Netflix has a lot to offer when it comes to entertainment and sometimes you’re just in the mood to see the world tumble down. Speculative fiction can have a profound effect as both a warning of the times and finding an intriguing story among these fears of the future. Sometimes those futures are dirty and grimy ones, where corrupt governments have transformed the world into a bitter wasteland of filth and lies amid technological breakthrough. Other times the government has already fallen as some unfortunate event forces humanity to shift focus and become more barbaric as the populace scrounge to survive.
Be it zombies, the plague, or just the peculiar new inventions of man in technology or society, there always seems to be some odd shift in life that brings out the most unique aspects of the dystopian genre. While time has proven that not all of these fears will come to pass, it’s still an interesting subgenre to explore for watching what happens when the world falls or has already been rendered a ravaged landscape of its former self. Here is a sampling of what Netflix has to offer when it comes dystopian movies.
Directed by Duncan Jones (son of David Bowie), Mute takes place in a futuristic society of 2035 of odd strip clubs and black market surgeries. The mute Leo soon finds himself on a mystery case that involves vicious gangsters, cybernetic implants, and robot sex slaves. Labeled as a spiritual sequel to Jones’ previous sci-fi feature Moon, the film has plenty of elaborate special effects for a vibrant, neon, and grimy future for Berlin.
Based on a short film, Cargo finds Martin Freeman playing a father of an infant during the zombie apocalypse. With limited resources and time running out as an infection spreads, Freeman relies on a native boy to help him find a safe place for his child and escape both the evils of the living and the dead. Not for the faint of heart, for both the heartwrenching story of loss and the gruesome gore effects.
How It Ends
Just because it’s the end of the world doesn’t mean the family squabbling stops. As the world panics, Theo James goes on a road trip to rescue his fiancee, along with her father Forest Whitaker. They still bicker and argue along the way about how to survive in a world where everyone seems to be out to kill you for resources. And maybe, just maybe, Whitaker will accept his future son-in-law.
Michael Peña lives in a somewhat futuristic society but is having strange visions of an invasion, where families are savagely hunted down by spaceships and armored aliens. He feels like he has been through all this before. And he has, as revealed in the twisty tale of memory loss, artificial intelligence, and an odd dystopia that is slowly revealed.
The Humanity Bureau
Nicolas Cage plays a deportation caseworker in a future where climate change has turned the American Midwest into a desert wasteland. With unproductive members of society sent to a colony, Cage’s character believes something is amiss when one woman and her son are unjustly determined to be sent to the colony dubbed New Eden.
Based on Roger Corman’s cult classic, this modern remake finds the future a grittier one of blood sports on wheels. Jason Statham plays a man unjustly imprisoned, using the prison system’s method of death races to fight his way out. Similar to the Corman original, the film features plenty of cars battling each other in over-the-top and violent chase scenes, with prisoners placed on a track of metal beasts, many weapons, and plenty of traps.
Most dystopian tales are terrifying for the humans but with District 9, it’s the aliens who get the short end of the stick. When aliens visit Earth, they are contained to quarantine zones and prevented from leaving the planet with their spaceships. But one creature may be able to escape if he can convince a caseworker for the region to believe his story and understand the plight of his species.
The future of The Lobster seems to be deliberately targeted at punishing the single people. When one does not have a mate in this world, they must attend a special pairing camp where they must find a new love. If they cannot, their brains will be placed in the body of another animal. Colin Farrell is at least prepared for this inevitability, answering that he’d like to be a lobster given the lifespan. Quirky and strange, The Lobster is a strange picture of a bizarre future.
A prequel or sequel depending on your perspective, Terminator Salvation takes place in the future where John Connor (Christian Bale) is leading the resistance of humans against the war with the machines. Realizing what needs to happen, however, John tries to preserve the future by toying with the past, if that makes any sense. But in order to prevent the machines from messing with the timeline, he seeks the aid of a Terminator turned good guy, played by Sam Worthington.
Into the Forest
Two young sisters, played by Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood, struggle to make it on their own after the recent loss of their father during the apocalypse of humanity. With many evil people coming to bang on their door for resources, the two girls must learn to both defend and care for themselves while the whole world crumbles around them.
Children of Men
Arguably the masterpiece of director Alfonso Cuarón, Children of Men portrays a dystopian future where no babies have been born in over a decade. Resources dwindle, violence breaks out between warring factions, and Clive Owen finds himself as the hero who must save the first pregnant woman in years from being overtaken by the world around her.
Nicholas Hoult lives in a very sterile society where everything fits neatly into place and emotions have been removed. But he soon finds himself attracted to Kristen Stewart and a romance blooms, against the wishes of the strict and innocuous society that punishes those found guilty of feelings.
The 6th Day
Arnold Schwarzenegger finds himself in a future where one can be cloned and have their identity stolen from them. Similar to Schwarzenegger’s other high-tech action pictures, The 6th Day features all of the hallmarks of a dystopian society, where giant tycoons reign over the populace and cloning presents a danger of humanity losing its individuality.
V for Vendetta
Based on the graphic novel, the future London is one of a totalitarian government. Trying to topple this reign of terror is the masked rebel V, donning the appearance of Guy Fawkes to wage war with a crippled populace and a government-dominated society. Hugo Weaving plays V and Natalie Portman is his unlikely ally in this war.
A sequel of sorts to 2010’s Skyline, the film picks up with the tale of an alien invasion where the visitors extract human brains for consumption and using them in their robots. Of course, one of those robots will rebel and the battle for humanity over intergalactic predators will turn. This sequel is most notable for shifting the location out of America and into Asia to boast some martial arts along with its gory and laser-slinging action.
Earth has been transformed into such a wasteland that everyone is ditching the planet. And although nobody wants to be the last one out the door, or the only one remaining when the doors have shut, a scientist remains in hopes of finding a cure for humans to live on the planet once more. But in realizing there is no solution, the countdown is on to make it to Earth’s last shuttle. Starring Margaret Qualley, Anthony Mackie, and Danny Huston.
Earth is invaded by alien invaders that target Earthlings with a hypnotizing ray that sucks all of them into their vessels. The remaining few humans of a Los Angeles high rise try to hide out from the aliens seeking to eat their brains. But when resources run low and mental states go nutty, they have no choice but to brave the dangerous outside as the aliens continue to pick out every last human from the planet.
A surprise alien invasion leaves a town struggling to band together and fight back. Though the residents didn’t get along before, they soon learn that they need to put their differences aside and learn to work with each other if they hope to survive of another day and take back the planet. A small yet satisfying sci-fi film shot in Australia.
South Africa is trying to decide if its law enforcement of a futuristic wasteland should be helmed by human-controlled robots or sentient robots. Chappie is one of those robots but is soon secretly taken out of the lab and hidden with some local gang members. With his fragile psyche and still-developing mind, Chappie soon comes to learn the good and bad of humanity, all leading up to a big battle of robots.
Based on Alan Moore’s hit comic book, Watchmen takes place in an alternate 1985 where the world has been deeply changed. Superhero heroes have turned the course of the Vietnam war, Nixon abolishes term limits to be President of the United States longer, and doomsday seems even closer than ever. But when a former superhero, The Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), is found dead, the brooding anti-hero Rorschach (Jackie Earl Haley) investigates his death and uncovers a giant conspiracy that could rip the world further apart.
Godzilla The Planet Eater
The third and final entry of the Godzilla anime saga, The Planet Eater finds a grand battle for the planet against the evil monster Ghidorah. In order to stop him, all three forces of humanity, aliens, and Godzilla himself must be thrown at the giant beast in hopes of taking him down. If you just can’t wait for Godzilla King of the Monsters to hit theaters this summer, this anime closer should give you your kaiju fix.
Based on the classic manga and first anime TV icon, Astro Boy takes place in a future where humanity has moved to a floating city in the sky, while the lesser people reside in a junkyard of robots below. Toby becomes the robot kid who may be able to revive the world but only if he can defeat corrupt politicians, shady robot wranglers, and an unkind father. But it shouldn’t be too much of a problem given Toby’s good heart and a heaping dose of robot artillery in his body.
Seen entirely from the first-person perspective, Henry finds himself on a constant run in Moscow from an evil organization. Henry was once dead but is now revived as a half-cyborg that has enhanced abilities, allowing him to make incredible leaps and brutal attacks over the hordes of clones sent to destroy him. Over the course of the film, we learn a little more about Henry and the evil plan behind his tech with intentions of destroying the world.
Based on the sci-fi cult hit Firefly, Serenity continues and ends the story of the misfit crew of the Firefly vessel, constantly being hunted across the galaxy by evil government forces. Loaded with plenty of starship battles and brilliant dialogue by writer/director Joss Whedon, this is a great sci-fi adventure of plucky pirates facing against immeasurable odds. Nathan Fillion is also a real hoot as the captain, arguing that nobody else on the crew could do pilot his ship because, “Well…you can’t.”
You know the world has gone to hell when you’re expected to bring pain to make a living. And that’s exactly what happens to the debt-drowning Elliot who accepts a game of dirty deeds for cash. Of course, if he tries to interfere with the game or tell anyone about it, he won’t receive any of the money. The game involves a number of strange tasks, from eating dead flies to making kids cry to scamming homeless people.