Tuesday February 14, 2012 12:20 am Leave a comment
Only just caught this movie on TV. Reading the Rotten Reviews inclined me not to bother, but there was an intriguing difference between the average professional critic and the average punter on this one. About 2/3 of the critics panned it, while about 2/3 of the punters praised it. That usually makes for an interesting revelation. I think I’m with the majority for a change. Which worries me because a fair chunk of that majority probably see this movie as “End Times Porn”.
I don’t object to far out fantasies. One of my all time favourite book/series is the Dune Saga (six written by Frank Herbert and 3 co written by his son, Brian and Kevin Anderson.) It’s completely fantastical and largely based in a series of physical laws which simply do not and could not hold sway in this universe. But it works because, once you agree to suspend disbelief and go with it, it is entirely self consistent.
That is what works in this movie as well. You have to get over the extraordinarily implausible time capsule prediction starting point and the apocalyptic end point and just ask “yeah, but if it DID happen like that, what would you do any different to what Cage’s character actually does. The story has the courage of its convictions. None of your soppy hollywood happy endings. The world does end, and the whole point of the predictions was not to enable warnings and successful attempts at warding off the disaster.
That was irrevocable and even, apparently, a species capable of understanding the chaotic workings of a star to the point of being able to predict a super solar flare pointing exactly in the wrong direction (for Earthlings anyway) about half a century into the future and capable of travelling interstellar distances; even such a species was incapable of preventing the disaster. So the point was, presumably, only to bring together the two kids, Abbi and Caleb so they can be rescued by the aliens and, together with a few dozen other pairs of similarly kidnapped (we presume) kids from around the planet, could be used to seed Homo Sapiens 2.0 on a distant protected planet.
On which basis, I’m prepared to forgive the catastrophic runaway explosion sequence which gratuitously boils the surface of the earth at the end of the story – despite the event “only” being a giant solar flare which, though it really could plausibly clear the ozone layer and wipe out most living organisms on the planet, would certainly not cause any kind of runaway global chain reaction in the Earth’s crust.
Regrettably, the deaths would come much more slowly and painfully than that. It would take a couple of centuries for everything to die. It would probably take 5-10 years to reach a peak.
But gotta admit, either way, it wouldn’t be a happy ending and it is gratifying, occasionally, to watch a disaster movie that dares to follow its principles to a logical conclusion. Oh, and the disasters they did create for the movie were some of the most convincing I’ve ever seen. We certainly had plenty of warning, they weren’t going to pull any punches…