Today, April 22nd, was Earth Day. A global celebration intended to focus on environmental causes, Earth Day got its start in 1970. You can read all about it on the internet. Me? Well, if I hadn’t been busy at work, I likely would have spent my day celebrating as I am wont to celebrate: having a movie marathon. Therefore, this week’s list is all movies about the environment in some way, shape or form. They have been arbitrarily chosen and ranked by me (as usual). Feel free to argue with my decisions in the comments or on Facebook!
11. The Day After Tomorrow (2004)
I love disaster movies. This is a trait I inherited from my mother. Every time there’s a disaster movie marathon on SyFy, she’s there. Needless to say, we saw this movie in theaters. Look, the plot was contrived and far-fetched, but who doesn’t love a movie about global warming somehow leading to crazy weather that flash-freezes the world? Heck, Ian Holm was in this movie. How can you not enjoy it for that alone? Yeah, there were a few problems and this movie barely made the list, but it broke the world well and that makes me happy.
10. Happy Feet (2006)
This movie is seriously turning 8 this year? It’s older than the youngest kid my mom babysits! Okay, now that I’ve gotten over that, let’s get back to this movie. It’s about an adorable penguin who can’t sing but can dance like nobody’s business. That would’ve been enough for most movies, but this one ended up having some environmental message thrown in at the end (and during with the one penguin guy who had the plastic stuff stuck around his neck). Mumble, the penguin with the titular feet, goes on an expedition to communicate with the humans about how their over-fishing is detrimental to the penguin population. Hilarity and dancing ensue. It seemed a little jarring, but it’s still a cute movie.
9. Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)
Okay. I just love this movie. It totally made me forget about that other attempt at a Planet of the Apes reboot. You know of what I speak. So, this movie is all about this one doctor’s quest for a cure for Alzheimer’s so he can help his father. Why is this on my environmental movie list? The movie starts out with a group of chimpanzees doing their own thing in the jungle when they’re captured by hunters. By experimenting on them and messing with nature, the doctors set into motion the doom of humanity. Look, see the movie because the sequel is coming out later this year. It’s totally worth it.
8. Godzilla (1954)
Yes. This is an environmental movie. No, I refuse to have anyone argue with me about this. It’s about the consequences of the nuclear age. Yep. Nukes will lead to giant monsters destroying major cities. Don’t upset nature and nature won’t fight back. The classic monster film that spawned a new genre was wise. Perhaps we should listen. We probably won’t, though. Maybe I should move further inland. . .
7. Medicine Man (1992)
Sean Connery plays a researcher who is embedded deep in the rainforest trying to create a cure for cancer. Of course, this involves him interacting with a tribe that has been secluded from the rest of the world. Logging and development come into play and things get complicated. Long story short, amazing stuff exists in places that people haven’t ruined, so please try not to ruin said places, kthxbye.
This movie gets lambasted for its derivative plot and not necessarily Oscar-worthy acting performances from some of the cast members. That said, it’s gorgeous and it wasn’t so much about the plot as it was about the visuals and the technology. Thanks to Avatar, 3D movies became a huge thing. At its heart, though, was a story about respecting the planet. Well, whatever planet you might be on. You never know when the planet may get pissed off and join the resistance.
5. Pom Poko (1994)
The first time I saw anything related to this movie was at an Otakon many years ago. It was featured in an AMV that was set to Genesis’ “Land of Confusion.” I didn’t see the movie until a few years later when I was struck by the film’s message and the creatures at the heart of the film: The Tanuki. Look them up on Wikipedia. I remember telling my dad that it was hard to find a fun picture from this movie that didn’t involve them parachuting with their testicles. He laughed. I wasn’t kidding.
4. Erin Brockovich (2000)
This is one sassy movie about how one corporation was taken to task for their rampant pollution. Based on a true story about one woman’s nearly-Quixotic Quest, it’s a film that more people should watch now that we’ve entered the era of fracking and corporate personhood. Sometimes, we need to be reminded that the little guys can win over the big guys. All it takes is someone bold enough to take initiative, diligent enough to do the hard work, and tenacious enough to not give up.
3. FernGully: The Last Rainforest (1992)
This movie. Man. Who ever thought that they’d find toxic waste a little hot? Of course, when toxic waste is being voiced by Tim Curry, it’s kind of understandable. So, this movie is about this guy who gets shrunk down to just a few inches tall. He meets with the fairies who live in the rainforest and shenanigans ensue. I grew up loving this movie and I still love it to this day. I remember really wanting to plant more trees after seeing that movie. I suppose that was partly the point.
2. Wall-E (2008)
This was a brilliant movie. Of course, it’s Pixar so that comes as no surprise. Wall-E was one of many robots tasked with cleaning up an Earth that had been covered in trash by wasteful humans. Humanity had long since abandoned the planet to live on ships far away from the garbage they left behind. Then, Wall-E discovers a growing plant and is introduced to Eve. Plot ensues. It’s a sweet film about cleaning up after yourself and remembering what’s really important.
1. The Lorax (1972)
Okay. I know this one was a TV special so it’s kind cheating to put it on this list, but this little TV short is miles better than that thing released recently that shares its name and generic idea. Yeah. We’re not going to talk about that. We’re just going to enjoy the cautionary tale we got from Dr. Seuss and the great songs and animation we got from this seventiestastic television event.