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:
You know, I consider myself a patient if somewhat long-suffering individual so far as b-movies go. I have seen things that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. I have built up an immunity to things like the Asylum and Syfy Originals, but there are somethings that you just cannot prepare for. 2012: Doomsday is one of those things. Part of the Asylum’s trilogy of disaster movies that also includes 2012: Ice Age and 2012: Supernova, 2012: Doomsday is by far the worst of the trio. With this one they decided to throw in everything and then a few people’s kitchen sinks: the recipe includes Christian theology, New Age thinking and Mayan prophecy, but it was definitely left to cook for a little too long. By the end of it you’ll be so confused you’ll begin to wonder if you hallucinated the whole thing or if you actually saw this movie play out before your very eyes.
Our tale of misadventure and outright confusion begins in Mexico. Sarah is a Christian missionary incapable of displaying emotion or vocal inflection who’s on assignment in a little village in the back and beyond of nowhere trying to help out those good Christian people who are less fortunate and white than herself. The entire village has suddenly become ill and she desperately needs to find a doctor but, when that fails, a random medical student snapping photos of her jogging will just have to suffice. They realise that something is terribly wrong on the way back to the village when they pass a river that’s near boiling point and all the fish are dead and floating downstream. What possible calamity could have caused this?
The whole world going to Hell, that’s what’s causing this. Sarah’s father works for the US government tracking unusual phenomena that may have adverse effects on the planet. Somehow the combination of planetary alignment in the solar system and the sun’s rotation around the black hole at the centre of the galaxy have caused the Earth’s rotation to stop (although in this movie it has no effect on the magnetosphere), enormous storm cells to form and the continents to move around a little bit. It’s a helluva lot of stuff to have going on all at the same time. Thankfully we have Dr. Frank Richards, a man of science and reason to help us out. Well, science and reason until he discovers a crucifix in a Mayan temple and decides that the only logical thing to do will be to take it to a different Mayan temple to fulfill a prophecy as ordained by Fate. Making sense so far? Didn’t think so.
Because we don’t have enough strange people to pay attention to the movie also throws Susan at us. Susan’s a staunch atheist nurse who believes that science can explain everything. Somehow it’s going to explain her strange desire to visit a Mayan temple that she’s only ever seen in a dream as a child. Her mother, a very devout Christian woman, believes this is all part of God’s greater plan for mankind. So now all these odd people must make their way to the Mayan temple to fulfill a prophecy made by Christians in the Americas nearly a thousand years ago while avoiding a variety of natural disasters before time runs out and the entire planet is decimated. Oh yeah, and the rapture’s thrown in amongst all this just for good measure.
LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:
- The words ‘we need to evacuate’ just dare a volcano to erupt.
- The Mayans were famous for their underground Christian churches.
- Scientists refuse to accept that the Mayans practised crucifixion, and are insulted if anyone even mentions it.
- Doctors often argue about whether to use medicine or just leave it up to God.
- When the world’s about to go to Hell someone needs to be there to take pictures.
- God will plummet the whole Earth into chaos just to teach one blonde woman to believe.
- God, Christ and the Fates often club together to buy humanity gifts.
- Missionaries in villages in the hell and back of nowhere often have no skills that would be useful to the people there.
- Newborn children are the exclusive property of God.
- Mankind has a dormant instinct to flock to Mayan temples that is awoken during times of the apocalypse.
- Distance in Mexico is measured in how many hills you need to climb over.
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WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
Just look at that movie poster, it’s like something the Discovery Channel would use to advertise their latest documentary. While I remain sceptical so far as this movie’s educational benefits are concerned I can vouch for the fact that it’s one of the better movies I’ve seen this month. Not better in the sense that it has brilliant actors or deserves awards or anything, but better in that it’s a fun variety of cheese. If you like trashy sci-fi with a few good laughs then you could do far worse than Earth’s Final Hours.
What I like about this movie is that it’s very forward thinking in the end of the world department. Realising that black holes are very last season in the whole apocalyptic movie industry the guys behind this one decided to take the end of the world in an entirely different direction. What if the earth was hit, not by a black hole, but a white hole? It’s crazy, I know, but it was just the thing this movie needed to really make it stand out from its competitors; it adds a completely different dynamic to mankind’s absolute destruction. White holes, unlike their more emo counterparts, compress and then expel matter away from themselves. So, rather than the whole earth being compressed and vacuumed up into nothingness, Earth’s Final Hours has a small chunk of compressed matter blow straight through the planet. See? Very forward thinking movie.
Now I can hear you all asking, “But James, how would we know if a white hole had blown something right through the Earth?” That, dear reader, is very simple. All you have to do is let a rogue scientist (preferably one who’s trying to evade the US government) loose in a number of fields and let him go about collecting data on the phenomenon. He’ll set up a whole bunch of instruments and satellites to gather any information he can, but ultimately the best way to know when something’s happened is to keep an eye on him. First of all you’ll hear a giant explosion in the sky and the atmosphere will rip open slighty. Now atmospheric rip can obviously be the result of a number of things, so you now need to look at the scientist’s chest. If it is a piece of expelled white hole matter it will find its way to him, blow through his chest and then through the Earth. If this happens, you will know that you are witnessing a genuine apocalypse by way of a white hole.
By this point you all probably have 1000 different questions, not least being what kind of effect all this would have on the Earth. Well, the thing is, something that compressed and hitting the planet at that speed would not only go straight through but would also exert enough energy to completely halt the planet’s rotation. Not only is this hugely inconvenient because of the effect it would have on daylight savings but it would also result in the complete collapse of the magnetosphere, the layer created by the Earth’s rotation that protects us from solar radiation. All we can hope for in these dark days is that somewhere, somehow, there’s a mad scientist locked in an institution with knowledge of a satellite system that can restart the Earth and a rogue CIA agent and his family who care enough about humanity to help the mad scientist out. Will such a hero answer our desperate call? Watch and be amazed!
LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:
- Driving through a big open field is very different to working in Washington DC.
- You know you’re a good person if you hack into a city’s financial system to save old ladies from being evicted from their houses.
- Turns out that if you dig straight through the Earth you actually land up in Australia, not China.
- When a child becomes too old to be sent to his room a parent’s next best option is to send him to prison.
- Just because the world’s coming to an end doesn’t mean you can’t go visit your aunt.
- Millions of dollars worth of security devices can easily be bypassed by hiding behind a bin.
- The lack of computers with floppy disk drives will be mankind’s downfall.
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