I’m a sucker for a disaster movie. I LOVE them with my whole heart. I have ranked eight of my favorite disaster movies (though I re-watched Armageddon for the post and it’s terrible but it’s better than The Ugly Truth and Bride Wars but worse than Pearl Harbor). A 1 is signified with not enough things blowing up and/or people dying to 10 they blew up the WHITE HOUSE, MOFOs and/or almost all of earth’s population is destroyed!
Spoilers are included but most of these movies are old; this is your warning.
Premise: Runaway train
Outlandish plan to save Stanton, PA: Use the train that they are running to link on to the runaway train and pull it in reverse to a slow it down so that someone can board it and stop it.
Dude in charge: Denzel Washington plays an engineer who has been laid off before he hits full pension so he goes rogue to save Stanton (a fictional town in western PA).
Smart dame: Rosario Dawson is the yardmaster where the train goes rogue she does everything in her power to stop the train without fatalities (the corporate stooges of course make this impossible).
Hot young whipper snapper: Chris Pine is the very new to the railroad conductor on the train with Denzel. He practically stole some dudes job so Denzel is kind of an asshole at the beginning of the movie but by the end they are BFFs.
Stand-out comic relief: Ethan Suplee and TJ Miller as the idiots who set the entire disaster in motion.
Douche bag government/corporate official: Kevin Dunn as the Vice President of the railroad who doesn’t listen to anybody who is bound and determined to get people killed (this post would be even longer if I noted all of the “Hey it’s that guy’s” in these movies).
How it ends: Um exactly how you think, Denzel slows the train and Chris Pine jumps on and turns it off, Western PA SAVED!!!
Nagging questions: I have spent a vast amount of time at train yards for my job and I always want to ask the guys if there is any accuracy to this movie but I don’t cause it would most likely be embarrassing but I can tell you that the dispatch scenes look like a fancier dispatch so it’s cool that they got that kind of right.
Rank: 3 out of 10, not enough stuff blows up and Denzel is like Tommy Lee Jones you know he will save the day in the end. It does get bonus points for being filmed around Pittsburgh, PA my hometown.
Premise: Neutrinos (?) heating the planets core
Outlandish plan to save the planet: They don’t really save the planet they just try and save as much art and humans as they can on giant arks (yes, I said arks). And rich humans who can pay a billion euros to get on the boat.
Dude in charge: John Cusack is a writer/limo driver who does everything to save his family.
Smart dames: Thandie Newton is the president’s daughter and has a PhD in Art History and Amanda Peet is Cusack’s ex-wife and mother of his children; she is studying to be a doctor and helps Cusack save their family.
Hot young whipper snapper: Chiwetel Ejiofor is a SCIENTIST this time a geologist and scientific adviser to the US President, though he really reports to Oliver Platt’s douchebag government stooge.
Stand-out comic relief: Woody Harrelson as a conspiracy nut who helps John Cusack and his family get to safety.
Douche bag government/corporate official: Oliver Platt as Carl Anheuser, the President’s Chief of Staff and total government stooge. Regardless I still love Oliver Platt I just can’t not love him even though he is a total douche bag in this movie.
President who is AWESOME: Danny Glover doesn’t go on the ark; instead, he stays in DC helping his people (which would be me because I live in DC and we won’t be able to escape cause our traffic is terrible).
How it ends: Most of the douchey people die, there are heroic deaths (disaster movies must have heroic deaths) and our main family survives with it–it is highly suggested that Cusack and Peet will get back together…AWWW!!!
Nagging questions: I bet you dollars to doughnuts our governments would totally put nothing but rich people on arks and not tell us we are going to die, evil bastards.
Rank: 10 out of 10; this is supposedly Roland Emmerich’s last disaster movie. He is the director of 3 of these movies if this is his last that’s a real shame because the dude gets a kick out of blowing shit up and killing off most of humanity. I mean he puts California in the ocean the whole fucking state.
The Day After Tomorrow, 2004
Premise: Global warming is sending us into a new ice age
Outlandish plan to save the planet: They don’t really save the planet they just move as many people as possible to the southern hemisphere AKA we have to cross the border into Mexico. Roland Emmerich has a deep sense of irony.
Dude in charge: Dennis Quaid is a paleoclimatologist (there are SOOOOOO many scientists in these movies) who realizes that the planet is moving into the next ice age but no government officials believe him (THEY NEVER BELIEVE THE SCIENTISTS). He walks from DC to NYC in the new ice age to save his son, TRUE FUCKING STORY.
Smart dames: Sela Ward is Quaid’s ex-wife and Gyllenhaal’s mother. She is a doctor who is willing to sacrifice herself for a young patient. Emmy Rossum is Gyllenhaal’s love interest and fellow student who goes to NYC for an academic challenge.
Hot young whipper snapper: Jake Gyllenhaal is Quaid’s 17 year old son and is in NYC when the storm comes; he is able to save a small group of people in the main branch of the New York City library.
Douche bag government/corporate official:
Kenneth Welsh as Vice President Raymond Becker is entirely too hesitant in believing the crazy ravings of Dennis Quaid.
How it ends: Dennis Quaid saves Jake Gyllenhaal. Sela Ward saves her patient. The Vice President becomes President when the President dies on his way to Mexico. He sends helicopters to NYC to pick up all the people who weathered the storm in NYC.
Nagging questions: Please god don’t let this actually happen in real life, can you imagine the traffic trying to get down south (again I would die, I don’t have a fireplace to burn stuff and I live in DC our traffic is the worst).
Rank: 8 out of 10; not enough stuff blows up, but Manhattan is under water and a giant tanker ship sales right past the main branch of the New York Public library.
The Core, 2003
Premise: Restart the rotation of the Earth’s core
Outlandish plan to save the planet: Create a ship that drills into the center of the earth and let off nuclear warheads to restart the earth’s rotation.
Dude in charge and hot young whipper snapper: Aaron Eckhart plays a geophysicist who is recruited by the government to help restart the core.
Smart dames: Hilary Swank is an astronaut, yeah a fucking bad ass pilot who is on board as a smart love interest for our scientist lead. Alfre Woodard is the NASA mission commander (the same role Billy Bob Thornton had in Armageddon, though she is more believable).
Stand-out comic relief: Stanley Tucci and Delroy Lindo are former partners and are part of the team to save the Earth. Tucci plays a narcissist and Lindo plays a kook and they are so good I wish they were in EVERY movie with Meryl Streep TOO!
Douche bag government/corporate official: Richard T. Jenkins who plays a military official that is both helpful and secretive…SHADY GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS am I watching Beauty and the Beast???
How it ends: Everyone in the crew dies except Hilary Swank and Aaron Eckhart and they are literally saved by whales, WHALES (okay they are found by whales but still hilarious)! They use the hacker on their team to tell the world about those who gave their lives to save humanity.
Nagging questions: Can people just drop dead like they do at the beginning of the movie? In doing research on Wikipedia I found this,
On March 30, 2009 it was reported that Dustin Hoffman was leading a campaign to get more real science into science-fiction movies. Hoffman is on the advisory board of the Science & Entertainment Exchange, an initiative of the United States National Academy of Sciences (National Academy of Sciences), intended to foster collaborations between scientists and entertainment industry professionals in order to minimize inaccurate representations of science and technology such as those found in The Core.
This movie is almost identical in Armageddon except for the fact that we are going to the center of the earth, the people seem smarter and women have a more pronounced role.
Rank: 7 out of 10; they blow up Rome with a lightning super storm, land a space shuttle in LA and have a terrifying bird scene that would have frightened Alfred Hitchcock (well not really cause that guy wasn’t afraid of anything).
Premise: Giant asteroid is going to hit the earth in 18 days
Outlandish plan to save the planet: Fly oil rig workers to the asteroid to drill into it and blow it up into two pieces.
Dude in charge: Bruce Willis is Harry Stamper, oil driller extraordinaire, who is the only man to save the planet.
Hot young whipper snapper: Ben Affleck is a cocky oil driller and the heir apparent to the Willis legacy but he is also a hot dog and show off. He is also sleeping with Liv Tyler who happens to be Willis’ daughter.
Smart dame ???: Liv Tyler mainly spends the movie waiting around for the men to save the world (which made me want to die; it also made me immediately watch Twister). This is a Michael Bay movie and Bay has serious women issues that would take me too long to go into here but the fact that Liv Tyler basically gets to pout in flowing dresses while the world ends is really fucking annoying. There is one female astronaut but she isn’t fleshed out at all though at one point the guys do discuss how hot she is for you know an astronaut.
Stand-out comic relief: Billy Bob Thornton as a NASA official who leads the charge to save the planet, he also makes smart ass comments and rolls his eyes a lot. He is very no nonsense. This movie also has Steve Buscemi and Owen Wilson as drillers.
Douche bag government/corporate official: Keith David as a military official who is not amused by the roughnecks.
How it ends: Bruce Willis gives his life to save humanity and he doesn’t even get to swear. Then Liv Tyler and Ben Affleck get married while we have to listen to the 800 millionth Aerosmith song. This is the worst movie on the list and when we put ads on the blog it will be so that I can write off the 14 bucks I spent on this trash on my tax return.
Nagging questions: Why do we only see the President as he gives a speech and why is NASA in charge of saving the planet? I like Billy Bob Thornton and all but really he is the guy America/the World comes up with to save the planet. Lastly I hate American Exceptionalism so much it makes it hard to take this movie seriously, I mean would it have killed them to have at least one foreign person on the oil rig. Jason Isaacs is a British scientist helping out Billy Bob Thornton and the space gang picks up Peter Stormare a Russian (Fun Fact: Stormare is one of Stellan Skarsgard’s BFFs and godfather to Gustaf Skarsgard an actor that is unfortunately not as hot as his brother Alexander) on their way to the asteroid but you would think there would be more foreigners if the world were to END and the scenes of groups of people from around the world don’t count. This is a continual problem with Michael Bay movies. Fun fact: this movie is in the Criterion Collection, so that’s not really a fun fact as more of a WHAT THE FUCK CRITERION fact.
Rank: 5 out of 10; this would have been higher as a lot of stuff blows up in the beginning of the movie (Bay takes down the Chrysler Building) but the lack of female characters and Billy Bob Thornton NOT Bruce Willis getting to say Fuck put’s this in the mid range.
Premise: A Volcano erupts in downtown LA
Outlandish plan to save LA: drop a building down to funnel the lava to the ocean.
Dude in charge: Tommy Lee Jones is Mike Rourk, the head of LA’s emergency management department.
Smart dame: Anne Heche is geologist Dr. Amy Barnes who discovers the Volcano with her colleague Rachel. It’s so exciting that both scientists (SCIENTISTS) are women and that Rourk treats Heche as an equal and not as a sex object. Fun fact: This was the first Anne Heche movie to be released after she came out as Ellen DeGeneres’ girlfriend.
Hot young whipper snapper AND stand-out comic relief: Don Cheadle as Emmit Reese, Rourk’s number two who desperately wants’ Mike’s job. He is so awesome basically doing all the acting with Jones via the telephone while watching the Volcano on about 20 big screen TVs. Best line: “I want to be like Mike” after Rourk out runs a bomb and saves his daughter and LA.
How it ends: With a giant active Volcano in downtown LA and Tommy Lee Jones as a bad ass hero, that’s how!
Nagging questions: There are none because this movie is AWESOME! Fun Fact: I’ve seen this movie probably over a 100 times, including in the theater.
Rank: 7 out of 10; poor Wilshire Boulevard gets pretty destroyed and a Volcano erupts out of the tar pits, also LAVA BOMBS…this movie is AMAZING!
Premise: Tornado chasers
Outlandish plan to save mankind: This plan isn’t so outlandish two teams are trying to come up with a better way of monitoring tornadoes for the good of well everyone.
Dude in charge and Smart Dame: Helen Hunt plays, Jo a meteorologist/storm chaser that is both smart and courageous and in charge of the group and Dorothy project.
Male lead but not nearly as driven and smart as female lead: Bill Paxton is also a meteorologist and former storm chaser who is trying to get Hunt to sign divorce papers so that he can marry Jamie Gertz and become a weatherman. Of course he gets sucked back into chasing storms because that’s TOTES more fun.
Comic relief: Alan Ruck and Philip Seymour Hoffman and the rest of the storm chasing crew including Melissa’s boyfriend Jeremy Davies.
Douche bag government/corporate official: Cary Elwes is always good as a douche here he plays a meteorologist/corporate stooge who has a project similar to Jos’. His vanity ends up killing him it’s unintentionally funny.
How it ends: With Jo and Bill back together and with Dorothy in the air. I guess this helped us all out in the end…shrugs…
Nagging questions: I have always wondered how accurate this movie is and if they actually ever were able to do anything like Dorothy. Wikipedia tells me they had something in the 80s called TOTO but did it do anything to help people with tornadoes because they are still taking out towns.
Rank: 6 out of 10 because of the scariness of tornadoes is too REAL but they do get points for the flying cow! That cow almost steals the entire movie.
Independence Day, 1996
Premise: Alien Invasion
Outlandish plan to save mankind: Fly an alien spaceship into the mother ship and infect it with a computer virus…FOR REALSIES!
Dude in charge: Jeff Goldblum is a scientist who totally writes the code to kill the mother ship.
Smart dames: Mary McDonnell (first lady), Margaret Colin (White House Communications Director) and Vivica A. Fox (single mother and Will Smith’s girlfriend). The ladies are all portrayed as smart and resourceful with Fox rescuing a bunch of people including the first lady.
Hot young whipper snapper: Will Smith is a bad ass pilot who flies the alien ship into the mother ship to deploy the virus. He is also has a lot of swagger and hilarious quips.
Stand-out comic relief: Judd Hirsch as Goldblum’s father and Randy Quaid as a drunken bush pilot with kids. Quaid’s character is used mostly for comic effect but in the end he totally saves the day.
Douche bag government/corporate official: James Rebhorn as the Secretary of Defense who knows more about the aliens then he initially lets on (Fun Fact: Rebhorn played a rapist on Guiding Light when I was 5 and I have NEVER trusted him since).
President who is AWESOME: Bill Pullman a former military pilot gives an awesome speech then flies a plane in the assault against the Aliens once the virus has been deployed.
How it ends: Ummmm humanity kills the aliens because of Jeff Goldblum’s virus and July 4th becomes not only our Independence Day but the worlds Independence Day (I am TOTES paraphrasing Bill Pullman’s speech).
Nagging questions: Can a computer virus from EARTH really take down an alien ship? I never thought of that until I started working with computer programmers.
Rank: 9 out of 10; they blow up the White House and like every other major building in the world it’s pretty fucking AWESOME!
Photos from Wikipedia