Say goodbye to the world, and hello to this summer's post-apocalyptic film frenzy.
There's a major theme emerging in movies slated for release over the next few months, and it's not that they're all loaded with special effects—which they are—but rather that they indulge our human obsession with Armageddon. Yes, this is the summer of apocalyptic, post-apocalyptic, and dystopian films. Why now? We believe that imaginary catastrophes and doomsday scenarios help our overstimulated minds escape from reality—it's moviegoing as two-hour flight from economic, political and social unrest. Put another way: "If Katniss can win the Hunger Games, then I can pay my taxes." Survival, we learn, is possible under any circumstance…even if you are James Franco, Jonah Hill, and Seth Rogan in a Hollywood mansion.
Below, a guide to the hell that this summer hath wrought.
After Earth (out now)
__ Father and son crash-land on Earth years after humankind has been wiped out, and they must navigate themselves through the evolving animal life, aliens, and—of course—their forced father-son relationship.
Stars: Jaden Smith, Will Smith, Zoë Isabella Kravitz, Sophie Okonedo
Recommended for: Troubled teens. Imagine no one else on Earth but you, plants, animals—and your forever unimpressed father.
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This Is the End (June 2013)
__ The Earth cracks outside a large Hollywood party—signifying the apocalypse from the Book of Revelation—and six celebrity friends band together in James Franco's mansion.
Stars: James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Michael Cera, Emma Watson
Recommended for: Neo-survivalists. The fridge may be almost empty, but that shouldn't stop you from making food for the rest of the week.
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World War Z (June 2013)
__ The zombie pandemic is collapsing our world, and we sent in U.N. representative Brad Pitt to find a cure—and to cute the bad guys to death.
Stars: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, James Badge Dale, David Morse
Recommended for: Fix-it types. If one guy can save the world, then you can definitely troubleshoot the internet connection in your apartment.
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Pacific Rim (July 2013)
__Ocean monsters are invading, and we must defend ourselves with giant robots.
Stars: Charlie Day, Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Burn Gorman
Recommended for: Technophiles. Those who clean their homes with robot vacuums, and make most of their online purchases from ThinkGeek.com, are doomed to…pilot robots against vicious sea creatures!
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The World's End (August 2013)
__Five childhood friends meet for a 20th-anniversary epic pub-crawl during an alien invasion and find themselves taking on more than just chugging beer. Prediction: At some point in the film, someone will utter the words, "We're going to get totally destroyed tonight!"
Stars: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Rosamund Pike, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman
Recommended for: Nostalgic drunks. There's nothing better than meeting up with the guys, having a few beers, and reminiscing about all the time you spent in that exact same spot.
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Elysium (August 2013)
__ In the future, as people die on Earth, the wealthy buy their own fancy planet and take the entire healthcare system with them. And humankind is still completely fucked. Foreshadowing?
Stars: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Diego Luna, Sharlto Copley, Faran Tahir
Recommended for: Activists. Fans of New Age-y podcasts and Bill Maher monologues unite!
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Catching Fire (November 2013)
__ After winning the 74th annual Hunger Games, Katniss and Peeta (our favorite dystopian heroes) must tour all the districts during an undertow of rebellion. Expect more bloody competition.
Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Recommended for: Rebels without causes. For people who have "made it" but still feel a need to stick it to the man—by stealing all the coffee creamers.
—Laura Delarato. Follow her at @lauradelarato.
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