August 2020


disaster movie

The Day After Tomorrow (2004)

day afterDIRECTOR: Roland Emmerich

CAST: Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal, Emmy Rossum, Ian Holm, Sela Ward, Dash Mihok, Jay O. Sanders, Kenneth Welsh, Austin Nichols, Tamlyn Tomita, Glenn Plummer, Nestor Serrano


By now, anyone walking into the theater to see a movie whose opening credits include “a film by Roland Emmerich” should know what to expect.  From Independence Day to the deservedly much-maligned 1998 Godzilla reboot, to his later disaster movie 2012, Emmerich reliably serves up a cocktail of similar ingredients: a sprawling ensemble of one-dimensional characters scurrying around in the wake of some cataclysm, including corny dialogue, earnestly overdramatic speechifying, a bunch of splashy special effects, the gleeful annihilation of famous landmarks (especially ones located in New York City), and a tidal wave of cliches as towering as any onscreen.  Within that narrow variance of mediocre and slightly above or below, The Day After Tomorrow falls somewhere in the marginally above average range; it’s more watchable than Godzilla but not as cheesily entertaining as Independence Day (probably Emmerich’s biggest “epic”).  It’s wildly over-the-top global disaster scenario bears more than a passing resemblance to the even more wildly over-the-top 2012.  Unfortunately, a slightly above average Roland Emmerich movie is still mediocre by general film standards.  Nonetheless, those who watch what Emmerich churns out should know what they’re getting, and if all you demand is some big-budget effects of mass destruction and some “check your brain at the door” disaster movie sequences, The Day After Tomorrow should prove serviceable entertainment. Continue reading

Deep Impact (1998)

DIRECTOR: Mimi Leder


Téa Leoni, Robert Duvall, Elijah Wood, Morgan Freeman, Leelee Sobieski, Maximilian Schell, Vanessa Redgrave, James Cromwell, Ron Eldard, Jon Favreau, Laura Innes, Mary McCormack, Richard Schiff, Blair Underwood, Dougray Scott, Betsy Brantley, Denise Crosby, Mike O’Malley, Kurtwood Smith, Charles Martin Smith


An asteroid on a collision course with Earth, threatening the very existence of mankind. Any number of movies have examined this theme, most of them forgettable. Deep Impact, director Mimi Leder’s take on this scenario and a product of Steven Spielberg’s Dreamworks Pictures, came out almost back-to-back with Armageddon, Michael Bay and Jerry Bruckheimer’s action flick. The basic premises were similar- humanity launches a desperate mission to destroy an approaching asteroid large enough to wipe out all life on Earth- but the filmmakers’ ways of approaching it were not. Continue reading

Titanic (1997)

DIRECTOR: James Cameron

CAST: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Gloria Stuart, David Warner, Bill Paxton, Kathy Bates, Frances Fisher, Victor Garber, Bernard Hill, Danny Nucci, Jonathan Hyde, Suzy Amis, Eric Braeden, Jenette Goldstein, Ioan Gruffudd


With sci-fi thrillers like The Terminator, Terminator 2, Aliens, and The Abyss, and the action-comedy True Lies under his belt, James Cameron turned his sights in a totally different direction for his next project….a romance set onboard the notorious ill-fated luxury ship the RMS Titanic. Nearly anyone knows the basics of the story of the 1912 disaster, with more than 1,500 of the 2,200-plus passengers, including many rich and famous of the day, perishing at sea when the “unsinkable” ship struck an iceberg on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City, but none among the many, many films to deal with Titanic had the means to bring the massive ship and its end to the screen with such visual splendor.  To draw crowds, Cameron centered his script around a star struck love story, cast with primed-to-explode heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio and soon-to-be Oscar nominee Kate Winslet.  Titanic clearly struck a chord with audiences, standing for twelve years as the highest-grossing film of all time, surpassed only by Cameron’s next film, 2009’s Avatar.  Unfortunately, it’s also overrated, and the story doesn’t equal the spectacular visuals surrounding it. Continue reading