With Moonfall coming out this weekend, we wanted to gather the team and share our thoughts on the Best and Worst disaster movies ever made. So each of our writers shares one of each with you today.
Best: Deep Impact (1998)
Releasing just two months before summer blockbuster and rival disaster movie Armageddon, Deep Impact adds a whole lot of depth to an otherwise overused and cliché narrative – a meteor plummets toward Earth and dooms us all, we’ve heard it before, but Deep Impact takes a more realistic, poignant approach to this trope.
Every character is well-developed as their stories intertwine, ultimately challenging human values – the lottery system is one of the grimmest yet genuine takes on how this scenario could play out – and sets out to portray the intricate layers to the relationship between parent and child. Deep Impact stuck with me for days after I first watched it because of how unexpected (and upsetting) the final act is; it’s emotionally draining but easily makes for a memorable watch.
Worst: The Happening (2008)
While it’s maybe not your conventional disaster movie, M. Night Shyamalan‘s horror-thriller does technically threaten to wipe out the entire population – it can’t really get any worst than that. The Happening is a complete catastrophe in plot, characters, and weak performances all round. Admittedly there are a few chilling moments throughout but they lack any tension and fail to leave a lasting impact.
The film comes across as laughable for the most part, nothing makes you want to root for these people. Mark Wahlberg’s delivery feels forced more than genuine in scenes that are supposed to be suspenseful – it’s never a good sign when your lead actor pans the very movie they starred in down the line. Shyamalan is infamous for throwing a twist into the mix – and sometimes it pays off – but The Happening falls completely flat even in that retrospect.
Best: The Day After Tomorrow
I remember walking out of the theater after seeing The Day After Tomorrow and the skies were doom and gloom and I thought the world was coming to an end. You can’t go wrong with the combination of Jake Gyllenhaal and Dennis Quaid trying to save the world. I enjoyed this movie a whole lot, honestly.
Geostrom was a steaming pile of AWFUL trash. However, I love Gerard Butler and prefer his recent disaster movie in Greenland, which was a pleasant surprise hit for me. Unfortunately, the entire film felt like a rip-off of all the other disaster movies in one.
Best: Twister (1996)
Here’s the thing, I’m not even going to lie, I’ve seen this movie more than 50 times. I love it. I acknowledge that the dialogue isn’t always incredible and it may not fit the definition of a great film for most people. However, it was written by Michael Crichton, yes that Michael Crichton, and features a great lead performance from Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton. I remember seeing it in theaters when I was in high school and being blown away by the look and the story. It’s in my Top 50 films of all time.
Worst: The Core (2003)
Where to begin here… This movie came out squarely in the era when big name stars were being recruited to appear in these epic disaster films. I like to think Bruce Willis made it cool with Armageddon. This one saw the core of the earth becoming unstable, necessitating a mission to the core to get it spinning again. They recruited Aaron Eckhart, Delroy Lindo and Oscar winner Hilary Swank for this film and… it was a disaster. It didn’t just depict a disaster, it was a disaster. It carries a 5.5 rating on IMDB, and that’s about three points too high. Anyway, if you’re looking for a disaster movie to watch this week, look elsewhere.