Myself and B have what you might call an eclectic taste. Our house is dotted with robots, books about Star Trek and pictures of comic books. We have a mannequin who we named Dorothy Zephyr for my love of steampunk and our industrial table lamp is a prized possession. Our taste in TV shows and movies varies from Sci fi to quirky humour to clever psychological thrillers. Since joining the Netflix StreamTeam I have been thinking of lists of movies and tv shows to introduce you to that myself and B have loved. Let’s start off with one of my favourite categories, Dystopian. Never heard of Dystopian before? Oh come on in and enter my favourite world!
Secondly, there will be no spoilers!
Thirdly, my recommendations come from my own personal taste which as I said is somewhat eclectic. But there is nothing wrong with trying out a new flavour every so often.
And finally, when it comes to TV and movies, I have relatively high standards. I will switch something off ten minutes in if it’s not keeping my attention. So, if I sat through the whole thing, it must be good right! 😊
You’ve probably seen tons of Dystopian movies already but haven’t realised it.
“A dystopia is a community or society that is undesirable or frightening.”
Think derelict, think post-apocalyptic, think futuristic but dated, think hopeless and dangerous. Dystopian is not only the physical time and space, a future that has become distorted in some manner, but also an instinct. There is an intense survival element to dystopian stories that make you unwittingly cheer on one character or another. Overcoming adversity is not all that easy when outside forces attack.
And so, on to my list of my favourite Dystopian movies and one that is sitting in My List waiting to be watched on Netflix.
Director: Zack Snyder – 2009
Running Time: 2hr 42mins
Starring: Malin Akerman; Billy Crudup; Matthew Goode
B has always been a fan of the graphic novel Watchmen by Alan Moore. It is a critically acclaimed and incredible piece of work that delves deep into the shadows of the human mind and the nature of our world. It’s a dark, gritty story with heartache and despair in a world of chaos and despondency. Watchmen is a staple on many a college curriculum as it’s themes, diverse characters, storylines and dystopian surroundings are profound and the incredible attention to detail is second to none. The movie adaptation in 2009 did not disappoint. Adapting Watchmen to screen was no mean feat, however, as the graphic novel is overloaded with intensity, storylines, and incredibly in depth characters. B and I waited eagerly for this movies release and were pleasantly surprised and enthralled by how well it translated to screen. Alan Moore, on the other hand, was not. With plenty of action scenes, well delivered violence – I’m a wuss so can’t handle blood spatter everywhere so appreciated the efforts by Synder to use cinematography to its best with scenes of a sensitive nature! – and a well played anti hero element to this movie, I guarantee you will be kept interested, entertained and will fall in love with characters that will surprise you.
Set in an alternative, dystopian New York city in 1985, you do not need to be a comic fan, a superhero enthusiast or to have read the graphic novel first. Watchmen is a story about people, about relationships, adversity and understanding right from wrong in a world where wrong comes first.
Director: Rian Johnson – 2012
Running Time: 1hr 58min
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt
Looper is one of those incredibly clever films that will have you trying to decipher the puzzle and frantically searching for extra puzzle pieces in an effort to make sense of the intimate plot. It is considered to be a neo-noir science film, and despite not having the post-apocalyptic element, I consider it dystopian for its dark and immature futuristic society that avoids addressing it’s failings. I am, and always will be, a Bruce Willis fan and Joseph Gordon-Levitt is almost unrecognisable in this role except for the fact that he has once again thrown hinself into a character and almost consumed the role – he is by far a world class actor.
Looper is set in a future where time travel has been discovered. But time travel is illegal, it’s expensive, it’s only available on the black market. The mob have the loop under their wing and use it as an execution tool. In an age where disposing of a body is near impossible due to sophisticated tracking systems, the loop is a means to execute someone by using a Looper. This is someone who waits in the past to commit the execution with the body cleverly disposed of there. Gordon-Levitt plays a Looper, but, as with this choice of career, the loop must be closed eventually. In an ironic twist of fate, the death of the looper is at the hands of their future self. What transpires is an incredible story that will leave you gripped and desperate for more. The pace is neither fast nor slow with a storyline and characters that are so well developed and understood that you will be impressed by the execution of this movie – excuse the pun!
Director: Kurt Wimmer – 2002
Running Time: 1hr 47mins
Starring: Christian Bale, Emma Watson, Taye Diggs
Equilibrium may be fifteen years old but it still remains one of the best dystopian movies to have ever been developed. The futuristic element of Equilibrium is second to none, having created a world devoid of emotion in an effort to eliminate war. It works. Citizens are mindnumbingly emotionless as they take government sanctioned medication that kills all feeling. But a world without emotion is as robotic as it can get. What could go wrong?
Bale sends out a staggering performance in this movie as he wrestles with decisions, memories and the bleakness of life as he raises his two children alone in a world that is seemingly dead. As with the best dystopian movies, the overbearing and ruthless government is tackled by none other than someone from within the foundations. Bale is a government official responsible for keeping the residents in check by ensuring the rules are kept. But when he begins to question the regime, things take a swift turn. With beautiful cinematography and an underlying sense of dread and despair, Equilibrium has stood the test of time in delivering a dystopian world on the verge of further collapse.
Director: Neill Blomkamp – 2013
Running Time: 1hr 49mins
Starring: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley
I didn’t hold up much hope for Elysium but was pleasantly surprised by how well the storyline was delivered. As with many dystopian stories, there is an element of right versus wrong, good versus evil, poor versus rich and privileged versus disadvantaged. Elysium is, of course, where the privileged and rich live – A luxurious space station which greatly divides the wealthy from the poor and underprivileged population who reside on the ravaged and destroyed planet Earth amongst ruins, disease and poverty.
Elysium opens up conversions about immigration, overpopulation, economics and social class issues. It’s the type of film that is more than the ramblings of a sci fi writer who has taken broken lives and put them underneath the sophisticated riches of the happy and wealthy. While the storyline is enrichingly thought provoking, it brings action and suspense to its audience as the world, and the powers-that-be, are brought to task. Damon plays the role better than I thought he would. But if I had to be critical, Elysium holds a Hollywood element that it can’t clear from. With Damon in the driving seat, it verges away from the desperate despondency that ordinarily intensifies the fear and destitution of dystopia. Albeit, Elysium is an entertaining movie with an excellent premise.
Director: Gabe Ibanez – 2014
Running Time: 1hr 49mins
Starring: Antonio Banderas, Melanie Griffith, Dylan McDermott
And finally Automata. This one is on My List to watch which I haven’t quite managed to get around to yet. It appears to be a typical dystopian movie with a mixture of post-apocalyptic chaos and robots which I instantly veer towards. Admittedly, the mixture of Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith continually puts the brakes on this movie for me. Someday I will have to suck it up and give them the benefit of the doubt. After all, Automata is a dystopian recipe made just for me.
Set in the not too distant future, solar flares irradiated the Earth killing 99% of the population. Survivors have developed and incorporated robots into their daily lives to rebuild and grow the cities again. And what could go wrong with robots and a limited human population in an age when resources are low, poverty is rampant and the golden hero struggles with his own demons? Automata is certainly a movie right up my street which is the reason I’ve landed it together with four other dystopian films that drew a world so ravaged and deranged that our hero must set the world free.
Do you have a Netflix recommendation? Get in touch and tell me what’s on Your List!
*** Disclaimer: As a member of the Netflix StreamTeam I have received a complimentary Netflix membership ***