Postapocalyptica! What to watch while waiting for ‘Hunger Games’ finale

I loved “Hunger Games” – the books and the movies – and even though I feel cheated that they split the last book into two movies, I’m excited for the final chapter, “Mockingjay, Part 2,” coming out Nov. 20.

Maybe it’s morbid, but I love post-apocalyptic movies, and movies with dystopian societies. Here are some of my faves (in no particular order):

  1. Twelve Monkeys. Terry Gilliam’s trippy movie, about a prisoner sent back in time to collect information on the virus that all but destroyed humanity, also made my list of top 10 time travel movies. While the underground world where the survivors live is dark and creepy, the real horror is the mindfuckery James Cole (Bruce Willis) endures. Also, cool plot twists.
  2. Strange Days. It’s hard to believe “Strange Days” just had its 20th anniversary. The dystopian thriller set in 1999 was released in October 1995, when virtual reality was all the rage in sci fi. Written by James Cameron and directed by Kathryn Bigelow, the film is somewhat of a murder mystery, with the evidence in the form of discs recorded on “SQUIDS,” which plug into users’ heads and allow them to record memories and feelings. Ralph Fiennes, Angela Bassett, Juliette Lewis, and Tom Sizemore star.
  3. Hunger Games. A friend of mine recommended the books to me before the first movie came out so I read them all, one after another. (One benefit of being late to the party is you don’t have to wait for the next book to come out.) I like that the films stay true to the books, but I have an issue with paying full price for half a movie, which is what “Mockingjay, Part 1” was. I hope the finale is more satisfying.
  4. Never Let Me Go. The book and the movie make me cry like a baby. Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield, and Keira Knightley star in the film adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s heartbreaking novel in which clones are raised to have their organs harvested.
  5. The Matrix. Did I mention virtual reality was big in the ’90s? I loved the first Matrix movie – Neo (Keanu Reeves) and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) in their cool trench coats and sunglasses, battling the powers that enslave humanity. So cool. But I found the sequels annoying and confusing.
  6. Blade Runner. Ridley Scott’s futuristic film noir starring Harrison Ford is arguably the coolest film adaptation of a Philip K. Dick story (there have been about a dozen movies made from his novels and short stories, including “Total Recall,” “Minority Report,” and “The Adjustment Bureau”). Ford is retired police officer Rick Deckard, whose job was to track down replicants (bio-engineered androids) and destroy them. The film also stars Sean Young, Rutger Hauer, Daryl Hannah, and Edward James Olmos.
  7. Children of Men. Based on P.D. James’ novel of the same name, “Children of Men” is set in the year 2027, and the U.K. is the only country with a functioning government. Twenty years of global infertility threatens the human race with extinction. Clive Owen plays Theo, a civil servant tasked with safeguarding the life of a pregnant young immigrant named Kee. The movie was written and directed by Alfonso Cuarón, and also stars Julianne Moore, Michael Caine, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Charlie Hunnam.
  8. Elysium. Matt Damon stars in Neill Blomkamp’s futuristic morality play, in which Damon’s character attempts to reach a Med-Bay on the luxury space habitat Elysium after being poisoned by radiation on a post-apocalyptic Earth. Even if Blomkamp is a bit heavy-handed with his symbolism, I love his movies. “District 9” kept me on the edge of my seat, “Chappie” was so much better than the critics gave it credit for, and this one is an entertaining ride as well.
  9. I Am Legend. I’m not a huge fan of zombie flicks, but I like that this one focuses on character, rather than just frenzied zombie carnage. Will Smith’s performance was moving. Plus it has a cute German shepherd in it. And “Three Little Birds.”
  10. Gattaca. Sometimes subtle is better with science fiction. Gattaca is one of those, like “Never Let Me Go,” that lacks the guns-blazing craziness of movies like “Mad Max,” but still manages to shake you up. Vincent (Ethan Hawke) dreams of traveling to outer space, but in the future, only genetically superior people are allowed to do such things. Jude Law and Uma Thurman also star.

(photo: Elysium; TriStar Pictures)

Ten times real life reminds me of science fiction

Do you ever ask your husband or wife, “When is second breakfast?” Or wish you could “beam up” to your destination when you’re stuck in traffic? I often find myself thinking of science fiction in my ordinary life. Here are a few examples.

  1. Whenever I have déjà vu, I wonder if it means something, like in “The Matrix” when Keanu Reeves sees that cat again and says “Whoa. Déjà vu.” I love it that everyone takes him seriously, because in real life no one cares if you have déjà vu. They also don’t want to hear about the weird dream you had last night.
  2. Every time my First World existence isn’t quite cushy enough, I wish for one of the nifty gadgets in science fiction, like the holodeck or the medical tricorder on Star Trek. And the food replicator. Pretty much anything on Star Trek.
  3. When I’m delirious from lack of sleep, I sometimes wonder if the world as I know it is a replica, manufactured to trick me, and that my life is really being broadcast all over the world. What if everyone can see me obsessively overplucking my eyebrows, or hear me talking to myself? And it is then that I wish I’d never seen “The Truman Show.”
  4. Lately, I’ve been thinking about Jadzia from Deep Space Nine. She was a Trill: an alien species who serves as a host to a symbiont called Dax. Jadzia retains all the skills and memories from the previous hosts. When I look back on my life 20 years ago, or even just five years ago, it hardly seems like I’m the same person, like I’m a Trill or something.
  5. Admit it – sometimes you wish you had a time machine so you could have do-overs, like in the completely nonsensical “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.” “After the report, we’ll time travel back to two days ago, steal your dad’s keys and leave them here. … How about behind that sign? That way, when we get here now, they’ll be waiting for us!”
  6. A lot of us spend a lot of time online. Our world seems to be becoming more and more like that movie “Surrogates,” in which people in the future live in front of their computers, controlling robotic avatars who stand in for them in the real world.
  7. When I see news stories about scientists trying to recreate the woolly mammoth, or selling genetically modified pet pigs, or abusing science in some other similar asinine fashion, I think of Jeff Goldblum’s character in “Jurassic Park,” Dr. Malcolm, who said the scientists were “so preoccupied with whether or not they could, that they didn’t stop to think if they should.”
  8. When I’m feeling lazy, I think maybe I should do some pull-ups, or learn how to drive a motorcycle, or hotwire a car, in case there’s some future emergency and I need to be strong and fast and skilled. Like, for instance, what if a cyborg from the future is sent to kill me? Oh wait, that’s the plot of “Terminator 2.”  Which is mostly unlikely to happen.
  9. As my kids get older, I am reminded of Sil from “Species,” who ages 12 years in like, three months. I keep doing double takes at my son, like, “Weren’t you a toddler a few minutes ago?”
  10. We all have our favorite movie quotes that we use conversationally. Most of the movies my husband and I quote to each other are from sci-fi/fantasy movies: “Aziz, light!” “Do or do not. There is no try.” “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.” “You keep saying that word; I do not think it means what you think it means.” “I am altering the deal; pray I don’t alter it any further.” “My precious!” And my favorite faux curse word, “Frak!”