End of the World

From ‘After Earth’ to ‘World War Z’: The Year in Apocalypse Movies

A look at all the ways the human race has been (and will be) threatened this year in theaters.

Jaap Buitendijk/Paramount Pictures

Coming soon to a theater near you: the end of the world. Armageddon has been coming to your local cineplex on an almost weekly basis—and will continue to for the rest of the year. As it turns out, the Mayans were a bit off. The apocalypse wasn’t coming in 2012. At least as far as Hollywood is concerned, 2013 is the year of doomsday.

Audiences flocked to see Brad Pitt fight off the zombie apocalypse this weekend in World War Z, adding the walking dead to the litany of things the human race has been—and will be—threatened by in theaters this year. Here’s a look back (and forward) at all the different versions of the end of the world on screen in 2013.

World War Z

A zombie plague cripples the world. Brad Pitt leaves his family behind to hunt for “patient zero,” encountering teeming crowds of zombies along the way who scale walls like an army of ants. It’s all almost as scary as Pitt’s out-of-control long hair.

After Earth

It’s a thousand years in the future, and Earth has become uninhabitable by humans. Worse, the animals the humans left behind have evolved to kill them. So it’s pretty bad news when Will Smith and his son, Jaden, crash-land on Earth when the spaceship they were flying is damaged in a meteor storm. There’s still at least one thing direr than that, ventures National Post film critic Chris Knight: “I would rather live through the actual apocalypse than see this one again.”

This Is the End

It’s the Rapture as it’s described in the Book of Revelation, and only those who are truly good are saved. Logically, that leaves behind Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, and Danny McBride, who must fight over remaining water, the last Milky Way, and where to masturbate as L.A. burns to a crisp around them.


Oblivion takes place 60 years in the future, after Earth and much of the human race has been destroyed by an alien invasion, forcing survivors to move to one of Jupiter’s moons. Reactors are left on Earth and used to generate energy to support human life on that distant moon. There are still some aliens left on Earth, too, necessitating mechanized drones that kill those aliens and protect the important reactors. Tom Cruise plays a kickass repairman in charge of maintaining the reactors. If your head is not spinning from that plot description, perhaps you’re an alien as well.


As if these films’ plots don’t already sound repetitive, the same stars pop up in some of them, too. Craig Robinson (This Is the End) and Rob Corddry (Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Warm Bodies) have supporting roles in the film about Anna Kendrick and John Francis Daley just trying to be a normal couple during the raptures as zombies, demons, locusts, and the Antichrist keep swooping in to complicate things.

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Warm Bodies

Perhaps the second zombie romantic comedy after Shaun of the Dead. Warm Bodies begins after a zombie apocalypse leaves only a handful of human survivors, leading to one of the rom-com genre’s most unusual meet-cutes. A zombie begins attacking a group of humans and is so struck by a pretty blonde that he decides to save her. He slowly begins to feel human emotions again. She develops some Stockholm Syndrome–like attraction to him. Love saves the human race. Sadly, Rob Reiner’s mom fails to show up during a zombie feast to proclaim, “I’ll have what she’s having.”

Pacific Rim

Earth is under attack by aliens. The human race is at stake. So Guillermo Del Toro crafts CGI Transformer-like robots to save them. (Comes out July 12.)


Even dystopia is prey to class warfare. In the year 2154, hoity-toity rich people, including Jodie Foster, live on a swanky man-made space station. The peons of the 99 percent, including Matt Damon, are forced to continue living on a ruined Earth. You really think Damon’s going to stand for that? The film’s nearly $100 million budget hints no. (Comes out August 9.)

The World’s End

hoping to Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (both of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz) are two of five friends who reunite in their hometown hoping to finally complete a pub crawl they attempted 20 years earlier that was supposed to end at a bar named the World’s End. As their night of imbibing chugs on, they begin to realize the town has been taken over by robots and they’re the last hope for the human race—which just really harshes a person’s buzz. (Comes out August 23.)

Ender’s Game

The human race has already almost been wiped out once following a war with aliens. Are we in danger of it happening again? It’s a big action blockbuster ... so probably! (Comes out November 1.)