Crash, bang, wallop: Nothing like kicking back to watch the end of the world

Disaster movie afficionado Phil Brown is a sucker for a good end-of-the-world saga but he has one request

Dec 11, 2023, updated Dec 11, 2023
Mahershela Ali, Myha'la Herrold, Julia Roberts and Ethan Hawke in a scene from "Leave the World Behind." (JoJo Whilden/Netflix via AP)

Mahershela Ali, Myha'la Herrold, Julia Roberts and Ethan Hawke in a scene from "Leave the World Behind." (JoJo Whilden/Netflix via AP)

There’s nothing more satisfying than the opening sequences in a disaster movie. Everyone is happy as Larry, going about their lives without a care in the world.

They don’t know what is about to happen to them, although you and I do.

As they set off, blissfully unaware, you say under your breath … “They’re dead.”

Well, not all of them. Someone has to survive or it would just be too depressing.

I’m thinking about this after watching Leave the World Behind, a 2023 disaster movie with a killer cast … Julia Roberts, Ethan Hawke and Kevin Bacon, among others.

This Netflix movie has two executive producers that caught my attention … Barack and Michelle Obama. True story.

Interesting that they are investing in an apocalyptic psychological disaster thriller. What does that say about where they are at right now? I’ll leave you to figure that out.

Anyway, it all starts innocently enough with a couple of New Yorkers, Julia Roberts and Ethan Hawke, motoring off for a holiday on Long Island with their two kids. But then the phones drop out, the internet fails, planes start dropping out of the sky and ships run aground.

And the animals all start acting weird because they know what’s going on even if the humans don’t. So, what is going on? I’m not going to say because you may want to watch it. I did and I enjoyed it although, as I said, the first half hour is the best.

I grew up on disaster movies including Earthquake, Towering Inferno and The Poseidon Adventure. They all started with people going about their business … enjoying cocktails atop a new skyscraper (gulp), celebrating New Year’s Eve in a cruise ship’s ballroom (yikes) and just living in Los Angeles blissfully unaware that the big one is about to strike.

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Each generation has their own disaster films … Airport, Deep Impact, Titanic, Twister, Sharknado, The Day After Tomorrow. The list is endless.

Why do we like them so much? Is it because it’s something bad happening to someone else, not us?

If that’s the case it’s not that attractive a human trait but on the other hand, maybe there is something therapeutically cathartic about them.

I love them, whatever the motivation. One I enjoyed in the last decade was the 2015 film San Andreas starring The Rock. I had to do quite a juggling act suspending my disbelief with this one because I know it was largely filmed around South East Queensland, on the Gold Coast and elsewhere. I wish I didn’t know that.

There was one scene where they were driving in the country and it was supposed to be California but it was quite obviously out the back of Beaudesert.

Maybe that shouldn’t be a problem but I want my movies filmed in the actual locations where they happen. I’m asking a lot I know but hey, that’s just me.


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