End of World Subcategories: Celestial Impact Disaster

 

comet 3

OMG, but I LOVELOVELOVE disaster movies of this type! Especially the ones that at least partially follow through with global carnage. The carnage is a MUST…and usually, in this type of film, we usually get a lot of precursory damage to local cities, aka smaller meteorites raining down on LA as a harbinger of the asteroid to come in Armageddon; the Space Needle in Seattle being taken out due to an earthquake, etc. It’s why I go often to even the crappiest-looking of disaster-y apocalypse films. Granted most of these are not usually POST apocalyptic, because most of the literature/films etc. don’t typically address being a survivor in the aftermath, just the lead-up and ensuing (usually abbreviated by the central heroes) carnage immediately post impact.

Interestingly, I remember watching a science program (can’t remember which, but this article also goes into some depth) a few years ago which discussed how rare the evolution of intelligent life on a given planet actually is, and how well-positioned in the universe our Earth is, not only its position relative to the sun’s orbit (warmth! crop growing! energy!), but its position as a smaller planet with several giant planets further out in the solar system – Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune and Uranus take a lot of comet/asteroid impacts that would devastate other smaller planets like Mars, Venus and our blue gem. In fact, some scientists theorize the asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars is actually the remnants of an ancient planet, possibly destroyed by some kind of celestial impact! This program went on to pontificate that while it’s likely we are NOT alone in the universe, existing, life-sustaining planets out there may actually not be as numerous as we might imagine…but I digress.

These films/movies usually tend to be leading up to the disaster, rather than dealing cometwith the aftermath, so technically aren’t usually POST apocalyptic…but I felt like I needed to include this subgenre anyway, because I enjoy watching some of the carnage wreaked. While Deep Impact in and of itself was a bit snorry, I wish they’d explored more of the aftermath of the comet strike – humans succeeded in diverting MOST of the comet, but a chunk still broke off and crashed into the ocean, causing an EPIC tsunami, and there were also thousands of people holed up in an underground/mountain shelter…after the strike, the president (Morgan Freeman!) talked about rebuilding, but then, since it was a 2-hour film, it had to end on this hopeful note. However, what kind of havoc did it wreak on earth’s oceans, for a start? How did the geography of the world change with regard to giant tsunami? Did this strike affect our ecosystem in interesting ways, triggering environmental collapse of any kind? They didn’t go into that. But I’m still curious.

          Seeking a Friend for the End of the World ended up being a surprising little gem of a film – also pre-apocalyptic, leading up to and ending with moments before an asteroid strike. I think it was meant to be humorous (because hello: Steve Carell!) however, it ended up being a really sweet story and presenting an alternative viewpoint counter to the rioting and freaking out we normally see when the public finds out disaster is imminent. Sure, there was rioting and freaking out. But there were also people who still got up and went to work, because they didn’t know what else to do. They still mowed comet 2their lawn. Steve Carell, with the help of his manic pixie dreamgirl neighbor Keira Kneightly went on a search for The One That Got Away. It was really reflective and sweet, and of course, the two leads ended up kinda falling for each other, but it never felt gratuitous, and then the world ended anyway.

I’d definitely be interested in something that presented us with a more truly post apocalyptic view of this type of disaster, but really, what I’ve discovered about this type of thing is that surviving humanity, when left to its own devices, basically descends into exploitation, usury and violence, which is discouraging, but considering the way the political climate is going right now, not at all surprising. What do you think?

Books: Lucifer’s Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, Hammer of God by Arthur C. Clarke, Seveneves by Neal Stephenson, The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters

Films: Armageddon, Deep Impact, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Melancholia

TV Series: Salvation, You, Me and the Apocalypse, Aftermath, Impact, The Last Train

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