Films / Screening Culture

The Impossible: Top 5 Natural Disaster Movies

The Impossible (film)

The Impossible (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I must admit that although it’s only January and we still have eleven months to go, I believe that The Impossible will end up somewhere on my top ten best films of 2013. I had seen the trailer a couple of times previously and on each viewing my eyes had been stinging with tears, so in hindsight I should have realised that I would end up crying the whole way through it. The Impossible is based on a true story of a family involved with the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake/tsunami which killed 230,000 people and still 45,000 others are missing. This was such a destructive force of nature which was made even worse by the fact that it took place on Boxing Day.

Many movies like to focus on natural disasters, i.e. hell on Earth without the aliens, and so I thought I would give a rundown of my top 5:


You know it’s bad when you start writing Twitter instead of Twister! Starting of my list at number 5 is one of them classics which will be broadcasted on Channel 5 (or if you’re not from the UK, one of them channels that no one tends to watch) every couple of months or so. Twister (1990) follows Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton as they chase tornados throughout Oklahoma to perfect a data-gathering device, ironically called Dorothy, before another team beats them to it. Weirdly enough, like in the movie when a twister destroys a drive-in movie theatre during a screening of The Shining, on May 24, 1996 a drive-in theatre in Niagara Falls, Ontario which was going to be showing Twister that night was destroyed by a tornado. Like Pirates of the Caribbean, the film was based on a Universal Studios Florida ride: Twister…Ride It Out.


I couldn’t miss out on a space themed movie in my natural disasters top 5 as they are a disaster, just not on Earth. We all know that Bruce Willis gets his highs by saving innocent lives and his high will be soaring up to the sky, quite literally, when he is given the task to save the planet. In Armageddon (1998) NASA send a group of deep-sea oil drillers up to space to plant a nuclear device into an asteroid as Earth is on route to distinction if the comet continues its course towards our planet. It is a thrill to watch Brue and the team fight for our existence, but it’s highly unlikely that these prevention events would ever work in real life. For NASA’s management training programme, hopefuls have to watch Armageddon and point out all of the inaccuracies they find. To date there has been 168 inaccuracies pointed out.


Roland Emmerich seems to be the dictator of disaster films as he directed Independence Day (1996) Godzilla (1998) as well as 2012, which wasn’t released on the doomsday year; instead its healthy 2009 counterparts. Again, we are all going to die as the Earth is about to combust due to the temperature of the core of the planet increasing rapidly. When Jackson Curtis (John Cusack) goes camping with his two children at the Yellowstone National Park he meets a radio presenter who shows him a video of Charles Hapgood’s theory that the 2012 predicted polar shifts and the Mesoamerican Long Count Calendar theories will occur. Alongside this, the presenter shows a map of arks that are being built to save 400,000 lives, however this information is being kept from the private eye. It is up to Curtis to rescue his children, ex-wife and her boyfriend from the nearing end of the world.

The Perfect Storm:

It wasn’t until the ending of the film when I realised that this was based on a true story, which makes sense as it doesn’t have your average Hollywood ending written all over it. The Perfect Storm (2004) centres around the six-man crew on the Andrea Gail fishing vessel who were caught in the Perfect Storm of 1991 in the North Atlantic Ocean sailing out of Gloucester, Massachusetts. The film stars both George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg with exceptional acting from the entire cast.

The Day After Tomorrow:

My all-time favourite natural disaster movie is always going to be The Day After Tomorrow (2004). I think my obsession with it lies in the fact that I’m one of those people that is interested about if this apocalyptic climate change scenario could really happen (it is not because of a certain young Jake Gyllenhall). Our paleoclimatologist buddy, Dennis Quaid, discovers findings that global warming will create the next ice age. Not many believe him at first until extreme weather conditions star taking place, including: golf ball sized hail stones and torrential flooding. When his boy, a la, Jake Gyllenhall, is stuck in Manhattan because he was taking part in a quiz tournament, Quaid decides it is up to him to get his boy and his friends to safety.

What is your favourite natural disaster film? Which film would you have added to this list?


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