Page 2: When Did Everyone Stop Enjoying Disaster Movies?

Page 2 is a compilation of stories and news tidbits, which for whatever reason, didn't make the front page of /Film. After the jump we've included 36 different items, fun images, videos, casting tidbits, articles of interest and more. It's like a mystery grab bag of movie web related goodness.

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When Did Everyone Stop Enjoying Disaster Movies?

One of the best teaser trailers of all time is the Independence Day commercial that aired during Super Bowl XXX. The $1.3 million 30-second spot was simple, a couple shots of alien ships approaching earth, text on the screen, people running, and then the reveal of a ship destroying the White House in a way we've never seen before.

The commercial ended with the text "Enjoy the Superbowl, because it may be your last". Even the adults in my household were left talking about that 30 second television commercial more than the game itself. In school the next day, thats all the kids were talking about.  And we all counted the days until Independence Day was released in July 1996. The movie was a big event, in the days before every summer had many event blockbusters. And people left the film loving the popcorn entertainment.

Or at least thats the way I remember it.

Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic seem to paint a less enthusiastic story from the side of the movie critics, but many of those reviews have been written in more recent years.

the day after tomorrowIs it possible that such a movie only appeals to a younger audience? Or was ID4 better? I know when The Day After Tomorrow was released years later, I enjoyed it much less than Roland Emmerich's earlier disaster film. But many people of the generation younger than me seemed to really like that film. 

Over the last two decades, dozens of popcorn disaster films have hit the big screen, most of which have not made a huge impact on popular culture. But why? Could the evolution of visual effects be partly to blame?

Is it possible that the more practical visual effects achieved in Independence Day somehow appealed to a greater audience than the computer generated effects of the more recent disaster films? Do we find these big blockbuster spectacles a little less spectacular now that most of the action is created by artists behind a computer screen?


Or could it be that we live in a post 9/11 world not interested in watching stories of people in crisis coming together during a huge disasters. We've seem to become more obsessed with post apocalyptic visions of an already destroyed future. Or could it be that we are just more cynical, less accepting of the ridiculous situations constructed for these films?

I don't think ID4 is an incredibly well written film, its just a fun movie — but have its successors been somehow less fun or more dumbed down?

I still enjoy disaster movies. As much as I was annoyed at some of the stupid characters and more stupid story developments of 2012, I really enjoyed that film. On a pure popcorn level, it was fun watching John Cusack drive his family in a limousine, outracing an oncoming earthquake to the Santa Monica airport, where they boarded a small plane and took off in just enough time to see Los Angeles crumble behind them.  To me this is popcorn entertainment at its finest.

Sure its a CG-fest, but its ridiculous fun.

San Andreas Movie Poster

And I've yet to see San Andreas starring The Rock, but it looks like it could pack the dumb fun of the best disaster movies of the last twenty years — so why aren't more people excited to see it? Do people now find such movies below their intelligence grade? Is the idea at the core of the plot that ridiculous? Or does it just look bad?

Maybe it has to do with elevated expectations? We live in a time when comic book movies rise to the level of Christopher Nolan complexity. Is it harder to take in a movie the same way we do a fun disposable rollercoaster ride at an amusement park?

I'm planning to see the film this weekend in 4DX, a 4D movie theater experience we reviewed previously on the site. I feel like if there is any movie to fully take advantage of 4DX, it has to be San Andreas. So instead of seeing a press screening, Germain and I have waited to see the film in 4DX and we'll be recording a reaction after the screening which will be posted sometime next week (so look out for that).

One thing that also makes me excited about San Andreas is that it looks to be a bit different than the Roland Emmerich expansive ensemble films we've had in the past. At least judging from the advertisements, it appears to follow far less characters, maybe even just a few characters (The Rock and his family), through the insane events of the day. Keeping the story contained to one family makes the story feel a bit more interesting to me. But again, I haven't seen the movje yet so I could be wrong about that premise or even my assumption that the execution might be more compelling.

And of course, disaster movies keep making money (2012 made $65 million on opening weekend alone) because Hollywood wouldn't still make them if people didn't see them. But I don't usually encounter many people excited or taken with them these days. It could be that I'm in a film geek and film critic bubble of sorts in terms of my friends and social media, but I seem to be one of the lone few in my one degree bubble that is excited for San Andreas, and I can't really understand why.

Okay guys, lets get to today's edition of Page 2.


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