The last couple of Disaster films are on specific weather events that really do happen in the real world, but for cinematic story-telling gets slightly exaggerated. Unlike the other films though, these aren’t major disasters of the Humanity Wipe type. All that happens is a couple of persons get cooked, get roasted – that sort of thing.
The first on my list is Twister, a film that Steven Spielberg produced but did not direct. This was one of the early disaster films too, and boasted CG work that looks very good even for today. I think the film was nominated for a couple of awards, including one very well-deserved award for sound.
The story concerned itself with teams of storm ‘chasers’ who seek out tornados in order to better understand them. In reality, there’re indeed such experts and (arguably) slightly crazy persons who study and actively seek out out extreme weather. While the film did succeed in introducing a relatively unknown geographical expert area to the general public, it also got panned by the real experts in the field, at least on IMDB.
For instance, one actual storm chaser said that if he saw a tornado coming his way, the last thing he’d do is to drive to it to study it. He’d instead be driving in the other direction – at top speed – and then dry out his pants that he’d just peed into LOL.
Still, I liked the film because it was new material that I wasn’t familiar with, and I always enjoy films with Helen Hunt, who played the leader of one such team. Bill Paxton – the psycho and paranoid marine from Aliens – shows up as the love interest and fellow expert.
And oh yes – there’s a scene where you’ll see flying cows. Literally. Hilarious scene.:)
1997 followed with two films of the same type: of volcanoes. The first was Dante’s Peak, and the show concerned a normally dormant volcano and a vibrant yet intimate small town situated right next to it. The volcano is detected to show signs of exploding, but the town’s inhabitants choose to disbelieve it. When it does explode, well, there you go. It’s Pompeii revisited.
I liked the two leads in the cast. There was Pierce Brosnan who’d been selected as the new James Bond then and had completed Goldeneye two years before. He played the volcanologist – and that’s a real profession mind you – who first discovers the rumblings. Opposite him was Linda Hamilton, a.k.a. Mrs. James Cameron before they split, and best known for her role as Sarah Connor from the first two Terminator films. Hamilton played the love interest and the town’s mayor.
Dante’s Peak was lauded by persons in the field, and deservedly so too as director Ronald Donaldson actively sought the participation of real volcanologists to ensure that the events leading to and after the eruption looked and felt like the real thing. And this was no small feat at all, because volcanology is not a safe science. Lots of people get killed by those things.
The other volcano film that year was titled Volcano, but the story had a twist. The setting was in Los Angeles, and I think that a recent earthquake apparently looses tectonic plates sufficiently enough (I’m working on memory here from 12 years ago) for molten lava to seep into the sewerage systems of the city. Soon enough, lava explodes throughout the city, and lots of people get steamed like siew mais, cooked, melted etc.
This film was certainly unusual, since we typically think of volcanoes sitting on top of big mountains. So, the premise was at least refreshing, even if the story ultimately ridiculous. I mean, assuming if there’s indeed a volcano erupting beneath a major city, the last thing ‘experts’ should be doing is walking around in dark sewerage tunnels feeling the walls for ambient temperature. I would be running on the surface as fast as my legs can carry me LOL.
Thinking back though, all three films were released at about the same time period, and I caught all three at the old Cathay in the 90s’ before the theatre was shut down for that several years and re-opened 2 years ago.
And that concludes the series of five posts on Disaster films. Hmm – what should I write on next LOL.