15 Movies Like Greenland That Are Definitely Worth Watching

Disaster movies are as enduring as, well, world ending disasters themselves. Despite a world where it frequently feels like the end of days, there's something curiously cathartic about watching the world crumble on a jumbo cinema screen. In recent years, the disaster subgenre, in some sense, has become synonymous with director Roland Emmerich, a filmmaker with an uncanny knack for blowing things up. Disasters are as diverse as filmmakers, however, and director Ric Roman Waugh delivered one hell of an apocalypse with "Greenland."

A disaster movie unlike any other, "Greenland" is exceptionally well-crafted, terrifying in its limited scale, and considerably darker than most entries. Yes, the world ending is frightening, though a little less so with action hero antics. "Greenland" has no such antics. Instead, star Gerard Butler– familiar in the subgenre– subverts expectations, transcending formula for a disaster movie with genuine grit and verve. The story of a family seeking refuge after a planet-destroying comet is discovered to be hurtling toward earth, "Greenland" is sure to stick. With a sequel on the way, one that commanded an enormous $75 million for distribution rights, it's the perfect time to revisit the end of the world. Here are 15 movies like "Greenland" that are definitely worth watching while we all wait for "Moonfall."

Silent Night

Camille Griffin's debut Christmas comedy isn't really a Christmas comedy at all. With star Keira Knightley and an opening act scored to an expectedly boppy Michael Bublé tune, Griffin's "Silent Night" looks to be another entry in a long line of holiday Christmas slapstick films, no different than "The Family Stone" or "Just Friends." Only, it isn't. "Silent Night" is a deeply disturbing, almost urgently depressing apocalyptic tale. The comedy is all an illusion.

Knightley stars as Nell, a mother and wife preparing to have several members of her family over for Christmas dinner. It isn't a normal Christmas dinner, though. By the end of the night, the entire family plans to die by suicide. With an apocalyptic, gaseous cloud consuming the world, ostensibly killing everything it touches, the British government has distributed suicide pills to the elite, giving them an easy out. Like "Greenland," "Silent Night" subverts disaster movie expectations, never shying away from the gravity of the situation and eliciting genuine horror in the process. It's the feel-bad movie of 2021 for good reason.

The Day After Tomorrow

Roland Emmerich makes his debut on this list with "The Day After Tomorrow," the early '00s disaster movie to end all disaster movies. No different than "Silent Night," "The Day After Tomorrow" sports a fictionalized climate crisis, one that seriously messes up the globe's weather, sending tornados through Los Angeles and giant hail over Tokyo. Worse still, the entire world is poised to freeze over. There will be no day after tomorrow. This is it.

A baby-faced Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Sam Hall, son of Dennis Quaid's Jack Hall, an American paleoclimatologist whose warnings are heeded far too late (in disaster movies, they always are). With solid characters and grim portents, "The Day After Tomorrow" was an early augur for "Greenland" while also being one of Emmerich's best films. It's terrifying, with stellar visual effects that will quash any adolescent wishes for a snow day. Snow is great, but not like this. Never like this.

The Wave

In 2015, Norway asked what it might look like if its filmmakers were to try their hand at a distinctly American subgenre, only better. The answer was "The Wave," one of the tensest, grimmest disaster movies released this century. As is par for the course, Kristian Eikjord (Kristoffer Joner), through a series of readings that won't make sense to anyone who isn't a geologist, predicts an avalanche in the fjords outside of Geiranger. Anticipating a massive tsunami, Kristian suspects that residents will only have 10 minutes to evacuate after the mountain collapses.

He runs around town, warning his estranged family and others, though, naturally, no one listens until it's too late. The mountain collapses and the countdown starts. It's a sequence that puts Hollywood disaster movies to shame. With a considerably smaller scale, disaster fans might regret that the impact itself is so short-lived, but that counts for naught when the build-up is so deliciously tense. Like "Greenland," "The Wave" relishes realism, never allowing cartoonish characterization to detract from the sheer horror of not just the environmental disasters, but also the people who are desperate to survive.

War of the Worlds

"War of the Worlds" likely traumatized an entire generation of aspiring cinephiles in the early 2000s. It starred Tom Cruise, was directed by Steven Spielberg, and had super cool aliens laying waste to New Jersey within the confines of an arguably family-friendly PG-13 rating. "War of the Worlds" wasn't fun, though. No, it wasn't fun at all.

Spielberg's adaptation of H.G. Wells' classic story is a grim, disturbing, and frequently terrifying disaster movie. Yes, the effects are stellar — no one does urban devastation quite like Spielberg — but it's framed through such a dour, misanthropic lens that it terrifies more than it awes. That's not a criticism, either. From their first appearance, the alien invaders are horrifying, evaporating hapless denizens into dust. As Waugh did with "Greenland," Spielberg exploits human beings' cruelty. There are murders, car jackings, and a deeply traumatizing disaster on a ferry when Cruise's Ray and his children are separated amidst the chaos. Aliens have never been this grim.

Independence Day

"Independence Day" isn't the first disaster movie, and it arguably isn't even the best, but it's probably the preeminent entry in the genre. When audiences think of world-ending scenarios, they likely have Roland Emmerich's sensationally entertaining alien invasion epic on their minds. With a star-making turn from Will Smith and one of cinema's most rousing speeches courtesy of Bill Pullman, "Independence Day" is a holiday classic for a reason (feel free to skip the long-delayed sequel, though).

Will Smith stars as Captain Steven Hiller, a Marine enlisted to combat alien motherships strategically placed around the world. At first seemingly innocuous, the vessels soon annihilate several famous landmarks, including the White House and the Empire State Building. It's fun, frenzied, funny, and features special effects that hold up decades later (thanks, miniatures). While its tone is considerably lighter than that of "Greenland," "Independence Day" is the movie responsible for the modern-day disaster movie. Without its success, there likely wouldn't be a "Greenland" at all.


Gerard Butler is no stranger to disasters. Whether he's outrunning a planet-destroying comet or saving the White House from a guerilla assault, he's seen it all. He's also seen, in the case of "Geostorm," climate-controlling satellites run so amok that the world faces a colossal and nightmarish — wait for it — geological storm.

Butler stars as Jacob Lawson, the designer of a new satellite dubbed "Dutch Boy" that has the power to neutralize climate disasters on Earth. It's not a bad idea, though in the grand wisdom of "Jurassic Park," nothing good can ever come from playing God. Soon enough, the satellites malfunction, and disasters ensue. Mumbai is hit by tornadoes. Dubai is annihilated by an enormous, sky-high tsunami. Lawson must race against the clock to keep the entire world from being destroyed. Almost deliberately goofy, it's hard to take "Geostorm" seriously, though as an opportunity to see Butler flex his disaster-movie muscles it's a storm worth enduring

Love and Monsters

Michael Matthews' "Love and Monsters" was an unfortunate casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic. Originally intended for theatrical distribution, Paramount shifted it to a premium on-demand format in October 2020, when movie theaters were still shuttered around the country. There's no telling what a standard theatrical release would have done for its prospects — and Paramount likely took those projections into account when weighing whether to delay the film or release it at home — but make no mistake, "Love and Monsters" is an unsung gem.

It has robots singing Ben E. King, monstrous creepy crawlies, and Dylan O'Brien doing what Dylan O'Brien does best. He stars as Joel Dawson, a young, lovestruck teen separated from his girlfriend, Aimee (Jessica Henwick), when an asteroid releases an alien chemical on Earth, killing off most humans and transforming other terrestrial critters into large, predatory monsters. "Love and Monsters" begins with Joel in a vault, one of several scattered around the world. When a giant monster breaks through their security, Joel decides to flee and, hopefully, reunite with Aimee, who's mere miles away. "Love and Monsters" is a tender, sweet mixture of a post-apocalyptic adventure and a coming-of-age story, and while it's never as dark as "Greenland," it's another worthwhile subversion of disaster movie tropes.

San Andreas

Gerard Butler's disaster movie swagger is nearly unmatched, though he faces stiff competition from Dwayne Johnson. The Rock has battled mutated monsters in "Rampage" and survived skyscraper infernos in the aptly titled "Skyscraper." He, like Butler, has seen almost everything. The real pinnacle of his blockbuster bravado, however, comes in "San Andreas," a comically improbable yet no less thrilling disaster film.

Johnson stars as Ray Gaines (what a name), a Los Angeles Fire Department pilot tasked with saving his wife and daughter when the San Andreas Fault incites massive earthquakes (and tsunamis) throughout California. Brad Peyton directs "San Andreas" with gusto, never bothering himself with the laws of physics or the limits of human ability. Gaines pilots his copter like a child flying an R/C miniature, but it doesn't matter. "San Andreas" is so shameless in its desire to entertain that it works anyway. It's the perfect counterpart to "Greenland's" more grounded thrills.

A Quiet Place

"A Quiet Place" is sensationally scary. Often, high-concept horror dies during the first act, after the rules of the world and whatever cool angle it has have exhausted themselves. At first glance, "A Quiet Place" looks no different: a cool concept that couldn't possibly sustain itself for the length of a full film (let alone a sequel). Against all odds, though, director John Krasinski's horrifying creature feature keeps cranking along, thanks largely to its ingenious concept and even better characters.

Krasinski stars alongside his real-life wife, Emily Blunt, as two parents making do after an alien invasion. These aliens are blind and hunt exclusively through sound, making the survivors' jaunts from one place to another remarkably perilous — even the crunch of a leaf could lead to death. Krasinski goes to great lengths to build out their burgeoning lifestyle, outfitting a rural farmstead with bohemian Anthropologie aesthetics and giving the family genuinely well-considered survival tactics, including sand paths that muffle their footsteps. Like "Greenland," it's an apocalyptic horror show with heart, one that values family even in the face of certain death.

Children of Men

Before his Oscar win for "Gravity" and after his foray into the wizarding world of Harry Potter, director Alfonso Cuaron delivered one of the grimmest post-apocalyptic horror stories ever with "Children of Men." In 2027, mankind has endured nearly two decades of infertility, bringing society to the brink of collapse. There are millions of refugees seeking asylum around the world, while on the outskirts of civilization violent gangs do whatever they wish.

Clive Owen stars as Theo Faron, a civil servant hired by Julianne Moore to assist Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey), a refugee who happens to be the first pregnant woman seen in years. With Cuaron's trademark grit and frenetic style of filming, "Children of Men" is as stylish as it is dour. In a sense, it could be reasonably argued that "Greenland" is the "Children of Men" of disaster movies. That is incredibly high praise, indeed.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

"Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" is a mess. It's not always a bad mess. Some of its moves are so out there that it's hard not to be impressed that a $170,000,000 movie is willing to take swings this big. 

Most notably, "Fallen Kingdom" is a massive shift in scale for the franchise. With both Jurassic Park and the titular Jurassic World shuttered for good — it only took two massacres for that to happen, so yay for dino-capitalism! — "Fallen Kingdom" becomes something quasi-apocalyptic. It's clear from the first act that "Fallen Kingdom" is firmly the middle chapter of the trilogy, setting the stage for a global dinosaur takeover.

It's an unconventional endgame, especially in a series whose sole foray away from a tropical island was a brief T-rex rampage in San Diego, but it just might work, especially with early material for "Jurassic World: Dominion" looking so promising. Like "Greenland," "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" uses an apocalyptic scenario to deliver social commentary, and while it's distinctly of the "don't play God" variety, the parallels glisten nonetheless, no different than a mosquito ensconced in amber.


"Tunnel" is a frustrating, intimate, and enrapturing survival story. Far from a full-blown disaster on the scale of "Greenland," it nonetheless shares a number of qualities with that film as it tells the simple tale of a man trapped in, you guessed it, a tunnel. Lee Jung-soo (Ha Jung-woo) is en route to his daughter's birthday party — he's even got the cake — when the tunnel he's traveling through collapses, trapping him and a handful of other drivers inside. Buried beneath debris, concrete, and steel, he's nonetheless successful at contacting the world outside, desperate for rescue.

A strident and urgent commentary on bureaucratic ineptitude, "Tunnel" is posed to draw the ire of the audience. As has been shown time and time again, more often than not government forces are woefully underprepared to help in times of real crisis. "Greenland" includes a system whereby the government deems certain persons more worthy of rescue than others, and that malfeasance is no less infuriating to see there than it is in "Tunnel."

The Core

"The Core" is ridiculous, but there's something to be said for a movie that has Aaron Eckhart, Hilary Swank, and Stanley Tucci earnestly discussing their plan to drill to the center of the Earth to nuke the hell out of it. The Earth's molten core has stopped rotating, and if it isn't restarted, the world will be exposed to deadly solar radiation or something (there's a lot of apocalyptic mumbo jumbo in the film's early half).

It's like astronomy's rendition of Richard Fleischer's "Fantastic Voyage," except with better effects and more of Hilary Swank biding time between Oscars. "The Core" is something of an exemplar of bad science in film, though as an emblem of the early 2000s and movies that simply don't care, it's sensational. Indeed, its science is no worse than that of "Greenland," and it's just as successful at tapping into that primal desire to evade disaster and survive. It's cheekier and sillier, but as a chaser to the grisly shot of "Greenland," it's worth checking out.

Deep Impact

The (deep) impact of "Independence Day" cannot be overstated. Were it not for its globe-destroying sensibilities, there's little chance the latter half of the '90s would be as replete with disaster flicks as it was. There was "Volcano" and "Dante's Peak," which are pretty much the same movie. There was "Hard Rain" and "Daylight." For the first time since the '70s, disaster movies were propping up the box office with cutting-edge effects and A-listers running for their lives.

"Deep Impact" is among the best of these. It's the story of a comet (like "Greenland") barreling toward Earth, and the citizens' desperate attempts to flee (again, like "Greenland"). The closest parallel, though, lies in the impact itself. Where some disaster movies shy away from the worst consequences, "Deep Impact" gets pretty close. While the Messiah, the spacecraft tasked with detonating the comet, successfully destroys the larger rock, a smaller one still hits Earth, killing millions and all but annihilating the East Coast. It's a refreshing change of pace, and one that renders "Deep Impact" the misanthrope's disaster movie.


The plot of "Armageddon" may or may not be impossible, but that doesn't mean its enduring legacy has to be. A staple of high school science classes and sappy teens desperate for love, audiences won't want to close their eyes or fall asleep lest they miss the melodramatic mayhem that is "Armageddon." Released just two months after "Deep Impact," the summer of 1998 was a great time for planet-destroying asteroids. 

This time, though, the film has Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck piloting the vessel poised to blow up the asteroid in space, preventing it from destroying life and Liv Tyler. It's not exactly a good movie — Michael Bay's directorial ticks are evident from the first frame — but it is a classic, the de facto '90s weepie. And, honestly, everyone outside of stone-cold sociopaths are liable to shed a tear or two. "Armageddon" lacks the grounded realism of "Greenland," but more than makes up for it in terms of sheer feeling.