Cinematic armageddon: When space junk happens in movies
05:00 AM, Feb 15, 2013
The YouTube clips chronicling Russia’s meteorite shower Friday morning were a few special-effects shots here and a bombastic soundtrack there from being a Hollywood blockbuster.
Films and TV shows have often used incoming space debris as fuel for cinematic drama and human peril.
One local even said the event “was like a scene from the Armageddon movie.”
Unlike in the movie, of course, the damage was real: 950 people were injured and windows were shattered in buildings. But the meteorite in Russia didn’t cause catastrophic damage, and neither did Asteroid 2012 DA14, which safely passed by Earth 17,500 miles above Indonesia Friday afternoon, according to the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
It’s a little bit of life imitating the art of Hollywood although these pieces of art involving asteroids, meteors and other space phenomena sometimes involved certain doom.
When reports started to come in about the meteorite seen over Russia, Twitter users flocked to social media for “Did anyone tell Bruce Willis?” jokes.
Armageddon is one of many folks’ first thoughts when it comes to end-of-the-world movies involving space junk. The Michael Bay-directed action flick starred Willis and Ben Affleck as the leaders of a group of “roughneck” oil-rig workers tasked by NASA to go into space, drill a hole in an incoming asteroid, drop a nuke inside of it and blow it up before it can smash into Earth.
Luckily, it works and the world lives another day to hear melodramatic Aerosmith power ballads.
Deep Impact (1998)
It’s a comet that threatens the world in Deep Impact but thankfully Morgan Freeman is around to be the voice of authority as the president in a dire hour.
The initial Armageddon-like idea of using nuclear weapons doesn’t work, instead breaking the comet into two huge fragments careening toward civilization. One hits and creates a killer tsunami, while mankind gets it together enough to blast the other one into smaller pieces and keep Earth from total extinction.
The Day of the Triffids (1962)
Based on the 1951 novel of the same name, The Day of the Triffids offers a meteor shower but instead of pummeling Earth, the event features a different and arguably worse problem: The event blinds most of the world’s population.
Already recovering from an eye injury himself, a military officer (Howard Keel) awakens in his hospital bed and can see, so he witnesses what has happened. But while civilization takes a downturn since nobody else can see, another threat appears in the form of triffid plants that grow huge, start walking and sling venom.
Sean Connery and Natalie Wood are on the case when a comet and an asteroid collide, sending a 5-mile-wide piece of the asteroid hurdling toward Earth.
When the movie opens, though, the USA and Soviet Union have nuclear weapons at the ready in the height of the Cold War, and the Americans have a missile-armed satellite named Hercules in space that was supposed to stop something like an asteroid but is instead pointed Earthward at their enemies.
The Soviets have their own device, too, yet everybody has to get on the same page quickly when the asteroid becomes a real threat. Countries put politics aside to deal with the cosmic rock although not quickly enough to keep a meteor from taking out New York City.
What’s worse than an asteroid hitting Earth? A whole freaking planet.
Danish director Lars von Trier’s apocalyptic drama mostly centers around a pair of sisters (Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg), a wedding at their family estate and the emotional kerfuffle that follows.
That all was fine when the planet was just supposed to peacefully pass by, but it turns out that the planet is coming way too close for comfort and the impact when the planet hits Earth is a visual feast of slow-motion, art-house destruction set to the sounds of a Wagner opera.