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Top 5 Disaster Movies

Counting down our five favourite Disaster movies

Disaster movies are a difficult thing to define. At first you think of the big CGI-fuelled blockbusters like Armageddon and The Day After Tomorrow to recapitulate the genre, but the further you think the more specific the disasters become. Not only can these films highlight a global catastrophe but could also be a disaster that happens to a smaller amount of people. Whether a real life event like in The Impossible, a boat full of people in Titanic or just a couple of people in the disastrous events of Gravity. All have their place in the nano-genre, and here we countdown our personal favourites.

We created the list on our new episode of The Focus Focus Film Podcast. Listen now wherever you stream your pods.

"If I was in that situation I'd say 'this is a f**king disaster'" - Gareth


5. Greenland

Directed by Ric Roman Waugh

"It's our only chance!"

The reason for this film's success is how against the stereotype it is. Before its release people thought this would be a film where Gerard Butler fights a meteor, but with a budget unrewarding of big CGI set pieces it instead focuses on the characters and the grounded nature of the story. The oranges and reds used in the sky (as shown in the picture here) make this feel so uncomfortably warm and adds to the drama of this excellently tense disaster movie.


4. Independence Day

Directed by Roland Emmerich

"Now that's what I call a close encounter."

Fighting hard not to be tarnished by its disappointing sequel, Independence Day is an over the top, testosterone-full, big alien invasion triumph. It works in a similar way to 80's Action movies and Will Smith plays an excellent leading man.

As is always the case, when Jeff Goldblum is in your film he is the highlight, bringing his usual quirkiness to a typical disaster film. Roland Emmerich is supposed to be the king of the disaster movie, and this one is by far his best.


3. Titanic

Directed by James Cameron

"God himself could not sink this ship."

Now yes for the majority of its runtime this is a romance. It sees Jack and Rose falling in love in an unlikely circumstance. But when this hits the inevitable iceberg-shaped disaster that we know it's going to hit, the execution does not disappoint. It shows a chaos in the human characters that feels unbelievably real, and shots of people falling or giving up create such an eery atmosphere. Yet still, amongst all that, the love story at the film's centre continues to thrive.


2. Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Directed by Matt Reeves

"Caesar is home."

This one's up for debate, but in our eyes there is no way this can be classed as anything before a disaster movie. A lab experiment gone wrong leads the titular apes of this film to rise up and take things into their own hands.

It's chilling in places because its so real, helped first and foremost by Andy Serkis' motion capture work; but it doesn't relent either letting the disaster grow and grow from the moment it begins. It's also an excellent start to a great trilogy.


1. The Impossible

Directed by J. A. Bayona

"We'll look for them together!"

There was no doubt in our minds that this had to take top spot. It's heartbreaking and unpredictable and is one of those rare occasions where you're fixated on the screen from start to finish, shouting at the characters as you feel their turmoil along with them.

It's also tackling a very real, catastrophic event and it does so with such respect. Yes it creates an entertaining film, but you're always aware that this actually happened to real, innocent people.


Worthy Contenders

Films that came close, but for whatever reason, didn't quite make the cut


It feels sacrilege to not have this on a Disaster Movie list, but we think it's a bit overrated.


The disaster doesn't feel the main focus, but it's an outstanding film.

Don't Look Up

Gareth liked this, the rest of us not so much. A modern disaster film told in a different way.

The Impossible is available to rent or buy now

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