Seven Natural Disaster Movies (Some Great, Some Terrible)

A collection of film items including popcorn, film strip, and a movie slateboard clapper

Here at Storm Guard, we’ve seen our share of mighty weather events that can do damage to our communities: from tornadoes to nor’easters to hurricanes to flooding. But we’re still suckers for big old-fashioned natural disaster movies. Here are some of our favorites:

7. The Perfect Storm (2000)

Movie poster for the perfect storm with a ship sailing up a huge ocean waveThis effects-heavy drama is based on Sebastian Junger’s 1997 best-seller about the loss of the Andrea Gale, a commercial fishing vessel that was lost at sea off the coast of Gloucester, Massachusetts. The film has a murderer’s row of a cast that includes George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Diane Lane, and John C. Reilly. Critical reactions to the film were mixed, but that didn’t stop director Wolfgang Peter’s flick from being a box-office success.

6. Geostorm (2017)

Video poster for movie Geostrom with a man standing in the middle of a city street with waves from an ocean coming his wayThis new howler starring Gerard Butler and directed by longtime producer Dean Devlin (Independence Day, etc.) is currently languishing at a miserable 13% on Rotten Tomatoes. It doesn’t work as a serious catastrophic thriller or as the camp adventure its creators invented. A hot mess of a natural disaster film if we ever saw one.

5. All is Lost (2013)

Video poster for movie All Is Lost with Robert Redford captaining a ship in the rainThis underappreciated survival drama stars movie star Robert Redford as an unnamed character struggling to survive, alone, on a small craft in the middle of the Indian Ocean. It was the second film for director J.C. Chandor following his 2011 debut Margin Call. The Guardian reviewed the film glowingly, saying “Redford’s near-mute performance as a mysterious old man of the sea adrift and utterly alone makes for a bold, gripping thriller.”

4. 2012 (2009)

Video poster for the movie 2012 where a monk is overlooking an ocean covering mountainsDubbed “The mother of all disaster movies” by Roger Ebert, this wild ride is directed by Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, etc.) and actually has a killer cast that includes John Cusack, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Amanda Peet, Thandie Newton, and Woody Harrelson, among others. Of the multifarious disaster film, Ebert said it “delivers what it promises, and since no sentient being will buy a ticket expecting anything else, it will be, for its audiences, one of the most satisfactory films of the year.”

3. Into the Storm (2014)

Video post for the movie Into the Storm with multiple white tornadoes on the groundThis unabashed Twister rip-off is a low-budget “found footage” disaster movie about a series of insanely large-scale tornadoes marked by massive devastation and disaster carnage. Starring b-listers Richard Armitage (The Hobbit) and Sarah Wayne Callies (Prison Break, The Walking Dead), this clumsily scripted and poorly acted mega storm melodrama fades quickly into memory.

2. Hard Rain (1998)

Video poster for Hard Rain with Morgan Freedman and Randy Quaid on the frontThis often-misinterpreted film is less of a natural disaster movie than a dark and stormy heist thriller that happens to be set during a ferocious midwestern rainstorm and portraying massive flooding. It’s a polarizing thriller with a steady lead performance by a pre-Mr. Robot Christian Slater as well as Morgan Freeman, Ed Asner, and Minnie Driver.

1. Twister (1996)

Video cover for the move Twister or a black tornado from the sky touching the groundWe love this crazy disaster film from director Jan De Bont and starring the late Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt as the leaders of a rough-and-tumble storm tracking team chasing down F5 tornadoes across the American Midwest. With star turns from Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Alan Ruck as comic relief, a rare villainous role by Cary Elwes and perennial favorite Lois Smith as Aunt Meg, this movie is an unappreciated classic. Bring on the popcorn!

Photo Credits:
The Perfect StormGeostormAll is Lost2012Into the StormHard RainTwister.