Last week the Los Angeles area was hit with a magnitude 4.4 earthquake. In celebration of the fact that no one was hurt, and there was no serious damage, I dedicate my Top Five this week to disaster films. Here are my Top Five Disaster Movies.
5. Dante’s Peak (1997)
Two films about explosive volcanoes came out in 1997. One featured Tommy Lee Jones and Anne Heche, and was aptly named Volcano. This isn’t that one. Dante’s Peak stars James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) and John Connor’s mom (Linda Hamilton). The first is really ridiculous, this one is only semi-ridiculous. Brosnan’s Dr. Harry Dalton is sent to Dante’s Peak, a town at the base of a dormant volcano. He teams up with the mayor (Hamilton) and pretty soon that volcano wakes up and starts spewing volcanic ash and lava all over the place. The film is basically a constant race against time, with lots of falling ash. It’s tense and over the top, making it very entertaining. It even manages to pull on the heartstrings a couple of times.
4. The Day After Tomorrow (2004)
Global Warming goes into hyperdrive, destroying Earth in a matter of days. As absurd as the set up is, the final product is actually quite fun. In fact, the ridiculous plotline adds to the film’s overall appeal. We also have Dennis Quaid as the absentee father proving he loves his son (Jake Gyllenhaal) by trekking across a frozen United States to get to him in New York. Then there is Ian Holm as a Scottish climate researcher. Though his role was small, he was great in it. Throw in a few action sequences, some cool special effects, and a little romantic storyline and you’ve got yourself a pretty solid popcorn flick.
3. Twister (1996)
Jo (Helen Hunt) has been haunted all her life by the traumatizing loss of her father to a tornado, and has devoted herself to the study of them. Bill (Bill Paxton), her estranged husband, is just looking to finalize their divorce when he gets swept up, yet again, in the chase to find these killer tornados. Cary Elwes also appears in the film as the arrogant meteorologist in competition with Hunt and Paxton’s team. The special effects of the film are pretty impressive (even more so when you consider it came out in 1996). All of this adds up to a high speed thrill ride of a film that keeps you on the edge of your seat.
2. Armageddon (1998)
The 90s were a great time for big budget action flicks, and Michael Bay took full advantage of this, directing what some (okay, maybe just me) would call his masterpiece, Armageddon. A massive asteroid the size of Texas hurtles towards Earth and the only thing to be done is to send up a team of oil drillers to break it in two so that it passes by the planet, leaving it unharmed. It really is a terrifically enjoyable movie. It also showcases the talents of Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton, a lovely Liv Tyler, a young Ben Affleck, and the incredible Steve Buscemi, in what, I’m sure, is some of their proudest work.
1. The Poseidon Adventure (1972)
An underwater earthquake triggers a tidal wave in the middle of the ocean where a cruiseliner is making its way from New York to Athens. The wave hits the ship and causes it to capsize. Reverend Frank Scott (Gene Hackman) tries to convince the survivors to accompany him to the bottom of the ship (now the top). Only a few decide to follow him and moments after they move to the next level of the ship, an explosion destroys the area they just came from, leaving only those who followed Scott alive. The moral of the story, of course, is always listen to Gene Hackman. The rest of the film is a nerve-racking fight for survival with extreme obstacles and narrow escapes.
And to satisfy your thirst for disaster flicks, don’t miss the new Richard Armitage film, Into the Storm, set to be released this August.