The 11 Greatest Ways That Disaster Movies Have Tried to Destroy the World

by John Boone 2:07 PM PDT, May 28, 2015
Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures

This weekend, Dwayne Johnson will try to save California from “The Big One” (that is: the earthquake we all know is going to hit eventually, but we still live here anyway) in San Andreas. California isn’t technically the whole world, but for anyone who lives in Los Angeles, it might as well be. And we can’t think of anyone we’d trust with our lives more than The Rock.

While we wait to see what fate befalls L.A. -- there appears to be enough chaos and catastrophe in the trailer to at least wipe out The Valley -- here are the 11 best ways disaster movies have tried to destroy the world. (And occasionally succeeded too!)

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11. The Asteroid in Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

Photo: Focus Features

The asteroid is classic, which also means it’s been done to death. It worked for this movie, which was more of a love story than a death and destruction movie, but true disaster movies need to try a little harder.

10. The Comet in Deep Impact

Photo: Paramount Pictures

A step up from asteroids, because this comet hits the ocean and causes a giant tidal wave that kills Tea Leoni. (Spoiler alert.)

9. The Volcano in Pompeii

Photo: TriStar Pictures

Ditto goes for Dante’s Peak, though the volcano in Pompeii effed up a lot more. We love a fire and brimstone moment, but they do seem a little old school. A bit removed from our terrors of today. Just don’t live by a volcano, right?

8. The Earth’s Core Stops Spinning in The Core

Photo: Paramount Pictures

Sure, we get super storms and the Golden Gate Bridge collapses, but it’s a bit too scientific for us with the magnetic field instability and Ultraviolet radiation in the atmosphere. Then on top of all that, the business about the molten core not spinning. We’re trying to watch the world fall apart, not take AP Bio.

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7. The Second Ice Age in The Day After Tomorrow

Photo: 20th Century Fox

It’s just global warming, but The Day After Tomorrow’s use of flooding and tidal waves and massive hurricane-like storms that freeze everything they pass over makes climate change far scarier than anything you’ll hear from Greenpeace.

6. Humans in Mad Max: Fury Road

Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures

Now, the global oil shortage is what causes the panic, but mankind is what truly kills Earth in Mad Max. It seems terrifyingly realistic too. Humans are always ruining everything. See also: The Lorax. Yes, Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax.

5. The Rage Virus in 28 Days Later

Photo: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Really, any virus: the one the monkeys are infected with in 28 Days Later that turns everyone into zombies. The virus not spread by monkeys in 12 Monkeys. The bat-pig virus that Gwyneth Paltrow gets in Contagion then gets her head cut open.

4. A Massive Solar Flare in 2012

Photo: Sony Pictures

Similar to The Core, it’s all about what’s happening inside the Earth: The core temperature is increasing rapidly, causing giant earthquakes and so-called megatsunami and California gets broken off into the ocean! And it’s all caused by a solar flare, which is pretty cool.

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3. A Slow-Moving Planet Colliding With Earth in Melancholia

Photo: Magnolia Pictures

The most un-disaster-y disaster movie here, with one of the coolest Earth-destroying tricks: Another planet, slowly moving towards us before (spoiler alert) eventually colliding and successfully destroying everything via a fiery shockwave. Much better than any measly comet or asteroid.

2. Biblical Apocalypse in This Is the End

Photo: Columbia Pictures

What starts as fire raining from the sky and giant sinkholes that kill the likes of Rihanna is eventually revealed to be the end of days. And after The Rapture, a giant Satan demon with a giant demon penis (hey, this is a Seth Rogen movie, after all) destroys the rest of the world.

1. Earth’s Polar Ice Caps Melting in Waterworld

Photo: Universal Pictures

The planet is one giant ocean. Bad movie, great way to destroy Earth.


Now, go behind-the-scenes to learn the secrets of San Andreas’ insane stunts: