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This month sees the start of the 2022 Winter Olympics, which will run throughout 16 action-packed days in Beijing (You can catch all of the action on NBC and Peacock, too). Skiing, snowboarding, ice skating – if it’s a sport that’s played in remotely cold conditions, it’ll be somewhere in the Games.
But, we realize that there hasn’t been a Winter Olympics since 2018, and that our viewers might be a little rusty on the whole “Arctic sporting events” vibe. Well, no need to fear – we here at SYFY have compiled a list of movies to get you in the mood for some good ol’ fashioned competition. All of these movies either take place in a sub-zero environment OR they deal with some form of competition – unfortunately, there aren’t many genre movies that contain both elements!
Whether it’s the merciless survival contest seen in The Hunger Games or the dangerously frigid temperature that pervades The Day After Tomorrow, our list will get you ready for the biggest global sporting event of the year. So while you’re preparing to watch alpine skiing or bobsledding for the first time in four years, why not take a look?
1. THE HUNGER GAMES Movies (2012 - 2015)
What better way to ring in the Olympic season than with a bloodthirsty adolescent survival competition?
The Hunger Games movies were a global phenomenon when they were released (they grossed almost $3 billion at the box office) and in the years since have become modern classics. For those who don’t know, the series takes place in the dystopian nation of Panem, where two Tributes from each of the country’s 12 districts are selected to participate in the annual Hunger Games competition – basically, a nationally televised events where all of these kids fights each other to the death (it’s like the Super Bowl, but with murder).
After her younger sister is chosen as tribute, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) volunteers in place of her, and alongside her fellow District 12 running mate Peeta Mellark (genre movie mainstay Josh Hutcherson), must fight and claw her way to survival. While the final two installments in the series focus less on the Hunger Games themselves, the entire franchise is a must-watch for anyone with a competitive spirit (but don’t get any ideas).
2. SNOWPIERCER (2013)
Before the hit TV series of the same name, there was the movie. Snowpiercer was the English-language debut of Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho, who six years later would go on to dominate the Academy Awards with his masterpiece Parasite. The movie introduces us to a post-apocalyptic Earth in the year 2032 (which isn’t that far away), where humanity’s failure to stop global warming has led the planet into a new Ice Age. The last surviving members of the human race struggle to survive aboard a train called the Snowpiercer, one that constantly runs through the frigid remnants of society. Their existence is upended one fateful day when a revolt breaks out on board that causes an uprising. Starring MCU icon Chris Evans alongside Tilda Swinton, John Hurt, and Parasite star Song Kang-ho, this is a movie that will, unquestionably, make you feel a little colder just by watching it. Oh, and if you’re expecting a happy film about an arctic train, I would recommend turning on The Polar Express instead.
3. THE THING (1982)
It’s crazy to think that John Carpenter’s 1982 classic was a box office disappointment during its original theatrical release. It’s safe to say that this all-timer horror film has more than made up for its initial box office shortcomings. The Thing tells the story of an ill-fated group of American scientists on an Antarctic research base that discover an extraterrestrial life-form that assimilates then imitates other living beings. Kurt Russell stars as grizzled helicopter pilot R.J. MacReady, who would later go on to also appear in the director’s Big Trouble in Little China and Escape from L.A. The Thing doesn’t have much to do with competition – unless you consider evading death by mutant creature a sport – but it does take place in a bitingly cold environment, not unlike the Winter Olympics. Buckle up for a fun one.
4. CLASH OF THE TITANS (2010)
Clash of the Titans is basically an All-Star Game of Greek mythology. All the big players are suited up for this one – Zeus, Hades, Perseus – as well as some wild cards like King Acrisius and Andromeda. Hell, they even threw in the Kraken, because reasons. Look, this movie is not a sacred text akin to Ancient Greek works like the Iliad or the Odyssey. It was not delivered to us from Mount Olympus. I’m not even sure if half of the stuff in this movie is mythologically accurate. With all of that being said, this movie does answer the age-old question: What if they made The Avengers in Ancient Greece? And what if it was actually pretty fun? Clash of the Titans makes godly warfare seem like a sport, with two teams captained by Zeus and Hades. We guarantee you it’s more intense than curling.
5. TRON (1982)
Let this serve as an open letter to the International Olympic Committee that we, the people, demand Light Cycle Racing be added as an official Olympic sport in 2024. And since the movie takes place in a completely digital environment. the host city won’t have to worry about building another arena for it (zing!)
Tron, the sci-fi classic about a man (Jeff Bridges) who has to fight a series of deadly digital games against an evil command program by the name of Sark, was revolutionary in its use of computer-generated special effects. Although it performed so-so at the box office when it first came out, it has garnered quite the faithful and passionate cult following in the ensuing years. That following spawned a sequel, Tron: Legacy (2010), and an animated series, Tron: Uprising (2012 - 2013). In a world where NFTs and crypto seem like the currency of the future, and real estate is selling for more in the Metaverse than in reality, maybe in 20 years we’ll have an all-digital Olympics that Tron laid the blueprint for.
6. THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW (2004)
No one makes a disaster movie quite like Roland Emmerich.
This 2004 blockbuster is about a sudden and catastrophic climate change-induced event in which the entire planet is plunged into another Ice Age, leaving humanity to fend for themselves in the worst winter storm you’ve ever seen. Similar to other end-of-the-world movies, Day After Tomorrow is basically two hours of Earth being submerged in torrential rain, apocalyptic tsunamis, and violent, planet-ending blizzards. We’re not sure how realistic the movie is (and we’re not sure that’s the point, unlike the recent Don’t Look Up), but it’s nonetheless an overwhelmingly chilling portrait of a planet on the brink of absolute destruction. So, no, there are not any shots of beautiful ski resorts or majestic ice skating routines – but you will get to see Jake Gyllenhaal swim through a flooded version of the New York Public Library, which is just as entertaining.