Tom Cruise‘s post-apocalyptic flick Oblivion opens today, and as much as it’s receiving womp womp critic ratings, that may not stop sci-fi lovers from seeing it for all its epic Hollywood glory…plus, it’s got cool daddy-o Morgan Freeman in it, and he usually has the Midas touch at the box office.
But no matter what you think of Oblivion, which is directed by Tron: Legacy‘s Joseph Kosinski, hold onto your humanity because it’s just one of the many end-of-the-world flicks slated this year.
For those of you who can’t get enough of earthly decimation, killer viruses, aliens, zombies, robots, and reluctant heroes, we picked out some of our favorite post-apocalyptic actors and explain why we think their butt-kicking will make an eternal imprint in movie history.
Sigourney Weaver as “Ripley” in Aliens
Quick Synopsis: After sleeping in a space pod FOREVERRR, Ripley wakes up, realizes she’s a zillion years old, and has a bad case of PTSD from seeing one of her old crew member’s chest say peek-a-boo with a freakish yellow alien. Naturally, she decides to return to Alien Central to assist a bunch of space age marines investigate why they’ve lost contact with a colony.
Best Scenes: 1) When Ripley man handles evil Burke (Paul Reiser) by his Members Only jacket and screams in his terrified, sweaty face after she realizes he wants to secretly bring face huggers back to Earth.
2) When Ripley’s surrounded by hundreds of alien eggs and quietly watches one egg crack open. [Audio mixer for this scene = genius]. Slowly turning her head to the side, she indicates “no mercy” and proceeds to blast that sucker and all of the hundreds of eggs surrounding her! As her ammo gets lower and lower, our cortisol levels go ballistic.
3) When Ripley turns into Robocop/Lady Transformer, hopping into the cargo-lifting machine to fight the Mother Alien to keep It from spewing acid on dirty tunnel child Newt. “Get away from her, you B*tch!” Ripley screams at Mama Alien. Bishop, by now cut in half, is freakishly watching the fight with green android blood gurgling from his mouth. Still deserves major “eww!” points today.
Distractions in the Film: 1) Ripley’s Ronald McDonald mini fro. 2) The ridiculous Newt mannequin that Ripley is forced to carry in her arms as she tries to escape the Mother Alien.
Cillian Murphy as “Jim” in 28 Days Later
Quick Synopsis: Animal activists barge into a British animal lab and free zombie-infected chimps, which have “Rage” virus. The whole world goes to shite and almost everyone turns into rabid, Speedy Gonalez-moving zombies with bloodshot eyeballs. Twenty-eight days later, bicycle courier Jim wakes up from a coma to an empty hospital. He has no idea that the UK is now zomba-fied. He later teams up with Selena (Naomie Harris) and father and daughter survivors, Frank (Brendan Gleeson) and Hannah (Megan Burns).
Best Scenes: 1) When the crew find a deserted grocery store to loot (the music in this scene is seemingly very British). Finding free food amid the end of the world is always savory to watch, no?
2) When just a drop of Rage blood to the eye turns Daddy Frank into a zombie. Daddy goes buh-bye and gets killed by a band of cray-cray, horny toad soldiers who have found a way of surviving on rotten chicken eggs for months.
3) When Jim breaks through a window, heavily heaving and looking all wild-eyed and bloody. Thinking he’s infected, Selena tries to kill him, but alas(!) he’s just tapping into his inner-killer. The two make out quickly thereafter, which is pretty gross considering there are bloody zombies going nuts all around them.
Distractions in the Film: 1) The etched-out hotness of Cillian Murphy. (Why must he be more beautiful than most women?) 2) The stress of knowing that the zombie soldier in the backyard of the fortified mansion is bound to escape from his chains and go to town on the uninfected soldiers.
Will Smith as “Lt. Col. Robert Neville” in I Am Legend
Quick Synopsis: A mutation of the measles virus kills almost 90% of the world. One of the only humans left is Lt. Col. Neville, a military doc who studies viruses and who’s immune to the lethal strain. He spends his time walking the empty streets of NYC, foraging supplies, testing rats for a cure, listening to the radio for any sign of DJ Jazzy Jeff (just kidding), and hanging with his only companion, his German Shepherd Samantha. He stays barricaded in his town home at night since the infected zombies (a.k.a. the “Darkseekers”) come out to feed and routinely scream like lions.
Best Scenes: 1) When, in a moment of complete vulnerability, Neville tearfully begs one of the mannequins he had placed at a video store to speak to him. “Please speak to me!” he sadly says. So. freakin. sad. Waah!
2) When Neville goes into a dark building and his heart skips a beat when he runs into a whole gaggle of sleeping Darkseekers who are standing upright and panting heavily in a room. Of course, some of the zombies end up waking up and and flipping out on the Fresh Prince!
Distractions in the Film: 1) The CG. It was a bit painful to watch these scary, fast-moving zombies—as well as the ridiculously looking lab rights—look so daggum digitized. They could’ve at least used a few real peeps in zombie makeup for some of the close-up shots. Hello, if AMC’s The Walking Dead can pull it off, why couldn’t this flick?
Linda Hamilton as “Sarah Connor” in Terminator II: Judgement Day
Quick Synopsis: After almost getting killed a few dozen times by Ah-nold in the original Terminator, Sarah Connor gives birth to her son, the apocalyptic soon-to-be savior John Connor, who is currently going through a hard case of puberty, as indicated by the criminal voice cracking of actor Edward Furlong. Not knowing he’ll be the hope of the future, John lives life as an angry juvenile delinquent, while mom Sarah is in the looney bin and occasionally gets her badonka donk pinched by the staff.
Best Scenes: 1) When Sarah is beating the crap out of the hospital and security personnel as she tries to make another escape. (Remember the pen she stabs into her doc’s leg?).
2) When she flips out in slo-mo as she comes face to face with Ah-nold (the now non-evil Terminator). Mr. T-800 gains her momentary trust when he says the same words that her baby daddy Reese had once said to her: “Come with me if you want to live.”
3) When Sarah gets to show off her bodybuilding ripped guns in the shooting scene at the steel mill. Everyone and their mamas were terrified—probably even director James Cameron, her then-hubby.
4) When, after killing the T-1000 cyborg, Ah-nold sacrifices himself (so that Skynet can’t re-create future cyborgs). He gives a thumbs up as he melts into a vat of molten steel as the Terminator theme booms into our ears with bittersweet absolution. Confession: We stifled an ugly cry.
Distractions in the Film: 1) Sarah Connor suddenly adopting a rugged man voice. 2) John Connor’s puberty-induced vocals. 3) Knowing that Linda Hamilton has a real-life twin. Funky, right?
Who are your favorite post-apocalyptic actors?