “Total Recall.” Staycations and fake memories have replaced the desire to see the real world in a world rife with dead-end jobs. That’s fine for the big businesses.
When “Gattaca” came out in 1997, genetic engineering was still science fiction, but the ethical horrors of eugenics were already a reality. It’s a grim tale of a world where a person’s genetic make-up determines the extent of their possibilities for the future in Andrew Niccol’s feature film debut. In this presumption, we can see the results of relying solely on numerical data and ignoring the human spirit’s potential. For Ethan Hawke’s character, a “in-valid,” his visions of the stars inspire him to defy algorithmic forecasts and live a long and fruitful life. Although Jude Law was trained to be physically faultless, it’s his intellect and spirit that fall short of such lofty standards. They destroy the current order of things when they work together.
We see glimpses of a world that has been frozen in time as their journey progresses. Sleek retrofuturism depicts a world where people are scared of both success and failure. In place of Studebakers, everyone is sticking to the upgraded chrome showiness of space Studebakers. The world’s perfection hides its sympathetic flaws. That perfectionism is worthless if we don’t have the compassion to bring everyone along with us is shown by Hawke’s humanity in his dreams.
13. Escape from New York
Escape from New York is a film by director John Carpenter, who has his own thoughts about corrupt politics and fascist methods of control. The island of Manhattan is walled off into an open-air prison for dissidents, murderers, and gang lords written by Carpenter as a response to a cynical post-Nixon world. This is supposedly a response to an increase in violent crime, but it also serves as a scare tactic for anyone who might challenge the President’s authority. The plan goes awry, and Air Force One crashes inside the world’s most secure jail. Snake Plissken is here to join the action.
Snake is the late ’70s pessimism in a nutshell. Isn’t he entitled to his feelings of disdain towards the system that previously benefited him? It is only Kurt Russell’s mocking exasperation with the “one last job” cliché he has been dragged into that makes Snake’s confidence realistic. The film’s final punchline was set up by the loud action and brutal atmosphere of New York City. President Trump cares only about himself after all the grief and sacrifice it took to restore him. As Snake is too pessimistic to believe in the President’s promises, his triumphant return is scuppered by his jaded outlook.
14. Children of Men
In “Children of Men,” the cause of infertility is never revealed, serving as a powerful metaphor for a lack of compassion. It’s easy to assume that the collapse of society is a response from an ecosystem that no longer requires our presence. A semi-stable society has become more insular and bigoted as the end of the world approaches. Herod’s kingdom is in ruins, and Kee, a refugee girl, is the final hope for the exhausted carrier of hope thanks to her miraculous pregnancy.
The cinematic adaptation of P. D. James’ novel has some major alterations, yet it is still a powerful experience. An incredible scenario reminiscent of World War II’s Christmas Truce brings Kee and her unborn child’s tense nervousness to light. As vague as the resolution is in “Children of Men,” a sense of hope is the only way to survive this bleak future. Our species may have a second chance to live on Earth thanks to the efforts of a few ethical humans.
15. Mad Max
Mad Max offers a sarcastic look at the world as it is in the midst of the apocalypse as a whole. Water is as precious as fuel since it is both scarce and sacred. First time Max Rockatansky conquered Australia’s disintegrating roads, and last time he was completely in control of his thoughts.
“Mad Max” is clearly inspired by the ’70s oil crisis, which was blighted by turmoil around the world at the time. Social shifts occurred as a result of gas restriction and a financial crisis. Mel Gibson (whatever happened to him?) throw some graphic violence to the mix, and you’ve got yourself a tasty stew. The world of “Mad Max” is seen through the eyes of the everyday hardships of the people who live in it. A superhero or government official, Max is neither. Despite his best efforts, he ends up in over his head as a highway patrol officer.
The world that Max is attempting to endure is reflected in him. He holds it all together until he no longer has a cause to care, yet he is enthusiastic about it. Max becomes the face of Australia’s apocalypse in the wake of his nemesis’s destruction of his family. The only things that matter in Max’s new life are vengeance and survival.
In order to alert parents to the presence of sexually explicit material on audio recordings, the parental advisory label was first developed in 1985. The movie business finally gave in to parental pressure in 1984 and added the PG-13 classification to their system. According to director David Cronenberg’s “Videodrome,” which was released in 1983, in order to catch and kill social outcasts, the government uses subversive and pornographic media as a weapon.
Max Renn, a sleazy TV executive on the prowl for the next cheap pleasure, is the film’s protagonist, not the film’s hero. As a result of his interest in Malaysian torture porn, he has tuned in to listen to its mysterious broadcasts. If his new love disappears to experience it for herself, things turn even more bizarre after discovering that the signal is being faked from Pittsburgh.
A deeper knowledge of the conflict between a state seeking to enforce social purity and the resistance movement inspired by Marshall McLuhan is kept hidden from Max, but the lesson he eventually dies for is revealed to the public. Those in charge of the medium are also in charge of the message. In spite of the fact that “Videodrome” was made before the public internet existed, it is still relevant today. In other words, long live the new flesh.
17. Strange Days
“Strange Days,” which was out in 1995, was already looking a few years old because of its obsession with the Y2K scare. In spite of this, the film has proved itself to be a forerunner. No multi-sensory TikTok has yet been jammed directly into our prefrontal cortex, but we’re doing our hardest to get there with VR tech improvements and mental health therapies like TMS. That being said, the film’s most unsettling component is the racial war nearly sparked by the LAPD’s botched killing of rapper Jeriko One.
Three years had passed since the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles had erupted following the acquittal of four police officers in his death. To see that beneath the futuristic SQUID technology and Lenore’s shattered love story was a story about the unresolved pain that Black America still carried and how a recording of Jeriko’s horrible death could set California ablaze was no great leap. It’s a story that hasn’t changed, and each year the neon-lit SF trappings of this picture are further pulled away to uncover yet another homicidal cop, and another dead Black guy laying in the street.
18. The Matrix
Dystopian and post-apocalyptic themes are interwoven throughout “The Matrix,” yet it’s hard not to feel like we’ve seen this before. Embracing the countercultural garb of counterculture movements is a logical progression for the freshly disconnected Zion members. Reclaiming our individuality is a recurring subject throughout the series, culminating in the Wachowski sisters’ victorious rebirth as the women they were destined to be. Defeating a social machine that treats its fuel sources as more than bits and bytes is its own type of victory. The movie hasn’t been mentioned in a long time. It all depends.
Despite the destruction of the Real, humans can feel a sliver of liberation here. For many viewers of the first film, the revelation that Zion is actually divided between two opposing factions — one sympathetic but less successful — resonates home. Both sides are brought together by Morpheus’ spiritual humanism, but it’s not as easy as he would like it to be. It seemed as if Neo may break the cycle that bound the Matrix and the Real together at the film’s conclusion. Seeing the trailer for “The Matrix Resurrections” and realizing that he may have failed is chilling.
19. Blade Runner
“Blade Runner” is a sci-fi classic, and it’s not because Harrison Ford was at the peak of his powers. The idea isn’t that he was a great thirst trap in the 1980s. Every shot in this dystopian future noir tells the audience something important about this grim new world.
Blimps with futuristic designs extol the merits of colonizing other planets. In squalid back alleyways, dealers peddle low-cost replicas of real animals, complete with tamper-proof VINs. If the victim is suspected to be a robot, the police will not investigate the crime. Marduk-like Eldon Tyrell is atop a ziggurat changing what it means to be human, like the Babylonian god.
An object lesson in playing God is provided by the return of Tyrell’s creature to confront his creator at home. However, Roy Batty’s synthetic life span is only a few minutes, but his desire makes him eternal. When compared to the people he encountered, what made him less human than the rest? The film’s final recuts purposefully obscure this question and replace it with another: Who is more relatable? Replicant who defied his creators’ orders to live? A replicant programmed to kill, perhaps? Batty teaches Deckard how to be human at the end of the film. Though Blade Runner 2049 reimagines the question of whether Deckard is human or mechanical, Batty is the driving force behind its success.
20. A Clockwork Orange
Distopias are distinguished by the death of humanity as well as the state’s corruption. Only Stanley Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange” does these ideas justice. A human filth like Alex is possible because of the authoritarian madness of society, which allows boys to be boys as long as they don’t irritate the wrong people. It’s simpler for the authorities to keep the meek and impoverished off the streets because of the fear gangs like Alex and his droogs instill.
When Alex breaks one of these unwritten norms, he does so in a cool, collected manner. Because of the attention he brought to the attention of someone who was important, his imprisonment isn’t enjoyable, but he doesn’t regret his actions. Only in this new England can you wield real power, the ability to make a difference to the people in charge.
While Alex is in prison, several of his erstwhile droogs join the police force, utilizing brutal force and a lack of humanity to accomplish exactly what they did prior to Alex’s milk bars and canal crawls. In the end, Alex’s struggles and tribulations will undoubtedly lead him to become a barrister, if not the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.