Directed by: Mimi Leder
Starring: Robert Duvall, Elijah Wood, Téa Leoni, Morgan Freeman, Leelee Sobieski, James Cromwell
Deep Impact is “the other asteroid movie” of 1998, even though it was released before Armageddon. Sporting a smaller budget and a bigger cast, it is the more restrained of the two, though not necessarily a hugely superior picture. Personally, I do like this one better, even though it is severely underdeveloped in the disaster scene department.
Directed by: Michael Bay
Starring: Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, Liv Tyler, Steve Buscemi, Billy Bob Thornton, Michael Clarke Duncan
Among newer disaster movies, Armageddon is one of the best known. You’ve most likely seen it. A big hit at the box-office, this Jerry Bruckheimer production, helmed by Michael Bay, certainly doesn’t score many points for subtlety or realism. Nor is it very successful as a disaster movie.
Directed by: David R Ellis & Lex Halaby
Starring: Samuel L Jackson, Julianna Margulies, Nathan Phillips, Rachel Blanchard, Flex Alexander
Snakes on a Plane was massively hyped before its arrival, mainly due to its funny title. Having finally seen it, I’m kind of glad that I didn’t spend a bunch of money on seeing it in the cinema, since the actual movie is nowhere near as fun as it ought to be.
Directed by: Rudolph Maté
Starring: Richard Derr, Barbara Rush, Peter Hansen, John Hoyt
How about a bona fide Oscar winner? When Worlds Collide, produced by George Pal and directed by Rudolph Maté, who also made the classic noir D.O.A., won the special effects category at the 1952 Academy Awards. And there’s no doubt that the miniature work featured in the film’s climactic catastrophe sequence is the absolute highlight of this minor sci-fi classic.
Directed by: Matt Reeves
Starring: Michael Stahl-David, Lizzy Caplan, Jessica Lucas, T.J. Miller
Produced by Lost mastermind J.J. Abrams, and massively hyped before its arrival, Cloverfield is presented as found footage (retrieved from what was “previously known as Central Park”). The tape – or, rather, the digital video – begins with the preparations for a party: Rob is moving to Japan to work and his friends are throwing a going-away party.
Directed by: George Mendeluk
Starring: Jessalyn Gilsig, Antonio Sabato Jr, Serge Houde, Karen Holness
The short version: Destination: Infestation is a Canadian made-for-TV ripoff of Snakes on a Plane, but with ants. It’s stupid. It’s crap. It’s fun if you’re drunk or just in the mood for something ridiculous.
Directed by: Roland Emmerich
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal, Emmy Rossum, Ian Holm, Sela Ward
Roland Emmerich’s The Day After Tomorrow has taken quite a bit of flak for being scientifically preposterous.
Um…yeah. And? It’s a disaster movie, folks. If it has one problem, it is that it’s too long and don’t kill off enough main characters (okay, two problems).
Directed by: David Lowell Rich
Starring: George Kennedy, Alain Delon, Susan Blakely, Robert Wagner, Sylvia Kristel
If you’ve been looking for a film where one character dies after getting run over by the Concorde, look no further: Airport ’79 is that movie. And the runway incident is just one of many senseless features in this, the fourth and last installment of the famous Airport series.
Directed by: Jerry Jameson
Starring: Jack Lemmon, James Stewart, Christopher Lee, Lee Grant, Olivia de Havilland
For some reason, I’m especially fond of the third of the Airport movies. Not because it’s the best one – the first one is – but it is very entertaining, and in some ways the quintessential disaster movie. Also, I enjoy the concept of sinking an airliner. But maybe my fondness mostly has to do with this being the first Airport movie I ever saw, when I was quite young.
Directed by: Jack Smight
Starring: Charlton Heston, Karen Black, Linda Blair, George Kennedy, Gloria Swanson.
Airport 1975 is, of course, the first of three sequels to the very successful Airport, the semi-serious melodrama that can be credited with spawning the disaster movie wave of the 70’s. But where the original film focused on the relationships between the main characters, Airport 75 is all about the action. It’s simply more catastrophic bang for your bucks. Just like its predecessor, this film features a large cast of characters but this time it’s more or less irrelevant who they are – they are not in the movie because they are interesting per se, they are there to be put in danger.