The end of the world once again comes to Hollywoods big screens this summer,with movies ranging from big budget action adventures to indie comedies putting their twist on the apocalypse. Earth is annihilated after aliens destroy the moon,giant robots battle monsters,and in a comedy take on the biblical rapture,mortals are left behind to deal with atheists and spirits.
Oblivion,starring Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman,started the trend. Made on an estimated budget of $120 million and set in 2077,it follows the last humans as they prepare to find a new home on another planet. Theres an innate fascination with thinking about what life would be like after were gone, the films director,Joseph Kosinski,told Reuters. Oblivion will be followed in June and July by M Night Shyamalans After Earth,starring Will Smith,all-star comedy This is the End,zombie film World War Z and Guillermo del Toros Pacific Rim.
British comedy The Worlds End opens in August. Bob Thompson,professor of pop culture at Syracuse University,said the trend may reflect a sense of insecurity among Americans,particularly over the economy.
Americans do have an end-of-days feel to them… Our civilisation is in decline,Congress cant get anything done… The metaphor for the end of the world is simply an exaggerated story that deals with the same feelings, Thompson said.
THE BIG BOOM
Packed with special effects and human drama,apocalypse films have often been summer box office hits,like Independence Day in 1996,Armageddon in 1998 and The Day After Tomorrow in 2004. In the summer movie lexicon,youre going for the bigger gestures,the more operatic,the more acrobatic, del Toro said.
But the apocalypse also has resonated with independent directors and comedy filmmakers. New Zealand director Paul Middleditch has taken that approach with Rapture-Palooza,a quirky comedy made for under $3 million and out on limited theatrical release in early June. It follows a young couple after the rapture has taken the religious lot to Heaven and left the atheists among zombies.
There are more laughs in British director Edgar Wrights The Worlds End,about childhood friends who become mankinds only hope for survival after a trip to the pub. Another comedy,This Is the End,features Hollywood actors,playing themselves,whose party is interrupted by the end of the world. Weve been telling these stories as far back as the Book of Revelation,if not further,and well continue to tell end-of-the-world stories until the world actually ends, Thompson said.