Sunday, November 15, 2009
Now before I launch into a one woman show about the state of films in 2009 and Hollywood and unoriginality – I want express my love – love love love for disaster films. My first disaster film was Towering Inferno – the mega skyscraper in the skyline of San Francisco that bursts into flames – a stellar cast of actual somebody’s – Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, William Holden, Faye Dunaway, Fred Astaire, Richard Chamberlain to name but a few – I remembering watching it on TV in the early 80’s and loved it [I was also pleased that it was made in the year of my birth but I digress]. Likewise the Poseidon Adventure – that giant boat hit by the tidal wave - you can’t forget Shelley Winters performance and her swimming medal or the fact that the tables stuck on the ceiling – and Airport with the glamorous soap opera styling that lead to a string of sequels [I will try to forget about Karen Black landing the plane in a later sequel].
In recent years they have remade Poseidon [which was not a copy rather a good film in its own right] and [thankfully] also revamped the genre to suit audiences tastes – look at Cloverfield – Godzilla with Blair Witch styling’s and a good storyline. Or Titanic – the love story where the boat sinks [minus the fact that a woman of breeding would never flip the bird but that’s James Cameron for you] Now with CGI the disasters actually look real – and that much more scary because they do look believable.
But [back to the rant] for every Poseidon or Inferno – there is an Earthquake [please they just shook the camera and pushed over Ava Gardner] and Independence Day [the least I say about that waste of time, film and my life seeing that the better]. And unfortunately 2012 is not so much the ship hitting the iceberg – it’s really the giant moth of 1960’s Japanese disaster film Mosura laying the giant egg of a celluloid stinker in your local theatre.
So your basic premise of any disaster the film is the actual disaster and the effects – generally the best of that year of the film release [Even I have to admit Inferno is now dated and clearly a lego model - but at the time totally believable ]. Now I must admit that 2012 effects are extraordinary. LA plunging into the sea, tidal waves the size of Mt Everest, earthquakes to swallow Las Vegas and a Volcano to rival the destruction of Pompeii – well that is worth seeing on the big screen for – hands down.
But with any movie it’s also about the story - essentially the story of survival for disaster films. Now you need to choose your stars and their characters wisely as you want them to survive and you want to cheer when they do. 2012 - I couldn’t care less if all of the characters were swallowed up by the sea and you just watched more destruction of the Earth due to the alignment of planets [as predicted by the Mayan’s – that’s the premise]. Poor script, poor characters and poor choice of stars. Hands down.
I hope the next blockbuster disaster film won’t be so [insert own cliche here] If you go – go on a 2 for 1 deal or similar and only go for the effects.
2 natural disasters out of 5 [again only for the CGI].