The 50 “Greatest” Apocalyptic and Dystopian Films of All Time (#10-1)

Distopia YellowToday, at Blood Stained Ink, we continue our exploration on the nature of humanity, particularly as we see ourselves through the unique lens of films that look into the future.  To date, the series includes the following posts:

And now, for the top-10…

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large_v43ez7xKqqbM35phWHqlq27P1jw10.  Sleeper  (1973) – Without a doubt, this is the hardest film for me to see on a top-10 list of apocalyptic and/or dystopian films.  While I fully recognize the fact that it fits the “criteria,” this film is over-hyped, much in the way that Woody Allen’s entire career has been over-hyped.  A poor start to an otherwise excellent top-10.

Average Rating: 7.65      IMDB: 7.2      RT: 8.1

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minorityreport019.  Minority Report  (2002) – What’s not to like about a Steven Spielberg film based upon an original story by Philip K. Dick?  Not much.  But still, to me, this ranking seems a bit high.  Looking back upon the list, I can easily come up with a dozen films that are superior to this otherwise thoroughly entertaining film.

Average Rating: 7.85      IMDB: 7.7      RT: 8.0

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matrix_ver48.  The Matrix  (1999) – Based upon the ancient philosophical premise of Plato’s cave, The Matrix asks one simple question: will you take the red pill or the blue pill?  Will you accept reality as you see it, or dare to believe that the shadows dancing on the wall are indicative of a much larger world.

Average Rating: 8.0      IMDB: 8.6      RT: 7.4

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fight-club-poster7.  Fight Club  (1999) – Admittedly, many may disagree with my decision to include this film on the list.  After all, Fight Club doesn’t take place in the future; it doesn’t give us an apocalyptic vision, and it doesn’t necessarily envision a government with authoritarian control.  Nevertheless, I believe this film belongs on the list as it explores the inner psychology of a man who believes he is living in dystopia.

Average Rating: 8.1      IMDB: 8.9      RT: 7.3

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children_of_men_poster6.  Children of Men  (2006) – In the year 2027, human beings have grown infertile and our species is slowly dying out.  But when an activist agrees to help a “miraculously” pregnant woman make her way to a safe haven at sea, he comes to believe that there may be one last hope for humanity.  As visually haunting as it is thematically engaging.

Average Rating: 8.1      IMDB: 8.2      RT: 8.0

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blade_runner_xlg5.  Blade Runner  (1982) – In what may just be the gold-standard of modern day cyberpunk visions, Sir Ridley Scott offers us a future where humanity is cloning itself to create an artificial slave force with limited lifespans and little hope.  Noteable as much for its style as for its themes, Blade Runner is a must see.

Average Rating: 8.25      IMDB: 8.3      RT: 8.2

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brazil-poster-art-14.  Brazil  (1985) – The second Terry Gilliam film to make the list, Brazil is a prophetic look into 21st century America, where a dehumanizing bureaucracy can pin anything on a man, even as it makes him yearn for a freedom that he fears is long lost.  If I had to pick one film that captured the theme we are exploring better than any other, this is that film, even if it is not my personal favorite.

Average Rating: 8.25      IMDB: 8.0      RT: 8.5

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Terminator-1984-Movie-Poster3.  Terminator  (1984) – In a future where mankind is at open war with the machines it has created, a “terminator unit” is sent back to 1984 to assassinate the future leader of the human resistance.  With a sequel that scores even higher than the original (AR: 8.5), the Terminator films are that rare breed of movie where heady ideas are seamlessly married to flawless execution.

Average Rating: 8.35      IMDB: 8.1      RT: 8.6

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A-Clockwork-Orange-poster2.  A Clockwork Orange  (1971) – Often hailed as the pinnacle of Stanley Kubrick’s career, A Clockwork Orange is the “story of the dubious redemption of a teenage delinquent by condition-reflex therapy. It is, at the same time, a running lecture on free-will.”  Fair warning: upon its initial release, A Clockwork Orange was rated X and was often accused of glorifying the ultra-violence it portrayed.

Average Rating: 8.4      IMDB: 8.5      RT: 8.3

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metropolis_car1.  Metropolis  (1927) – Set in an indefinite future, Metropolis is the prophetic tale of a utopian society built upon the backs on an unseen working class that makes the luxury of the elite possible.  Having the benefit of being the first horse out of the gate, it is unlikely that Metropolis will ever be unseated from its throne.

Average Rating: 8.6      IMDB: 8.4      RT: 8.8

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4 Responses to The 50 “Greatest” Apocalyptic and Dystopian Films of All Time (#10-1)

  1. For those that are wondering, here are a few oft-cited films that didn’t make the cut because their aggregate score fell below the top-50 mark:

    The Handmaid’s Tale (1990) – AR: 5.2
    The Beach (2000) – AR: 5.4
    Waterworld (1995) – AR: 5.5
    Running Man (1987) – AR: 5.9

    And here are a few more that didn’t make the cut because I couldn’t decide whether they truly fit the criteria or not.

    Solaris (2002) – AR: 6.35
    Lord of the Flies (1963) – AR: 7.6
    District 9 (2009) – AR: 7.9
    Apocalypse Now (1979) – AR: 8.75
    Dr. Strangelove (1964) – AR: 8.85

  2. popesicle says:

    I’m disappointed by this, Mr. Bryant. You’re totally leaving the ranking up to ‘The Man’ (imdb) instead of deciding for yourself! This means you don’t have to defend why certain movies are placed where.

    Basically what I’m getting down to is The Running Man is awesome and no aggregate score will convince me otherwise. And Fight Club will always be first.

    • Ah, but not just “the man” at IMDB. I’ve also strategically left it up to “the man” at Rotten Tomatoes. So you get an aggregate score that balances both critical and commercial appeal. Take that Jones!

      As for my own list, I’ve got one in the cue, but I can’t seem to muster much energy around actually working it into a viable post. But if it makes you feel better, Running Man would have made my top-10, even though it didn’t crack the official top-50.

      And as for Fight Club, it’s a toss up between that, V for Vendetta, and The Matrix. Not sure which way I’d go in the end. Probably V.

      • popesicle says:

        V for Vendetta, really? I’ll admit I’ve only seen parts of it (and read parts of the original graphic novel), but most of what I heard is that it’s a bit of a hypocritical mess.

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