What is it about total carnage that sends people to the theater in droves?  I’m totally guilty of this as well, but I’m wondering what exactly it is about disaster movies that make them so awesome (and by “awesome” I mean, totally cheesy, silly fun).

Disaster movies while not high quality, will normally have really good visual effects.  At least I hope they do, because let’s face it, the visuals are normally the one great thing they have going for them.  I don’t mean to harp on all disaster movies, but if I’m being honest, a lot of them are mainly eye candy.

I use the term “Disaster Movie” pretty loosely.  I may mention a movie that isn’t so much a “disaster”, but does have a fair amount of destruction to the world. There are different genres if you will.  The outside influence disasters (i.e. Aliens, asteroids, etc.), the natural disasters (tornadoes, effects of global warming, volcanoes etc.), and we can’t forget the Mayan prophecy disasters.

Take Independence Day for example.  This falls under the “Outside Influence” category.  Mainly it was about the human race trying to survive an invasion of aliens who want to harvest our planet for it’s natural resources.  Along the way they blow up good portions of Mother Earth.  They blew up the White House.  THE WHITE HOUSE!  This is neither a visual I have; nor think is actually going to happen.  You don’t blow up the White House.  You just don’t.  But seeing it in a movie, that’s different.  The aliens also blew up Manhattan. And Los Angeles.  Of course the human race prevails but now there is a worldwide mess to clean up.  On the plus side, the clean up will create jobs, and that’s always a good thing.

Armageddon and Deep Impact handled the meteor/asteroid category.  I’ve seen Armageddon loads of time but have only seen Deep Impact once.  While Armageddon left me amped and excited and spun up, Deep Impact left me morose.  I’m sure the ending had something to do with that.  In Armageddon, we saw the destruction of Paris and the South Pacific.  The shot of Paris after the asteroid hit, was a bit of bummer.  Nothing like having a HUGE crater where Paris used to be.  From what I remember, the real destruction in Deep Impact came at the very end with the huge wave.  I don’t remember seeing much damage through out the rest of the film.  If I’m missing something, let me know.

The “natural disasters” category is pretty much shored up with Twister, Volcano and The Day After Tomorrow.

While there aren’t really any major landmarks in Twister, the scene that takes place at the drive-in alone makes it worthy.  What’s great about Twister (yes, believe it or not, there is something great about it) is if you watch it at home with a good surround sound system, you can hear the dialogue from the drive in movie.  If you remember the film playing at the drive in is The Shining.  Right before the twister hits, it’s at the part where Danny encounters the twins.  You can hear the twins dialogue.  Creepy.  The other great thing is that the tornadoes were so….menacing.  It seemed they were gunning for the chasers. I like it when my natural disasters have personality.

With Volcano, the coast is toast.  Well that’s what they promised anyway.  Really, it’s just parts of L.A. that get fried.  Volcano is by and large one of the most ridiculous disaster movies out there.  The dialogue is bad, the acting isn’t great, but for some reason, I feel the need to watch a least a little bit of it when it’s on.  At least to hear Anne Heche scream “LAVA BOMBS!”. Is there a line of dialogue that is more saturated with cheese than that?  I think not.

And then there is The Day After Tomorrow.  This is not to be confused with The Day After (the nuclear war/fallout movie that scared the crap out of every kid back in 1983 when it aired on TV).  The Day After Tomorrow just shows destruction everywhere.  The scene that got me was when the wave came crashing over the Statue of Liberty.  Now, I’ve never seen Lady Liberty in person, but I’ve heard she’s pretty tall, and the thought of a wave that big, creeps me out.  Not to mention absolutely annihilating the iconic Capitol Records building in L.A. Poor L.A.  Seems disaster movies have it out for sunny Southern California.  I actually really enjoyed TDAT.  What I didn’t like is that it left me feeling cold.  Literally, not figuratively.  I need to take a jacket when I see “icy” movies. BRRRR!

As far as the Mayan prophecy disaster movie, we all know it’s 2012.  I haven’t seen this one yet unfortunately.  I will have to wait for Blu-Ray since it’s already come and gone from the theaters here.  But just what I saw in the previews is enough to make me want to see it.  From what I could tell, this movie takes out Las Vegas, the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio, and the White House.  Again with the White House.  This time it gets taken out by a wave and an air craft carrier….the USS John F. Kennedy no less.  I guess if you’re going to obliterate the same landmark in different films you have to do it different ways.  Can’t let destruction get stale and boring.

I realize that 3 of the films here are all done by Roland Emmerich.  Man sure does like his destruction.  But he does it with flare, and that’s what’s important.  If you’re going to decimate, do it with style.

Discuss: what is your favorite destruction scene?  Is there something you’d like to see that hasn’t been done yet?  Let us know!

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Tracy started writing movie reviews for her high school newspaper way back in the ancient times of the late 80's. She joined forces with HeyUGuys in May 2009 and still continues to unleash her arsenal of sarcasm on the masses while working movie quotes into every conversation she has. She doesn't mind when someone looks at her weird when she yells "GAME OVER MAN!". You can find her here on HeyUGuys, or over on ReelGoddess.com