Science fiction has always been water-heavy with questions about the destruction of nature, achieving singularity, and, of course, the age-old anxiety of whether the world is ending. With 2022’s arrival, we observed within the vortex of 2021, an axiom of television and cinema huddling around a similar theme: the absolute end of humanity. Considering the irony of how most audiences favor this genre in an era of a raging pandemic and climate change, we picked out the best movies portraying the same. Let’s see what each of them delivered in the sense of the world’s absolute destruction, considering plot, reception, and tone.
In the Earth
In the Earth explores a harrowing journey of racing against time in ominous landscapes, delving into the themes of isolation, companionship, and hope in the form of technology and science. These tropes are embedded within a journey of two doctors in a forest, who are on a quest for solutions amid a severe pandemic. They eventually become hostages, contemplating escape routes and running-for-life strategies, turning this into survival in the woods movie. The first half takes on questioning humanity’s fate, while the second half blows into the thrill of it. In The Earth would have achieved greater public appeal with better synchronization of its two halves.
Tom Hanks decided to put an end to the ridicule of AI portrayals. Instead of using the trope of time travel, the AppleTV+ Movie, Finch, dedicated enough research behind curating a robot AI, whereby Finch, Hank’s character, operates to signal the arrival of an end-of-the-world natural disaster. Critics praised Finch for an accurate portrayal of real-life technology, that of an AI forecast module greenlighting the prediction of extreme weather conditions. Finch ends on an emotionally resonant note and brims with genuine heart.
Romantic loss amidst a viral pandemic is a specific theme that IFC Films played out in its new Sci-fi – Little Fish. The story develops from casual talk into a love-bound relationship. This unfolds in a much-familiar backdrop, with television broadcasts reporting death, talks of clinical advancements, the appearance of surgical masks on everyone’s face, etc. A strange memory loss contagion starts to spread among people, affecting our protagonists, Emma and Jude. Tracing their love back from devastation, they find their way back to one another.
Don’t Look Up
Natural disasters that call a wrap on the world’s existence cannot be more pertinent. However, one can always treat such a grave issue in the tone of satire, because what is a comedy, if not a farcical view of reality? Adam McKay took a dark lane home, creating dark humor at its shrewdest, in Don’t Look Up. The prospect of a live-ending comet hitting Earth is not taken seriously by many, due to myriad reasons ranging from the personal to the political. The movie also touches upon the spread of false information in the digital age. Naturally, with the ongoing crisis of miscommunication in pandemics and politics, 2021 was able to pick up on its realistic satire quite well.
Director Agata Alexander transports her audiences into the realm of outer space, creating a plot that revolves around the quintessential estranged astronaut. The movie teeters around dramatic personal elements and philosophical questions about life when an electrical glitch intervenes to elevate the gorge of man’s dependence on technology. Warning is categorized as not a technological apocalypse, but rather, it asks questions about humanity’s mental submission to electronics in their most vulnerable state. It’s a metaphysical mystery revolving around different people in sub-plots, that inevitably lead to an apocalyptic scene.
Outside The Wire
Netflix’s Outside the Wire touches upon the rise of android technology in the backdrop of a Civil War. We witness the collaboration of two humanoid robots, a pilot and an officer, working to put an end to an upcoming nuclear war. While the film intended to reflect the terrors plaguing the socio-political landscape of the world at the moment, it failed to execute the same in a compelling manner.
The Tomorrow War
Another film that took the advancement of technology to extraordinary heights was The Tomorrow War. It deals with time travel and the prediction of an alien war – however, the dichotomies established failed to live up to their expectations. Extraterrestrial forces have always leaned more toward fantasy than science fiction, except when you show possibilities of it aided by technological means accurately. However, rare instances like The Edge of Tomorrow can pull such themes off, while The Tomorrow War could not.
Bringing comedy to space, a group of misfits in the year 2092 thrive on a stinkingly polluted earth, with every upper-middle-class fleeing away to Mars. While this reeks of the mentality of those sorely guided by capitalist gains, the plot itself correlates humor with grit, inoculating dramatic themes in heartfelt relationships. The light-heartedness of Space Sweepers resonated with audiences greatly.
The Matrix: Resurrections
The ambiguity in threading a relation between AI and humans has always been a provocative theme. The first instance we remember seeing on the screen of the great battle against robots, is the 1995 sci-fi insignia, The Matrix. It changed cinema, the use of graphics, and most importantly, dictated the path to its viewers of a future dystopia, in which science takes over mankind. Reaching the fourth installment, we wonder the reason for its release this year, be it reliving the nostalgia of beloved characters making a comeback, or the dystopia’s ideology being glaringly closer to our reality.
A Quiet Place: Part 2
2021 has well put out human extinction with a massive fantasy-heavy theme of monsters and extraordinary creatures. CGI put forth its dominant leg rooted to the ground of world-building, with Raised By Wolves, and Army of the Dead. Because gore and monsters work so well with audiences, we saw some of the best sequels to an original that hummed the doomsday theme, starting with A Quiet Place 2.
Godzilla Vs. Kong
Bringing back the classics, Godzilla vs. Kong was a raging success with die-hards and newcomers alike, appreciating its dynamic battleground of the world’s beloved titans. The crossover between King Kong and Godzilla worked in the family-friendly, light, and visually brilliant atmosphere it hoped to achieve, marking a path for added success.