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The 5 Lamest Disasters in Disaster Movie History

Hollywood loves a good disaster and, let's face it, the end of the world looks cool as hell on screen. If you show us a bunch of exploding monuments, we'll buy a ticket.

But apparently Hollywood ran out of the really good disasters a long time ago, because sometimes they end up using disasters that appear to be just barely more than mild inconveniences. Such as:

#5.
Volcano

The Disaster:

When the La Brea Tar Pits inexplicably turn into a goddamn volcano, it's up to a plucky geologist (Anne Heche) and a Dedicated Emergency Management director who can't fry up scrambled eggs without injuring himself (Tommy Lee Jones) to save Los Angeles from the river of lava now flowing down Wilshire Boulevard.

Why They Should Calm The Hell Down:

After a character points out early in the film that some volcanoes can erupt with the force of a nuclear blast, we find out that, wait, no, the one under LA is really small. It barely erupts at all, really, just oozes lava down the street.

Here's the interesting thing about lava: It's not very fast. Wait, did we say interesting? We meant boring.


"Hurry, the lava's gaining on us, we only have three minutes. And six hours. And eleven days."

Sure, on a particularly steep slope, a lava flow might get up past 6 miles per hour but on more gentle inclines it tends to top off at about 1/2 a mile per hour, only slightly faster than a turtle can walk. So of course the movie has tons of scenes on steep inclines, so the lava can come rushing down on the characters, right?

Not at all! They even have a scene where a character sets a basketball on the street to figure out which way the ground is sloping, thus establishing firmly that Wilshire Blvd is the safest place on earth to be in the event of a volcano.

That leaves the screenwriters with the uncomfortable task of trying to find ways to make this easygoing safety hazard more exciting. So, in one scene, a palm tree catches fire and falls over, conveniently trapping the heroes between an overturned bus and the creeping tide of molten death. Later, a handful of people on a subway train have to be rescued because not one of them is smart enough to figure out how to use the door on a subway car without outside help.

Finally, the lava breaks several laws of physics to race across town via an underground tunnel and spring out of the middle of the road near Cedar Sinai Hospital, but then it just starts crawling along exactly the way it did on the other side of town.

How They Solve the "Problem":

How do you re-route a lava flow and send it harmlessly into the ocean? Simple: You blow up a huge fucking building! Seriously, to save the city from a threat that can be easily out-walked, they topple a large building, killing two people in the process. If they ever make a sequel, they should save a city from a glacier by burning down an orphanage.


"We'll build a lava blockade using every available fire truck."

Most Laughable Brush With "Danger":

An old lady walks away from the lava that's engulfing her house, but she left her tiny little dog inside! The dog, realizing that he's in no danger whatsoever, runs over to the lava and barks at it.

Then, he scampers out the doggy door to tell all his little doggy friends that lava is a huge pussy.

#4.
Twister

The Disaster:

When a large stormfront threatens to let loose a number of tornadoes in an area commonly known as the "Tornado Belt," it's up to a plucky Storm Chaser (Hellen Hunt) and a guy with the regrettable nickname "The Extreme" (Bill Paxton) to put a bunch of little plastic balls into one of the tornadoes for science.

Why They Should Calm The Hell Down:

We're certainly not going to argue that tornadoes aren't a destructive force of nature. That would be retarded. However, it's important to keep in mind that the average tornado-related event doesn't actually last very long, certainly not long enough to base an entire movie around.

The solution, obviously, was to make a movie about people who are dumb enough to run right up to one tornado after another and try to stick their balls in it.

But, even if you're willing to buy into the idea that the heroes' mission is worth all this ridiculous weather chasing, and some people obviously do, you're still left with the fact that these particular tornadoes are pretty much wimps. Sure, they're ready to tear a house apart or throw around the occasional cow, but time and time again the heroes drive right up to the funnel clouds, as if you actually have to jam your head inside one for it to hurt you.

For the big finale, our protagonists actually pass through into the eye of an F-5 tornado (read: a seriously fucking dangerous tornado) and emerge completely unharmed because they hung on really tight.


"This was such a stupid idea."

Yes, unharmed by the tornado that's full of debris flying around at speeds that can drive a piece of straw through a tree trunk.

How They Solve the "Problem":

Keep in mind that the situation that needs solving isn't the actual tornadoes themselves but rather the problem of getting a bunch of little plastic balls into one of these tornadoes. So, it makes sense that the day would be saved by Pepsi Cola.

See, the balls need to stay up in the air, so the heroes make tiny little propellers out of Pepsi cans. We can only imagine the inevitable, blood-drenched terror when these things finally spin their way down toward some poor farmer and his helpless family.

Most Laughable Brush With "Danger":

In an early scene, the main characters are stuck in a giant ditch with a tornado bearing down on them, and they don't even have time to turn on the machine with all those balls in it! So, they hide under a small wooden bridge. We'll go ahead and assume that it's perfectly normal for somebody to build a bridge over a ditch.

Anyway, the tornado steals their truck, dismantles most of the little bridge, and then just disappears with its tail between its legs, apparently frightened away by Helen Hunt.

#3.
Daylight

The Disaster:

When a gang of astoundingly dimwitted jewel thieves crash their car into a convoy of trucks loaded down with toxic waste and the resulting explosion blocks off a section of the Hudson Tunnel, it's up to a plucky playwright (Amy Brenneman) and a cab driver who used to be the Emergency Medical Services Chief (Sylvester Stallone) to drag the few remaining survivors to safety.

Why They Should Calm The Hell Down:

The explosion must have been caused by some revolutionary new kind of clean-burning toxic waste, because nobody has any trouble breathing in that tunnel. Then again, most of these characters come into direct contact with the flames from that explosion, and none of them appear to have any burns on them, so this might actually be some kind of undercover superhero movie.

Since the smoke doesn't seem to have any effect and even fire can't hurt these people, screenwriter Leslie Bohem tries to come up with a new excuse for excitement every few minutes. At first, it seems like rising water levels will add a sense of danger to the proceedings, but the water is so slow to rise that it acts more as a vague annoyance than an actual crisis.

Then, Stallone takes a shot at livening things up by blowing up a big-ass gas tanker, ostensibly trying to slow down the water even more somehow. It almost seems dangerous because Stallone runs into some unexplained technical difficulties and he can't get quite as far from the explosion as he'd like to, but then he just jumps out of the way (a technique often referred to as a "Stallone" ).

As near as we can tell, his efforts have no noticeable effect on the rising water.

In the rare instances when danger does leap out and grab somebody by the ass, it tends to seem more confusing than anything. At one point a guy apparently falls through the road just because he walked on it and it was wet (how the hell does this only happen once?) and then an old lady sits down and just sort of dies, presumably from boredom.

How They Solve the "Problem":

It all comes down to the brave rescue efforts of a friendly parade of rats.

The rats, who apparently weren't in any particular hurry to leave the ever-so-slowly-crumbling tunnel, eventually swim over to our protagonists and kindly show them the way out, which is something we think they stole from a cartoon.

Most Laughable Brush With "Danger":

As the survivors make their way to safety, having successfully climbed a rickety staircase, they realize that the dog needs help getting up the steps! Bravely, Stallone risks his life to pull a fucking dog up a flight of steps!

And the dog makes it! Stallone, on the other hand, falls back into the water and has to find his own damn way out of the tunnel. We think the dog planned that.

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