In disaster cinema there comes a point in the story where, as Heidi Klum would say, one is either in or out. One knows going into the theater or popping a DVD into the player what one is in for the same way one knows more or less what to expect from a slasher pic or a romantic comedy. No matter how the genre's formula is tweaked, it is up to the writers and filmmakers to provide the hooks that will draw you into their specific event or world. What hooks me varies all the time; just as often those same elements may turn me off completely.
The make-or-break moment for me in 1972's The Poseidon Adventure is the sequence when the survivors must climb the Christmas tree to escape the ballroom. In 1964's Fail Safe, the make-or-break moment is encapsulated in the tense conversation between the President of the United States and the Soviet Premier, which must be precisely interpreted. In Deep Impact, the scene is Tea Leoni's first conversation with President Morgan Freeman. There has to be something to make me care or I won't wait for the credits. After learning who lives and dies, the story is over in a movie. READ MORE