MOVIE: Earthstorm (2006)

This is the kind of movie that normal people would find utterly atrocious, but that my Mom and I thought was pretty decent. Not because we’re stupid (obviously!) but because our criteria for a “decent” sci-fi movie tends to have less to do with the movie itself and more to do with the science it uses as its story base.

Other people are a lot more picky about the more pedestrian elements of movies, like, say, the characters and plot. Whatever, man.

Anyway, this flick begins with a huge asteroid whacking into the back side of the moon and knocking chunks of it loose, creating a large gash with fault-like activity in its center. The chunks begin careening towards Earth, which is bad in and of itself, but the greater problem quickly becomes clear — as the gash begins to grow larger, scientists start to realize that at some point an entire quarter of the moon is going to break free and come hurtling down. If this enormous chunk hits the Earth, says main character scientist Dr. Lana Gale, human beings will “go the way of the dinosaurs.”

Whether or not this means in millions of years we’ll be genetically reengineered and given our own theme park, she was less clear. Nevertheless, for obvious reasons, this news spurs the scientific community into action, and it’s not long before the President of the United States has sent a moron (played by Dirk “Eggs” Benedict) to come and screw everything up. Typical!

The only solution Dr. Gale can come up with is figuring out a way to seal the gash so it can’t continue to grow. At first, she and the other Earthlings think they need to collapse it onto itself by shooting some nukes into it, but to do that, they’re going to need a demolitions expert. Enter John Redding (played by Stephen Baldwin of the perpetually bad hair), a guy who spends all his time blowing up buildings and is a bit taken aback when told he needs to fly to the moon and nuke the hoo-hah out of it.

Eventually, though, it turns out what they actually need to do is use an electromagnetic pulse to manipulate the moon’s iron core into sealing up the crack itself. Unfortunately, they don’t realize this until John is already in space. Fortunately, this means the script writers now have the perfect excuse to rip off one of the most entertaining scenes of Apollo 13, in which a group of engineer geeks on Earth have to figure out how to talk a group of non-engineer-geeks in space through building the necessary gadget out of spare parts they have sitting around. Derivative, yet still fun.

Will John be able to put together the complicated scientific device, get it set up on the right spot on the moon, and save the world? Or will his greasy, too-long hair fall over his eyes at a crucial moment, foiling the entire plan and leaving all of humanity encased in amber and forced to wait for, hold on, what would the human equivalent of Jurassic Park be? Neogene? Neogene Park? Doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. . .

In any case, yes, the characters are hokey, the dialogue is less than stellar, many elements of the plot are stolen from better films, and Stephen Baldwin is not much of an actor. Nevertheless, at one point, my Mom and I both realized we weren’t really sure how much of the science involved was accurate, and that’s nice because usually we’re rolling our eyes and muttering things like, “Boy, somebody in charge of THIS one sure flunked high school physics. . .” I can’t think of another sci-fi movie that features the destruction of the moon as its main plot point, and, frankly, we’d be pretty screwed without our moon, for a variety of reasons not limited to the damage it would create if a huge chunk of it plowed right into us. There’s quite a lot of potential for this concept — here’s hoping someone smarter gets a hold of the idea and works on similar film with a bigger budget.

In the meantime, though, this one might be worth watching if you, like us, are more interested in being given excuses to pause the DVD and speculate about the science than you are interested in actually watching a good movie.

[Netflix me | Buy me]

Genre: Sci-fi disaster

Cast: Stephen Baldwin, Dirk Benedict, Anna Silk, Amy Price-Francis, Jason Blicker

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