Dwayne Johnson isn’t the only one who takes a giant leap in “Skyscraper,” the new actioner opening this weekend.
In the film, the Rock leaps from a 100-story-high crane to land in an open window on a burning 220-story tower where his wife and children are trapped. I guess you could say that the audience leaps with him, too, in a leap of faith that such a feat could ever really be pulled off.
But that’s the best part about disaster movies, watching everyday heroes rise over insurmountable obstacles, such as pesky earthquakes, annoying typhoons or flaming high-rise buildings, without even breaking a sweat. “Skyscraper” could join the ranks of some great disaster movies. Here’s a look at my 10 favorites:
“Cloverfield” (2008) — Who doesn’t love to see New York City get pummeled? And by a monster we never see, even. Sure, the found-footage premise is annoying, but this doubled as a great disaster and monster movie, as a group of friends trek into the carnage to rescue someone left behind. Best effect: Seeing the head of the Statue of Liberty being hurled down a Manhattan street. Lady Liberty’s gonna need a band aid!
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“The Day After Tomorrow” (2004) — Speaking of seeing New York City get destroyed, the Big Apple takes quite a bite from ol’ Mother Nature along with Washington, D.C., as the effects of global warning wreak havoc on the world. Best effect: Jake Gyllenhaal’s hair. It never gets messed up.
“Deep Impact” (1998) — A comet plows into Earth, wreaking havoc, as aspiring TV reporter Tea Leoni tries to break the story first, because it will greatly help her career when there are no more TVs. Best effect: A pre-”Lord of the Rings” Elijah Wood outruns a tsunami on a motorbike.
“Gravity” (2013) — I know what you’re thinking, that this isn’t really a disaster movie, but I totally think it is, as George Clooney and Sandra Bulllock try to survive after an accident leaves them stranded in space. Best effect: That initial blast when debris shreds the astronauts’ spaceship is, well, groundbreaking.
“Earthquake” (1974) — Originally shown in theaters with “Sensurround” technology, which used low-frequency bass sounds that literally made your chest rumble, this film followed a group of people in the wake of a devastating earthquake in Los Angeles. Best effect: The crumbling of the Hollywood Dam.
“The Impossible” (2012) —The story of a tourist family in Thailand caught in the destruction and chaotic aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami won Naomi Watts an Oscar nomination for best actress. Best effect: The actual tsunami scene is pretty incredible, and took a year of preparation.
“The Poseidon Adventure” (1972) — A group of passengers struggle to survive and escape when their ocean liner capsizes at sea. Best effect: Seeing everything in the ship now upside down.
“San Andreas” (2015) — It’s “Earthquake” times 1,000, as Los Angeles is shattered by a quake and Dwayne Johnson tries to save his family (sound familiar?). Best effect: The poor Golden Gate bridge being taken down by a huge wave. Why is it that we love seeing iconic structures obliterated?
“The Towering Inferno” (1974) — A giant skyscraper catches fire (sound familiar?), as Paul Newman and Steve McQueen try to save the day. Best effect: That daring rescue between buildings still makes me nauseous.
“The Wave” (2015) — This gripping Norwegian tale follows a family as they try to survive a violent tsunami. Best effect: Said tsunami washes out a bridge, and we see it happen from inside a car as our hero tries to rescue a friend, but runs out of time. They hold hands as the glass shatters around them. Wow!