Disaster movies (yawn)

14 11 2011

photo credit: andrewsrj

I am over disaster movies. Whether it be alien invasion, impending asteroid, severe climate change, tidal wave, earthquake, epidemic, zombies, plane crash, world taken over by machines – they are all the same. Often they are just remakes of previous disaster movies as well.

Unfortunately there are people in my houshold who have not suffered through three or four decades of this tired old plot. These people think the movies are new and exciting. Hence I am occasionally subjected to one of these little horrors.

Opening Scene: Introduction of family / young couple in love / idyllic town / business.

(Me = YAWN!)

Impending Doom Scene: Someone knows that a disaster is about to occur. No-one will listen to them as they become more and more desperate, trying to get their message out. (Hello, Harold Camping, purveyor of Rapture dates.) You are required at this point to suspend disbelief no matter how outrageous the plot device. The romantic subplot will have a silly misunderstanding here that alienates our two heroes – about something trivial, nothing serious that the audience might take sides in.

(Me = Dawning of horrific feeling of deja vu. Part of my brain is going to sleep in self-defense. How did I end up in front of this same movie again?)

Beginning of Disaster Scene: – the “disaster” begins. People react in horror and fear, desperately trying to run or hide. Our heroes are semi-prepared and also start to run and hide, but they are more logical and strategic than the panicked masses. There may be an evil person here who will try to hoard resources to save themselves at this point. This is different to what our heroes are doing. Don’t worry, a very special death has been reserved for the evil person towards the end of the movie. Insert alarmed scientist who shows a map of how the entire world is being affected by this disaster (makes the movie more relevant and therefore more saleable around the world).

(Me = PLEASE let it be over soon! Another part of my brain has petrified from boredom.)

photo credit: Abode of Chaos

Mid-Disaster: Complete chaos. Lots of panicky running around by unnamed masses who are probably computer generated. Random things occur, cars fly across the screen and crash onto crowds of apparently disposable people. While monster feet crash down, tidal rushes swamp cities, earthquake ravines open up in roadways swallowing buildings and cars, and running crowds are crushed by toppling buildings (for which we barely pause – no sympathy there for the masses), our individual heroes are seen doing heroic things to save each other (rarely do they save anyone else). About this time someone gets lost or communication is cut off and everyone presumes this means they are dead. This is the bit where the special effects guys get to show their stuff, and you know they had a great time with it. The writers on the other hand have resorted to the formulaic “Hold on, Timmy, I’m coming to save you! Just hold on!” (close up of little Timmy’s hands slowly letting go of whatever tenuous grip he has as he dangles over a canyon – his fingers slowly release their grip just as our hero grabs his wrist and pulls him to safety. Cue triumphant music.) Someone else gets rescued from peril by their estranged husband / coworker that they alway had a crush on, etc, which results in a touching scene where they are reconciled.

(Me = the special effects are interesting – what will they do with the Eiffel Tower and the Capital Building this time? – but the story line (complete with dramatic music score trying to manipulate your emotions) iS dull and predictable.)

photo credit: Abode of Chaos


Disaster Ending: Our heroes have miraculously all survived. The person/s whose communication got cut off and was presumed dead has also miraculously survived and we get to see when they meet up again and realise they are all alright. It is as if Lazarus has risen from the dead again! There may be a sunrise about here accompanied by some uplifting violins.

(Me = nauseated by the schmalzy fake emotions that these movies seem to sell, the fake happy endings – lets forget that millions have perished, the five people whose names we know have all survived!.

Alright – so now you know the plot, no matter what the disaster, can we send a message to Hollywood that these are BORING, FORMULAIC movies? I think what I find particularly objectionable about these movies is the prepackaged and processed “moral of the story” aspects. The evil person gets their comeuppance. Love triumphs. The good people survive (at least the ones we know – there is no comment on whether the masses that perish are representatives of some modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah, or just cannon-fodder for our latter-day tale of simplistic morals.) Misunderstandings are resolved. At the end, a new day dawns and hope remains.

And my brain has crystallised in the course of an hour and a half.

photo credit: mediaspin.com

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