IMDb Staff: What is your favourite end-of-the-world or world-in-peril movie?

by VideoJordan | created - 21 Dec 2012 | updated - 21 Dec 2012 | Public

Each of these suggestions comes from a different IMDb staff member in honor of the end of the Mayan Calendar. Note that the world doesn’t have to actually end in the movie as hopefully a bunch of unlikely heroes will band together in unusual circumstances to overcome insurmountable obstacles and save the day (as if anyone would make a movie like that ). Also will accept answers where the planet is one other than earth.

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1. The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961)

Unrated | 99 min | Drama, Sci-Fi, Romance

When the U.S. and Russia unwittingly test atomic bombs at the same time, it alters the nutation (axis of rotation) of the Earth.

Director: Val Guest | Stars: Edward Judd, Janet Munro, Leo McKern, Michael Goodliffe

Votes: 3,772

I am going to go with a classic of British science fiction in The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961) which is neatly summarized by our plot summary: “Hysterical panic has engulfed the world after the United States and the Soviet Union simultaneously detonate nuclear devices and have caused the orbit of the Earth to alter, sending it hurtling towards the sun.” I don’t want to reveal too much but this movie has one of the best endings of any type of movie ever made. Also look quickly for an early appearance by an up-and-coming actor of the time playing the role of a policeman; mostly recognizable from his voice.

2. Last Night (I) (1998)

R | 95 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

65 Metascore

A group of very different individuals with different ideas of how to face the end come together as the world is expected to end in six hours at the turn of the century.

Director: Don McKellar | Stars: Don McKellar, Sandra Oh, Roberta Maxwell, Robin Gammell

Votes: 8,614

There’s so many contenders here but for me it has to be Last Night (1998), in which a disparate group of Torontonians face an unspecified apocalypse by asking, you know, what it really means to them. It’s the kind of sci-fi I love, where the sci is incidental to the fi. [Also: David Cronenberg cameo.]

3. Mars Attacks! (1996)

PG-13 | 106 min | Comedy, Sci-Fi

52 Metascore

Earth is invaded by Martians with unbeatable weapons and a cruel sense of humor.

Director: Tim Burton | Stars: Jack Nicholson, Pierce Brosnan, Sarah Jessica Parker, Annette Bening

Votes: 188,604 | Gross: $37.77M

4. Crack in the World (1965)

Not Rated | 96 min | Sci-Fi

A dying scientist pushes forward his project to tap through to the Earth's magma layer, with results that threaten to destroy the Earth as we know it.

Director: Andrew Marton | Stars: Dana Andrews, Janette Scott, Kieron Moore, Alexander Knox

Votes: 1,696

5. Stargate SG-1 (1997–2007)

TV-14 | 44 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

A secret military team, SG-1, is formed to explore other planets through the recently discovered Stargates.

Stars: Richard Dean Anderson, Michael Shanks, Amanda Tapping, Christopher Judge

Votes: 73,309

my first thought was the numerous earth saving stories of Stargate SG-1

6. End of Days (1999)

R | 121 min | Action, Fantasy, Horror

33 Metascore

At the end of the century, Satan visits New York in search of a bride. It's up to an ex-cop who now runs an elite security outfit to stop him.

Director: Peter Hyams | Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gabriel Byrne, Robin Tunney, Kevin Pollak

Votes: 96,416 | Gross: $66.89M

I do love a good bad movie and this definitely fits in that category…

My pick is End of Days. The Boston Globe summed it up nicely:

“It seems endless. It's also unusually crude and stupid, even for an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie.”

7. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

PG | 95 min | Comedy, War

96 Metascore

An insane general triggers a path to nuclear holocaust that a War Room full of politicians and generals frantically tries to stop.

Director: Stanley Kubrick | Stars: Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden, Keenan Wynn

Votes: 393,079 | Gross: $0.28M

One of my all-time favorite movies probably qualifies…. can it be a man-made end of world? Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

8. Solar Crisis (1990)

PG-13 | 112 min | Sci-Fi, Thriller

A huge Solar flare is predicted to fry Earth. Astronauts must fly to the sun to drop a talking bomb (Freddy) at the right time so the flare will point somewhere else. Giant IXL Corp C.E.O. ... See full summary »

Director: Richard C. Sarafian | Stars: Tim Matheson, Charlton Heston, Peter Boyle, Annabel Schofield

Votes: 1,502

9. Fisshu sutôrî (2009)

112 min | Action, Comedy, Music

In the year 2012 a comet approaches earth, threatening to end civilization when it impacts. On the streets of Japan, a single music store remains open, its proprietor insisting to his ... See full summary »

Director: Yoshihiro Nakamura | Stars: Atsushi Itô, Kiyohiko Shibukawa, Noriko Eguchi, Hidekazu Mashima

Votes: 2,387

For fave world-in-peril I’ll vote for Fish Story directed by the versatile Yoshihiro Nakamura. Set in 2012 with a comet about to hit the world a series of flashbacks tell the story of the punk rock song that saves the world. Yep, the punk rock song that saves the world. If you really need more of a description to see this film there’s not much I can do to help. ;-)

10. Night of the Comet (1984)

PG-13 | 95 min | Comedy, Horror, Sci-Fi

A comet wipes out most of life on Earth, leaving two Valley Girls fighting against cannibal zombies and a sinister group of scientists.

Director: Thom Eberhardt | Stars: Catherine Mary Stewart, Kelli Maroney, Robert Beltran, Sharon Farrell

Votes: 14,899 | Gross: $14.42M

The first end-of-world-as-we-know-it movie I can remember seeing was Night of the Comet. I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t hold up to another viewing now, but it really captured my 13yo imagination. Special point for movie people: one of the survivors made it through the comet’s tail because he was inside the solid steel projection booth at a movie theater.

11. Melancholia (2011)

R | 135 min | Drama, Sci-Fi

80 Metascore

Two sisters find their already strained relationship challenged as a mysterious new planet threatens to collide with Earth.

Director: Lars von Trier | Stars: Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kiefer Sutherland, Alexander Skarsgård

Votes: 145,191 | Gross: $3.03M

A recent film that I Loved, Melancholia (2011). [crying into her meatloaf] Justine: It tastes like ashes!

12. Until the End of the World (1991)

R | 158 min | Action, Drama, Sci-Fi

In 1999, Claire's life is forever changed after she survives a car crash. She rescues Sam and starts traveling around the world with him. Writer Eugene follows them and writes their story, as a way of recording dreams is being invented.

Director: Wim Wenders | Stars: William Hurt, Solveig Dommartin, Pietro Falcone, Enzo Turrin

Votes: 7,585 | Gross: $0.75M

My first inclination is Until the End of the World (1991) though the world doesn’t actually end in the movie (oops…spoiler). ). I was fortunate enough to see Wim Wender’s 3-part 4 ½ hour director’s cut at a 1996 UW screening and have been wanting to see that version again ever since. Unfortunately, the full director’s cut has never been issued in the US due to complicated rights issues. It has been released in foreign locales, though.

13. V (1983– )

Unrated | 197 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

When aliens come to Earth to ask for our help, a few suspicious humans discover their horrific true intentions and prepare to resist.

Stars: Jane Badler, Michael Durrell, Faye Grant, Peter Nelson

Votes: 11,370

I think my original End Of The World experience may have been with TV movies way back in the 80’s, I recall watching both The Day After and V – The Movie.

14. Children of Men (2006)

R | 109 min | Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller

84 Metascore

In 2027, in a chaotic world in which women have become somehow infertile, a former activist agrees to help transport a miraculously pregnant woman to a sanctuary at sea.

Director: Alfonso Cuarón | Stars: Julianne Moore, Clive Owen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Caine

Votes: 404,482 | Gross: $35.55M

With all the great EOTW movies to choose from, I’d have to say my favorite is Children of Men.

15. Akira (1988)

R | 124 min | Animation, Action, Drama

A secret military project endangers Neo-Tokyo when it turns a biker gang member into a rampaging psychic psychopath that only two teenagers and a group of psychics can stop.

Director: Katsuhiro Ôtomo | Stars: Mitsuo Iwata, Nozomu Sasaki, Mami Koyama, Tesshô Genda

Votes: 127,088 | Gross: $0.55M

16. Independence Day (1996)

PG-13 | 145 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

59 Metascore

The aliens are coming and their goal is to invade and destroy Earth. Fighting superior technology, mankind's best weapon is the will to survive.

Director: Roland Emmerich | Stars: Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum, Mary McDonnell

Votes: 474,118 | Gross: $306.17M

Look at that cast list!

17. The Andromeda Strain (1971)

G | 131 min | Sci-Fi, Thriller

60 Metascore

A group of scientists investigate a deadly new alien virus before it can spread.

Director: Robert Wise | Stars: James Olson, Arthur Hill, David Wayne, Kate Reid

Votes: 28,840

Given that I’ve been sick for the past three days, I’m going to pick The Andromeda Strain (1971).

18. The Road (I) (2009)

R | 111 min | Adventure, Drama

64 Metascore

In a dangerous post-apocalyptic world, an ailing father defends his son as they slowly travel to the sea.

Director: John Hillcoat | Stars: Viggo Mortensen, Charlize Theron, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Robert Duvall

Votes: 197,696 | Gross: $0.06M

gritty, realistic, gruesome, and bleak. But compared to the book, it’s a light-hearted wacky romantic comedy.

19. The Quiet Earth (1985)

R | 91 min | Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi

A man named Zac Hobson awakens to find himself alone in the world. In a desperate attempt to search for others, he finds only two who have their own agenda.

Director: Geoff Murphy | Stars: Bruno Lawrence, Alison Routledge, Pete Smith, Anzac Wallace

Votes: 22,071 | Gross: $2.12M

– small-budget art film from New Zealand that concentrates on the psychology of loneliness at the end of the world rather than action or special effects. By no means perfect, but unfolds deliciously to an hauntingly beautiful ending.

20. The Walking Dead (2010– )

TV-MA | 44 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller

Sheriff Deputy Rick Grimes wakes up from a coma to learn the world is in ruins, and must lead a group of survivors to stay alive.

Stars: Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Melissa McBride, Lauren Cohan

Votes: 740,934

Honorable Mention: I’m really enjoying The Walking Dead on TV.

21. Armageddon (1998)

PG-13 | 151 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

42 Metascore

After discovering that an asteroid the size of Texas is going to impact Earth in less than a month, N.A.S.A. recruits a misfit team of deep core drillers to save the planet.

Director: Michael Bay | Stars: Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton, Ben Affleck, Liv Tyler

Votes: 354,547 | Gross: $201.57M

I had no idea this was co-written by J.J. Abrams. From now on, I’m going to call it “J.J. Abrams’ Armageddon”

22. Galactica 1980 (1980)

60 min | Sci-Fi

When the Battlestar Galactica finally arrives at Earth, they find they must subtly raise its tech level and protect Earth from the Cylons.

Stars: Kent McCord, Barry Van Dyke, Robyn Douglass, Lorne Greene

Votes: 2,738

I just remembered another great one from my youth…

In Battlestar Galactica 1980, Dr. Zee prepares this incredible simulation of what would happen if the cylons discovered Earth. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jw0sVNuBjNQ

Fun facts: • Most of the Los Angeles destruction footage is actually from Earthquake (1974) with menacing cylon ships added in • Dr. Zee is played by Robbie Rist who also played Cousin Oliver (that jinx!) in the final season of The Brady Bunch

23. It's a Disaster (2012)

R | 88 min | Comedy, Drama

57 Metascore

Four couples meet for Sunday brunch only to discover they are stuck in a house together as the world may be about to end.

Director: Todd Berger | Stars: Rachel Boston, Laura Adkin, Kevin M. Brennan, David Cross

Votes: 9,238 | Gross: $0.04M

Saw this at the LA Film Festival and loved its quirky take on the end-of-the-world for us folks in LA.

24. Soylent Green (1973)

PG | 97 min | Crime, Mystery, Sci-Fi

66 Metascore

In the world ravaged by the greenhouse effect and overpopulation, an NYPD detective investigates the murder of a big company CEO.

Director: Richard Fleischer | Stars: Charlton Heston, Edward G. Robinson, Leigh Taylor-Young, Chuck Connors

Votes: 49,923

Definitely +1 for Children of Men but the choice does raise an interesting question of dystopian future vs. EOTW. You could say that in most dystopian future movies, the world (as we know it) has ended, but life still goes on, just very differently. If by the world ending, you mean the physical planet being (or under the threat of being) obliterated, then I pick any movie featuring a comet/cosmic threat. If by the end of civilization as we know it, then here are some additional movies in no particular order (Soylent Green through Wall-E):

25. Planet of the Apes (1968)

G | 112 min | Adventure, Sci-Fi

79 Metascore

An astronaut crew crash-lands on a planet in the distant future where intelligent talking apes are the dominant species, and humans are the oppressed and enslaved.

Director: Franklin J. Schaffner | Stars: Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans

Votes: 150,466 | Gross: $33.40M

26. Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

PG-13 | 105 min | Action, Drama, Sci-Fi

68 Metascore

A substance designed to help the brain repair itself gives rise to a super-intelligent chimpanzee who leads an ape uprising.

Director: Rupert Wyatt | Stars: James Franco, Andy Serkis, Freida Pinto, Karin Konoval

Votes: 455,151 | Gross: $176.76M

27. 28 Days Later... (2002)

R | 113 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi

73 Metascore

Four weeks after a mysterious, incurable virus spreads throughout the UK, a handful of survivors try to find sanctuary.

Director: Danny Boyle | Stars: Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Christopher Eccleston, Alex Palmer

Votes: 330,579 | Gross: $45.06M

28. I Am Legend (2007)

PG-13 | 101 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi

65 Metascore

Years after a plague kills most of humanity and transforms the rest into monsters, the sole survivor in New York City struggles valiantly to find a cure.

Director: Francis Lawrence | Stars: Will Smith, Alice Braga, Charlie Tahan, Salli Richardson-Whitfield

Votes: 602,215 | Gross: $256.39M

29. The Andromeda Strain (1971)

G | 131 min | Sci-Fi, Thriller

60 Metascore

A group of scientists investigate a deadly new alien virus before it can spread.

Director: Robert Wise | Stars: James Olson, Arthur Hill, David Wayne, Kate Reid

Votes: 28,840

30. Silent Running (1972)

G | 89 min | Drama, Sci-Fi

In a future where all flora is extinct on Earth, an astronaut is given orders to destroy the last of Earth's botany, kept in a greenhouse aboard a spacecraft.

Director: Douglas Trumbull | Stars: Bruce Dern, Cliff Potts, Ron Rifkin, Jesse Vint

Votes: 23,328

31. Mad Max (1979)

R | 88 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

67 Metascore

In a self-destructing world, a vengeful Australian policeman sets out to stop a violent motorcycle gang.

Director: George Miller | Stars: Mel Gibson, Joanne Samuel, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Steve Bisley

Votes: 168,867 | Gross: $8.75M

32. The Road Warrior (1981)

R | 94 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

76 Metascore

In the post-apocalyptic Australian wasteland, a cynical drifter agrees to help a small, gasoline rich, community escape a band of bandits.

Director: George Miller | Stars: Mel Gibson, Bruce Spence, Michael Preston, Max Phipps

Votes: 148,388 | Gross: $12.47M

33. No Blade of Grass (1970)

R | 96 min | Drama, Sci-Fi

When a deadly virus strikes London, John Custance takes his family to hoped-for safety in Scotland.

Director: Cornel Wilde | Stars: Nigel Davenport, Jean Wallace, John Hamill, Lynne Frederick

Votes: 1,078

34. The Omega Man (1971)

GP | 98 min | Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Army doctor Robert Neville struggles to create a cure for the plague that wiped out most of the human race.

Director: Boris Sagal | Stars: Charlton Heston, Anthony Zerbe, Rosalind Cash, Paul Koslo

Votes: 25,433 | Gross: $8.72M

35. A Clockwork Orange (1971)

R | 136 min | Crime, Drama, Sci-Fi

78 Metascore

In the future, a sadistic gang leader is imprisoned and volunteers for a conduct-aversion experiment, but it doesn't go as planned.

Director: Stanley Kubrick | Stars: Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Magee, Michael Bates, Warren Clarke

Votes: 646,506

36. Idiocracy (2006)

R | 84 min | Adventure, Comedy, Sci-Fi

66 Metascore

Private Joe Bauers, the definition of "average American", is selected by the Pentagon to be the guinea pig for a top-secret hibernation program. Forgotten, he awakes five centuries in the future. He discovers a society so incredibly dumbed down that he's easily the most intelligent person alive.

Director: Mike Judge | Stars: Luke Wilson, Maya Rudolph, Dax Shepard, Terry Crews

Votes: 123,038 | Gross: $0.44M

37. Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984)

R | 113 min | Drama, Sci-Fi

67 Metascore

In a totalitarian future society, a man, whose daily work is re-writing history, tries to rebel by falling in love.

Director: Michael Radford | Stars: John Hurt, Richard Burton, Suzanna Hamilton, Cyril Cusack

Votes: 56,679 | Gross: $8.40M

38. Twelve Monkeys (1995)

R | 129 min | Mystery, Sci-Fi, Thriller

74 Metascore

In a future world devastated by disease, a convict is sent back in time to gather information about the man-made virus that wiped out most of the human population on the planet.

Director: Terry Gilliam | Stars: Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe, Brad Pitt, Joseph Melito

Votes: 521,470 | Gross: $57.14M

39. WALL·E (2008)

G | 98 min | Animation, Adventure, Family

95 Metascore

In the distant future, a small waste-collecting robot inadvertently embarks on a space journey that will ultimately decide the fate of mankind.

Director: Andrew Stanton | Stars: Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, Jeff Garlin, Fred Willard

Votes: 844,881 | Gross: $223.81M