If you watched Red Capers # 13, you saw that the Beard challenged me to post my Top Ten Favorite Disaster Movies as a way to end Disastuary on a crescendo. Recognizing that whenever a Top Ten list is made that indubitably some exemplary movies will be left out, this list will probably include a slew of caveats. I submit that this list will probably be different for most people with a few exceptions. I’m unapologetically a horror fan, so my sensibilities will usually slant in that direction. When we started with Disastuary, we deliberately and arbitrarily excluded some apocalyptic movies because the Wikipedia entry for disaster movies is so vast and constantly expanding that we have a well from which to drink from that would last for decades. So what we excluded, I include some here. Beware, here there be monsters!
My #10 movie was a film I JUST watched a few days ago, so it’s not fair to put it above some of these other movies that have been on my list for years. However, it made such an indelible impression on me that I thought that NOT including it would be a grave disservice. I have a feeling that as I re-watch this work over the years, that it will probably go higher on my list. It may actually take over my #1 spot! “Why?”, you might ask? Because unlike ALL of the other movies on my list, this one is a true story. The Impossible follows a Spanish family who are spending their Christmas vacation at a resort in Thailand when a devastating tsunami hits. Naomi Watts is spectacular! Ewan MacGregor is great! And Tom Holland as a kid is super! I don’t want to be caught up in the newness of having recently watched this, but I KNOW that it will migrate higher on my list. Just like I knew It (2017) was going to wind up on my Top Ten List of All-time Horror movies the day I watched it, I really believe this film is THAT type of film. It is thrilling, horrifying, and made me weep like a little girl. (Granted, I’m a very sensitive man that cries during Hallmark commercials but that is neither here nor there.) This is a 5 Grey Geeks movie. Which by the way, ALL of these that follow are.
There is something resonant about a father willing to put his own life at risk for his kid. It is even more resonant when the father is fully cognizant of the dangers that await him as he ventures forth to try to get his kid out of imminent threat. The Day After Tomorrow is one of Roland Emmerich’s blockbuster favorites, but it is more than just a big budget phenomenon. This movie has heart. Sure, it has incredible special effects. Sure, it was a commercial success, but its overall message of an inevitable Ice Age as a consequence of poor stewardship of the world’s resources, should echo in the conscience of every person. Many people are quick to dismiss the doom crier aspects of this movie as too preachy or overt, but the very dismissal is the reason why it’s imperative to be overt. Global warming is real! The very thought that intelligent people STILL refuse to acknowledge the danger is mind-boggling. As Arctic glaciers diminish, our fresh water supply decreases. Shouldn’t that concern us, just a little bit? Okay, I’m climbing down from the soap box and changing the subject. The cinematography is gorgeous in this movie and the set design is first rate. The acting is okay and the movie is fascinating. Another film worthy of 5 Grey Geeks.
You were warned! Godzilla (1998) is probably a controversial pick, but I needed to have a giant monster movie here on this list. These movies embody the entire concept of disaster movies. I can’t imagine creating a list like this and NOT include “Gojira.” Listen, I have been watching monster movies since I was a kid and to be honest, my favorite kaiju is Gamera. However, most of Gamera’s movies suck. I already included King Kong on my Classic Horror Movies list and I don’t like to repeat. I love Godzilla, but most of the almost 30 movies are boring. There’s only so much destruction that one can take before it gets repetitive and uninteresting. This movie is not boring. This movie has great special effects. It’s another Roland Emmerich disaster film. It is an origin story, which might be a little bothersome to a Japanese audience. (We, Westerners, love to culturally appropriate everyone’s great ideas.) It has heart with a love story at it’s core. Matthew Broderick is suitably geeky and fun. It’s scary, and down-right horrifying in places. The jump scares work, and most important of all: I saw this in the theater with my, then, only son, Jordan, who was a huge Godzilla fan. To see the awe and wonder on my kid’s face as we watched this thing: Yeah, priceless!
Twister is an awesome thrill-ride of a movie. It has marquee names associated with its construction. Michael Crichton co-wrote the screenplay. Steven Spielberg was one of the executive producers. Kathleen Kennedy is a producer. Helen Hunt is captivating as the haunted Jo, who has grown up to be a storm chaser. She’s a little passive aggressive as a soon-to-be ex-wife of the inimitable Bill Paxton who plays Bill “the Extreme” Harding, a weatherman who has retired from the storm chasing game. That is, he THOUGHT he was retired until Jo shows him Dorothy a tornado research device that can revolutionize tornado warning systems based on his design. She has realized a contraption of his imagining. He is swept away, as I was, in this ground breaking piece of cinema. I think the Wizard of Oz was probably the last time that a movie had explored the world of tornadoes so profoundly and conceptually, it blew my mind, but in practice, it stirred up excitement here-to-fore unimagined. I love this movie and for the longest time, this was a constant re-watch in my home. The special effects are riveting and the sound design is worthy of awards. The supporting cast of Jami Gertz, Cary Elwes, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman are awesome. Gertz plays a therapist, a far cry from her Lost Boys role. Elwes plays the douche bag, that the audience can boo and hiss. Hoffman is the adrenaline junky, Dusty who is way over the top. For my money, I love Aunt Meg who is the heart of this story.
I told you there would be monsters on my list, and aliens count as monsters in my book. These suckers are ugly and slimy with an exoskeletal suit that protects their fragile bodies. This movie follows many of the tropes that the Beard and I have delineated throughout the month of Disastuary. It has a huge ensemble cast with some sacrificial lambs. We have ordinary people behaving heroically. (A cable company executive is the brain that determines that the alien invaders are counting down via satellite relays. A crop duster pilot who had been previously abducted gets the opportunity for revenge.) We have animals and children in peril and that pull at our heartstrings. There are big budget special effects. Oh did I forget to mention Roland Emmerich? I think this guy maybe better than Irwin Allen, according to my list. Also, this is a holiday movie that plays every year on the Fourth of July, just like Jaws. This movie ranks highly because it has that same nostalgia that hangs heavy over most of my picks. This is one of those movies that I saw with my brother on opening weekend with three different groups of friends from our youth groups. I remember wanting to share the experience with as many people as possible. I remember we repeated that experience with Aliens and Jurassic Park.
All right! I guess we were wrong about ending Disastuary this week. We will end these posts of our Top Ten lists next week. It seems we are incapable of making short posts. Oh well! I hope you are enjoying these lists. Feel free to post your Top Ten list. You don’t have to include art or even extended statements. Talk to you soon! Be blessed!