The best disaster movies of all time

Disaster movies have long been part of the cinema experience, in fact they date back to 1901 with the release of Fire! about a burning house, and they continue today to delight audiences all over the world.

The genre exploded in popularity during the seventies with a string of blockbusters, though the trend soon faded. However, the development of CGI effects brought it roaring back to life two decades later.

This week San Andreas keeps the disaster movie recipe alive by following a man trying to save his family against the backdrop of a massive earthquake that levels most of California.

Although we may know what to expect from disaster movies, as they follow a pretty formulaic sequence, there’s still an undeniable thrill to seeing some of the world’s most iconic landmarks getting destroyed on screen.

San Andreas film still

Independence Day

Independence Day certainly reignited our love for disaster movies in 1996, it pulled in $817 million worldwide, making it the highest grossing movie of the year. And even today it is still the second highest grossing disaster movie ever made, following Titanic.

The film’s special effects were cutting edge at the time and pushed studios to up their game in summer movie spectacle. Not only that, this film launched Will Smith to mega-stardom.

Whilst it may not be a conceivable disaster, massive alien spacecrafts appear all around the globe and then systematically destroy major cities in a bid for world domination; the incredible action sequences and loveable characters ensure this is one of the greatest disaster movies ever made.

Deep Impact

This is the definitive asteroid movie, from the realistic portrayal of the official announcement of news about the impending disaster to the preparations made partially in secret to try and help humanity survive, to the final climactic moments when doom strikes.

With one of the best casts of modern disaster films, it focuses on the characters and emotional turmoil that comes from knowing the precise moment the world is going to end and you will lose everything and everyone you care about.

Releasing in close proximity to Armageddon, Mimi Leder’s Deep Impact seemed like the smaller of the two films back in 1998, but the emphasis on human stories and mankind’s efforts to prepare for the comet allow this movie to hold up well in the years since it released, maintaining the emotional impact of the film more than a decade later. And of course, there is the suspenseful final act to consider, as last-minute plans to save mankind and the comet’s eventual arrival deliver an exciting and memorable conclusion.

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