WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
So there I was, minding my own business, when I was suddenly struck by a terrible case of the shakes. I broke out into a cold sweat, my mouth was bone dry, and I was starting to see double. I had gone into soft science withdrawal. It’s a terrible thing when it happens, and you need to have a sci-fi b-movie ready for when these symptoms strike. Thankfully, I’d saved Absolute Zero for just such an emergency. The movie manages a number of feats: it’s a b-grade disaster movie that wasn’t made by either the Asylum or the Syfy Channel, it’s mind-numbingly painful to watch, and the science is so soft that it would make a marshmallow roasting over Satan’s arse seem like titanium. Prepare to witness the movie that dares to ask the question: how soft is your science?
Meet Dr David Kotzman, a brilliant man working for Inter Sci. Dr Dave specialises in looking at the effects that temperatures plummeting to absolute zero (-273 degrees Celsius, or -460 degrees Fahrenheit for my American readers) would have on life on Earth. They’d be fairly devastating, to put in mildly. But Dr Dave has a theory, you see: he’s convinced that the last ice age didn’t occur over a period of hundreds or thousands of years as modern science would have us believe. No, he believes that the ice ages are brought on when parts of the world suddenly plummet to absolute zero for a few seconds, freezing absolutely everything in sight. For all we know this theory could have been brought on by a night at an opium den, because the movie really isn’t going to explain how we got there. Then again, the theory could have been inspired by the constant thumping porno beats that play when he’s doing his research. Suffice to say Dr Dave is going to get an opportunity to test out his theory soon enough.
You see, there’s been some very strange weather going on across the globe lately: thunder storms over Antarctica (which are apparently very normal), ice bergs floating through the harbours of Florida, tropical weather in New York, and the list just goes on. How are we ever going to find out what’s going on before it’s too late? With cave paintings, that’s how! Dr Dave meets up with an Inter Sci research team already out in Antarctica (presumably building the emergency opium den) and, with a little help from global warming, manage to find a cave full of fully frozen people. Using a tiny microscope and a few spare grad students that just happened to be lying around, Dr Dave concludes that the world’s magnetic poles are about to shift themselves. This will have devastating consequences across the globe, as everything along the equator suddenly finds itself fighting off the onset of absolute zero (dun dun dun!).
Can we stop all these terrible things from happening? With this much soft science? You must be joking! Unable to save the world from succumbing to this frozen nightmare, Dr Dave has to at least try and save his grad students and his ex-girlfriend who he’s never forgotten and conveniently met up with just before the disaster struck. Luckily she’s a specialist in ancient cave drawings, and using the ones from Antarctica she arrives at the same conclusion as Dr Dave: the world is about to be thrown (rather haphazardly) into the next ice age. It’s a race against time as temperatures continue to plummet, funnels of freezing air strike at random, 10-year-old girls speak monotonously into walkie talkies, and lifeguards take over half an hour to evacuate a paddling pool. The world will never be the same again after it succumbs to… ABSOLUTE ZERO (dun dun dun!)
LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:
- Global warming means grad students can now spend a semester out in Antarctica.
- Even the president doesn’t have the authority to pull university students out of Antarctica.
- You can just book commercial flights to Antarctica these days.
- When light freezes, it’s time to get the winter jerseys out.
- Even with a doctorate degree in the field, it’s very easy to confuse archaeology for anthropology.
- Antarctica once held a small, but thriving, colony of ancient Egyptians.
- We can date 10 000-year-old cave paintings to the exact day they were drawn.
- Only in America can big corporations think that they can stop the weather from happening.
- The Earth’s axis of rotation has absolutely nothing to do with the seasons.
- There’s nothing quite as ineffective as an optional evacuation.
- Strip clubs provide excellent landmarks in times of crisis.
- Absolute zero is really dangerous, but people can still survive quite comfortably at -158 degrees Celsius.
- Always remember to keep your emergency power supply dangerously far away from the bunker that’ll save your life.
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WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
Oh, The Asylum. There’s not an awful lot of good things that can be said about them but credit must be given to them for almost single-handedly keeping End of the World Month going. 2012: Supernova forms part of their 2012 (loose) trilogy of disaster movies. I’ve already reviewed 2012: Ice Age and, like it’s sibling, this movie is inspired by events in another movie. I’m going to hazard a guess that this one got its idea from Knowing. The whole thing is one giant technical inaccuracy and I spent most of my time looking at the TV absolutely gobsmacked that they thought this kind of storyline was going to hold itself together. But then I reminded myself that it was a movie by The Asylum and suddenly it all made a lot more sense.
200 years ago in a far off constellation a star went supernova, destroying its solar system and sending deathly rays out in every direction. This supernova was so destructive, in fact, that its horrendous gamma ray beams are still every bit as destructive 200 years later, and they’re heading right for us. NASA is trying to prepare a crack team of the most ridiculously stereotypical people you can possibly imagine: Kelvin, the no-nonsense all American guy, Dzerzhinsky, the mummified-in-Vodka Russian with a terrible fake Russian accent, and Dr. Kwang Ye, a Chinese female who knows nothing in this world other than how to save the Earth and how to glorify The People’s Republic of China. I’m actually fairly certain that we could get the Asylum arrested for this type of stereotyping; I’m sure the UN would have something to say about it.
Before we can save the Earth, however, we need to actually get Kelvin to the damn NASA base where this whole project is being coordinated. Suddenly, from out of nowhere, even more stereotypes appear, this time in the guise of Middle Eastern men with thick accents waving semi-automatic weapons in the air. They don’t seem to have any clue what it is they’re doing because first of all they try to shoot Kelvin and his family and then, when they have them cornered in a warehouse, ask them a number of questions, mainly about why the Americans have been taking nuclear weapons up to the International Space Station. Thankfully other government agents rock up and shoot the bad, bad non-Americans. Kelvin then heads off to the base while his wife and daughter head home to get some things and plan to join up with him later.
So the supernova is on its way, it’s already blown up a remarkably solid Pluto and is now busy jetting its way past and through the moons of Jupiter. What’s the plan? Well, the scientists agree that the Earth’s magnetosphere is not going to be enough to protect us from a direct hit from the supernova (duh, it just blew up Pluto), so what they’re going to do is blow up a few hundred nuclear warheads above the magnetosphere to give the Earth some extra coating and seal all our juices in nice and tight. We’ll deal with the horrifying effects of nuclear fallout across the planet later. Problems arise when the approach of the supernova begins to affect the planet’s weather, triggers earthquakes and randomly makes Mount Vesuvius erupt again. Couple this with the fact that someone’s trying to sabotage the launch to the ISS to detonate the warheads and we’re in for a tepid, adrenaline-lacking race to save mankind from total annihilation.
LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:
- Nobody really wants to know the identity of the people aiming a machine gun through their car’s window.
- The art of kidnapping someone and taking them alive relies on shooting wildly in random directions.
- Some people view saving mankind from utter annihilation is just another part of the day.
- Wishing for nuclear warheads isn’t going to make them appear.
- An entire NASA launch pad only requires 3 minutes to undergo a complete safety check.
- It’s preferable to destroy the planet slowly than allow it to be destroyed in one cataclysmic blast.
- You don’t need clouds to have thunder and lightning.
- Timing when something is about to destroy Earth is really just a matter of guesswork until it actually hits us.
- The kindness of strangers will usually end with you taking a lead pipe to the back of their heads.
- Computers just make space shuttle technicians lazy cowards.
2012: SUPERNOVA TRAILER
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WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
Movies like this irritate me. So far as unheard of end of the world movies go, this really wasn’t a bad watch and there are far worse ways for you to spend your time. It’s main problem is that it dragged, but not in the usual way that makes you feel bored to tears. Rather it has a lot happen in a relatively short space of time so when you feel that Earth is pretty much on her knees and a resolution to the problem is about to be discovered you realise that you’ve only been watching for half an hour and that there’s still an hour to go. There are some glaringly obvious factual issues floating around but on the whole the acting is quite decent and the special effects are of a reasonable quality. That said, the title of the movie is completely misleading: nothing gets blasted and the arctic is in no way involved in the problem.
Poor little humans, we’re in for another round of ‘let’s meet our maker.’ It was a beautiful day when the people of Australia were watching a total solar eclipse (of the heart) and, much to the joy of health officials everywhere, nobody burned their retinas out. As happens from time to time the solar eclipse has a slightly greater effect on the planet than would normally be desirable. Somehow the combination of the moon passing in front of the sun and our recent tendency to pump our atmosphere full of pollution leads to the ozone layer springing a leak just off the coast of Tasmania. This rather sizeable hole (which is apparently visible from space) is allowing super cooled air from the mesosphere to filter down to the surface. This results in a cold front that begins sweeping its way across the sea towards Tasmania and the rest of Australia.
Now understandably nobody really wants to be caught in a fast-approaching cold front where the temperatures drop to -80 degrees fahrenheit (-62 centigrade for those who, like myself, find degrees fahrenheit confusing). Unfortunately for those people living in the line of fire the government isn’t really prepared to believe that the planet’s ozone layer is ruptured and freezing people in a split second, so a few people have to turn into frozen lollies before anyone actually sits up and pays attention. This is an end of the world movie so of course we have a rogue scientist in the form of Jack Tate to help us overcome this minor issue. As with many rogue scientists Jack’s family is in a state of turmoil and he’s in the process of divorcing his wife and losing the trust of his teenage daughter. Could this crisis possibly bring this family back together again?
So now what is the government going to do about this little problem? Well they’re certainly not going to listen to Jack, the one man who might just have all the answers. While the government twiddles its thumbs Jack tries to get his family to safety and sticks his wife with the in-laws and takes his daughter back to his lab. While in the lab he will try to come up with the best solution to Earth’s current situation and possibly fix the screw up of a plan the Australian government has come up with on its own. The situation will become slightly more complicated by the fact that the ozone hole above Australia in some way sent ripples out across the planet and opened holes above other major cities in Europe, Asia and North America. The race is on to find a way to plug the holes before all of Earth gets turned into a giant ice palace.
LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:
- If meteorologists get drunk enough they could easily solve all the world’s problems.
- Divorce lawyers are quite happy to be called blood-sucking parasites.
- Fireworks and chinese take aways will not buy you your daughter’s loyalty.
- For some people a ship full of condensation is the craziest thing they’ve ever heard of.
- A hairdryer will fix the most waterlogged of hard drives.
- Diabetic meteorologists need excessive amounts of chocolate to do their work.
- Any fool who bangs on his keyboard hard enough will eventually hack into an American military satellite.
- A true gentleman will gladly offer to do a little insulin shopping in -50 degree weather.
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WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
As IMDB will testify, there are many kinds of apocalypses out there but let’s be honest, there’s nothing quite like a quantum apocalypse. It just sounds like the world will end a lot more stylishly and hardcore than with other kinds of apocalypses. To this movie’s credit there are only a few points where you actually wish the world would end rather than have the movie carry on which, in this sub-genre, is quite something. It’s full of strange characters saving the world that, if this were to actually happen, would leave me rather concerned about humanity’s future but, since that’s not the case, we can all just sick back, relax and watch the world be vacuumed slightly to the left.
The end of the world all began one evening in a dark and geeky control room. The good people of the USSA (what I understand to be the movie’s rough equivalent of NASA) are monitoring a comet making its way through our stellar neighbourhood and about to make a flyby of Mars. Everything’s going fine until one moment when the scientists turn their backs and this mischievous comet decides it wants to take a sharp right in space. This puts it on a direct collision path with Mars where it proceeds to blow about a third of the planet into space. Everyone’s obviously concerned because now there’s an awful lot of Mars floating around and they need to make sure that none of it’s heading our way. One scientist has a brief flash of genius when he suggests that, while monitoring the pieces of Mars, it might also be interesting to find out what caused the comet to veer off course so suddenly and catastrophically.
To this end the apparently wanting-in-the-genius-department people of the USSA bring in Trish Zane and Tom Lively. These two are the rock stars of the scientific community and the only ones able to figure out what the strange purple half-octopus flying around Earth is. Deciding that very few people would know what a strangelet is the movie decides to go with that. In this instance it’s basically a much better coordinated and far more purple black hole with limited suction. This thing is slowly making its way towards Earth and its effects will gradually become worse. First it’ll be the usual things like tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes and tornadoes with certain areas experiencing localised anti-gravity and, when it eventually reaches Earth, the entire planet will be sucked in and its matter deconstructed and rearranged. I, personally, was hoping it would be rearranged into a beautiful floral tapestry but since I had no control over how the movie progressed I powered on.
It’s agreed on by the rock star scientists, regular scientists and the movie’s decidedly white American president that, should the purple strangelet reach us, we’re all pretty fucked. There’s 31 hours until it strikes (a time which doesn’t change for the greater part of the movie) and someone needs to devise a plan on how to stop the thing. This is where the other half of the movie’s characters will come in. Ben, his wife Lynne, !!!AUTISTIC!!! brother Terry and kids Leo and Samantha are just a normal American family trying to hold it all together as the world comes to an end. Terry, however, knows a lot about astronomy and might just know how to halt the purple octopus’ advance on Earth. Now he just needs to convince his family and the American government that he has a vague idea of what he’s talking about.
LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:
- The Oval Office is just for show. The president’s real office is only marginally bigger than a broom cupboard.
- Mayors answer to no one.
- Cars owned by high school students automatically smell like mildew.
- Al-Qaeda and the Chinese are always suspects when dark matter black holes appear in space.
- Anti-smoking rules do not change just because the world’s coming to an end.
- 3 nuclear missiles are enough to cause a polar shift.
- There will come a day when we all look back on Earth’s near destruction and laugh.
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