Oh, The Humanity! is a year-by-year analysis of cinema’s guiltiest of pleasures: disaster films. Exploring the blockbusters and spectacles about large scale destruction and humanity’s fight against forces beyond their control. And asking the question: was this the best or just the biggest?
Disaster films are an odd sort. Fun for obvious reasons: large scale destruction lends itself to exciting, explosive pageantry. Yet, disaster flicks are emotionally and psychologically cynical, manipulating the nearly universal fears of loss and devastation and using that as a substitute for character or thematic development (speaking in generalities of course, as there are some notable exceptions I hope to write about in future installments). Disaster films tend to be devoid of subtlety (again, exceptions forthcoming), but as a collective audience we keep returning to them for the promise of an action spectacle. 2015’s San Andreas is the perfect movie to begin this exploration of disaster films, flaunting many of the tropes that have come to define the genre: large scale destruction, impressive special effects, manipulative and thematically simple. It’s a bad movie, often impressive but never interesting.