Civil War and 9 other dystopian movies to watch right now

With Civil War hitting theaters this week, here's a pack of other dystopian movies to take in for a dark take on the world!
Civil War, image courtesy A24
Civil War, image courtesy A24 /

Dystopian dramas have been a backdrop for sci-fi movies for years. While post-apocalyptic movies show the end of society, dystopia can show even worse: A society still around but barely what one would call civilization. From dictatorial governments to just full-on anarchy, these futures (or even presents) can be difficult to watch, but when done right, they're amazing.

There are scores of movies that use this idea, from blockbusters like The Hunger Games to plenty of sci-fi action films. Sadly, a few of the best dystopian movies (Brazil, Children of Men, Blade Runner) aren't on streaming at the moment. However, there are a few that are able to show some dark worlds you may not want to live in but can't help watching as a reminder of how chillingly close our world may be to joining these dark lands. 

Civil War

Alex Garland's new film has already been gaining huge buzz. Set in a near-future America, it's just what the title says, a United States now divided with California and Texas forming their own countries and the rest of the nation in combat. Yet the focus, as in any civil war, is on the folks caught in between.

Kirsten Dunst is a reporter with a pack of journalists who crosses the country to get a view of the conflict and discover more of the people involved. Given the current political climate, this looks to be a very daring and gripping movie to show just how close America might be to breaking apart in violence. 

Civil War premieres in theaters Friday, April 12.

The Kitchen


This stunning new film slipped under the radar with a late 2023 release but deserves a lot more attention now. Set in a future London where public housing has been banned, the rich now dominate and crowd out those who can't afford to live a better way. People can't even afford burials, so they have their loved ones turned into trees. 

Kane Robinson is a man obsessed with getting a classy apartment, which is complicated when he befriends a young boy. Their bond grows amid police raids and clashes with the mobsters who actually seem better than the cops. Its sudden ending is a sharp capper to a movie that, like the best dystopian movies, terrifies by how it's not that far off from reality. 

The Kitchen is streaming on Netflix.

The Creator

The Creator movie, in cinemas September 29, 2023. /

The best sci-fi movie of 2023, Gareth Edwards delivers a rare beast in an original film with plenty of power. Fifteen years after Los Angeles was destroyed in a nuclear blast, the U.S. government hunts the A.I.s blamed for it. John David Washington is a soldier dedicated to hunting them down, even when it costs him his wife (Gemma Chan).

Washington is sent on a quest to hunt a new weapon, only to find it in the body of a child. As they travel together, he realizes there's more to these "robots" than there seems. The movie boasts stunning visuals and the question of what makes one human amid this dark future should hopefully make it a future sci-fi classic to enjoy.

The Creator is streaming on Hulu.


In Photo: Snowpiercer New York Comic Con 2019 poster key art.. Image Courtesy Turner /

Before it was a TNT show, this was a movie and a fantastic one, too, from Oscar-winning director Bong Joon-ho. An attempt by scientists to fix global warming backfires big time, creating a new Ice Age. The only human survivors are on a train speeding around the world where the rich live it up in luxury and the rest are stuck in the back. 

The conflict builds between an engineer played by Chris Evans and an unrecognizable Tilda Swinton bossing them around. The movie expertly uses the train to illustrate class warfare, and the frozen tundras add more pathos to the tale of one man falling into corruption. It's a cramped film that can still be one wild ride. 

Snowpiercer is streaming on Tubi.

Never Let Me Go

Andrew Garfield, Ella Purnell, Kazuo Ishiguro, Carey Mulligan, Mark Romanek
"Never Let Me Go" Photocall: 54th BFI London Film Festival / Ferdaus Shamim/GettyImages

Before Civil War, Alex Garland wrote the screenplay for this underrated 2010 movie. Kiera Knightley, Carey Mulligan, and Andrew Garfield are a trio of young students at an exclusive school whose purpose is to "aid in extending life." The trio soon realizes they are clones whose sole purpose is to be harvested for their organs for their donors. 

The three actors are stellar as they balance friendship and romance with the growing realization they're destined to die. The glimpses of the outside world show a dark place where people living longer than they should means more greed, overpopulation, and other problems. The performances are fantastic to make this an overlooked but still entertaining dystopian romance. 

Never Let Me Go is streaming on Starz.


Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Emma Thomas, Christopher Nolan
Film Interstellar Shanghai Premiere / VCG/GettyImages

Christopher Nolan's 2014 epic works as both a sci-fi movie and a dystopian drama. In 2067, Earth is on the verge of ecological collapse with massive dust storms rolling across the plains, a global famine, and institutions collapsing (the Yankees are now playing on Little League fields). A pack of astronauts are sent on a desperate journey to find a new world to inhabit.

As always, Nolan brings together a top-rate cast of Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain and more. The mind-bending time travel stuff may be confusing but the looks at this dry and dying Earth are far scarier. It ends on a hopeful note yet still troubling how reality seems to be catching up to the ruined future shown here.

Interstellar is streaming on MGM+ and Prime Video.


Creation Entertainment's Grand Slam Convention: The Star Trek And Sci-Fi Summit
Creation Entertainment's Grand Slam Convention: The Star Trek And Sci-Fi Summit / Albert L. Ortega/GettyImages

Never has a dystopia looked so cute as in Pixar's 2008 masterpiece. The first half focuses on the title character, a robot who appears to be the only living creature on an Earth that's nothing but a massive garbage pit. Watching him go on his work while watching old movies is fun, and it kicks up with his silent romance with the probe droid EVE.

That leads to the trip to a spaceship where the remains of humanity are folks literally stuck to their chairs and obsessed with screens (which impacts even more today). It's a wonderful parable of how much damage humanity does to our only home and a reason it ranks among Pixar's greatest achievements.

Wall-E is streaming on Disney+.


A section of an 11' RoboCop statue rests at a warehouse on Detroit's east side on February 24, 2021,
A section of an 11' RoboCop statue rests at a warehouse on Detroit's east side on February 24, 2021, / Ryan Garza via Imagn Content Services,

What is it about this 1987 movie that still captures the imagination? The over-the-top violence? The quotable lines? The fantastic cast? Or maybe because its take on a near-ruined crime-ridden Detroit with crazy TV broadcasts was so ahead of its time, it could be the current world. It helps that the story of a murdered police officer reborn as a cyborg still works so well. 

Peter Weller manages to make that emotionless lead character heroic and sympathetic and bounces off some stellar villains. It's more satirical than other films but that helps its amazing power as it hits all the buttons as one of the best action/sci-fi/dystopian movies of the 1980s. 

Robocop is streaming on Max.

The First Purge

Universal Studios Hollywood - Season 2018
UNIVERSAL STUDIOS HOLLYWOOD -- "Universal's Halloween Horror Nights" -- Pictured: Universal Studios Hollywood Welcomes “The First Purge” to Halloween Horror Nights, Inspired by Universal Pictures’ Blockbuster Thriller Now in Theaters -- (Photo by: Universal Studios Hollywood) /

The entire Purge series is unique, yet the fourth installment may be the most striking of the bunch. It explores the origins of one night when all crime was legal. The genius idea is that, at first, folks just do small-time stuff, which the government doesn't like. So, they arrange "false flag" attacks that create the anarchy of the later films. 

The movie does a fine job exploring the background of an America overrun with crime, pollution, economic collapse and more that creates a totalitarian system. Marisa Tomei is stellar as the scientist with the best intentions, only to watch her experiment get out of control and used against the poor. It's a fantastic origin tale for the franchise that explains why folks embraced this dark night.

The First Purge is streaming on Netflix.

Blade Runner 2049

Harrison Ford
'Blade Runner 2049' Premier In Tokyo / Jun Sato/GettyImages

Sadly, the original landmark Blade Runner doesn't have a free streaming home at the moment. But you can check out the 2017 sequel directed by Denis Villeneuve. Ryan Gosling takes on the role of a man hunting "Replicants," lifelike androids in a 2049 that looks even worse than the original movie. From an always rainy L.A. to a Las Vegas swallowed by the desert, it's a stunning sight.

Gosling is joined by Ana de Armas, Robin Wright, and Harrison Ford reprising his role as an aged Deckard. The look at this future is horrifyingly grim yet still focuses on humanity trying to survive, making this a more than worthy follow-up to a science-fiction classic.

Blade Runner 2049 is streaming on Hulu.

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