A few days ago, I wrote an article on the best Hollywood films based on the post-apocalyptic theme. If you have read the article, you must have wondered why many films were missing from the list. However, there was a reason, and quite a good one for that matter that I omitted many films from the post-apocalyptic movies list.
Well, movies are based on genre, and this genre actually, gives us a rough idea of the theme and concept of a particular film. Over time, post-apocalyptic films, a subgenre of science fiction, have seen a tremendous amount of development. The basic idea that started by making a film based on the survival of humanity after an apocalypse evolved in the process of developing a new genre called dystopian.
Although the concept of both post-apocalyptic and dystopian films is the same as both are set after an apocalyptic run on Earth, the central theme is often distinct from one another. While post-apocalyptic films convey the story of survival post-apocalyptic, dystopian films tell us about a whole new regressive society or community that was a result of the apocalypse. In the dystopian culture, humanity has already survived but lived under a repressive dystopia.
So, without wasting any time, let’s check out some of the best dystopian films from Hollywood over the years.
Best Hollywood Dystopian Movies of All Time
The first on our list of best Dystopian movies is, of course, the cult favorite The Matrix. The film presented us an alternate reality that could be possible if the machines take over humanity and dominate the Earth. The Matrix basically follows the life of Neo and his team, who rebel against the sentient machines to free the people from the dream world. The movie became an instant hit among the mass and is even today considered as one of the epic movies of all time. The franchise was extended further with two other sequels; The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions.
The world was influenced by the caste system during its early stage of civilization. However, the classification was decided upon the skills and occupation, which later was converted as the family background. Divergent is one such film that talks about the return of such a society in the post-apocalyptic Chicago that classifies people into different factions decided by human virtues. Although, it seems as the ideal society to sustain peace and well-being in their city, the things start rocking when Beatrice Prior, a Divergent learns about a sinister plot against the people. The film is actually based on the novel of the same name by Veronica Roth and has been converted into a franchise with 2 other sequels added to the series; Insurgent and Allegiant. A third sequel is scheduled for release in the near future titled Ascendant.
The Hunger Games
Somewhat similar to the Divergent story line, The Hunger Games follows the story of Katniss Everdeen and the theme of the film is set around a ruthless competition, where the contestants (one male and one female) are chosen by lot from every district of the nation annually to fight to the death in The Hunger Games. The story starts when Katniss Everdeen volunteers to replace her younger sister, who is initially chosen by lot, to enter the competition. Whether Katniss survives and wins the competition or not, is what forms the rest of the film. Based on the novel of the same name by Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games has also turned into a big franchise with 3 more sequels added to the series.
Riddick is actually the third installment of The Riddick Series starring Vin Diesel in the titular role. The film is set in the dystopian future where new planets and civilizations are discovered. Basically, the film series is centered upon Riddick; a former mercenary and a wanted criminal. While the previous two films follow the different stories, the story of the 2013 film Riddick takes off from where it was left off during the climax of the 2nd film The Chronicles of Riddick of the series. Stranded on a desert planet, Riddick sees hope after he signals his whereabouts to a bunch of bounty hunters to come and rescue him. The film shows us a fictional view of a distant future, where we can’t be sure what kind of creatures or species we may encounter when we finally find life on other planets.
Minority Report is a science fiction mystery-thriller film directed by the legendary filmmaker Steven Spielberg. Minority Report is still one of the Best Dystopian Movies. The film is set in a futuristic era where technology has become so advanced that a specialized police department called PreCrime has been established to capture criminals beforehand based on the information provided by three psychics called precogs. However, things turn ugly when Chief of PreCrime John Anderton, played by Tom Cruise, is picked by the precogs, he decides to run trying to uncover the mystery about his assumed victim.
Also Read : Best Hollywood Movies Sets in Future
You must be wondering why is a computer-animated film Wall-E on the list. Well, if you have already watched the film then you must be aware that the film is set in a distant future where Earth has become a wasteland and Wall-E is a robot designed to clean it up. However, when another more advanced robot Eve lands on the Earth, Wall-E falls in love with her and then begins a journey to pursue his love for her and a resultant fight ensues against the rogue robots to sustain humanity and life back on Earth. One of The Best Dystopian Movies of All Time.
Also Read: Best High-Quality Animated Movies
The Book of Eli
The Book of Eli, as the title suggests, is a film that revolves around the copy of a mysterious book. Basically, the film tells the story of Eli, who lives like a nomad in a post-apocalyptic world. One day, he hears a voice that tells him to transport the mysterious in his belongings to a safe location on the West Coast of the United States. The film is directed by the Hughes brother as well as stars Denzel Washington in the lead role as Eli.
Repo Men is an American-Canadian film starring Jude Law as a repo man Remy, while Forest Whitaker plays his partner Jake Freivald. Adapted from the novel The Repossession Mamba written by Eric Garcia, the film is set in a dystopian era, where a corporation called “The Union” dominates and sells highly perfected bio-mechanical organs to the people with diseased organs. However, the consumers are unaware of the dark face of the corporation, which reclaims the artificial organ from the body by force with the help of a repo man whenever the consumer delays the payment. When Remy is unable to pay for his bio-mechanical organ in time, he decides to flee and delete the records of all the customers of The Union realizing that it will be the right thing to. Whether he succeeds or fails forms the rest of the film.
In Time is a 2011 American dystopian era film starring Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried in the lead roles. The story of the film is about a society, where people stop aging at 25 and each individual gets a clock on their arm that shows the countdown for the time left for them to live, starting from a year. The film is set during an era where time is the new currency and people can barter their time with others for resources. Such a setting has made the society divide into two different time zones; Dayton for the people with less time left on their clock and New Greenwich for the people with time to last for centuries. The film is an interesting watch and shows us the value of time in life.
A Scanner Darkly
Based on Philip K. Dick’s novel of the same name, A Scanner Darkly is an adult animated sci-fi film directed by Richard Linklater. Starring Keanu Reeves, Robert Downey Jr., Woody Harrelson, and Winona Ryder in the lead roles, the film is set in a near-future dystopia that is always under high-security police surveillance. Although shot digitally, the final print of the film seems like it’s an animated feature.
Brazil is a 1985 dystopian sci-fi film that tells us the story of Sam Lowry, who is trying to find a woman appearing in his dreams while he is working in a mind-numbing job. Set in a consumer-driven dystopian world, the people are highly dependent on the poorly maintained machines. This new world is dominated by a bureaucratic, totalitarian government which can go to an extreme extent in order to hide an error made by them that resulted in the death of an innocent man. Now Sam has to save the girl of his dreams and uncover the real truth behind the Government error.
A Clockwork Orange
A Clockwork Orange is a 1971 crime film directed by Stanley Kubrick. The film is based on the novel of the same name written by Anthony Burgess and it tells the story of a charismatic and sociopathic Alex, portrayed by Malcolm McDowell. The plot of the film basically follows the violent crime spree of Alex and his gang as well as his capture and rehabilitation via controversial psychological reconditioning.
Loosely based on Aldous Huxley’s dystopian novel Brave New World, the film Demolition is basically about the rivalry between a crime lord and a valiant police officer. Both the crime lord and the police were cryogenically frozen and revived in 2032 to find a completely new world where the mainstream society has changed and the crime is almost eliminated. Starring Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes in the lead roles as the police officer and the crime lord respectively, Demolition Man is a film that talks about the adaptation of two men from the past to adjust with the new world and resume their rivalry.
THX-1138 is a dystopian sci-fi film from the 70s directed by George Lucas. The film is set in a distant future dystopia where the world population is controlled by Android police officers and with the mandatory use of drugs that are designed to suppress human emotions, especially the outlawed sexual desire. Starring Robert Duvall in the titular role, the film takes a drastic turn when THX gets romantically involved with LUH and an interesting saga of the chase for survival begins.
Metropolis is a classic silent film of 1927 directed by Fritz Lang. Set in the distant future dystopia, the film follows the story of a rich boy Freder and a poor girl Maria, who are trying to bridge the gap between the separating classes of their city. Starring Brigitte Helm, Gustav Frohlich, Alfred Abel and Rudolf Klein-Rogge in the lead roles, the film is among the best films in the science fiction genre and also among the first feature-length movies in its genre.
The Maze Runner
The Maze Runner is another dystopian science fiction film that was developed into a franchise owing to the success of the demand in this genre. Based on the James Dashner’s novel of the same name, The Maze Runner is the first installment of The Maze Runner series and follows the story of a young boy named Thomas. Thomas finds himself on an elevator with no knowledge of how he got there. The elevator drops him in the middle of an intricate maze, where he finds a large number of boys struggling to survive and making attempts to find their way out of the ever-changing labyrinth or as we popularly call it, the maze.
Death Race is actually a franchise developed in 1975 with the release of Paul Bartel’s Death Race starring David Carradine, Simon Griffeth, and Sylvester Stallone. The basic theme of the film revolves around a murderous Transcontinental Road Race, which has become a national phenomenon for entertainment in the dystopian American society in the distant future. The screenplay of the film was adapted from the short story The Racer by Ib Melchior. Recently, the Death Race franchise was rebooted in 2008 with the release of Paul W. S. Anderson’s Death Race starring Jason Statham in the lead role. Following the moderate success of the film, two direct-to-video prequels were released titled Death Race 2 and Death Race 3: Inferno in 2010 and 2013 respectively.
Equilibrium is a 2002 sci-fi film starring Christian Bale, Emily Watson, and Taye Diggs in pivotal roles. The film follows the story of John Preston, played by Christian Bale, who is an enforcement officer in the distant future Dystopia where feelings and artistic are considered as a criminal offense and in order to suppress human emotions, the residents are ordered to take daily injections of drugs. However, when Preston misses a dose one day, he starts experiencing emotions that he never felt before. These new emotions force him to question his morals and the rest of the film is about his quest to right the wrongs of the past.
Starring Vin Diesel in the lead role, Babylon A.D. is a 2008 science fiction film directed by Mathieu Kassovitz. The story of the film is adapted from the novel Babylon Babies written by Maurice Georges Dantec. Babylon A.D. follows the story of a mercenary in the distant future named Toorop, played by Diesel, who takes up the contract from a Russian mobster to transport a young woman from a convent in Mongolia to the New York City. Although the task seems simple, Toorop must take a route that follows the towns and cities of Russia inhabited by dangerous and overpopulated slums owing to the war and terrorist activity.
The Island is yet another escape-from-dystopia themed film starring Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson in the lead roles. Set in the distant future dystopia, the film tells us the story about an isolated structure away from the real world where the inhabitants are actually the human clones designed for organ harvesting and surrogate motherhood for the wealthy people in the outside world. The main protagonist of the film played by McGregor finds out this dark reality and successfully flees from The Island along with Johansson’s character. The rest of the film is about their survival and finding their respective originals.
Share, Your favorite Dystopian Movies of All Time.