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Last updated
December 04, 2002
12:37:38 AM
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Disaster Spells Laughter

 

Feature Articles

Disaster Spells Laughter
Recently the movie industry has inundated the public with more movies dealing with disasters in which there are no distinct villains except a simple case of fate or bad luck. Why are these films becoming so popular?

Last summer marked the revival of a film genre that has remained "dormant" for quite some time. Disaster movies were quite common in the late 70's and early 80's. But today's audiences demand more and more from special effects. Conventional methods for shooting these disaster movies, such as small intricate models, or large custom built sets have become cost prohibitive.

With the quick adoption of digital special effects taking center stage in movies such as Jurassic Park and Jumanji, it is now possible to make movies which would normally cost hundreds of millions of dollars for a fraction of the cost. No longer will studios need to spend months creating a set which will be destroyed in a matter of moments. Computers can now realistically simulate objects and environments so well that even on a huge movie screen the audience cannot tell what is real and what is pure fabrication. But great movie scripts for such disaster films are in short supply. The studios want to try out their new computer graphics regardless of the lack of scripts. Can effects themselves draw audiences? Absolutely.

Twister and Independence Day broke new ground when they proved that movies (with no plot and rehashed plots, respectively) containing great special effects could make hundreds of millions of dollars. Now other film studios are climbing all over themselves to duplicate this shrewd business practice. While this may dishearten some viewers who enjoy a rich, meaningful storyline, they should rejoice in the limitless laughter possibilities that such films bring.

Who can argue that the scenes in Twister where a house rolls itself onto the highway and forces the main characters to drive through it is hilarious? What about the helpless cow that desperately moos "Why me???" and flies across the screen? Or take Independence Day and the scenes of the aliens destroying the major cities in the U.S as people leap from a rainstorm of automobiles and debris?

Take a glance at the films which have jumped on this bandwagon. Daylight, Dante's Peak, and the soon to be released Volcano and Hard Rain. Each of these films will rely heavily on special effects to convey the sense of disaster and urgency. The cast and characters merely serve as filler during the majority of the film and become objects to point at and laugh at during the disaster scenes.

In many ways these plotlines are actually more desirable because the audience does not have to sit through the typical good guy / bad guy conflict. Such films always result in the villains' demise after a generic struggle, and depending on the BIM content used, can often leave the viewer feeling empty and robbed of quality laughter. Disaster movies, on the other hand, provide bountiful opportunities for the viewer to stress their lungs, as chaos reigns supreme while innocent people scurry across the screen. It's a simple yet elegant strategy to extract laughter from the seasoned viewer.

But any movie fan can revel in the desperate cries for help in these movies, because after all, it's nothing more than computer effects and actors attempting to earn their multi-million dollar salaries. Hollywood is certain to introduce more movies about hurricanes and earthquakes. Here are some films they're likely to try:

Title Tag Line
Avalanche A ski bum's paradise
Fire Mountain Smokey the Bear opens a can of whoop ass...
Tidal Wave Surf's way up, dude
The Bridges of Disasterville County Break-ups aren't the only things burning bridges around here...
Hail Storm The "Dent Wizard's" Utopia...
Erosion So scary you'll soil your clothes
The Drought Got milk?
The Blizzard And you thought your spouse was cold...

So how can you best enjoy your hard earned money with the movies that Hollywood sees fit to produce these days? Don't go to these films expecting an intense, griping plot. You'll be disappointed. Expect incredible special effects. Expect prime examples of BIM, "Why Me???", and SRH, all taken to the limits. Expect to laugh yourself to tears. Give it a try sometime. You'll feel much better.

                                              drkpitt

 


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