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What's the apocalypse now?

November 16, 2009|Michael Ordona

If you've been having vaguely foreboding feelings lately, they may not just be coming from all that reality TV you've been watching. It could be because end-of-the-world movies have been out in force all year. Filmmakers have always gloried in doomsday scenarios, whether from humanity's own making ("The Day After Tomorrow"), biblical battles ("The Omen") or wayward celestial bodies ("Armageddon," "Deep Impact"). But this year they've really been pouring on the mayhem in ways both fun and frightening, making us think a lot these days about the end of days. Even documentaries have gotten into the act, with the global harming of "The Age of Stupid" and the bunker mentality of "Collapse." And it's not over yet. This season sees the release of two more major entries -- "2012," inspired by interpretations of Maya prophecies, and "The Road," based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. So, will the world end with a whimper ("The Road") or with lots and lots of bangs ("2012")? This handy chart may contain the clues . . . or at least decide which 2009 movie version you want to see.

-- Michael Ordona

"The Road"

Release date: Nov. 20

The destruction: We don't know the cause, but the raging fires and destroyed landscape indicate it wasn't pretty.

We were warned: "Mad Max," "A Boy and His Dog," "The Postman," "Testament."

Chances for survival: Bleak. Really, really bleak.

Lessons learned: A solid bomb shelter is a must; bonus points for a good arsenal and weapon training.

--

"2012"

Release date: Nov. 13

The destruction: Ancient prophecies attributed to the Maya calendar come true as the sun microwaves the Earth's core, causing earthquakes, floods, volcanic eruptions and general unpleasantness.

We were warned: "The Day After Tomorrow," "The Core."

Chances for survival: Good for one lucky family that can apparently outrun an erupting volcano, collapsing skyscrapers and countless breaking chasms in the Earth. Not so good for anyone in the cast listed below principal.

Lessons learned: We're gonna need a bigger boat.

--

"Zombieland"

Release date: Oct. 2

The destruction: A virus turns just about everyone into flesh-munching creatures.

We were warned: "28 Days Later," "Shaun of the Dead" and a host of other films that end with ". . . of the Dead."

Chances for survival: Best if you follow a few simple rules, such as "double tap" and "don't be a hero."

Lessons learned: Arm yourself; don't split up; it doesn't matter how hot the girl is, if she's been bitten, she will eat you.

--

"Terminator Salvation"

Release date: May 21

The destruction: Machines rise against humanity. (We sense a trend.)

We were warned: "Terminator," "The Matrix," "Christine."

Chances for survival: Best with a half-man, half-machine on your side; even better if you can avoid an instant heart transplant in a field hospital.

Lessons learned: He's John Connor!!

--

"Knowing"

Release date: March 20

The destruction: If only we'd done the math, we could have anticipated the solar flare that scorches the Earth, causing plane crashes, train smashes and maybe Kanye West at the VMAs.

We were warned: "The Seventh Sign" (by way of "National Treasure").

Chances for survival: Depends on one's perspective on stepping inside the warm godlike glow of a spaceship.

Lessons learned: Prophecies, prophecies, prophecies. When are we going to start listening?

--

"Watchmen"

Release date: March 6

The destruction: The world teeters on the brink of nuclear holocaust, and Richard Nixon is in his fifth term as president.

We were warned: "Dr. Strangelove," "Thirteen Days," "Miracle Mile."

Chances for survival: Not bad if you can stay on the right side of the giant blue (and often naked) master of space and time, Dr. Manhattan.

Lessons learned: Nuclear paranoia just never gets old.

--

calendar@latimes.com

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