Cinema’s Most Spectacular Disaster Films

With superhero movies now showing off the latest special effects and dominating the box office, the age of the disaster movie seemed to be over. Once the pinnacle of the movie calendar, disaster films demonstrated the awesome potential power of nature, or other beings, on earth and made us marvel at our own insignificance.

Godzilla saw the return of this spectacle, as the infamous movie monster awakens to take on two nuclear energy-guzzling creatures wreaking havoc across the globe. To celebrate the release of Godzilla on digital download this week (two weeks before being unleashed on Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray and DVD), we have put together a list of the greatest disaster movies ever. From natural disasters and alien invasions to the biggest monster of all, it’s time to feel pretty small.

Independence Day (1996)

When a gigantic spacecraft obliterates the world’s major cities in a bid to reap the earth’s natural resources, a group of survivors band together to fight back. The highest-grossing film of the year and pedestal to which subsequent disaster films aimed for, Independence Day is today remembered for launching Will Smith’s movie career and that White House-destroying money shot.

Twister (1996)

When two meteorologists (Helen Hunt & Bill Paxton) design a state-of-the-art tornado research device called DOROTHY, a race against time and the elements ensues to get it into the heart of the storm before a competitor launches a similar device. With terrifyingly realistic effects and a notoriously gruelling shoot that saw the lead actors temporarily blinded and with concussions, Twister is a rollercoaster of a film.

The Day After Tomorrow (2004)

A cautionary example of the possible effects of global warming, the film sees a paleoclimatologist  (Dennis Quaid) called on for help when his disregarded predictions begin occurring. With tennis ball-sized hailstones, 10km high tsunamis and multiple tornados, The Day After Tomorrow needs to be seen on the biggest screen possible to watch extreme weather use the world’s landmarks as mere playthings.

War Of The Worlds (2005)

This loose adaptation of the infamous H. G. Wells’ novel sees a dad (Tom Cruise) fight for survival and protect his children when an alien race emerges on earth. Directing a story where the ‘tripods’ wait until earth had over-populated before striking in order to harvest human blood, meant that Steven Spielberg could finally make an “alien picture where there is no love and no attempt at communication.”

2012 (2009)

When a geophysical research team discovers that the earth’s core is heating up and becoming unstable, world leaders begin making preparations to save the human race. Meanwhile, a writer (John Cusack) stumbles on the same information and struggles to find a way to save his family while volcanic eruptions and earthquakes of unprecedented strength wreak havoc around the world.

Godzilla (2014)

Being directed by a self-confessed fan meant that Godzilla was always going to honour the monster movie behemoth, but the film also served to remind fans about why disaster films are such fun to watch. At a time when nuclear energy on earth is at its highest, two enormous creatures break free of their secret government agency shackles. Sensing a disturbance in nature, Godzilla emerges from the ocean to restore balance while showcasing his extraordinary destructive force – while us humans can only watch in awe.

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