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Top disaster movies

Posted by Daltons chin dimple on Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Inspired by mention of "Earthquake" in another thread.

So what's best? The old 70's event movies with a HUGE cast who live or die according to their morality during the run-time, or the 90's/00's blockbusters with whiz bang effects detailing the end of the world in glorious digital realism?

And what is the best? Does "The Swarm" get an unfair pasting? Does Chuck Heston absailing into a 747 in "Airport" take the award? Would Dennis Quaid in Day After Tomorrow 'out-man' the Hest-meister?

For me, I think "The Towering Inferno" is the pinnacle ('xcuse the pun) of the genre and should be remade with a similar ensemble cast. I mean, look at the cast of the original, it's amazing!

Steve McQueen
Paul Newman
William Holden
Faye Dunaway
Fred Astaire
Susan Blakely
Richard Chamberlain
Jennifer Jones
O.J. Simpson
Robert Vaughn
Robert Wagner

Creative deaths according to cookie cutter morality, several thwarted but ingenius escape attempts, disaster writ large. It's exactly what you want from a disaster movie.

Jakester
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Posted: 11 years 4 days ago

Earthquakes? How insensitive! What about all the people in Haiti who are reading this...with no electricity and no infrastructure...how cruel.

Um. I enjoyed the disaster porn of 2012, but nothing else about the movie. I don't think there's been a "good" disaster movie in a long time. People rail on Armageddon a lot, and it's not a terribly good movie, but I liked it well enough -- there weren't any robots trying to hump Liv Tyler's leg. Deep Impact had better character development, but meh. The Day After Tomorrow and 2012 were just stupid.

Somehow, the '70s disaster flicks have escaped me. I'm lame.

Richard Gozinya, Harold Snatch and Wilbur Jizz. Together we are the law firm Gozinya, Snatch and Jizz.
Bokchoi Cowboy
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Posted: 11 years 4 days ago

Same here. I was never too turned on by the disaster flicks of the '70s. I was not too impressed with 2012, but mostly because I was sitting there floored by the implausibility of everything happening on the screen, from the California sliding into the ocean, to surviving the Yellowstone supervolcano, to the ridiculous near-misses of the limo escape scene in the collapsing Los Angeles. The only realistic thing was the character Woody Harrelson played. I have met people like that. As a matter of fact, a lot of you on this message board are like that...

You don't know the power of the Bokside!
Bill_the_Only
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Posted: 11 years 4 days ago

The Towering Inferno is absolutely the best of them all. Very classy cast, one of THE best John Williams scores ever, great production and production design.

Independence Day was a decent effort to recapture that 70's disaster movie feel, in spite of its Roland-ness. Other Roland movies of the same ilk show he has nothing further to add to it. 2012 was just flat-out insulting, but I knew that going in. The effects, however skillfully done, left no impact whatsoever, as you knew it was just 3d models and texture maps.

Armageddon..... In spite of being a Bay product, was less insulting than most of his movies, but not by much. Deep Impact was just too.... sensitive, I guess.

The Poseidon Adventure (1972) is a classic. Made for only 4 million dollars, it came along at a time when there was nothing else like it.

The "remake", Poseidon, was just a mean-spirited CGI ride, only 90 minutes long, little to no character development, the younger cast members resembled each other too much.

I mentioned what I thought about Earthquake in the "bad movies" thread.

From Japan, there is "Nihon Chinbotsu", (Japan Sinks) made in the midst of the Japanese Depression (early 70's), when the Japanese Film Industry was seeing its hardest times. Nihon Chinbotsu is based on a popular Japanese novel, and was made, simultaneously, it seems, for theatrical release as well as television viewing as a series. Some of the same effects were used, the more obvious and less polished ones for tv. The story is heavy on melancholy and love of homeland, and the displacement of many citizens all over the world, loved ones being separated..... The movie was made by Toho Studios in 1973, predating most of the disaster movies in the US.... Toho is the same company responsible for the most popular of the sci-fi and monster movies we've come to know. The effects are very obviously miniatures, but I'll take them ANY day over the feather-weightlessness of the effects in 2012.

The movie was 140 minutes in its original release and a huge success. It was bought by Roger Corman for release in the states, was decimated of most of its character development scenes, and then a few scenes were shot in a couple days of Lorne Greene as "The Ambassador" and released domestically as a 90 minute movie called "Tidal Wave".

The disaster scenes, though, however obvious, get rather gruesome at times. An entire street full of panicking people are burnt to death, a skyscraper's window shatters and crowds are shown bleeding profusely.....

The movie was remade in 2006 with very good effects, but the storyline was punched up Bay-style with ridiculous action and a happy ending that includes a series of nuclear bombs detonated at the source of tectonic plate sublimation, and it's as ridiculous as it sounds.

Trailer for 1973 Nihon Chinbotsu:

Trailer for 2006 Nihon Chinbotsu:

Jakester
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Posts: 5753
Posted: 11 years 4 days ago

Boki, shut UP! I am nothing like that. Hang on...gotta adjust my tinfoil hat. THEY might fry my brain.

Richard Gozinya, Harold Snatch and Wilbur Jizz. Together we are the law firm Gozinya, Snatch and Jizz.
KingVoyeur
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Posted: 11 years 4 days ago

I think "The Swarm" deserves everything that gets thrown at it. I caught it on I think Monstervision with Joe Bob Briggs (I really miss that show) and I just remember being incredibly bored by it.

Honey bunches.....of death!
Bill_the_Only
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Posts: 702
Posted: 11 years 3 days ago

The Swarm is a howler. Ironic how the mighty fall so hard, but Irwin Allen's last years were spent on some real stinkers.

His last move was very little known because it was such a flop, called WHEN TIME RAN OUT (1980)

I'll follow up with more on that after work. 8^p

Also, coming up... Krakatoa, East of Java (1969)

Daltons chin dimple
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Posts: 12800
Posted: 11 years 3 days ago

The Swarm does contain one of the greatest lines in movie history:

"I never thought it would be the bees, they have always been our friends."

However is it more of a monster movie? Or would you class Pirahna as a disaster flick and if so, then is Jaws?

I actually like Armageddon and enjoy it for what it is, mindless hokum but rollercoaster entertainment. It helps that Willis is immense in his surly, squinty Willis-ness in it, Billy Bob Thornton is always worth watching and the supporting cast is all pretty good. It starts with a bang and then does not let up at all for the entire movie but manages to never get tiring, like a lot of more recent Bay efforts. Yes, it is shallow and obvious but it hits all the right beats at all the right points.

Deep Impact is a bit too serious in it's melodrama, whereas Armageddon appears to know it's all a bit of a joke and that you, the audience, are in on the joke. That said I think Mimi Leder (Director) should get more work as Deep Impact is still a well made film, plus The Peacemaker is one of my guilty pleasures.

I think Towering Inferno could be good for a remake with a ensemble cast like the Oceans 11/12/13 movies, however I'm not sure how you would ever top McQueen and Newman together.

....says "Kill Bond, NOW!"
Bill_the_Only
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Posts: 702
Posted: 11 years 3 days ago

It's reported that they tried topping each other on that movie. McQueen demanded top billing as did Newman, so when their names appear on the screen, Newman's is on the lower left, McQueen's on the upper right, so they balance each other out. One is not above the other or reads in a linear way right to left. They also demanded exact same minutes of screentime and performed their own stunts.

Corporal_Hicks
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Posted: 11 years 3 days ago

Bill_the_Only wrote:

It's reported that they tried topping each other on that movie. McQueen demanded top billing as did Newman, so when their names appear on the screen, Newman's is on the lower left, McQueen's on the upper right, so they balance each other out. One is not above the other or reads in a linear way right to left. They also demanded exact same minutes of screentime and performed their own stunts.

That was back when male American actors were actually badasses.

Sent from Dalton's IPad.
Daltons chin dimple
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Posts: 12800
Posted: 11 years 2 days ago

Yup, these days everyone is either an emancipated weepy emo nonsense, a pretty boy refuge fron a GAP commercial with the charisma of a lump of wood, or an ex-rapper who shouldn't be allowed to rap, let alone act.

Even back in the 80's and early 90's we had Ford at the height of his powers, Cruise before he completely lost his shit to Scientology, Arnie and Stallone still about, Willis and his vest etc. etc.

This is one for the ladies on here - do you miss 'real' men in the media?

....says "Kill Bond, NOW!"
The Swollen Goi...
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Posted: 11 years 2 days ago

I think we glamorize the action stars of our youth, a bit. Let's look at the Dalty's five examples:

1.) Harrison Ford: Once a carpenter by trade. Not very badass. Best known for two roles: Han Solo and Indiana Jones. Han Solo spends a lot of his time running from fights, hiding, or outwitting. Screams like a girl when he is tortured in Cloud City. On the one occasion he runs toward a fight (on the Death Star), it is a bluff blitz played for laughs. On the one occasion he might have to involve himself in fisticuffs, he is blind, and scores all his hits by swinging wildly. Indiana Jones is a history professor, archeologist (not quite screaming "badass" yet) and adventurer (getting closer) who also spends a lot of his time running from a fight. He is deathly afraid of snakes. On at least one occasion, he shoots a swordsman to avoid having to go toe-to-toe with him. Unlike Solo, he does get in a few scraps, and shows he can take and give a blow to the face. Like Solo, however, he often wins his fights not by physical domination or superior fighting skill, but by being crafty and observant of his surroundings. (I suppose you can peg being crafty and observant as being superior fighting skills if you really want, but I doubt many would associate these traits with being "badass.")

2.) Tom Cruise: Tom Cruise was never badass. Woo tried to make him seem badass in Mission: Impossible 2, but it didn't quite work for me. I was more convinced of his badassness in Collateral. Of course, Dalty didn't claim him to be a badass, and I doubt Hicks would even consider it for a second. I'd say Cruise has done more to earn his acting keep in the last decade than he did at the beginning of his career. The Tom Cruise of Risky Business or Top Gun isn't that far removed from the charisma-challenged pretty boys (to rephrase Dalty, a bit) that get cast in similar roles today.

3.) Arnold Schwarzenegger: With Arnie and Sly, we get into the actors who were successfully marketed as badasses when, in reality, they weren't. Arnie got into the business (as everyone knows) by way of bodybuilding. Bodybuilders, on the whole, are a lot less like strongmen (people who build muscle to perform feats of strength) and a lot more like beauty pageanters. They wax, they sculpt, they do many reps of lighter weights (more weight than Average Joe would put in a regular workout routine, but far, far less than someone working toward breaking lifting records), they oil themselves down and flex for judges who judge them on their aesthetic presentation. This doesn't mean a bodybuilder can't be a badass, but a guy isn't a badass simply because he's a bodybuilder. In fact, a lot of men go into bodybuilding to build self-esteem. Arnold was given strings of one liners, a decent stunt double, and was sold quite well to the public.

4.) Sylvester Stallone: Sly was the son of a hairdresser father and dancer mother. He went from a boarding school to a private school to a beauty school to a drama school. He dropped out of the University of Miami to focus his efforts on screenplay writing. Not much in the way of being a badass there. In Death Race 2000, one of his bigger pre-Rocky roles, he gets taken out like a bitch by David Carradine, another actor who had been successfully marketed as a badass. He had to write himself into his first badass role, for which he put on the movie muscle he would be trading on for the rest of his career. Also: he has long, pretty eyelashes.

5.) Bruce Willis: Bruce Willis somehow morphed into a big screen badass despite the point of the role that set him on that path being that he wasn't a badass. The John McClane of the first Die Hard is an unlikely hero and everyman who happens to perform well under pressure. He's balding, he's not in what I would consider to be excellent shape, and he prefers cat-and-mouse to direct confrontation. Contemporary reviews praised the movie for *not* making an Arnie/Sly type into the big action hero, and many reviewers saw it as a deft send up of the sorts of movies Arnie and Sly were making. (You'll have to take my word on this one, since I don't feel like bothering to dig up reviews.)

This doesn't mean there weren't any genuine badasses starring in action movies in the eighties. Even now, I would not want to get into a fight with either Chuck Norris or Dolph Lundgren.

* * *

For those of you who lament the "real" man of seventies and eighties cinema:

Are you dissatisfied with the actors themselves for not being badasses, or are you dissatisfied with the way the modern version of "badass" is marketed?

I suppose the action stars from our youths had charisma, whatever the case. It was a charisma that we bought into. My father and grandfather never bought into it. I remember them bitching about how all you had to do to be an action star in the eighties was be a pretty boy with muscles. Then they would hold up Audie Murphy and Lawrence Tierney as examples of real badasses.

Are there any actors you consider to be potential redeemers of your idea of badass? Some folks seem to think Jason Statham has something. He got typecast pretty quickly. I wouldn't fuck with Vinnie Jones.

I tried to watch a few minutes of a John Cena movie. It struck me as unintentionally funny and homoerotic. Not that there's anything wrong with that. It reminded me of a Mark Wahlberg movie.

Daltons chin dimple
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Posts: 12800
Posted: 11 years 2 days ago

"I wouldn't fuck with Vinnie Jones."

He is, indeed, a scarey mofo and was a double-hard b*stard as a footballer but I think he is more a nasty piece of work. Which leads to an interesting piece of confusion on whether there can actually be a "good badass" ?

....says "Kill Bond, NOW!"
The Swollen Goi...
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Posted: 11 years 2 days ago

I didn't follow most of that last post, Dalty.

Daltons chin dimple
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Posts: 12800
Posted: 11 years 2 days ago

I was saying that I think Vinnie Jones is a nasty piece of work, so at odds with my original view of "badass" which was pretty much mimited to "hero" actors. Which then led me to question, actually, if my general definition of "badass" was in fact, wrong, and that possibly there can be no such things as a "good badass" because then they would in fact be a "goodass".

....says "Kill Bond, NOW!"
spammityspam
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Posted: 11 years 2 days ago

My definition of badass has never really relied on physical strength, but more like the ability to come out on top -- and it's less the reality of the person involved than what they make you think while you watch the movie. Sure, Arnold is essentially the male counterpart of Miss America, but his creepy death stare in the Terminator movies still freaks me out, and he does look pretty convincingly unstoppable. Harrison Ford's shying away from physical confrontation makes him more of a badass for me, because he's smart enough to know that he's not always going to win there. Also, Han's badassness stems in large part from the fact that he went from a petty smuggler to playing a big part in the Rebel Alliance because he believed in it. I don't mind that he screamed while being tortured. I think anybody who DOESN'T scream while they're being tortured is a freak of nature. It hurts! That's why it's torture!

Most of your criticisms of what is not "badass" about these guys seems to have to do with any of them choosing something the least bit cognitive over pure physical power, and also them NOT being "pretty." I have no problem with badasses being pretty. In fact, as characters go, The Bride just about tops my list of badasses, potentially topped only by Ellen Page in Hard Candy. I think most of all, being badass is about winning all the goddamned time, no matter how you do it.

Why is it so important for badasses to be, I guess, so very masculine? I know a lot of guys hated the choice of Daniel Craig for the new Bond because he got so many women into the franchise with his Honey Ryder moment and general shirtlessness (and for other reasons, of course, but I heard this one a LOT). Is it important that a badass not be objectified, or at least that women show no interest in him until he wants them to?

And why is the badassery tied to the actor's real-life self, not what the actor makes you think about the character? I still love Woody Allen and Roman Polanski movies; what they do on screen is in no way related to who they are the rest of the time. If Woody Allen can convince me he's just a nerdy, vaguely bizarre sweetheart, why can't Arnold convince me that he could terminate my ass?

"Men weren't really the enemy - they were fellow victims suffering from an outmoded masculine mystique that made them feel unnecessarily inadequate when there were no bears to kill." -- Betty Friedan
Daltons chin dimple
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Posts: 12800
Posted: 11 years 2 days ago

So based on the varying definitions of "badass", and the no doubt also differing defintions of "self interested weasel", "corporate stooge" and "plucky sidekick" etc. etc.....

....who would be your ultimate disaster movie cast?

....says "Kill Bond, NOW!"
The Swollen Goi...
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Posts: 14343
Posted: 11 years 1 day ago

I never screamed when I was ass-beaten. I was ass-beaten an average of once every three days. (I kept a calendar.) I have extensive nerve damage in my ass, though, so ass-beating were more about humiliating me than causing me physical pain.

* * *

I don't believe in badass. I have no workable concept of it, beyond what I have come to believe my own private, mental Dalty/Hicks amalgam means when using the term.

I put "badass" in quotes a lot. (I just did it there.)

If I feel a movie is trying extra hard to convince me of someone's badassedness, it bothers me. This is one reason 300 bothers me. This is one reason Sarah Connor in Terminator 2 bothers me. If I am convinced of badassedness without feeling a movie is trying extra hard to convince me, I find it less bothersome. I still find it a little bothersome.

I don't think badassery must be tied to an actor's real-life self. Then again, I don't believe in badass. My (maternal) grandfather does. My father does. Of course, badass was a bit of a life-pursuit for them. My maternal grandfather was Air Force, then a football coach. My father is descended from a line of policemen, and was an Army Ranger and paratrooper. I believe they both believed themselves to be sufficiently badass in their youths. They only really respect badass. It may be for this reason, in part, that I have shied away from "badass" to the best of my ability for most of my life. "Most of my life" means after I got away from home. I went through five miserable years of karate thanks to my family's bullshit notions of manhood. Got a black belt. Hated every second of every lesson. Would often cry on the drive to the lesson. Struck a deal to get out of karate that landed me in football for five years. Hated every second of that, too.

I do not know why it is so important for badasses to be so very masculine. Were I to call Chevy Chase's Fletch a badass, it would have nothing to do with any sense of exceptional masculinity on his part. Were I to call him a badass, it would not be worth much, since, again, I have no workable concept of badass.

Unless I do without meaning to. If I do, it's a negative one.

* * *

Daltons chin dimple wrote:

[W]ho would be your ultimate disaster movie cast?

Regular folks who stay regular folks and don't rise to the occasion in an unbelievable or hokey manner. I'd rather see people coping with a disaster's inevitability than coming up with clever last-second solutions to save everyone, despite the objectives of "Character the Audience Is Clearly Supposed to Hate" (which character decides to go her/his own way and perishes as a result of not heeding the warnings of the person with the clever last-second solution).

I don't have a desired cast for a disaster movie, since I don't care much for what makes a disaster movie a disaster movie. Narrow escape after narrow escape gets duller and duller with each narrow escape.

spammityspam
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Posted: 11 years 2 days ago

Have you ever seen Feast? It's pure horror camp, but it's completely self-aware. Each time a new character is introduced, a little thing pops up on the screen giving a prediction of how long into the movie they're going to last. It's just a bunch of people stuck in a bar -- typical badasses DO burst in and try to save the day, but they die pretty immediately.

"Men weren't really the enemy - they were fellow victims suffering from an outmoded masculine mystique that made them feel unnecessarily inadequate when there were no bears to kill." -- Betty Friedan
The Swollen Goi...
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Posted: 11 years 2 days ago

Is that a Project Greenlight movie? I think I've seen part of it. "Self aware" is a fine line to have to walk. If it's overdone, it's worse than badass. Too much self awareness leads to excessive irony, and irony is a finer line to have to walk than "self aware."

It works fairly well in Snatch, I guess. At least four characters are set up as being "badass," and pretty much all of them get taken down in some way or other. It doesn't work as well in, say, From Dusk Till Dawn. There are a shitload of movies in the last couple decades, come to think, that "unexpectedly" take down the typical badass. It's becoming pretty common.

* * *

I sometimes give the impression that I am hard to please, but the truth is that I am easier to please than most, and will often bitch about movie particulars for no reason other than that I like to bitch.

If I were as hard to please as I seem to be, I wouldn't be going to the movie theater 120+ times a year.

* * *

I went back and added more painful personal history to my previous post.

The Swollen Goi...
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Posted: 11 years 1 day ago

spammityspam wrote:

I have no problem with badasses being pretty. In fact, as characters go, The Bride just about tops my list of badasses.

Uma Thurman is a poor example of "pretty." I consider her character an example of one the movie tries too hard to convince me is a badass. (I consider Ellen Page's character in Hard Candy in a similar light.) Also, Tarantino tried to force me to stare at her twisted finger-toes for ten minutes, and I AM NOT APPRECIATE.

I think Zoë Bell in Death Proof and Angela Bassett in anything come close to pulling off pretty and badass. Or I might think that, if I were willing to propose something approaching a standard for what I consider to be "badass."

Grace Jones pulls off . . . well, she scares the fuck out of me is what she does. That makes me happy-ish.

spammityspam
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Posted: 11 years 1 day ago

I find Uma Thurman ridiculously attractive, despite her pretty definitely looking weird. I think I get farther with "badass" movies because I'm also easy to please, and I appreciate the balls-to-the-wall approach Tarantino takes, even (and perhaps especially) when he overdoes it.

I don't get that thing with her feet, though. It was in Pulp Fiction, too, and there was all that focus on Diane Kruger's feet in Inglorious Basterds. Quentin Tarantino, not-so-secret foot fetishist?

"Men weren't really the enemy - they were fellow victims suffering from an outmoded masculine mystique that made them feel unnecessarily inadequate when there were no bears to kill." -- Betty Friedan
Daltons chin dimple
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Posted: 10 years 51 weeks ago

The Swollen Goi... wrote:

Regular folks who stay regular folks and don't rise to the occasion in an unbelievable or hokey manner. I'd rather see people coping with a disaster's inevitability than coming up with clever last-second solutions to save everyone, despite the objectives of "Character the Audience Is Clearly Supposed to Hate" (which character decides to go her/his own way and perishes as a result of not heeding the warnings of the person with the clever last-second solution).

But is that not part of the inherent charm of the 'disaster movie' genre in general ?

....says "Kill Bond, NOW!"
Corporal_Hicks
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Posted: 10 years 51 weeks ago

Madea Goes to Jail

Sent from Dalton's IPad.
The Swollen Goi...
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Posted: 10 years 51 weeks ago

Daltons chin dimple wrote:

But is that not part of the inherent charm of the 'disaster movie' genre in general ?

No.

Dirty Harry Potter
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Posted: 10 years 51 weeks ago

Wouldn't Jaws be considered a disaster monie?

There is no why