5 Things

June 3, 2015

Top 5 Disaster Movies

Disaster movies remind us of the natural perils and tragedies of life. Unlike typical action movies, the action in disaster movies are often emotionally detailed, forcing the audience to care for the characters and their fates. They can also leave us feeling awed at the kind of human spirit that dangerous situations can provoke even if we leave the theater knowing that it was fiction. It is only on occasion in today’s Hollywood epoch that we witness a high grade disaster film, although San Andreas, released last week, was shockingly enjoyable (review later in the week). Let’s take a stroll down memory lane and revisit some of the genre’s best that yesterday’s cinema has to offer to mark the release of the Dwayne Johnson earthquake flick.


The hype was through the roof when ‘Titanic‘ was released back in 1997. But now that 18 years have gone by, how does it hold up? Well, still rather well as it happens.

The plot may be thin but then it is about a sinking ship, afterall! Director James Cameron made the smart choice to focus mainly on two particular characters in order to get the audience to care about the people on the ship when it eventually hits that fateful iceberg. Solely written by James Cameron, the dialogue occasionally suffers. Kate Winslet’s Rose DeWitt Bukater almost constantly calling out for Jack’s name can become irritating quite quickly, but the second half of the film will take your breath away when you feel like you are almost going to drown with them. As with Terminator 2, there is plenty of character development in the first act allowing us to connect with the characters, and by the end of it all it only feels like 90 minutes have surpassed instead of 180 minutes.

Titanic is one disaster movie that is timeless.

‘Airport 1975’

In this witer’s opinion the best of the Airport series, Airport 1975 is packed with heart stopping tension when a jumbo jet strikes an oncoming small plane causing the pilot to be sucked out of a sizeable hole in the cockpit. With the plane still airborn, one of the stewardesses, played by the late Karen Black, takes it upon herself to pilot the craft and land the behemoth. If there was ever a movie to turn somebody off from flying then the odds would be on that Airport 1975 would do the trick! Taking place much of the time in the cockpit, stewardess Nancy, with the aid of the control tower, follows instructions in order to prevent disaster. But the terror is not contained there, as passengers become fearful for their lives when they witness things, such as fuel leaking over the wings. Added to Nancy’s problems are decrease in altitude and eventual loss of radio communication!

Forget the likes of Snakes on a Plane. Airport 1975 is fraught with genuine soaring terror!

‘The Poseidon Adventure’

There are motion pictures that tell the story of sinking ships, but what happens when a cruise ship is hit by a tidal wave , turning it upside down with only a small group of living passengers trying to find their way out of the situation? That is the story of the Poseidon Adventure, which includes an all star cast including Gene Hackman and Shelley Winters.

Hackman takes charge as Reverend Scott who seems to have the brains to come up with the plan to lead the rest to escape, but along the way there is heartbreak and extreme danger. Their defiance shows through, however, which all leads to a much pined for conclusion in this 1970’s classic.


Alive is the true account of a rugby team from Uruguay who survive a plane crash over the Andes mountains only to find themselves stranded with very limited food and water. Eventually, they resort to cannibalism in order to survive by consuming team mates who succumbed to hypothermia and starvation.

Alive is one such example of a movie that showcases the strength of the human spirit. Although the plane crash is shown in horrific detail, the subsequent events that take place are much more frightening, and at times nauseating. But everything the survivors do are for the right reasons as things get more desperate as the clock continually ticks down!

‘Independence Day’

Independence Day was released in an era long before Summer blockbuster movies began to lose substance like they have in recent years. The film that kickstarted Will Smith’s movie career, Independence Day is about a global alien invasion. Sometimes the tone of the film can be one of cheese, especially during the major spaceship chase sequences, but there are many ascents and descents of mood, most notably when the aliens are revealed and what their true intentions are. Made on a budget of approximately $70m, it grossed a return profit of around $800m and its groundbreaking special effects won an Oscar in 1996, setting a new standard for Summer blockbuster movies to come. A standard that sadly has not been consistently kept, especially now in a time when superhero movies saturate the market.

Let us know what your favorite disaster movie is in the comment section below!

About the Author

Lee Skavydis
Lee Skavydis
I am a die hard movie fan, owning over 500 movies on both DVD and Blu Ray. I try to go to the cinema at least once a week when time permits. My other hobbies include following fight sports such as boxing, travelling around, writing and editing, listening to heavy rock and cook the odd occasional recipe. I used to write for several prolific boxing websites, interviewing some of the most famous names associated with the sport around.


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