"The Weekend Rent offers quick-hit suggestions of what to watch at home to get psyched for new releases in theaters, on Friday."
In Neill Blomkamp's Elysium, now playing in theaters everywhere, the Earth has become overpopulated and the privileged have fled to the titular space station while the working classes are left on Earth where they wish for the magical medical devices on Elysium. As Matt Damon scrambles to get up to Elysium to cure his radiation poisoning, it got us thinking about other movies that depict our home as a hostile environment for humans. Here are a few of our favorites.
Oblivion: There were several movies this year alone that depicted a posthuman Earth, but Oblivion is one that just arrived on home video. Tom Cruise plays a character who believes that humanity has won a war with aliens… at the cost of a ruined, toxic Earth. He is told that the rest of the humans are living in a colony on the Saturn moon Titan. Yeah, right, says Morgan Freeman.
Independence Day: Aliens come to Earth and start zapping major population centers like New York and Los Angeles. President Bill Pullman declares, "We will not go quietly into the night!" And he's right—there is nothing quiet about a Roland Emmerich movie. Speaking of Emmerich…
2012: Emmerich had so much fun blowing up the Earth in Independence Day that he thought he'd do it again in this story about a global cataclysm that is the end of the world as we know it.
I Am Legend: In this adaptation of Richard Matheson's novel of the same name, Will Smith believes himself to be the last man in New York City—and perhaps the world—after a manmade virus turned the human population into ravenous mutants. Well, at least geeks got their Superman vs. Batman movie (look at the billboard Smith passes in the city) before the world went to hell.
The Day After Tomorrow: Blame global warming for messing up the weather and plunging Earth into its latest ice age. New York is not the place you want to be, Jake Gyllenhaal.
The Core: Ever wonder what would happen if the Earth's core were to stop spinning? According to this movie, very cataclysmic natural disasters would be commonplace. Someone better drop a nuke into the Earth's core and get that thing spinning again.
Deep Impact: A seven-mile-wide asteroid is heading for Earth. Remember what happened to the dinosaurs? Well, this time humanity has a plan for survival that involves select people riding it out in caves.
Dawn of the Dead: In George A. Romero's sequel to Night of the Living Dead, the zombie epidemic has gone global, forcing a small band of survivors in a helicopter to seek shelter—and some creature comforts—in an indoor shopping mall. Fun game: try to tell the difference between the zombies in this movie and the dead-eyed people absentmindedly futzing with their smartphones the next time you're at a shopping center.
Waterworld: The polar ice caps have melted and Kevin Costner and the rest of humanity are left floating around.
The Road Warrior: The survivors in a postapocalyptic Australia ride around the Outback killing each other for gasoline. Mad Max joins the desert rave from hell.
The Matrix: "Is all that we see or seem but a dream within a dream?" asked Edgar Allan Poe. In The Matrix, it is because the lives people think they are living are an illusion. People are being used as live batteries in a grid and are only dreaming about their other lives.
WALL-E: Humans have fled the planet and have become fat and lazy on spaceships where machines tend to their every need while robots like WALL-E clean up the mess on a ruined Earth.
Jason X: It's the year 2455 and Earth has become too polluted to support life, so the rest of humanity lives on Earth Two. A group of (what else?) randy young scientists land on Earth and bring back a frozen Jason Voorhees to their spaceship, which proves to be not the best idea.
All of the movies listed above are available on DVD and/or Blu-ray as well as various VOD services.
Follow Robert B. DeSalvo @zuulboy