The End Of The World Is Nigh! Better have the premiere soon, then


Over the last decade or so, disaster movies have got bigger. In the '70's and '80's you had fairly localized disasters. The maximum potential casualties hovered in the low thousands. The unholy trinity I remember from that era are:

The Towering Inferno

A tower block goes on fire. Some Americans die of fatness. Ollie Reed plays a bastard. Probably a few hundred deaths. The film justifies at least half of them as the 'baddies' get their comeuppance via the allegorical death in a pit of fire.

The Poseidon Adventure

A big boat goes tits up. Some Americans die of fatness. Everyone has to walk around on ceilings. Some people fall from great heights and drown. Others just drown. The boat sinks. The purest of heart survive to tell the tale and get their story syndicated.


My favourite of the old disaster movies. The biggest death toll by far, in places it was actually scary as well. Lots and lots of wobbly camera work and people falling into chasms. Again, the people with the most steadfastly American characteristics live to tell the tale.

These films were fun, for sure, but lacked a bit of scope. I guess annihilating a larger segment of society than a city would be prohibitive cost-wise, in an era when CG was not available. So it should be no surprise, then, that the advent of better-quality CG meant that a whole new glut of American-centric disaster movies would be released. Add to this all that nonsense about the Millennium (remember that?) and some shonky Mayan prophecies, and these films just keep coming. I have reviewed some of these below, and arranged them by death toll. The ones where everyone dies being the best.

Armageddon (<1000)

Probably only a few hundred deaths, this abysmal, Aerosmith-soundtracked abortion of a movie was helmed by Michael Bay, my absolute favouritest director evar. Unfortunately a christ-like Bruce Willis saves the day by using his skills honed on an oil rig (really) so that the earth is not torn a new one. This film is also notable for putting the first nail on the coffin that has become Ben Affleck's career. So emotional does he become that his future dad-in-law will soon be solemny sacrificing himself for AMERICA, I was surprised he didn't start dry humping. He said 'I love you' about a hundred times. Bears all the staples of a Michael Bay classic - lots of slow motion, ridiculous action sequences and very terrible all round.

Deep Impact (>500,000,000)

This is a bit like Armageddon, only well-written, intelligent, properly researched and believable. Morgan Freeman is the black president of the United States and has the grim task of preparing the earth for utter destruction. Did I mention he is black? So screw you Dennis Haysbert, If anyone blazed a trail for Obama it was Morgan Freeman. He done it first, see? But at least you did Mandela before him, so you guys are quits. Sorry about that. Deep Impact is really a very good film. A bit emotional for my tastes in places, but I guess if you were faced with imminent destruction you'd get a bit teary. The best thing about this film is that, while the main asteroid is diverted from the earth via the sacrifice of the whole space shuttle crew (not just one chiseled guy in ludicrous circumstances a' la Armageddon), a smaller asteroid does indeed hit and wipe out the entire Eastern seaboard. Poor old Eastern seaboard. It always gets destroyed. I reckon at least a 50 million dead in the USA, and a Tsunami that size would no doubt wipe out poor old Blighty and Western Europe too. So hundreds of millions. Not bad for a film with an ultimately happy ending.

The Day After Tomorrow (>2,000,000,000)

To me, the day after tomorrow is when I'll get round to doing that work thing I keep putting off . But really I should think on. The premise of this movie is that at any time, icicles travelling hundreds of miles an hour could kill us all. Already expertly lampooned by South Park, this sanctimonious pile of junk is a double-pronged morality tale: Hey guys, let's stop raping mother earth, and while we're at it, let's be nicer to the brown people, because they will soon have the only inhabitable land left on the earth. This film is somewhat rescued by a decent death toll; probably about a third of the planet perishes.

2012 (Everyone, but probably not John Cusack, a token love interest, and his kids)

I haven't seen 2012 yet. I will see it when it's free. But the Mayan prophecy says everyone dies, so it needs to be here. Correct me if I'm wrong, and if you care that I'm wrong.

Knowing (Everyone, sans 2 kids and some rabbits. And presumably 2 of every animal. Why let silly science like Minimum Viable Population get in the way of a good yarn)

I saw this and had no preconceptions about it. I hadn't read about it, didn't even know what genre it was. But the synopsis seemed to have promise. So the fact that I knew I would have to endure Nicolas Cage extensively did not deter me from watching it. Imagine my joy when I realised that, what first appeared to be a clone of  'Next' (which also stars Nicolas Cage, how does Francis Ford Coppola's nephew get so much work?), turned into the extinction of the human race, via solar flare. The film does have silly aliens in it, and at points you have to suspend your disbelief via an intricate system of ropes and pulleys. It is also dangerously Christian at times. But the Director, Alex Proyas, just about gets away with it, in my opinion. If you want to see a great, and equally odd Proyas film, watch Dark City. Nicolas Cage's best role is surely in The Wicker Man.

Southland Tales (Everyone, plus every planet, solar system and galaxy (I think))

Not sure what's going on with this one, to be honest. I can't help but like this film. I even got the graphic novels to enhance my understanding but it's still a bit vague. Not a disaster movie as such, but I think that everyone dies at the end, right after the guy blows up the blimp while standing on the side of the ice cream truck which is floating hundreds of feet in the air. Then the 2 guys that were thought to be twin brothers but are actually the same people from divergent universes occupying the same space at the same time which happens to be in the aforementioned floating Ice Cream truck cause the entire universe to implode. So it's not just the Earth that buys the farm, but also the entire universe.That's the way to do it.

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