If you’re on the east coast of the United States, this week has been something out of a Roland Emmerich movie. Not only were you hit with a 5.8 magnitude earthquake in Virginia that was felt all the way up to Canada, but now you’re preparing to face the wrath of Hurricane Irene – a mighty storm that’s primed to make landfall in North Carolina and wreak havoc along the entire eastern seaboard. People are already scrambling to load up on food, batteries, gas, and all manner of post-apocalyptic goods. The grocery store looks like a scene from The Mist.
It looks like you may have another day or so to prepare, so we thought we’d put together a short list of climate-related disaster movies that may help. Break out the following DVDs and make it a marathon viewing tonight. Grab a pen and take some notes. Note: we can’t guarantee that any of these films would ever help you survive a disaster. Seriously.
Speaking of Roland Emmerich, we start off the list with his 2009 disaster epic 2012. Starring John Cusack and Amanda Peet, the film takes just about every possible natural disaster and lumps them into a two-and-a-half hour apocalyptic ride. You get earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tsunamis all crashing down around the globe. If you’re looking for a disaster flick that has it all, this is the one. Well, as long as you’re looking for something serious. This is popcorn, folks.
John Ford’s 1937 classic The Hurricane ends with a special effects hurricane that was well ahead of its time. Nominated for three Academy Awards, the film may have captivated moviegoers with its effects, but its three stars (Dorothy Lamour, Jon Hall, and Mary Astor) are what originally brought in audiences. If you’re looking for a natural disaster throwback, you can’t go wrong with Ford’s film.
Produced by the legendary Irwin Allen, The Poseidon Adventure (remade in 2006 as Poseidon) still stands as one of the greatest disaster films of all time. When the SS Poseidon is overturned by a tsunami caused by an underwater earthquake, passengers and crew trapped inside must scramble to survive before the enormous ocean liner becomes their underwater tomb. Amazing practical effects and standout performances from Gene Hackman and Ernest Borgnine make The Poseidon Adventure just as fun today as it was in 1972.
Morgan Freeman for President of the United States? Yes please! In 1998, he took office as President Tom Beck in the sci-fi disaster film Deep Impact and tried his best to lead a country terrified that a comet hurdling toward earth would pretty much wipe out all existence. The film not only contains an impressive megatsunami, but it also boasts an amazing cast of Elijah Wood, Tea Leoni, Robert Duvall, Vanessa Redgrave, and Jon Favreau, among others. While it may not be the best film of the batch presented here, Deep Impact is a great ride with some fun effects. Oh, and did we mention Morgan Freeman as President?
George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg’s second stint acting alongside each other brought us The Perfect Storm in 2000. Based on Sebastian Junger’s non-fiction book of the same name, the film details the harrowing adventure of the crew of a sword-fishing boat -- the Andrea Gail -- that got caught in between two powerful weather fronts and a hurricane. Directed by Wolfgang Peterson, The Perfect Storm not only made audiences around the country seasick, but it also brought in a boatload of money at the box office and thrilled critics, garnering two Oscar nominations. It’s a realistic, dramatic, and terrifying film that truly shows the power of inclement weather and a wildly raging sea.
While five films get top billing here, we’d be remiss if we didn’t include a few honorable mentions: Emmerich’s The Day After Tomorrow is another climatic disaster film that boasts big budgets and big chills. Ang Lee’s The Ice Storm is a modern classic that proves that natural disasters don’t always have to be enormous events. Sometimes a small ice storm can have a huge impact on the people who live through it. Dante’s Peak is volcanic eruption galore and a lot of Pierce Brosnan running around saving people. And Jan de Bont’s Twister stirs things up in the most thrilling of ways.
Hurricane Irene may come this weekend, or it may drift out to sea. Only time will tell. But prepare yourself now with the above films. Sit back, surrounded by cases of bottled water, batteries, and your backup generator, relax and enjoy the best in climatic disasters that cinema has to offer. (And be safe!)