Wednesday, December 24, 2014

End-of-the-Year Sci Fi Movie Reviews - "Asteroid vs. Earth"

Tell me if you've heard of this plot before. A giant asteroid is going to strike the earth and wipe out mankind unless we can stop it first. Think movies like 1998's "Deep Impact" and "Armageddon". "Asteroid vs. Earth" is nothing like those other movies. "Asteroid vs. Earth" is genuinely terrible. So terrible that I'm sure I lost 10s of IQ points while watching it. It's on Netflix if you don't believe me.

The movie opens with a kid (19-years-old, maybe?) in the control room of a large telescope somewhere. He's got some awful music playing at ear shattering volume while he rolls around in an office chair monitoring the various computer screens. I never really caught this guy's name and didn't see anybody in the credits likely to be him, so I'm just going to call him "The Kid". We later learn that he's an intern genius who once built a working nuclear reactor in his garage.

Through the music he hears a strange beeping. He frantically starts typing on one of the keyboards the runs over to the eye piece of the telescope and sees an asteroid heading straight for us. He instantly figures out that it's going to hit the earth in 10 days and calls some woman up even though it's 3 in the morning. He tells her what he found, she says, OK, let me think about this, and we never hear from her again. Just the first of the many weird continuity problems in this movie.

The next think he knows, a squad of soldiers with NSA written on their caps storms the place and holds him a gunpoint.

Next, the craggy faced guy in the poster, General Masterson (Robert Davi) is taken from his home, which had just survived a "super cell storm", by helicopter to the telescope. He's in charge of launching nukes at the asteroid. The Kid tells him it won't work, that the asteroid is 1/4 the size of the moon and we'll never stop it. This is another continuity problem. Later he says that the asteroid is about 200 miles across (about 1/10 of the moon) and still later he says it's 34 miles across. He says that since we can't stop the asteroid we have to move the earth out of the way. His suggestion is to explode a nuke in the Yap Trench. This will cause massive earth quakes around the Pacific Rim pushing the earth out of the way.  The General, without consulting with anybody, like the Chief of Staff, or the President, or even the Speaker of the House, sets in motion a plan to do just that.

Here's where Tia Carrere (as Melissa Knox) comes in. She has a remote controlled submarine that can be modified to carry a nuke and driven into the trench. She's picked up by the military, stashed aboard a submarine (the USS Polk) and dispatched to the Trench.

The nuke that the general sent to the asteroid hits dead center but only manages to blow some rocks out toward earth and somehow make the larger asteroid speed up, which, of course, makes perfectly no sense.

When the Polk left it's base it offloaded some of it's warheads and leaves it's gunnery officer (Ray) in charge of them. Every scene with Ray in it seemed to be wrong. He's got the nukes (there seem to be four of them, with 4 marines and maybe another 30 people, in a warehouse somewhere. Then a volcano behind the building erupts, apparently because of the gravitational pull of the asteroid. Ejecta starts raining down on the building and Ray says they've got to get the nukes out. A fork truck picks up two of them and heads out of the building. Ray, and the four marines make it out of the building before it collapses. Ray checks with the marine sergeant who says all his men got out. Everybody else seems to have gotten killed but Ray is unconcerned. Then they open the two warheads and remove a heavy bullet shaped thing from them which goes into a foam-lined case. They pull one of these from each of the two warheads and end up with 6 cases. The marines load the cases into a couple of Suburbans and the four marines split into two groups. 3 of them get into one Suburban with Ray and the other 3 get into the other Suburban. I can't even go on with this.

Back to the Polk. One of the pieces of the asteroid lands on Hong Kong and makes quite a mess. The Chinese Navy scrambled before the impact and now a Chinese sub is firing at the Polk. They've got the mini-sub in the water and are guiding it into the trench but get hit a few times. The sub starts taking on water in the aft portion. And the captain gets electrocuted. I almost forgot about the Captain, he's played by Tim Russ from "Star Trek Voyager". His promotion from First Officer to Captain didn't work out well. The Polk's first officer (Commander Chase Steward), in order to save the boat, blows off the aft end and the rest floats to the surface. WTF.

I'm going to wrap this up. The mini-sub blows up in the Trench but it's not enough. So Chase calls up Ray on the radio and tells him he has to throw his nukes into a volcano, apparently not the same volcano he ran from. And he has 49 minutes to do it. And he does. And the earth moves.

Stay tuned for the squeal "Earth vs. the Sun".

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