We’ve been through so much in the last year and a half that it would be nice to sit back and watch other people deal with a significant crisis. Streaming an old-school disaster movie is the safest and most enjoyable method of doing just that if you’re considering it. Epics like The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno, romantic tragedy and spectacle like Titanic, pandemics like The Andromeda Strain or Contagion, or the near-end of the world like Armageddon and Geostorm are all good options for rewatching old favorites. The 35 finest natural catastrophe movies, as revealed in this list, also include movies on earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and much more.
1. 2012 (2009)
Roland Emmerich, the producer and director of Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, and 2012, is one of the few filmmakers who enjoy destroying the planet as much as he does. The core of the Earth is heated by a large solar flare in the event of the latter. Catastrophic earthquakes and tsunamis are expected to occur in the near future as a result of these changes. Sci-fi writer John Cusack stars as a struggling writer who is determined to keep his children alive while trying to reach the many spacecraft that have been built for humanity’s survival. What do you think? They will, of course, but not before avoiding a series of seemingly impossible situations as the world crumbles around them. If you’re looking for a show, here is the place to go!
2. Airport (1970)
Airport is recognized with inventing the catastrophe cinema genre, which has been around for more than half a century since its release. With big-name stars like Dean Martin and Helen Hayes portraying a diverse group of people, the formula is undoubtedly there: collect a variety of folks from all walks of life, get to know them a little, and watch as they’re placed into an insane predicament they need to survive. When a bomb goes off in mid-air, the plane’s structural integrity is compromised, resulting in an emergency landing in the middle of a blizzard. Universal Pictures’ biggest hit at the time, Airport received 10 Academy Award nominations. Airport 1975, Airport ’77, and The Concorde: Airport ’79 were all sequels that were not nominated for an Oscar, despite the fact that they were all based on real-life disasters (the title plane desperately tries to survive missiles that have targeted it). Airplane, the 1980 spoof film, has the most fun with this series, of course.
3. The Andromeda Strain (1971)
Another world invades the atmosphere and decimates a little Arizona town, as described in Michael Crichton’s book of the same name (Jurassic Park, ER). This unsettling thriller is based on the novel. Scientists are scrambling to contain the spread of this virus as quickly as possible. The stakes in this one, despite being based in science fiction, feel disturbingly real. TV miniseries of The Andromeda Strain were filmed in 2008.
4. A Night to Remember (1958)
We’re warning you ahead of time: Don’t expect a Titanic-like experience from this picture (most notably, the fact that there is no Rose or Jack). As a result, this is a strong and dramatic depiction of the RMS Titanic’s journey from Southampton (England) to New York City, which was disrupted when it struck an iceberg and began taking on water. Due to a paucity of lifeboats, most passengers and personnel would perish. Titanic’s fourth officer Joseph Boxhall and ex-Cunard Commodore Harry Grattidge were among those who served as technical consultants for the film’s docudrama-style narrative about the ship’s second officer, Charles Lightoller (Kenneth More). The film’s poignancy is heightened by the fact that it was made 46 years after the catastrophe.
5. Armageddon (1998)
In the event of a direct collision with Earth, the planet would experience an extinction event similar to the one that took out the dinosaurs. (Don’t you hate it when this happens?) By Dan Truman (Billy Bob Thornton), a nuclear weapon might conceivably detonate an asteroid by landing on it, drilling down into it, and detonating it. Who would be able to take on such a challenge? Only world-renowned drilling aficionado Harry Stamper (Bruce Willis) comes up with the solution. One of them is A.J. (Ben Affleck), who has been dating Harry’s daughter, Grace, while on the road (Liv Tyler). If you’ve ever seen a Michael Bay film, then you know it’s going to be epic.
6. Cold Zone (2017)
Discovering the frozen animal carcasses in the Alaskan wilderness reveals an environmentalist who had warned the scientific community about the dangers of a worldwide freeze, but was disregarded by the community. As expected, those events unfolded exactly as he prophesied, despite the fact that he was considered insane at the time. This is Summers’ last chance to save us from becoming popsicles. We’d say it’s serious.
7. Contagion (2011)
Mitch Emhoff (Matt Damon), the husband of Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow), is informed by doctors that they are unable to determine the cause of her death. A virus has been unleashed and it’s a race to identify and contain it while producing a vaccine when others die in the same way. There’s a lot of discussion about how epidemics affect society, which is all too familiar right now.
8. The Core (2003)
Dr. Josh Keyes (Aaron Eckhart), a geophysicist, is another in a long series of scientists who have discovered something that threatens the existence of all life on the planet. Because the planet’s inner core no longer rotates, this causes our atmosphere to disintegrate as Earth’s magnetic field weakens. If Keyes and other scientists can drill to the core of the Earth and detonate a nuclear bomb, the thinking is that it will be enough to restart the core. Hilary Swank, Delroy Lindo, Stanley Tucci, Alfre Woodard, and Bruce Greenwood also star.
9. Dante’s Peak (1997)
Two experts in volcanology, Harry Dalton (Pierce Brosnan) and Rachel Wando (Linda Hamilton), know that a massive, atomic-bomb-sized eruption is imminent. Additionally, Wando’s children have gone missing while on a rescue attempt to retrieve their grandma; hence, she and Dalton set out to find the pair even while the world around them is exploding. This was a film that Brosnan made while he was away from his James Bond duties.
10. The Day After Tomorrow (2004)
In The Day After Tomorrow, filmmaker Roland Emmerich gave it a go before he unleashed the apocalypse in 2012. To prove that these catastrophe films are formulaic in their plots (and that Dennis Quaid’s Jack Hall is ignored by officials when he provides them proof of possible danger), a superstorm creates tragedies over the globe. It’s too late for Jack to just say, “I told you so,” because his kid is imprisoned in New York City and he needs to get there as soon as possible.
11. Daylight (1996)
There’s only one man who can lead a rescue attempt for those who have survived the New Jersey Tunnel explosion: Sylvester Stallone as Kit Latura, who plays the lone survivor who crashes into trucks full of poisonous waste. Sage Stallone, the late son of Sylvester Stallone, also appears in the film.
12. The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961)
Early in the genre, and bold for its time, this is a great example.
With Janet Munro’s weather forecaster Jeannie Craig, Edward Judd and Leo McKern determine that the simultaneous nuclear bomb testing undertaken by the United States and Russia had caused the Earth’s rotation to be disturbed. There are fires and earthquakes as a result, and the three heroes are working on a solution. I don’t know about you, but none of our weather forecasters have been given the responsibility of rescuing the world. Impressive.
13. Deep Impact (1998)
Let us know if you’ve previously heard this one: The Earth is on the verge of being wiped out by a comet that is on a collision course with the globe. To destroy the comet, the president of the United States (Morgan Freeman) plans to send Robert Duvall’s former astronaut Spurgeon “Fish” Tanner and his team to rendezvous with it. In other words, it’s the exact same story as Armageddon, which was published a month after it.
14. Deepwater Horizon (2016)
Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg) and his team are caught in the middle of an enormous fireball when the Deepwater Horizon rig explodes in the Gulf of Mexico. Based on a true incident, they are forced to think their way out of the flames and smoke in order to save their lives. Additionally, Gina Rodriguez, Kurt Russell, Kate Hudson, and John Malkovich are cast in the film as well.
15. Earthquake (1974)
This one was released in the midst of the ’70s calamity eruption (pun intended). Stewart Graff (Charlton Heston) and Denise Maxwell (Jennifer Connelly) begin an affair at the same time as there are numerous earthquakes in Los Angeles (Genevieve Bujold). As a result, chaos reigns across the board. New sound system “Sensurround,” which proclaimed, “You’ll feel it as well as see it!” was a significant selling point of Earthquake in its heyday. The format didn’t survive long.
16. Flood (2007)
Unprecedented sea levels have been recorded in the Atlantic Ocean as a result of a deadly storm surge. Barrier experts and marine engineers work together to keep London from being completely destroyed.
17. Geostorm (2017)
When it comes to subject matter, Dean Devlin, who worked with producer/director Emmerich, sticks to what he’s familiar with. It was after several natural disasters that countries around the world collaborated to create a satellite system that could control the climate on a global level. A “Geostorm” appears to be imminent, but then something goes terribly wrong, and the satellites begin assaulting the Earth. When Jake Lawson (Gerard Butler) discovers the truth, he’s on a race against time to find out what’s going on.
18. Greenland (2020)
In this film, the focus is not on the spectacle, but rather on a family (headed by Gerard Butler) that is searching for a way out of an impending apocalyptic event brought on by a comet. Along the way, they see both the good and the bad in people, from those who want to help one another to those who are just thinking about themselves.
19. The Impossible (2012)
Spectacle or dazzling the audience with incredible visual effects is not our goal here. The movie is about the impact of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami on a vacationing family and locals, how they try to pick up the pieces, and the power of people reaching out in a time of desperation, and it is a gritty, realistic (based on a true story) story.. As for the cast, it includes Oscar-nominated actress Naomi Watts, actor Ewan McGregor, and actors Tom Holland and Geraldine Chaplin.
20. Into the Storm (2014)
When a succession of rapidly developing tornadoes hit Silverton (and there are reports of more on the way), it’s hard to know whether to pay attention to the residents or storm-chasers who won’t go into the storm to try to learn more. There is a lot of hand-held video and people talking directly to the camera in this film, which is known as the “found footage” format. Consider Cloverfield or The Blair Witch Project as past instances.
21. Krakatoa, East of Java (1969)
The film is based on the 1883 eruption of the Krakatoa volcano, which took place in the 19th century. A group of treasure hunters (including a number of convicted criminals) are shown in the film trying their best to survive while searching for a sunken treasure. They are willing to put their lives in danger to get their hands on the treasure. Although the film’s title is incorrect in that Krakatoa is actually located to the west of Java, the movie company didn’t want to allow a little thing like facts get in the way of a memorable title.”
22. Outbreak (1995)
Two things make this pandemic film stand out: Dustin Hoffman’s portrayal as contagious disease expert Colonel Sam Daniels, MD, and the direction of Wolfgang Peterson, who previously directed the gripping World War II drama Das Boot. Dustin Hoffman plays Colonel Sam Daniels, MD (1981). Smuggled into the United States, a dangerous virus infects a monkey from Africa. The sickness quickly spreads throughout the country.
23. The Perfect Storm (2000)
Whatever your opinion of Peterson’s directing on Outbreak, you’ll see him at the pinnacle of his craft in this film, released five years later. The story of the fishing boat Andrea Gail and its crew, who are forced to contend with three opposing weather fronts colliding in the open ocean, is based on a true occurrence from 1991. The ship is battered by 40-foot waves, and the men are trying everything they can to stay alive. In addition to Wahlberg, John C. Reilly, and William Fichter, George Clooney leads an impressive cast.
24. Pompeii (2014)
Set in 79 A.D., the story centers on a forbidden love affair between Kit Harington’s (who plays the gladiator) and the daughter of a wealthy merchant in Pompeii (Emily Browning). The story of their affair, which is jeopardized by her engagement to a Roman senator (Kiefer Sutherland), is set against the backdrop of Mount Vesuvius’s impending eruption, which would wipe out everyone and everything in its path.
25. The Poseidon Adventure (1972)
The S.S. Poseidon cruise ship is hit by a 90-foot tidal wave and sinks as a result of this classic 1970s disaster movie from filmmaker Irwin Allen. The majority are drowned, but those who remain must descend to the ship’s hull, which is now well above them, in order to reach the ship’s bottom before it sinks to the bottom of the ocean. In addition to Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Shelley Winters, Stella Stevens, Roddy McDowall, and Leslie “Don’t call me Shirley” Nielsen, the film features a stellar ensemble.
26. The Rains Came (1939)
Over the course of the last 80 years, movies have explored the idea of a fatal plague, the earliest of which is The Rains Came.
Myrna Loy, a British lady living in India with a husband who treats her horribly, finds herself attracted to Major Rama Safti, an Indian doctor (Tyrone Power).
The outbreak of a pandemic occurs at the same time that their relationship blossoms.
27. Titanic (1997)
Is considered one of director James Cameron’s greatest works of cinema. For one thing, in the final section of the film, the characters deal with the realization that most of them are going to die as the Titanic sinks—and the visual effects employed to portray the visual elements of what plays out are quite astonishing. If Cameron hadn’t sold the relationship between Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet’s characters, none of this would have mattered at all. After all these years, the only thing that still irks us about Titanic is Rose throwing that diamond into the sea. Rose, come on! Keep your loved ones in mind.
28. Twister (1996)
Tornado data-gathering plans stolen from a team of storm chasers (played by Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton) bring an ex-couple back together, and they need to use it before the competition does. This film has a solid screenplay, but it’s the visuals that really shine.
29. San Andreas (2015)
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is the best person to toss at a magnitude nine earthquake. One of the most devastating quakes in history is unleashed when this one unfolds on the San Andreas fault. “Ray Gaines” is LAFD search and rescue chopper pilot Johnson. He wants to get his estranged wife and daughter out of harm’s way as quickly as possible.
30. Shockwave (2017)
It is impossible for geophysicist Kate Ferris (Stacey Iristano) to persuade the military that a new gadget is being utilized to generate volcanic storms. Morgan Lindholm and her mother meet with her estranged husband (Rib Hillis) in an attempt to thwart the San Andreas fault line’s catastrophe.
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31. The Towering Inferno (1974)
Irwin Allen’s latest ’70s classic, this one set in a high-rise San Francisco building that explodes into flames, forcing an all-star ensemble to scramble to escape. Faye Dunaway, Steve McQueen, Fay Astaire, William Holden, Richard Chamberlain and Jennifer Jones are just some of the actors that will be in attendance. Incredible in and of itself, right? All of the effects, including the “flames,” were created live on set and not computer-generated. The old-fashioned way of making them is long gone.
32. Unstoppable (2010)
An out-of-control autonomous train loaded with deadly chemicals poses a threat to the people and the environment if it derails and spills. Chris Pine and Denzel Washington co-star. It’s time for both of them to get on the speeding train and figure out a way of stopping it from accelerating any farther.
33. Volcano (1997)
A major earthquake in Los Angeles causes a volcano to grow in the sewer system, which explodes, spewing lava into the air and causing extensive damage. In an attempt to redirect the lava, Mike Roark (Tommy Lee Jones), the chief of the Emergency Management Department, and geologist Dr. Amy Barnes (Anne Heche) work together to come up with an idea. Dante’s Peak was also made around the same time and released around the same time.
34. The Wave (2015)
Norwegian catastrophe film with subtitles about a major rockslide that causes a 260-foot-tall tidal wave that sweeps across the ocean floor. There is a geologist and his family at the center of the film who are doing everything in their power to avoid impending death.
35. When the Sky Falls / Deadly Voltage (2015)
If you’re looking for an all-encompassing view of the human toll of natural disasters, you might want to check out this one. Yes, another family has been torn apart, but nothing like a tremendous lightning storm to erase the hurts of the past and help you realize what’s most essential in life is. Everyone gasps in awe.