Well, where should I start? My Buddy, Phil Plaitt, author / astronomer /
professor / all-round good guy, disagrees with me on this movie. He thought it
was good. I thought it was the worst thing I've seen since Bud Dry! (By the by,
visit Phil's site
The Bad Astronomer
for fabulous insight into the errors we all are confronted with pertaining to
astronomy. GREAT site.)
: Basic premise is same as Armageddon's. Previously undiscovered comet is
streaking toward the earth and we're all gonna die. Other than this being a
distinct possibility, just about everything else is bad. A teenager discovers
this comet. A year later, the government learns of its existence. Government
sets up a "invitation only" community inside a mountain. Basic mayhem and mass
rioting takes place. Astronauts are dispatched to blow it up. Fail. We all die.
(Actually, if everyone did die at the end of this movie, it would've made me
Now for an overview of the BAD things I noticed and show my own Fizzix classes.
Right away, there is a bad bad thing. There is an astronomy "class" or club
meeting at night with kids looking through various telescopes. The kids and the
instructor are using flashlights to refer to star / sky maps then immediately
refocusing into the telescopes. Did you ever look up at a clear night sky after
looking at oncoming headlights? (Nothing I'd suggest on a regular basis, but
considerably safer than applying make-up while rolling down I-95 at 80 MPH...)
Eyes need a little time to switch from absorbing LOTS of light to searching for
minimal light. They NEVER would have done that.
A few comments about this section of the film:
Biderman, the Kid Hero, sees an unidentifiable object in his telescope. The
"teacher" says, "It's probably a satellite. Take a picture. Send it to Dr.
Wolf." WELL! What kind of teacher is this? A satellite is dissernable even to
an amateur like moi.
Upon receiving the picture Biderman took, Dr. Wolf feeds in the coordinates and
zooms in on the little guy (comet). Then this amazing computer cranks out the
comet's trajectory and predicts imminent collision with earth. WOW! This sorta
defies everything I teach my kids about vectors. How, from one still photo, can
a full path be determined. One still photo! Is it moving toward? Away? Parallel
to us? Speed? C'MON!
Silly Hollywood plotting: Dr. Wolfe dies in a terrible crash while driving like
an idiot down the mountain trail from his observatory and trying to dial his
cell phone. He collided with a speeding 18-wheeler flying UP this trail (Why
was an 18-wheeler speeding UP a mountain trail?) when the truck driver dropped
a lite cigarette in his lap. Somehow, the government, a whole year later,
thinks there were TWO astronomers killed in that Jeep! I know our government
messes up from time to time, we all do. However, they can't be that stupid!
Later as the President of the US, played with usual excellence by Morgan
Freeman, explains to the public via TV, he shows a graphic of the comet's
trajectory. If you actually watch it, the comet comes into our solar system
from somewhere far far away. Nothing bad there. They do come from the Oort
Cloud which is located even farther away than Utah. However, after it gets into
the inner planet area, it turns BEFORE getting to the sun and starts heading
back out. ALL orbiting things in this system orbit the SUN, not the earth. It
should have gone around the Sun since the Sun MUST be at one of its foci.
The President's description of the damage is mostly OK. EXCEPT for his use of
the term "tidal wave". This may be picky, but a tidal wave NEVER killed anyone.
And if it has, that had to be the slowest person ever and they deserved to
drown. A tidal "wave" has a frequency of 12 hours! It is defined as the varying
depths of oceans and/or waterways caused by tides. What MOST people mean to say
is the dreaded 'tsunami".
Very NICE point; Prez says the 1st piece (By now blown into 2 pieces by our
astronaut heros led by veteran ) will hit the Atlantic Ocean and the 2nd piece
will hit a few hours later in Western Canada. Why? The rotation of the earth,
that's why! Good touch by some smart writer.
The smaller piece does many incredible BAD things on it's way in.
It enters the atmosphere with a sudden "BANG", bursting into flames. This
indicates the atmosphere has a specific 'hard' boundary. It doesn't. The comet
would have heated up gradually.
Once in the atmosphere, it moves awefully slowly. It should move considerably
faster than sound.
Upon impact with the Atlantic Ocean, a tremendous shockwave is seen eminating
from ground zero. This shockwave would have wiped out most life way before the
ensuing tsunami arrived.
The ANGLE of it's entrance was so slight (or so LARGE if measured from the
normal...) it probably, in my esteemed opinion, would have glanced off the
atmosphere and never entered. This stuff happens all the time with lesser rocks.
The Prez stated, correctly, that the tsunami would have traveled faster than
sound toward the shoreline. Then how come we heard it coming all the way in?