This weekend M. Night Shyamalan brings us The Happening, the chilling story of a husband and wife as they struggle to escape the catastrophic breakdown of human behavior taking place around them. But can the master of horror compete with our top 10 list of the best apocalyptic movies of all time? You be the judge.
10. I, Robot (2004)
Critical Characters: Will Smith, Bridget Moynahan and Alan Tudyk
The Happening: Robots with real emotions attempt to take over the world.
On the Brink of Disaster: In futuristic 2035, robots have become trusted companions and assistants in everyday life. When the creator of the bots jumps out a window to his death, homicide Detective Del Spooner begins to suspect a robot may be to blame. Could the artificial intelligence humans created be evolving?
9. Last Night (1998)
Critical Characters: Sandra Oh, Don McKellar, David Cronenberg and Sarah Polley
The Happening: Although the movie never reveals the cause, the characters are told that New Year’s Day 2000 will be their last day on earth.
On the Brink of Disaster: Forget the looting, murder and mayhem brought on by pure apocalyptic panic, Last Night explores the more reasonable side of human nature as a group of Canadians come face to face with the end of the world. While some contemplate suicide pacts, others hope to live out their sexual desires, either way this one is surely a refreshing take on humanity’s final chapter.
8. The Day After Tomorrow (2004)
Critical Characters: Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal, Sela Ward and Emmy Rossum
The Happening: A new Ice Age due to Global Warming
On the Brink of Disaster: Jack Hall knew it was going to happen…he just didn’t think he would see it in his lifetime. Just when the scientist was through trying to convince the United Nations of a far distant ice age, the weather begins to shift. As storms and tornadoes rip through the world Jack must do everything in his power to get to his son Sam in New York City.
7. Andromeda Strain (1971)
Critical Characters: Arthur Hill, James Olson, Kate Reid and David Wayne
The Happening: A disease causing fatal blood clotting
On the Brink of Disaster: When a satellite returns to Earth carrying an alien microbe, it quickly wipes out the military team sent to recover it along with the city of Piedmont, Ariz. where it touches down. A group of government scientists called Wildfire must put a stop to the organism dubbed the Andromeda Strain before it’s too late.
6. Armageddon (1998)
Critical Characters: Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck and Liv Tyler
The Happening: An asteroid the size of Texas heading straight for Earth
On the Brink of Disaster: Deepcore driller Harry Stamper’s got enough to deal with at home (like breaking up his daughter and her loser boyfriend), let alone time to save the planet. With a massive asteroid on its way, NASA needs Stamper’s help – pronto. If he and his team can reach the asteroid in time to blow it apart with a nuclear bomb, they’ll surely return home heroes.
5. The Terminator (1984)
Critical Characters: Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton
The Happening: Artificially intelligent machines attempting to destroy the human race
On the Brink of Disaster: By 2029 machines have taken over the world, being held back only by a human uprising led by John Connor. Attempting to eliminate the resistance, the machines send a cyborg assassin, known as the Terminator, back in time to kill Connor’s mother Sarah and prevent John from ever being born.
4. Independence Day (1996)
Critical Characters: Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman
The Happening: Aliens ships hover above Earth ready to attack
On the Brink of Disaster: Panic is imminent as an alien mother ship dispatches dozens of saucer-like spacecraft across the globe. As the aliens grow more hostile, the president and his men do everything in their power to save the independence of the human race.
3. The Omen (1976)
Critical Characters: Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, David Warner and Harvey Stephens
The Happening: The religious prophecies of the end times
On the Brink of Disaster: When Robert Thorn discovers his son is stillborn, the well-meaning father switches him with another baby before his wife learns the news. Little does he know, his adopted son is actually the Antichrist. It takes a series of deaths and some research of his own before Robert learns the truth about his son Damien.
2. The Fifth Element (1997)
Critical Characters: Bruce Willis, Milla Jovovich, Chris Tucker and Gary Oldman
The Happening: A Great Evil in the form of a black planet threatens mankind
On the Brink of Disaster: Set in 2263 a Great Evil threatens to wipe out all of mankind. Special Forces soldier turned taxicab driver Korben Dallas is recruited to stop the Evil’s black planet from colliding with Earth. He just has to collect the five elements; water, fire, earth, air and a young woman named Leeloo before it’s too late.
1. War of the Worlds (1953 and 2005)
Critical Characters: Gene Barry and Ann Robinson (1953) Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning (2005)
The Happening: Hostile aliens invade Earth
On the Brink of Disaster: Few stories have the staying power of H.G. Wells’ sci fi thriller about an alien invasion from the civilian perspective. The tale first caused widespread panic at the hands of Orson Welles’ 1938 radio show, when listeners believed the broadcast about a Martian attack were true. Byron Haskins later adapted the novel to a screenplay in 1953 followed by Steven Spielberg in 2005. Both directors gave the story a modern twist and their own unique interpretation.