Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sunday Best: Top 10 Dystopian Movies

In honor of Mad Max: Fury Road, this Sunday Best list is dedicated to dystopias.

Originally I had designed the list to be not "Movies about Dystopias" but "Best Dystopias."  But I soon found a problem categorizing which future horror was better than another.  So instead of judging each different horrible future per se, I decided to simply judge the movie in which it takes place.

A few rules:
-the future presented had to be clearly dystopian.  Some movies like Back to the Future 2 or the first 3 X-Men films are a mixed bag.
-the movie had to take place primarily in the dystopia.  So Terminator 1 and 2, as well as the last X-Men movie are out.
-the judgment is on quality of the film and not the enjoyment.  Some dystopian works like the latest Mad Max are actually a good deal of fun.  Some are gut-wrenchingly awful.  But either way, the judgement will not fall on how the terrible future made me feel but on the excellence of the art.
-I would only choose one movie that was set in a dystopian universe.  For example, since all of the Resident Evil movies take place in the same dystopia, then I could only choose the best of that group if it made the list.  All other entries from that series would be disqualified.

So with that, here is the list:

10.  Robocop.

In this world you have a choice between savage street thugs and heartless corporations.  Everyday men like Murphy have their humanity stripped from them to fight crime in high-octane action.

9.  The Book of Eli.

Denzel turns in a fantastic performance as killer who is un-ironically serving God in a place where God has largely been ignored.

8.  Dredd

This film is tense and claustrophobic as Dredd and his partner have to climb a high-rise cramped with a city-level population to get to the bad guy.  Awesome action throughout.

7.  The Running Man

I admit this movie is very unserious compared to the book.  And this is not one of Arnold's best.  But there is something incredibly entertaining about watching this movie about how it doesn't seem to get its own irony about how the media desensitizes us to violence.

6.  Mad Max: Fury Road

(see my full review coming soon)

5.  WALL-E

The first 20 minutes of this film are some truly wonderful visual treats.  It is essential a silent film for a good portion.  The rest of the film doesn't live up to the beginning, but it is still very good.

4.  Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

I was not prepared for how good this movie was.  The performances were outstanding and the script was smart and sharp.  It is the best movie about apes taking over the planet.

3.  The Hunger Games

The thing that holds this series together is the performance of Jennifer Lawrence.  Her restraint and her abandon together make this horrible future seem real and makes us invest in the struggle against the Capitol.

2.  The Road

This is towards the top of my list of great movies I will never see again.  I was emotionally scarred after watching this movie for days and days after.  It is brutal, bleak, and beautifully done.

1.  The Matrix

The sequels have major problems, but once you get past the hype, the original Matrix is an incredible film on a lot of levels.  Not only is it visually stunning but it is the most creative thing the Wachowskis have ever done.  Seeing it again with fresh eyes, it still holds up well.

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