Scott Hanselman

Movies That Are Disasters (or Disaster Movies)

May 30, 2004 Comment on this post [5] Posted in Movies
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I shall preface this with the apology you've heard before...I consider this a Technology Blog, and I hope only that the content found within is useful and of high quality.

That said - I give you, after having seen "The Day After Tomorrow," Disaster Movie Mad-Libs:

Open: Obscure nobody scientist who is an expert not in an obscure corner of science (climatology, seismology, genetics) but actually an expert in an obscure corner OF an obscure corner of science (paleoclimatology, seismological tectonophysics, quantitative genetics) is giving a talk at the Met, or the New York Library, or Berkeley (It's usually either a black-tie affair, perhaps the international conference of obscvure scientists, maybe it's in Bern, OR it's an empty auditorium in a random sub-wing of a Community College and there's three people paying attention) with a polished presentation (either using ridiculously advanced full 3D, OR using transparancies and an overhead projector.  Noone ever seems to use PowerPoint in these movies.

Scene: Outside that same talk (usually in the rain, at night, next to a large iron gate) and some one (usually wearing a London Fog standard-spy-issue raincoat, possibly smoking, and if he is smoking, he's smoking like a Nazi with his palm up and the cigarette is in a small plastic holder) comes up and says "I loved your talk, I read your paper on [something hyper-obscure] in the field of (paleoclimatology, seismological tectonophysics, quantitative genetics) and your thoughts [something only someone who cared could know] are revolutionary. 

Scene: We find that the scientist is having trouble at home (surprise) and he doesn't pay enough attention to his (kid, wife, dog, all of the above).  He's obsessed with his field and noone will listen.  He probably flips through a few envelopes that say "Final Notice" on them and opens a fridge that contains only Beer and a bottle of Ketchup.  He kicks a bunch of old (newspapers, scientific papers, hardcover books) aside, and sits down to watch (Knicks, Lakers, Manchester United).  The phone rings...

Scene: "Holy crap, something dramatic has happened in the field of (climatology, seismology, genetics) and birds are (acting weird, killing people, falling out of the sky) and all the animals at the New York Zoo are howling.  Come quick! 

Cut to the President: "Who's the best in this field?" "Uh, (consults a list), Dr. [scientist name], at Berkeley."  "Get him here.  Now."  Cue timpani...

Scene: He steps off of a (plane, government helocopter, limo) into (the white house, a secret (CIA, NASA, NSA, X-Files) base, to give an imprompu talk with even BETTER 3D graphics to a bunch of suits and a bunch of generals.  "Gentlemen, Mr. President.  You should have listened.  I've been presenting at Community Colleges all over the nation on this very subject for 15 years, and noone has listened.  Now, we're screwed if we don't (get some miners to detonate a nuclear bomb underground, run south, get some miners up to that Asteroid, get some miners down to the center of the earth, get Superman to turn back time) immediately.  I give us six to eight (weeks, months, hours)." 

Scene: His (kid, wife, dog, all of the above) are on vacation in an older red pickup in (Yellowstone, Alaska, Mt. St. Helens) and have almost (been swallowed up by the earth, buried by a mudslide, drowned in a flash flood, froze to death). 

Scene: "Dr. [scientist name], your (kid, wife, dog, all of the above) have just almost (been swallowed up by the earth, buried by a mudslide, drowned in a flash flood, froze to death)."

Scene: The (miners, astronauts, army) prepare the (bomb).

Scene: A shot of a helicopter flying over the Statue of Liberty, it's (buried in snow, burning, underwater, covered in lava, a metal carcass) Cue string instruments...

Scene: "I'm going after them."  "You can't! It's suicide!"  Stern serious look..."I made my (kid, wife, dog, all of the above) and I'm not going to let them down."  "I know Jack...that's why I'm (pause for effect) going with you..."

<<Insert Drama Here>>

Scene: The first sunrise since (the earth froze/didn't freeze, the volcano exploded/didn't explode, the lava flowed/stopped, the fires started/stopped, the meteor crashed/didn't crash)  The Scientist turns to his (kid, wife, dog, all of the above) and says "I think we're going to be OK..." 

Did I miss anything?

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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May 31, 2004 1:14
Saw this movie this weekend down in Hollywood. Was especially appreciative when the tornadoes appeared to destory the building we were sitting in.

Irrespective of the stunningly bad science involved, the acting was just hideous. Eventually the crowd laughed at every line.

Two hours of my life I'll never get back.
May 31, 2004 3:06
Was it as bad as Van Helsing? I should have known Van Helsing was going to be the worst movie I've seen in over a year when when "from the makers of the Mummy Returns!" was in the trailer.

Scott, you should code that up and sell it to a movie studio. You could probably change a few lines and offer a "Monster movie" plug-in, too.
May 31, 2004 8:11
Scott, I think you got it in one. By the end I wasn't sure which movie Iw as reading about. They all just seem to meld into one....

Still, the all time worst movie EVER was The Animal with Rob Schneider.

Followed closely by The League of EXTRAOrdinary Gentlemen.

May 31, 2004 23:04
How refreshing to have a story where neither Saddam Husain, the terrorists or Microsoft is to blame.
June 03, 2004 8:52
This formula goes back as far as I remember. Heck, even the Towering Inferno followed it on a smaller scale.

What got me to go to this movie was the SPFX. And in that, I was not disappointed. The tornadoes, waves, freezing, etc... just wonderful.

Hey, if you go for the plot or acting, you chose the wrong movie. If you want to see things break, you'll have a good time.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.