Seeing as we all seem to have the day off in the wake of (ex) Hurricane Ophelia, here’s a list of apt disaster films to fill your ‘apocalypse’ sick day!*
The Day After Tomorrow (2004)
Released in 2004, this is one of my favourite cheesy disaster films, even if it has one of the worst titles! Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Emmy Rossum (Shameless US, Phantom of the Opera) and Dennis Quaid, it was written and directed by hot-shot producer Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, Godzilla). So you know it’s gonna be at least an enjoyable watch!
Basically, paleoclimatologist (someone who studies past climates) Jack Hall (Dennis Quaid) predicts a huge climate shift that is going to happen in the coming years. Yet it happens in the space of a week. He then has to go help save his son Sam (Jake Gyllenhaal), who is stuck in one of the worst hit places, Manhattan.
A definite duvet day watch! – 7/10
Now this really is one of the good ones. Starring Helen Hunt, the late Bill Paxton and a plethora of other well known faces (including a very fresh-faced Philip Seymour Hoffman), this storm-chasing epic follows tornado hunter Dr Jo Harding (Helen Hunt) and gang as she tries to prove that her prototype weather alert system actually works.
And how better to prove it than by launching herself into a bunch of tornados!? Nominated for two Oscars, and winner of Best Achievement in Special Visual Effects in the BAFTAs that year, I will definitely be giving this a watch today – 8/10
Volcano / Dante’s Peak (1997)
Ok. So it seems that 1997 was the year of the volcano-disaster film and we have two amazing choices to choose from. Volcano starring Tommy-Lee Jones and Anne Heche (Six Days Seven Nights) takes place in nowhere other than the city of Los Angeles. It follows characters Mick Roark, who is head of the Office of Emergency Management, and geologist Dr Amy Barnes as they try to deal with, you guessed it, a volcano that has become active under LA’s La Brae tar pits.
Alternatively we have Dante’s Peak; a somewhat less cheesy yet just as action-packed disaster flick starring Pierce Brosnan and Linda Hamilton (Terminator). Dante’s Peak takes place in a rural and probably more likely area to have a volcano in America where vulcanologist (derived from the Roman god of fire, not Spock) Harry Dalton (Brosnan) and Dante’s Peak mayor Rachel Wando (Hamilton) try to convince the town’s people that they are indeed in danger from the once dormant peak.
Now when I say “just as action-packed as Volcano”, I mean there aren’t quite as many explosions in this production, but personally, I much preferred Dante’s Peak when I was younger. That’s not to say that Volcano is not an extremely enjoyable watch! It’s recommended for fans of the 1998 Godzilla with Matthew Broderick or Independence Day – 6.5/10 (for both)
I’m not going to lie but I frickin’ love Armageddon! It’s got everything; action, romance, space, Bruce Willis AND Ben Affleck, and a killer soundtrack. Not to mention an amazing cast including Liv Tyler, Billy Bob Thornton and Steve Buscemi. It is SUPER cheesy in places but what do you expect from cheesy action veteran Michael Bay, with flicks such as Bad Boys, The Rock (another personal fave) and Transformers under his belt.
At two and a half hours, this asteroid-disaster epic will take up a good chunk of your day, but if you have the time, you may as well! Grab the popcorn, possibly a pack of tissues and your air-microphone for Aerosmith‘s theme tune anthem ‘Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing’ – 8/10
…and the Worst
San Andreas (2015)
This is a perfect example of how cheesy action movies go bad – they take themselves way too seriously. Just like Olympus Has Fallen, the newer Godzilla (2014) and Mark Wahlberg‘s 2007 Shooter, San Andreas goes a little too far to be in any way realistic, and yet doesn’t have the subtle comedy undertones to make it enjoyable. Even Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson can’t save this one, even if he does save the day. Multiple times. – 2/10
Yet another random Nic Cage venture, Knowing follows astrophysicist John Koestler as he tries to decipher a string of numbers found in a time capsule which turns out to be a 50 year old premonition of disaster. Sci-fi meets disaster movie meets wannabe psychological thriller/horror? Sorry Ryne Douglas Pearson (writer), it just doesn’t work. It feels like Final Destination tried to grow up and become a more ‘sophisticated’ version of itself but failed miserably. Avoid! – 0/10
*As great as it is to get a day off, please be safe out there today and tomorrow. Keep your pets indoors, and as the great Teresa Mannion warns, don’t make any unnecessary journeys.