The Sky Is Falling! Again!

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2012.JPGDisaster.

No, I’m not talking about my hair. I’m talking about movies, people. The film industry has been on a disaster kick lately, and in the last couple of years we’ve seen the world destroyed (or, at the very least, seriously threatened) by monsters, men, machines, men and machines, robots masquerading as men, robots masquerading as machines, blindness, solar flares and giant space drills. (Don’t forget the zombies!) And now we have the world-ending film to end all world-ending films, 2012, in which the world is rocked by earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis and slightly crazy radio hosts.

“When you go see a movie like this, it’s giving voice to your worst fears,” says John Cusack, one of the stars of 2012. “It’s like running around on Halloween and celebrating ghouls and mayhem. I don’t know what it is in us, but we definitely want to come close to that edge. But if it were reality, we’d all be weeping all day.”

I came away from 2012 with, as we movie reviewers say, a complex reaction. It is (let’s just admit it) pretty cool, special-effects wise, and it had some surprisingly strong messages. But I felt bad about sitting through the destruction of the earth and all its 6 billion inhabitants. If you decide to see this flick (after reading my review, of course!) I’d love to hear what you think.

But I’d also like to get a sense of why you think these disaster films are so popular these days. Do stressful times (such as we’re living in now) foster a need in us for some sort of onscreen catharsis? Are we simply curious to see what the end times might look like? Do we just like to see things blow up?

Who wrote this?

Paul Asay has been writing for Plugged In since 2007 and loves superheroes and finding God in unexpected places. In addition, Paul has also written several books, with his newest—Burning Bush 2.0—recently published by Abingdon Press. When Paul’s not reviewing movies, he hikes with his wife, Wendy, runs marathons with his grown kids, Colin and Emily, and beats back unruly houseplants. Follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

Have something to say? Leave a comment.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Comment by  TJM05:

Post Part 2:  As promised here is the second part of my post. I hgave pre movie thoughts based upon reviews, and trailers, here is the post movie review: I despised this movie! The reviewer here at Plugged In called it Emmerich's most hopeful movie... in fact it sports the most depressing ending of a movie I have seen since the original Planet of the Apes. All humanity is wiped out except for a few boat loads of rich people and politicians. Its into their hands that the Earth passes to and we're supposed to leave the theatre happy about this? Are you kidding? As far as the role off the disaster movie goes, hopefully we've taken it as far as it can go. In both Knowing and now 2012 we've seen the world wiped out with only a few survivors. Maybe the movie folks can concentrate on a story that creates something rather than destroying it.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Comment by  Superheroine:

I don't think I'll see 2012, although I did read your review. (On a side note, I enjoyed your comments about the director ("What does he have against our world, anyway? Did it beat him up at recess or something?") I found that humorous.)

To throw in my $0.02, I think people enjoy disaster movies at least in part because it shows the world as a microcosm of what it is. With fewer people around, the mundane rituals of life can no longer intrude on the deeper issues of living. Take I Am Legend, for instance. Robert is a good man, deep down, and although he's lost his faith somewhere along the way, his reasons for doing so are understandable. (He's surrounded by zombies, people.) What I saw in the story was a metaphor for sin: Robert, the last vestige of good, is desperately trying to cure the infected around him while trying not to lose his mind. It spoke to me as a Christian because I see that sort of thing taking place in my world every day: Sometimes, I feel like I'm surrounded by zombies who want my blood. We as Christians constantly try to cure them with the new life God has given us, but they're often not receptive. More often, they try to kill us.

I Am Legend gave us a powerful portrayal of good vs. evil--and the costs of fighting that battle as well as the rewards. Part of its appeal was, in my opinion, the fact that it showed that battle in a very extreme and dramatic way. Set against the backdrop of a crumbling world, it showed how one man became a hero. Disaster movies of that nature speak to our innate desire to be a hero, to help bring peace to a crumbling world.  

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Comment by  MountainMom:

My husband and I saw the movie today. Although skeptical at first, knowing it would be another typical end-of-world destruction movie, I actually didn't mind sitting through the nearly-three-hours-long thrill ride. I thought the special effects were very impressive, and shows me just how small I really am in the whole scheme of things. I think we often tend to be quite puffed up and this movie reminds us (me) who's really in charge (God!).

I also cried many times throughout the movie. As a mother of 5 small children, I'm obviously a sucker for the "kids in peril" scenario and the sacrifices that moms and dads make for their children.

I think movies like this take us out of our white-collar-suburbanite-two-car-garage-everything's-hunkey-dorey daily routine and stir our emotions about the "what-ifs." I don't think it's wrong; in fact, I think that we ought to think outside the box more often. What If fast food really fell from the sky?! Ya never know...I do serve a powerful God!

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Comment by  TJM05:

I'm going to do this comment in two phases: one before I see the movie (based on the media hype and my own expectations) and again after I see the movie. I think this will be an interesting exercise.OK- at this point, I think that the movie is about pure special effects based upon a flimsy premise that some people may have heard about (2012 and the Mayan Calendar). The movie should be a fun mixture of popcorn and adrenaline all held together by a dose of bad dialogue and riduculous plot twists. A message of sorts will be tacked on, bolstered by some deadpan close ups of people in peril spouting lines meant for a bumpersticker. I'll post again after I see the movie to relate my thoughts at that point.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Comment by  Coram_Deo:

I reluctantly decided not to go see "2012" before I read your review.  I read your review and it pretty much revealed what I thought I'd see.  I'd like to try and answer your question for the reason in the rise of disaster films.  I think these movies are geared to get us to be anxious about the future.  I personally believe these disaster movies influence many to have a dismal perspective.  Add a dismal perspective with these stressful times and you have a recipe for heart problems.  Let's be careful not to be worried.  There's a scripture that resonates with me concerning all these disaster films.

"Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken."-Luke 21:26