Newly released Seeking a Friend For the End of the World starring Steve Carrell and Keira Knightly promises to take the disaster movie and reinvent it, by introducing comedy. A tale of boy meets girl with a time limit. To celebrate this, I am taking a look at the five best disaster movies.
Number 5: Speed (1995)
Although Keanu Reeves can be accused of having less personality than a cardboard box, sometimes he does well. Love or hate the leads (Reeves and Sandra Bullock) Speed is a beautifully simple plot that is fast paced and well scripted. Even if you’ve seen it a dozen times, it is still exhilarating. The leads are solid and the late Dennis Hopper is a fantastic baddie. Speed produced a sequel, in which Bullock returned as Annie, called Speed 2: Cruise Control. Considered one of the worst sequels of all time, we have it to thank for inspiring one of Father Ted‘s finest episodes entitled Speed 3.
Number 4: The Poseidon Adventure (1972)
Celebrating it’s 40th anniversary this year, is one of the finest films of the 70s. An all star cast that includes Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Red Buttons and Carol Lynley (if you haven’t heard of any of these guys, they were the Brad Pitts, Tom Cruises and Leo Di Caprios of their day), The Poseidon Adventure takes place on a luxury cruise liner on her final trip from NYC to Greece. On New Year’s Eve, the vessel is over turned by a tsunami that was caused by an underwater earthquake and the crew try to get all the passengers to safety. Nominated for nine Academy Awards and winning two, The Poseidon Adventure is considered among the greats of Hollywood. Oh yeah, see if you can spot a young Leslie Nielsen.
Number 3: The Towering Inferno (1974)
Another oldie, this time staring the late Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, Faye Dunaway and Fred Astaire. The Towering Inferno takes place in the fictional Glass Tower in San Francisco, the world’s tallest building during it’s opening ceremony. During routine checks before the occasion a small electrical fire starts in a storage room on the 81st floor. Going unnoticed, the fire gets bigger which leads the security guards to call the fire brigade (led by McQueen). The organisers insist that the party continues, not believing that the fire will affect the rest of the building. There is a story that surrounds the film about Newman and McQueen arguing over who got top billing, in the end they both got it. What you have with this film, despite the antics of its stars, is another thrilling Hollywood gem.
Number 2: Children of Men (2006)
Set in 2027, the world has been suffering 18 years of female infertility. The world is in disarray with rebellions in every country. Britain is the last country with a stable government, but have oppressive immigration laws. The main character, Theo Faron (Clive Owen) is contacted by his ex wife Julian (Julianne Moore), and offered money to get a passport for a refugee Kee. After things go wrong Kee reveals her importance to Theo. This is not your typical disaster film, but it is wonderfully shot, well paced and has a great cast. It’s dystopian future is realistic and the reality of the disaster that has hit the world is brilliantly thought out. One that everyone must see.
Number 1: Apollo 13 (1995)
When the words ‘disaster movie’ is used a lot of people would think of Independence Day, The Day after Tomorrow or Armageddon, end of the world scenarios are not the only films in this category. Made in 1995, Apollo 13 is a film made about the ill fated space journey of the crew of the ship of the same name. Starring Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, Gary Sinise and Ed Harris, this star studded film is thrilling and exciting without being emotionally manipulating. Historically accurate, it is hard to believe that this ever happened. The cast are fantastic and it is one of director Ron Howard’s best films.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.