12 Gripping Movies That Made Viewers Seriously Reconsider Their Lives

Stories are powerful and transformative. Occasionally, you come across a story that resonates with you or profoundly moves you and forever alters your perception of the world. Here's a list of 12 gripping movies film aficionados say deeply impacted their worldview.

1. Treasure Planet (2002)

treasure planet
Image Credit: Walt Disney Studios.

A young man named Jim Hawkins sets off on a thrilling adventure to find the legendary Treasure Planet with a crew of space pirates. Along the way, he learns the importance of following his dreams and finding the courage to stand up to those who try to hold him back.

A recently separated man who was wallowing in his sorrows after losing his job, his wife, his car, and most of the time with his kids — was dealing with some dark thoughts.

His ex, who had already moved on with a new partner, decided they would take the kids on holiday during what was supposed to be his weekend with the kids. Feeling hopeless, he got roaring drunk and watched whatever was on TV, which was Treasure Planet.

The scene where Jim chases after his dad but just misses him as he gets on the ship brought him to tears, and he sobbed for an hour. Something about that scene stayed with him, and he resolved to be there for his kids. What's a simple story to some ended up saving his life and inspired him to be an even better dad.

2. The Matrix (1999)

The Matrix Keanu Reeves
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

In a dystopian future, a hacker named Neo discovers that his entire reality is a simulation created by sentient machines. With the help of a rebel group led by Morpheus, Neo must learn to harness his powers as “The One” to save humanity and free them from their virtual imprisonment.

It's no wonder The Matrix is on many people's lists. Some say it made them question religion or the government, while others admit it made them question the nature of their reality altogether.

3. Alien (1979)

Photo Credit: 20th Century Studios.

The crew of a commercial spaceship investigates a distress signal from a nearby planet, only to discover a deadly alien species that begins to pick them off one by one. As the survivors fight to stay alive and escape, they are forced to confront their mortality and the fragility of human life.

When a viewer went to see Alien on the big screen in 1979, it was the scene where Scott slowly revealed the Space Jockey that changed everything for them. They sat there in stunned silence and, for the first time, experienced existential awe. They said to themselves, “We know nothing,” a feeling that's stayed with them their whole life.

4. Click (2006)

Click Adam Sandler Kate Beckinsale Christopher Walken
Image Credit: Sony Pictures.

A workaholic architect named Michael Newman discovers a magical remote control that allows him to fast-forward through the mundane moments of his life. However, as he becomes increasingly disconnected from his family and friends, he realizes the true cost of his pursuit of success.

It may be surprising to see an Adam Sandler movie on this list, but countless people swear that Click is a deceptively profound movie that stayed with them. The concept of skipping through the mundanity of life by putting yourself on autopilot only to find that your life has passed you by is a concept that hits deep and is surprisingly emotionally resonant.

As one person said, “Never thought an Adam Sandler movie would gut me into rewiring my thought process,” and another calls it a horror movie.

5. Paterson (2016)


Paterson is a bus driver and amateur poet who lives a simple life with his wife and dog in Paterson, New Jersey. As he goes about his daily routine, he finds inspiration in the small moments of beauty and kindness he encounters along the way and learns to appreciate the poetry of everyday life.

A viewer recommends this movie because, like everyone who's seen it, they say, the film left them in a contemplative trance. “One of the main things in this movie is the poetry of finding beauty in the details of everyday life,” they wrote. 

6. American History X (1998)

American History X
Photo Credit: New Line Cinema.

A former neo-Nazi named Derek Vinyard tries to prevent his younger brother from following in his footsteps after he is released from prison. Through a series of flashbacks, the film explores Derek's journey from a white supremacist to a man seeking redemption and a second chance at life.

The quote uttered by Principal Sweeney to Derek, “Has anything you've done made your life better?” helped someone struggling with substance abuse to get sober. They asked themselves the question, and the honest answer was no.

The quote made them re-evaluate how they say themself and what they were doing. Soon after, they got sober, found a new job, and embarked on a new life.

7. Okja (2017)

Image Credit: Netflix.

A young girl named Mija sets out to rescue her best friend, a genetically engineered super-pig named Okja, from a multinational corporation that seeks to exploit her for profit. Along the way, Mija confronts the harsh realities of the meat industry and the moral implications of our treatment of animals.

A former omnivore explains how Okja converted them to veganism, “The way Okja shed light on the dark side of the meat industry was eye-opening. It forced me to confront the harsh realities of animal exploitation, the inhumane conditions they endure, and the immense suffering they are subjected to.”

They added, “The emotional impact of witnessing Okja's journey ignited a sense of compassion within me that I hadn't fully realized before.”

8. Ex Machina (2014)

Ex Machina
Image Credit: A24.

A programmer named Caleb is invited to the secluded estate of his eccentric boss, Nathan, to test an artificial intelligence named Ava. As Caleb becomes increasingly invested in Ava's humanity, he must grapple with questions of consciousness, morality, and the consequences of playing God.

One movie spectator describes the day they watched Ex Machina for the first time. “I sat there, hands pressed together over my mouth, not knowing what to do. I got up. Walked around the block twice. Didn't watch a movie for like 2 months after that. That movie had me thinking everything.”

Another viewer says the movie's last 10 or 15 minutes were really thought-provoking for them regarding the dangers of developing highly sophisticated AI because they aren't just automated versions of humans.

“The baseline morals and guidelines that drive human behavior just aren't necessarily there in an AI,” they wrote, “so they are going to behave in a way that is completely unpredictable and bizarre to us.”

9. The Graduate (1967)

The Graduate Dustin Hoffman
Image Credit: United Artists.

A recent college graduate named Benjamin Braddock begins an affair with an older woman named Mrs. Robinson, only to fall in love with her daughter, Elaine. As he navigates the complexities of love, adulthood, and societal expectations, Benjamin must choose between following his heart or conforming to the norms of his privileged upbringing.

A college freshman at the time they watched it, one poor lost soul says the movie gave them an identity crisis.

10. The Road (2009)

Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee in The Road (2009)
Image Credit: Dimension.

A father and son journey through a post-apocalyptic wasteland in search of safety and hope. As they face unimaginable horrors and struggle to survive, they must also confront the harsh truths about the nature of humanity and the fragility of civilization. An unsuspecting viewer of The Road still finds themselves affected by the dystopian fiction movie 13 years later.

As they were rocking their newborn son to sleep while their eyes remained glued to the screen while the film was playing at 3 am, they became terrified by the prospect of humanity collapsing. Other parents relate, insisting the entire genre is bone-chilling once you understand what it's like to be a parent.

11. The Lord of the Rings Franchise (2001-2003)

Lord of the Rings
Image Credit: New Line Cinema.

Based on the iconic novels by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings is an epic fantasy trilogy that follows the journey of hobbit Frodo Baggins and his companions as they seek to destroy the One Ring and defeat the evil Lord Sauron. Along the way, they must confront their weaknesses and the temptations of power and learn to rely on each other to save Middle-earth from darkness.

This film franchise found a new devoted fan in an unsuspecting viewer. Admittedly they had never been into fantasy literature before, but that first film threw them all in. It drove them to read The Silmarillion and helped them contextualize some thoughts they had about religion and other beliefs, which deepened their faith immensely. They even ended up basing a sizable portion of their Ph.D. dissertation on The Lord of the Rings.

12. Cool Hand Luke (1967)

Cool Hand Luke 1967 Paul Newman
Image Credit: Warner Bros.-Seven Arts.

A man named Luke Jackson is sent to a Southern prison for cutting the heads off parking meters and becomes a symbol of resistance and rebellion among the other inmates.

As Luke battles against the brutal conditions of the prison system and the authority figures who seek to break him, he inspires his fellow prisoners to stand up for themselves and challenge the status quo.

This film deeply affected one film buff's view of authority figures and authority in general. They recall being struck by the “self-righteous, almost casual cruelty by those in power over other men.”

This thread inspired this post.

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.