The best natural disaster movies on Netflix
What would you do if someone told you that the world was going to end within a few months? What if you were the one spreading the news, but nobody listened to what you had to say? That’s the question being addressed in Adam McKay’s newest Netflix film, Don’t Look Up. In the film, Oscar winners Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio put on stellar performances as low-level astronomers who discover that a rapidly-approaching comet is on a collision course with Earth and are met with astounding skepticism and indifference due to their lack of status in society.
For most of the film, Lawrence’s Kate Dibiasky and DiCaprio’s Dr. Randall Mindy spend their remaining time on Earth undertaking a media campaign in the hopes of convincing the rest of the world to take the event seriously and jump into action. Unfortunately, that doesn’t go as well as they hope it will.
This isn’t the first time that movies have addressed a disastrous or extinction-level event. We all wonder what would happen if the world as we know it was suddenly altered or destroyed and if we would survive such a cataclysmic event. As a result of our own worry and concern, dozens of apocalyptic movies have been released over the years depicting numerous possibilities for how such a scenario might play out.
Of course Netflix wouldn’t be the streaming platform today if it didn’t have a variety of such films in its arsenal. That said, here are 10 other natural disaster films on Netflix similar to Don’t Look Up that will make you rethink your time on Earth.
The Wandering Earth
China’s third highest-grossing film of all time, The Wandering Earth is loosely based on a novella by China’s first Hugo Award winner, Liu Cixin. Set in the year 2061, The Wandering Earth tells the story of a bleak future where the sun is dying, prompting the world to unite in propelling Earth to the nearest solar system by means of some very enormous thrusters. To survive the centuries-long voyage, people live in underground cities burrowed deep inside the Earth, but when a gravitational spike on Jupiter disables the planet’s thrusters and threatens to pull Earth into its orbit, a rescue team is selected to repair the giant engines before the planets collide.
This film definitely falls in the worst-case scenario category. In 3022, a group of astronauts are forced to watch Earth get destroyed by a mysterious cataclysmic event from their space station. Stranded with no chance of external support, the astronauts’ mental states slowly begin to break under the weight as they are faced with an uncertain future.
The Korean film that came out shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic actually hits a little close to home, given the world’s current circumstance with the coronavirus. In #Alive, a young video gamer named Joon Woo is forced to lock himself in his apartment after a deadly virus ravages a Korean city and turns its citizens into zombies. Even though the idea of zombies is a trope that’s been explored countless times, it’s still an all-time favorite disaster event scenario, and #Alive is another great movie that does well exploring the genre.
Although the name implies that the characters in the film are facing extinction, this movie itself is a twist on the idea of human eradication. In the film, an engineer named Peter is having nightmares about an alien invasion that could lead to the destruction of life. He later finds that his nightmares are actually visions and when the aliens do finally come to invade, Peter and his family are forced to take refuge. But when Peter attempts to fight back, he finds that he and the other “humans” are actually AIs known as synths, who had their memories wiped and had been residing as regular people ever since the human rebellion against the AI.
One of Netflix’s most successful original releases, Bird Box follows Sandra Bullock as Malorie, a pregnant woman who is in the middle of an invisible epidemic that causes people to commit suicide. Five years later, Malorie ⏤ along with her son and the daughter of another woman ⏤ attempt to live again with the help of blindfolds meant to keep them from “seeing” anything that will cause them to kill themselves. But after they are attacked by insurgents, Mallory and the kids head out on a journey to find a safer place.
The Midnight Sky
In this compelling Netflix tale, George Clooney plays Augustine Lofthouse, a lone academic at an Arctic base and one of the few people alive on Earth after an unknown disaster kills off most of the world’s population and contaminates the surface with ionizing radiation. As his health fails, Lofthouse remembers how the crew of the spaceship Aether will be returning to Earth shortly and have no clue about the disaster they’re returning to. Determined to save them from a desolate fate, Lofthouse does everything he can to send a message out and warn the crew before it’s too late.
This science fiction film stars Margaret Qualley as Sam Welden, a scientist who continues to live on Earth after it has been deemed uninhabitable by most of humanity, who have now settled down on a moon of Jupiter called “Io.” But Weldon has a plan to make Earth livable again. She sends out a radio transmission to Io and is soon visited by a man named Micah (Anthony Mackie), who is sent to hear what she has to say. However, much to Welden’s dismay, Micah believes that all hope for Earth is lost and is ready to put the planet behind him as soon as possible. Now, it’s up to Sam to convince him otherwise.
The Cloverfield Paradox
The third installment in the “Cloverfield” franchise, The Cloverfield Paradox begins with the group of astronauts tasked with a special mission on a space station in 2028 as Earth undergoes a global energy crisis. After several desperate attempts to test the Shepard particle accelerator aboard the Cloverfield space station, a disaster strikes and leads to a scientific paradox. As the astronauts attempt to fix the problem, they begin to lose their minds from the paradox itself and eventually the event releases an unknown force that further threatens the fate of the planet and humanity itself.
In this Tony Elliott-directed feature, corporations are fighting against governments for the last remaining oil supplies and resources on Earth, causing an energy crisis. However, an engineer named Renton (Robbie Amell) has a machine that could possibly be the source of unlimited energy. Unfortunately, the corporations are also aware of this and are determined to fight over the machine’s ownership ⏤ once their masked hitmen have gotten rid of Renton. There’s just one catch: the machine has somehow trapped Renton in a time loop and now the engineer is stuck reliving the same day over and over again. A disaster with a sci-fi twist, ARQ is one of the more interesting disaster movies on this list.
Set in a near future, Spectral finds humanity facing a threat they can’t seem to see. When troops stumble upon a translucent humanoid figure that can kill an organic creature by simply touching or passing through them, the military is faced with a challenge that could easily destroy humanity without any resistance. Using hyperspectral imaging cameras to track down the invisible and seemingly invincible “specters,” the military tries to figure out the way to defeat the new menace before it becomes too much for Earth to handle.