Disaster

[9.0] If you think of this movie as Jaws on land, as director Steven Spielberg has suggested, it can’t quite compare to that masterpiece. The characters aren’t strong enough. But it’s still a hell of a summer event movie, delivering groundbreaking effects and well-choreographed thrills. The Michael Crichton story focuses on an island theme park where a wealthy entrepreneur (Richard Attenborough) has resurrected dinosaurs from …

[5.5] Kate Winslet and Idris Elba star as survivors of a small plane crash who must brave snowy mountain terrain and try to stay alive long enough to find help. I was in the mood for a survival flick when I settled in for The Mountain Between Us, but the film barely delivers the goods on that mark. No, it’s very much a romance movie. …

[5.5] Modern-day pirates try to rob a cruise ship at sea only to discover that tentacles creatures from the ocean depths have already claimed the ship’s crew. Deep Rising is a shake-and-bake assembly of Alien and The Poseidon Adventure that pales in comparison to either of those greater movies, but if you’re hard up for some genre thrills, it might do the trick for you. …

[6.0] Decades before James Cameron sank the Titanic and twelve years before Irwin Allen took us on The Poseidon Adventure, writer/director Andrew L. Stone took a pioneering step into the disaster film genre. While Cameron and Allen certainly had more pyrotechnics at their disposal, Stone does a remarkable job utilizing a real luxury liner and building suspense throughout The Last Voyage‘s brisk 91-minute run-time. In …

[2.0] A giant radioactive lizard terrorizes New York City. There are probably at least 100 different ways this could have been more interesting and exciting, but producers Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich (Independence Day) instead opt to make their Godzilla movie two hours and twenty minutes of  implausible, joyless tedium. The characters (if you could call them that) have no spunk, no personality, nothing to …

[6.0] Everest is the true story of a deadly 1996 expedition up Mount Everest in which two climbing parties suffered casualties after a fierce blizzard engulfed the mountain with little warning. The film is more of a dramatic biopic than a sensational survival flick, and while that’s normally a good thing, I do wish Everest were a little more suspenseful or exciting. The ensemble cast …

[7.5] It’s formulaic, overblown and downright preposterous at times, but it’s also everything moviegoers want in a summer action movie. Speed has a tight, rapid-fire script, awesome sound design, a remarkably kinetic score, and surprisingly good acting for a movie of its type. Sandra Bullock gives a sweet, naturalistic performance as a woman stuck driving a bus full of passengers that will explode if it …

[8.0] Chris Pine stars in this emotional rescue story about a heroic Coast Guardsman who leads a small crew into a winter storm to rescue the workers on a sinking oil tanker. The Finest Hours is based on the true 1952 story, which the Coast Guard still regards as their most miraculous mission. The movie may already sound exciting to you — and it is. But …

[6.5] Mark Wahlberg and Kurt Russell headline this true story about the largest oil drilling disaster in American history. Deepwater Horizon is essentially a disaster movie in the grand tradition of that subgenre, but director Peter Berg is sensitive to the fact that 11 men lost their lives in the 2010 tragedy and that crude oil flooded the Gulf of Mexico as a result. BP Oil …

[5.5] John Wayne leads an ensemble cast in this William Wellman film about the passengers and crew of a trans-Pacific flight who experience engine failure and a loss of fuel. When they realize they won’t reach the California shore, everyone prepares for the worst. The High and the Mighty plays more like a straight drama than the disaster flicks that would come after it in the 1970s. …

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