Bad weather, great movies

Ranking best ecological disaster movies


"Children of Men" is one of the greatest ecological disaster movies of all time.

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of movies about sensible environmental policies being executed to the desired effect. In the film world, it’s all about the opposite — and there’s nothing quite like a great ecological disaster film. There’s something thrilling about watching an asteroid “the size of Texas” hurtling towards Earth, or a tornado ripping its way through Oklahoman houses and movie theaters. Here are five of the best ecological disaster movies of all time.

No. 5: “The Happening”

A classic example of the “so-bad-it’s-good” genre, “The Happening” stars Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel as husband and wife fighting for their lives against rogue plants. Yes, plants — leafy greens all over the globe releasing toxins that kill humans. The plot is a little too muddled to understand why this is happening. However, it’s implied humans have become too much of a threat to Earth, so Earth is fighting back. Despite the bizarre premise, this could potentially — potentially — make for a relevant, environmental cautionary tale, but it falls flat in every way imaginable. M. Night Shyamalan’s bumbling direction has never been more heavy-handed than in “The Happening,” as evidenced by the famously horrible dialogue and the countless extreme close-ups of Marky Mark’s face warped into hilarious horror. It’s an incredibly bad movie, but an incredibly good time.

No. 4: “Armageddon”

Though far from an intellectual movie — it could be argued that it actively discourages thinking too hard — “Armageddon” is nonetheless a step up in movie-making quality. For those unfamiliar with the plot, an enormous, imminent asteroid is on its way to destroy Earth, and only a group of mediocre white male actors — Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck among them — can save the world. The movie tries a little too hard to be a father-son bonding experience, as evidenced by the cast, the plot and dad-rock soundtrack that features everything from Aerosmith to Journey. Despite its shameless catering and lack of a brain, “Armageddon” is still a great way to spend a couple hours — just don’t think too hard.

No. 3: “Twister”

This is essentially just “Armageddon” with a tornado instead of an asteroid as the antagonist — it’s just as fun and almost as stupid. To be fair, the cast is a little more diverse, featuring a few female roles alongside Bill Paxton’s lead. Helen Hunt is especially notable as Paxton’s love interest — a tornado-hunter obsessed with the phenomena ever since her father was killed by one of them. The film still is not terribly heavy on plot, but that doesn’t stop it from being enjoyable. When a movie is arguably more famous for its theme park ride counterpart — something that both “Armageddon” and “Twister” have — it’s safe to say that it isn’t going to be incredibly thought-provoking.

No. 2: “Wall-E”

With two “Cars” movies in existence and a third on the way, it’s no longer accurate to claim that Pixar can do no wrong. That being said, “Wall-E” is a prime example of the studio’s golden age. As a well-balanced blend of interesting storyline, gorgeous animation and just enough politics to get younger watchers thinking, the movie works by being both an entertaining and cautionary tale. Wall-E is an adorable robot and one of Earth’s last inhabitants, whose job it is to compact the world’s trash into manageable cubes. Things get interesting with the introduction of love interest Eve, along with all of the humans who abandoned their home planet and its problems long ago. One of Pixar’s most thought-provoking films, “Wall-E” is a timeless, beautiful classic.

No. 1: “Children of Men”

This brilliant, complex film is the clear standout in the list. In the year 2027, no babies have been born for the past 18 years. The reason for this is never explicitly stated, but it is implied that decreased air quality due to pollution is the main culprit. Clive Owen plays a political defector who joins forces with Claire-Hope Ashitey’s character, a pregnant immigrant who may be the only woman on Earth still able to conceive. What follows is a gripping — at times brutal — incredible film. “Children of Men” is notable on multiple levels. It juggles several themes at once, such pollution and reproductive and immigration rights. Not only is it a beautifully-shot and well-acted movie, but also it contains messages that only become more relevant with time.

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