Disaster movies have always held a special place in the hearts of film fans worldwide. A staple of 70’s cinema, with Irwin Allen producing disaster film after disaster film, the genre returned in spectacular fashion during the mid 90’s with the emergence of CGI. Directors now had infinite tools at their disposal to destroy towns, cities and planets – and audiences ate them up. With each film trying to go bigger than the last, the stakes have never been higher (at planet Earth’s expense).
So, with the latest crazy disaster blockbuster Geostorm hitting theatres this week, what better a time to take a look at some of the most over the top Disaster movie sequences from the last few decades.
Dante’s Peak – Acid Lake
Dante’s Peak – one of the two competing Volcano movies hitting theatres in the summer of 1997 (Sorry, Volcano, your not making the list). Whilst Dante’s Peak won’t always stick out as the most memorable film, the Acid Lake sequence has always stuck in my head. As a child, this sequence was straight up nail biting and .. and.. the poor grandma. As a adult? There’s nothing more over the top than a lake suddenly becoming acid. Volcano’s are truly magical.
Featuring a rare, non Terminator Linda Hamilton appearance, Dante’s Peak is one of the last disaster films in memory that didn’t try to blow up an entire city. It kept it’s target manageable – just obliterating a small mountain town.
Armageddon – Asteroids Hit New York
Continuing the trend of competing films, 1998 had two competing asteroid disaster films. Whilst Deep Impact took the concept a bit more seriously, Michael Bay did what he did best and took it to the extreme, blowing up as much as he could in the shortest time possible. Featuring a cast of characters featuring a real pick’n’mix of character stereotypes, along with an amazing over the top ballad by Aerosmith, Armageddon is a guilty pleasure.
New York doesn’t fair too well here, but what I love about this sequence is that it basically looks like Transformers, without the Transformers. Seriously. This sequence looks exactly like the city sequence at the end of the original Transformers film before ILM added in the transformers themselves. It’s uncanny.
The Core – The inaugural melting of the Golden Gate Bridge
Look, The Core isn’t even going to crack the top 50 disaster films, but this sequence is one of many over the top scenes in a film featuring the bizarre plot where the Earths core stops spinning, so of course, we send scientists in to nuke it back into spinning. Make sense right?
In this sequence, the San Francisco area is attacked by what looks likes a giant magnifying glass, but instead we’re told to believe that its a giant solar flare. Cue the intense sunburns and ultimately the destruction of the Golden Gate bridge.
San Andreas – Tsunami surfing
What do you get when you take a disaster movie and add The Rock? A flotilla of boats driving vertically up a tsunami wave apparently. San Andreas is the most recent crazy disaster movie which had our heroes battling all types of environment destruction across the West Coast caused by the notorious San Andreas fault shifting.
Shout out to poor Ioan Gruffudd who gets to do the default ‘You’ve got to be kidding me’ look, moments before being crush by a shipping container.
2012 – Sinking of Los Angeles
Considered the king of the modern disaster film, Roland Emmerich returned in 2012 with… 2012. Almost a culmination of everything he’d learnt from both Independence Day, and The Day After Tomorrow, 2012 featured some absolutely insane sequence as the citizens of earth try to outrun every possible disaster trope they can imagine. Volcano’s, Earthquakes, Tsunamis. 2012 had them all.
Reality takes a back seat to the action in the sinking of Los Angeles as we watch the entire town sink into the sea. My favourite bit? Watching John Cusack and co watch the subway train soar over them… inside an aeroplane. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is modern filmmaking.
Don’t forget you can continue the destruction with Geostorm currently in theatres everywhere.