NASA names worst sci-fi movies

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Earlier this week NASA named some of the worst movies to ever be considered science related, even though they were fiction. The list tops off with 2012, Armageddon and The 6th Day. They did name some of the most realistic sci-fi movies, but those come towards the end after they’ve vented about the bad ones.

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What do you think? From The Australian:

NASA silliest film award goes to 2012

  • John Harlow
  • From: The Times
  • January 02, 2011 12:57PM

IS that an asteroid flying towards us – or just a giant turkey?

Experts at NASA have named 2012, an apocalyptic blockbuster starring John Cusack and Thandie Newton and Chiwetel Ejiofor, as the most absurd science-fiction film.

The US space agency singled out the movie as the most scientifically flawed of its genre at a conference in which it pleaded with Hollywood bigwigs for more rational plots.

At the day-long private meeting at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, some of the film industry’s most popular sci-fi movies were mocked – and in some cases praised.

Those that came in for the worst criticism included Bruce Willis’s Armageddon, in which an asteroid the size of Texas is broken up by oil workers using drills and a nuclear bomb, and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s The 6th Day, in which the star – now governor of California – is cloned, complete with accent, in a few hours.

However, 2012 remains an “exceptional and extraordinary case”, said Donald Yeomans, head of NASA’s Near-Earth Asteroid Rendezvous mission, which studies threats hurtling through space.

“The film makers took advantage of public worries about the so-called end of the world as apparently predicted by the Mayans of Central America, whose calendar ends on December 21, 2012,” he said.

“The agency is getting so many questions from people terrified that the world is going to end in 2012 that we have had to put up a special website to challenge the myths. We have never had to do this before.”

Roland Emmerich, the director who destroyed the White House in Independence Day and then froze America in The Day After Tomorrow, merged several “global apocalypse” scenarios to finish off the planet in 2012.

In the film, Ejiofor is the first physicist to realise that neutrino particles carried to Earth on solar flares are baking the planet’s core, causing earthquakes, tsunamis and rapid continental drift.

The film, which also stars Amanda Peet, shows growing chaos in London which causes the cancellation of the Olympics. The world’s capitals are destroyed and then a tidal wave submerges Mount Everest.

Only one question remains: can a handful of lucky people – including the Queen and her corgis, and Newton as the daughter of a black American president – survive to start a new world order?

NASA points out that while solar flares have disrupted radio stations, neutrinos are neutral particles that do not interact with physical substances.

Furthermore, as with the exaggerated speed of climate change in The Day After Tomorrow, the speed of heating at the Earth’s core in 2012 is grotesquely accelerated. “It’s absurd,” said Yeomans.

Despite such a ludicrous plot, the film was one of the most lucrative of 2009, earning £640m in box-office and DVD sales.

NASA has co-operated with film makers in the past – even contributing to Armageddon. It now regrets its complicity in the abuse of science, but this has not stopped it calling for Nasa specialists and vehicles to appear as “product placements” in future movies it approves.

Yeomans, who believes films can be both entertaining and rooted in truth, was asked to consult on The Core, an action movie in which a vessel piloted by Hilary Swank drills deep into the Earth to kick-start a slowing core.

He walked away after reading the script. Released in 2003, it was widely regarded as the most risible sci-fi film until 2012 came along.

The competition, however, is fierce, according to the list of bad science films drawn up by NASA and the Science & Entertainment Exchange (SEE), a group of physicists and others campaigning for more authentic science fiction. The group is backed by Dustin Hoffman, who was a chemist for Maxwell House coffee before finding stardom in The Graduate.

Other ludicrous examples of the genre include Volcano, in which Los Angeles is consumed by a surprise super-volcano, and Chain Reaction, starring the British actress Rachel Weisz, which uses a far-fetched kidnap to spice up a plot about the chance discovery of how to generate energy using nuclear fusion.

NASA and the SEE also praise “good” science fiction films such as Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, which convincingly portrayed a futuristic Los Angeles now only eight years away. The most “realistic” film is considered to be Gattaca, starring Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman. The plot involves a genetically inferior man who assumes the identity of a superior one to pursue his dream of space travel.

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