Friday, June 10, 2011

Big Rocks
Review of Deep Impact & Armageddon

Movie Poster

Armageddon and Deep Impact are both about BIG ROCKS hitting the Earth. The year before, (1997) we had BIG MOUNTAINS blowing up, (Volcano, Dante’s Peak), so Hollywood has another high concept fit. The laws of physics, plot probability, common sense don’t apply. teeth grinding cliches, improving on nature, and real stupid plot developments, and idiot acting, apply in abundance.

Of the two Deep Impact is easily the better if only because the plot is far more believable. The Comet is of believable dimensions for one thing. In Armageddon the asteroid is far too large, (About 300 miles across.) the time frame is absurdly short (18 days). In Deep Impact the crew of the space ship are professional astronauts and they are sent 9 months in advance. Much more believable. In Armageddon they are a collection of losers from Hollywood’s bag of stereotypes. Why anyone would send those loony tunes to save the world is beyond me. Also In Deep Impact part of the Comet hits the Earth. In Armageddon NOTHING hits the Earth of the main "comet". Although Paris gets wiped out.

Both films break the laws of Physics and common-sense over and over again. In fairness to Deep Impact, Armageddon is way ahead in that department. For example the two shuttles take off next to each other. Visually this is quite pretty, practically quite stupid. The stop at the space station breaks the law of conservation of momentum so often I lost count. Deep Impact’s main idiocy is the blowing up of the main comet. The bomb on the ship is simply too small.

In both films the Scientists devised schemes to save the Earth so shamelessly stupid that the correct ending in both films would have been the devastation of the Earth and the death of practically everyone. In Deep Impact the blowing up of the comet would have created a rain of fragments that would have devastated the planet and showered the Earth with dust causing a “Comet Winter” lasting for decades. In Armageddon the splitting of the asteroid, (the size of Texas!), would have showered the Earth with at least several comet size fragments causing again a devastating “Comet Winter”. The correct solution would have been for an attempt to be made to deflect the asteroid, comet. But I guess that was too dull for Hollywood.

In things like acting and plot Deep Impact again beats Armageddon, but both films suffer from cliché o’matic. Armageddon does have the virtue of killing Bruce Willis' character, but this pleasure does not make up for a really silly movie.

Both movies belong to the silly but fun genre of film. But Deep Impact is more fun if only because it irritates less.

Movie Poster

For a real interesting review of the physics absurdities in the above two movies see Rogers, Tom, Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics, Sourcebooks Inc., Naperville ILL, 2007, pp. 167-170, 213-220, 220-224.

Pierre Cloutier

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