(Editor’s note: this article was written by Paige Clark)
One thing that has been around since the beginning of the Cosmos are disasters. You could even call the creation of Earth a disaster considering everything that was involved…fireballs, sulfur raining down, volcanoes, toxic air…all the makings for an excellent film.
I consider myself a disaster movie fan girl. I especially love natural disaster movies; the worse the acting the better. On most Saturdays the Syfy Channel plays the absolute worst disaster movies you can imagine. They are fantastic. For Christmas one year Cameron (my husband) got me an 8-disc box set consisting of some of these movies. If you are at all familiar with the History Channel and/or H2, you might have seen the show Mega Disasters, depicting potential disasters around the world and giving worst case scenarios if said disaster occurred. The show has everything from volcanic winters, to space germs killing off humans, to the failing American infrastructure (side note: the Wolf Creek Dam in Kentucky would flood Nashville so bad if it broke. The flooding would be so bad it would make the 2010 flood look like a kiddie pool) Needless to say I’ve seen every episode half a dozen times and if I wasn’t so cheap I would have the DVDs. All that being said, I decided to compile a list of the best and my favorite disaster movies.
10. The Happening (2008)- Starring Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel.
This movie follows a high school science teacher (Wahlberg), his wife (Deschanel), and a little girl. It starts out with Wahlberg and his class discussing the latest news of the sudden disappearance of the world’s bees, the environmental impact that will have, and why they disappeared. Then there is news of strange things… happening (Ha! See what I did there?) in Central Park. People began killing themselves on a massive scale. It was pretty brutal. With M. Night Shyamalan writing and directing it, the reason behind this happening (Ha! Did it again!) could literally be anything. Turns out the planet’s vegetation was pissed at humanity for all the damage we had done and created the strangest defense mechanism to fight back. Eventually the happening (Again!) began to subside, and afterwards you never looked at a salad or a pretty flower the same way. Also, you gained a new respect for vegetarians and vegans for eating the bastards that nearly killed off the human race.
Reason for making top ten: For whatever reason I really enjoyed this movie even though it technically wasn’t that great. I mean honestly, how can you not like a movie with Marky Mark and the New Girl? Since this movie was a disaster worldwide it definitely needs to be on the list. Like I said before it was super brutal to watch people just lay down in front of their running lawnmower, but you had to stay and figure out what was causing all the killing. Besides the obvious political overtones, I thought it was a clever twist (What a twist?!) even if it was a bit off the wall.
9. The Impossible (2012)- Starring Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts.
This movie will make you feel all the feels that you are capable of feeling. It’s based on a real life family (a father, mother, and 3 boys under 10 years old) that vacationed in Thailand during Christmas 2004. Does that time frame sound familiar? It’s because that’s when a devastating tsunami struck killed over 200,000 people. The family is doing the normal vacation pool time when the tsunami strikes and the family is separated. Watts’s character is severely injured when she is tossed and turned in the waves that are pushing her inland. It’s extremely hard to watch. Eventually she meets up with her oldest son, and once the water subsides, they journey to get help and search desperately for the rest of their family. Somehow McGregor and the younger two boys survive and they search for their mom and brother. It’s a frustrating venture as they depict the family being near each other but unable to find one another in the midst of the chaos. Once they are all reunited it’s one of the most emotional reunions I’ve seen in a movie. You become extremely invested in this family. The fact they there is a happy ending amongst such a terrible event is nice.
Reason for making top ten: I feel like this is a bit obvious considering the grand scale of the tsunami, not to mention that the earthquake that caused the tsunami was the third strongest earthquake in recorded history. Since this is movie based on one of the biggest (if not the biggest) natural disasters known, of course I am going to watch it. The fact that it’s based on a real family, as well as a real event, made it that much more compelling. When an actual disaster happens you feel for the people affected by the event, but when you are able to attach a real story to the disaster it makes it that more real. It is a very good movie.
8. Godzilla (2014)- Starring a guy you probably haven’t heard of (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s sister (Elizabeth Olsen), and Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston.
You would think people would stop making Godzilla movies considering how long the monster has been destroying Tokyo. This movie has the giant freaking lizard giving Japan a break and setting his sights on the American West Coast. (side note: we don’t like to bring up the 1998 revamp of Godzilla. Sorry Matthew Broderick, I still love you though.) This rendition changed things up a bit. Instead of the long standing theory nuclear tests in the Pacific Ocean created the mutant monster, the tests were trying to kill the monster. It turns out Godzilla isn’t the only monster stirring in the Earth, and this new monster’s love for nuclear radiation causes him to destroy a nuclear power plant in Japan. Once this monster is woken up, it also wakes up Godzilla. New monster, named M.U.T.O. – Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism – doesn’t stay terrestrial forever, that bitch can fly. Eventually M.U.T.O. goes in search of his mate, who happens to be located in the American Southwest. Godzilla gives chase to M.U.T.O. as the American military gives chase to them both, and they all meet in San Francisco for the ultimate battle of monsters and military might.
Reason for making top ten: I went and saw this movie with my mom because she loves monster movies, especially Godzilla. She has a special place in her heart for the big, green, scaly guy. Really, I just wanted to go with her because I wanted to see how many times she teared up because she was afraid something was going to happen to Godzilla. I counted about 4-5. The movie was a bit slow starting out but it made up with the awesome destruction of San Fran. One of my favorite parts was the high altitude jump the military did into the city to fight the monsters. I don’t know why but I just wanted to start singing, “America, F*** Yeah!” The shear magnitude of devastation that occurs is truly incredible. They even took out the Golden Gate Bridge! If you like monster movies, you’ll probably like Godzilla as well. Even if you don’t like monster movies, you will probably still like Godzilla. I really freaking loved this movie.
7. The Day After Tomorrow (2004)- Starring Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhaal.
Most people think of this movie when they think of disaster movies, and rightfully so. I think it’s a safe bet that most of the northern hemisphere freezing over from monster storms would cause many a disaster. You follow, Quaid, a paleoclimatologist, whatever the hell that is (A climatologist for the dinosaurs? Like Ross from Friends?). Quaid, of course, is the only one who truly understands what is going to happen, and he has to convince the President what is going to happen and take proper precautions. Meanwhile his son, played by Gyllenhaal, is in New York City for a school function. Quaid tries to warn his son that a giant ass storm was coming, but he’s a teenager so naturally he doesn’t listen. Once it starts raining cats and dogs though (the wind was blowing so hard it picked up cats and dogs and threw them onto bystanders) the kid got the idea that maybe his dad was right. It’s too late to get out of the city so they go to the highest building above sea level near them, the New York City Library. The temperature starts to drop rapidly freezing everything, including a giant cargo ship that made its way through Manhattan. Did I mention that the wolves from the Central Park Zoo escaped and made it to the ship and tried to kill Gyllenhaal and his friends!? Awesome addition to a disaster movie in my opinion. Anyway, Quaid has to save his son, so he treks from D.C. in this awesome snow mobile thing until he falls into a mall because the snow is so high they didn’t realize they were driving on top of mall. He finally makes it to New York and saves his son! Woo! The ironic thing is the remaining population of the U.S. must move to the southern part of the country and many just move to Mexico.
Reason for making top ten: Like I said, when the majority of the northern hemisphere freezes, I’d call that a disaster. The way the kids in the library have to survive adds to the fun. When they are trying to survive the librarians obviously try and save the most valuable books, but apparently they didn’t grab enough of the less valuable books because they are forced to choose between burning a Gutenberg Bible and another priceless piece of literature…umm hello? Why aren’t you burning the extra chairs and tables in the room? #disastermovieproblems. This movie wasn’t necessarily the greatest movie ever, but it was definitely one of the best disaster movies. It should definitely make it on a top ten list…oh wait! It did!
6. Deep Impact (1998)- Starring baby Elijah Wood, God (Morgan Freeman) as the President of the U. S. of A, Robert Duvall, and a bunch of other big names from the late 90s.
Wood, a junior astronomer, discovers an asteroid that is going to hit the planet. He doesn’t realize this at first, but he sends his findings to a big boy astronomer who dies on his way to warn everyone. The government keeps the findings a secret a while so they have time make preparations to keep a small number of people alive in a mountain in order to keep the human race (particularly Americans) alive so they can repopulate when they are able to venture above ground. They also prepare a team of astronauts to try and nuke (duh) the asteroid into a billion pieces because it has the audacity to try and destroy America…I mean the world. The first attempt is a failure but they come up with a plan that will prevent the asteroid from completely wiping out humanity. Meanwhile, Wood and his family are some of the select few that get chosen to go into the hidey-hole to survive the apocalypse. In a desperate attempt to save his girlfriend and her family, they get married. Super sweet right? Wrong, her family doesn’t get to go so she stays behind. When the smaller of the two asteroids heads their way, Wood leaves the hidey-hole to go save his wife. He finds her just in time to save her and her baby brother on a dirt bike, racing up a mountain beating the ginormous tsunami that the asteroid created.
Reasons for making top ten: Umm…duh. Asteroid hitting planet earth. You may ask why Armageddon didn’t make my list but this did, my answer to you is, it’s my list and I get to put whatever movie I want on it, so there. For whatever reason I just like this movie more. I cry like an absolute baby at both of the movies. I remember watching Deep Impact in my 10th grade Chemistry class (because science!) and trying to hide my crying. I failed, and what sucks more is that I was ugly crying too (girls, you know what I am talking about). This movie just has so many different story lines, it’s like you are watching a bunch of different movies at the same time. Also, asteroids scare the crap out of me. Mostly because there is little we can do to prevent one from hitting the planet. I remember a couple of years ago when that one meteor came closer than any other meteor had (besides the ones that actually hit us, sorry dinosaurs, but thanks for the fossil fuels and all!) I was watching it on TV and I kid you not, the moment that it was passing by a huge dump truck or something went by my house. It shook the house so bad and was so loud that I thought the TV just lied to me and I was about to die. I closed my eyes and waited…then felt kind of silly when it passed. I was also thankful for not being incinerated. If you haven’t seen this movie I really recommend it.
I know what you are thinking, “Paige, this is only five movies?” I know, I can count as well. (I do have a degree in history, and had to take a math class or two to get it) I know you are sitting on the edge of your seats in anxious anticipation for the rest of my top ten disaster movies. In the meantime, go onDemand, download, buy, or the old fashion rent (we have a video rental store where we live, you only wish you were that lucky) these movies and judge for yourself!