The top 10 best pandemic movies – Yahoo Entertainment

Ending on a lighter note, and proving pandemics aren’t all doom and gloom, we have Zombieland, a Zom-Com in the same vein as Shaun of the Dead.
Starring Jesse Eisenberg as Columbus and Woody Harrelson as Tallahassee, they’re two mismatched survivors: one has an extensive set of rules to keep alive (“Rule 22: When in doubt know your way out”), while the other is happiest eating Twinkies and fighting. On their separate ways across the country, their trajectory changes when they fall in with two streetwise sisters, played by Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin, and end up at Pacific Playland.
It’s a refreshingly fun, irreverent take on the genre, with a surprise cameo to please all 80s comedy fans. And, as well as the gore and guffaws, it manages to accommodate romantic and heartfelt moments too.
Every cloud has a silver lining it seems. Steven Soderbergh’s medical thriller Contagion, released in 2011, raced back up the iTunes charts to take a Top Ten position back in March, helped no doubt by the film’s parallels with the outbreak of coronavirus. This fast-paced thriller charts the rapid transmission of a virus across the globe as scientists hurry to find a vaccine and social order disintegrates.
Despite being a Hollywood thriller, this breathless multi-perspective narrative has been described as ultra-realistic – informed by the World Health Organisation and praised for its accurate depiction of a pandemic by scientists. It’s also got a Hollywood cast to make you weak at the knees – Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, Marion Cotillard, Matt Damon – but seeing Paltrow catch the flu on film couldn’t have inspired confidence in her wellness brand, Goop.
Outbreak gave monkeys a bad name way before the rage-plagued primate in 28 Days Later. Opening in Zaire, Africa, a fictional disease called Motaba spreads to California after an infected capuchin monkey is smuggled into the country. The disease develops into a strain of influenza, and the small town of Cedar Creeks is placed under martial law as the infection rapidly spreads.
Although based on Richard Preston’s nonfiction book The Hot Zone, the film takes plenty of grand liberties in the name of cinematic heroics – this is a Hollywood pandemic through and through. But it entertains with a talented cast, including Dustin Hoffman, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Rene Russo. There’s also an iconic scene in a movie theatre that would make you think twice before visiting the multiplex.
Did someone know something we didn’t? There were two monkey-related pandemic flicks in 1995, this one from Terry Gilliam. Twelve Monkeys is a dystopian sci-fi fantasy set in post-apocalyptic Philadelphia in 2035. As most of humanity was wiped out by a virus in 1996, Earth’s remaining inhabitants live underground. Bruce Willis is Cole, a convict who volunteers to go back in time in the hope of reducing his sentence and finding the cause of the virus. But the past proves more bewildering than the future.
Gilliam-esque camera angles and stunning production design are impressive, particularly a desolate Philly overrun by animals. Meanwhile, Brad Pitt bagged his first Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination as Jeffrey Goines: inmate and leader of the Army of the Twelve Monkeys. It’s an atypical performance that’s thoroughly engrossing, all nervous tics and a crazed glint in his eyes.
Before Bong Joon-ho made history in 2020 – becoming the first South Korean to win an Academy Award with Parasite (2019) – he made this monster-movie with a little socio-political bite.
Like The Crazies, the film shows mankind sow its own destruction when an American pathologist instructs his Korean colleague to dump formaldehyde in the Han River. A few years and lots of dead fish later, a gigantic amphibious creature emerges, attacking the local residents and kidnapping a young girl called Hyun-seo. As the military arrive to quarantine the area, they declare that not only is the mutant dangerous, but that it carries an unknown virus too.
Starring Parasite’s main man Song Kang-ho, The Host is a blast – full of humour, thrills, and jaw-dropping action.
Those infamous scenes of Cillian Murphy walking through an abandoned London in 28 Days Later (2002) seem eerily prophetic in the wake of coronavirus. The 2007 sequel however begins after the outbreak of the rage virus, with the infected dying of hunger and NATO instigating a safe zone in the capital.
A degree of normalcy has returned to daily life and we’re introduced to a new set of characters: Don (Robert Carlyle), his children Tammy and Andy, and US Army Medical Officer Scarlet (Rose Byrne). But, after the children’s ill-advised trip to seek out their mother – presumed dead – those bloody, fleet-footed zombies are causing carnage once again.
It’s a brisk, brutal film that the New York Times described as “exhaustingly terrifying”, with a sombre ending that implies the infected have reached European shores. The film’s savvy. Pre-launch hype saw a biohazard sign projected on the white cliffs of Dover, declaring: “contaminated, keep out.”
A fascination with pandemic-themed films is spreading
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