The new J.J. Abrams film Super 8 opens this week, and it stars Kyle Chandler as a small town sheriff who has to cope with mysterious happenings and inexplicable events that could foretell an alien invasion, or worse … the end of the world.
That got us thinking about other apocalyptic heroes throughout the years, and how their glowing hotness was used as a beacon to help guide us through to safety.
Or was the last thing we saw before the world ended.
Either way, we’re glad these guys were on our side, and present this tribute to the Hunks of the Apocalypse!
NOTE – You may be wondering why two of the most popular end-of-the-world films, Armageddon and War of the Worlds are not included.
Well, Armageddon sucks. And after watching that scene where Ben Affleck rolls animal crackers on Liv Tyler’s naked stomach while “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” plays on the soundtrack and Ben poignantly argues that animal crackers aren’t really crackers “coz they’re sweet,” … well, we we’re praying for that asteroid to hurry up.
As for War of the Worlds, we’d rather be turned into alien incubators than be rescued by Tom Cruise.
Now onto the heroic hunks!
Jake Gyllenhaal in The Day After Tomorrow
Out director Roland Emmerich has a boner for destruction. His filmography includes Godzilla and Independence Day, and he hit a homerun with 2004’s The Day After Tomorrow.
Wacky weather is happening around the world due to accelerated climate change, made worse when Al Gore farts, causing a shift in the gulf-stream winds, setting up a cone of intense cold in the northeast area of the U.S.
Jake plays a gifted student visiting NYC for an academic competition, along with a pre-Shameless Emmy Rossum, a hot four-eyed nerd, and that guy from that HBO show that no one watched and was canceled.
After a storm surge traps all of them in the New York Public Library, Jake takes control of the situation and convinces a select few to remain where they are, instead of following the Arrogant Authority Figure™ outside to their doom.
Jake battles the elements, CGI wolves, and worst of all, chafing, which he could have alleviated had he just worn the outfit we were all hoping for.
Aaron Eckhart in The Core
It’s time to pay tribute to the hotness of Aaaron Eckhart. Owner of the sexiest chin in Hollywood (rumor is that he and Bruce Campbell were conjoined, but a 10 hour chinectomy separated them).
He’s played heroes and villains, but his performance in the completely scientifically accurate The Core is a career highlight. Why? Because he can keep a straight face throughout.
Aaron plays a scientist who joins Stanley Tucci (as the Pretentious Prick Who Finds His Humanity™) and Hilary Swank (I adore Hilary, but she’s lost without good material to work with) as they try to drill to the center of the earth to … find Pat Boone’s sanity, I think. Unfortunately, they fail miserably.
But they do manage to get the Earth’s core spinning again, thanks to the sacrifices of superfluous characters, leaving just Aaron and Hilary to begin the slow, agonizing ascent to the surface, leaving them plenty of time to contemplate how their careers brought them to this moment.
James Franciscus in Beneath The Planet Of The Apes
Beneath The Planet Of The Apes is the most unfairly maligned of all the Ape films, primarily because people thought that star James Franciscus was a poor substitute for original star Charlton Heston (who would only agree to an extended cameo in this sequel).
But the truth is, James is way hotter than Charlton ever was, and he has a lot more to deal with in this film. In addition to the damn, dirty apes, James uncovers a secret world in the buried subway system, and discovers a race of … talking uncircumcised penises who worship a giant sex toy!
Unfortunately, James is killed before he can save the world, and Charlton, dick that he is, pushes the button that causes the destruction of the Earth. The final scene has the voice of God intoning, “In one of the countless billions of galaxies in the universe lies a medium-sized star, and one of its satellites, a green and insignificant planet, is now dead.”
Gee, thanks for rubbing it in.
Johann Urb in 2012
Roland Emmerich is the Jim Steinman of the disaster epic, and 2012 is his “Total Eclipse of the Heart.”
I saw it twice in the theater, once to witness the spectacular carnage and eye-rolling melodrama (although it was sporting of mother nature to give John Cusack all those headstarts before cracking the world behind him), and I saw it the second time to focus in on the natural wonder of Johann Urb.
The Estonian actor played Sasha, the Russian assistant to the Rich Bastard Doomed To Die™. He ended up saving the lives of the Ragtag Group Of Survivors™ by singlehandedly landing their 747 on a icy cliff … before falling to his fiery death. Meanwhile, John Cusack gets to live. How is that fair?
I immediately googled Johann after the film, hoping he had done some gay-for-pay acting, but unfortunately the closest thing I could find was the 2010 film Pornstar, in which he plays a character named Cannon Balls. Still, it’s obvious that Johann can play a diverse group of characters, from dead Russian hunk, to shirtless hunk, to nerdy hunk. There’s got to be some kind of award for that.
Will Smith in I Am Legend
Will Smith has become king of the worldwide box office by choosing films that appeal to the widest demographic possible, to varying quality.
I Am Legend was one of his biggest hits because it gave the world just what it wanted – A ripped Will Smith working out, dressing mannequins, trapping morlock wannabes, and having heartbreaking flashbacks to his beautiful wife and adorable kid dying horribly.
But his character may also hold the key to saving the world, and what follows is either proof that I Am Legend is one of the greatest films ever made, or proof that the person who called it one of the greatest films ever made is a complete tool.
Bruno Lawrence in The Quiet Earth
In the little seen New Zealand film The Quiet Earth, we first see hero Bruno Lawrence in a full frontal shot, as the camera pans onto his sleeping form uncovered in bed, signifying his “birth” into a strange new world. It’s a shot that would be “borrowed” years later to introduce us to Cillian Murphy in 28 Days Later.*
*sidebar – It’s a tough decision, but I am not including 28 Days Later or any of the Romero Dead films on this list, because I don’t consider them technically “end-of-the-world” films. I know an argument can be made for inclusion, but there have to be rules!
Anyway, Bruno awakens into a world where everyone has disappeared, and his discovery of what happened leads to horror and shock.
Oh, and Bruno spends a good portion of the film wandering around in a woman’s slip.
Why would he wander around wearing a woman’s slip?
Well, he believes he’s the last person on Earth, so … why not?
Gary Daniels in Fist of the North Star
While everyone else in the 90’s was paying attention to Steven Seagal and Jean-Claude Van Damme, I always had my eye on British kickboxer/action star Gary Daniels.
He was probably put to best use in 1995’s Fist of the North Star, in which he plays Fist of the North Star, aka Ken (personally, I’d prefer to be called Fist of the North Star). He travels to a post-apocalyptic wasteland seeking to conquer those who wish to end civilization. Oh, and some mummies!
Best of all, it features a who’s who of B-movie goodness. Malcolm McDowell, Costas Mandylor (channeling Bruce Leroy), Chris Penn in a bondage mask, and Clint Howard at his most Clint Howardness.
Callum Keith Rennie in Last Night
Callum Keith Rennie is probably best known for Battlestar Galactica (he’s also starring in the upcoming Syfy series Alphas), but he also starred in the memorable Canadian apocalyptic film Last Night.
The world is ending in six hours (no explanation is given, but since this is a Canadian film, my guess is that Nickelback has decided to disband. Zing!), and Callum’s hetero character Craig has decided to see the finish line by experiencing every sexual fantasy he’s ever had. After working his way through the straight list (which he calls “Craig’s List”), he decides to see how the other half lives.
He awkwardly asks one of his straight pals to help him experience gay sex … but is refused.
Okay, so he doesn’t actually do anything to help save the world, but at least he has the courage to want to go out with a bang.
Mark Wahlberg in The Happening
It’s deadly crabgrass vs. Mark Wahlberg’s acting ability. No, it’s not the big screen version of Plants vs. Zombies, it’s The Happening!
I can’t explain how much I love this film. M.Night Shyamalan’s ode to poisonous pussywillows is the greatest nature-run-amok film since Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster, and it’s the perfect parody of every end-of-the-world flick ever made. Kudos to … What’s that? What do you mean, “It’s not a parody?”
It has to be. It just … has to be.
Robert Beltran in Night of the Comet
Long before he was kissing Janeway’s steel bun on Star Trek: Voyager, Robert Beltran starred in the cult classic Night of the Comet, as one of the only survivors of a life-ending comet passover.
He had to battle mutants and crossed paths with the always-fabulous Mary Woronov, but he still managed to dress up as Santa to bring presents to the two gun-totin’ valley girls that were somehow spared.
That’s our kind of hero.
All Those Guys From Those Italian Apocalypse Films
Michael Sopkiw, Mark Gregory, and Al Cliver
No country has made more end-of-the-world films than Italy, and they can take credit for the trashiest, and therefore the greatest. Movies such as After The Fall of New York, The Bronx Warriors and Endgame all feature such Italian EOTW staples as bad dubbing, cardboard sets, painfully inept special effects, and if we’re lucky, some bare flesh from the hot leading men.
My personal favorite of these is the 1984 sleaze classic Rats! Night of Terror, which features all of the above necessities in its story of a world overrun by rodents.
It also features the greatest ending in movie history, which you can see below. But warning! Do not watch this clip unless you want the ending to Rats! Night of Terror spoiled. But if you think you’re ready to experience it, then proceed. You’ll thank me.
So who’s your favorite apocalyptic, EOTW, hot movie hero?