1998 / in flight

SF elements: impending meteor strike


[designer stubble in a space helmet] Several words spring to mind to describe this tale of Die Hard in Space, ‘preposterous’ and ‘ludicrous’ being the kindest. My only excuse for watching this is that I was strapped into my seat, watching on a small screen mounted in the back of the seat in front of me, and it was marginally more interesting than the alternative of spending those two hours staring out the window at featureless clouds over the Atlantic. (I did get the surreal feeling I was in an Airplane film at one point: as I was watching shuttles crashing on meteors, I noticed the passenger sitting next to me was watching a seaplane crash in a lake!)

Here’s the plot: a meteor is due to hit the earth in a few weeks, killing everyone. Humanity’s only hope is to get someone to drill a hole to the centre of the meteor, drop a nuclear bomb down, and let it off, thereby splitting the rock in two, so that each chunk misses the planet. And only roughnecks can drill the hole. So Bruce Willis and assorted misfit colleagues get the job, which they manage to complete, just in the proverbial nick of cliché.

[The Wrong Stuff]

“Talk about The Wrong Stuff!”

This is a typical action-adventure by someone who appears to think that the only difference between space and the Earth is that you have to wear a spacesuit out there. And boy, are those spacesuits tough! None of this bumping gently into a wall only to get a large rip in the suit and suffer explosive decompression. Oh no. Here we have explosions, rock shards hurtling everywhere, and astronauts being flung around. A couple of faceplates crack, but that’s it.

[tough space suits]

I was highly amused at reason for sending two shuttles. “Nasa always has a backup.” So why are these shuttles launched simultaneously from adjacent platforms, and why do they zoom in ultra-close formation through the meteor’s debris field?

But I think the most ridiculous thing is what I can only call “Wile E. Coyote anti-gravity”. In the Roadrunner cartoons, Coyote runs straight off cliffs, and gravity cuts in just at the point when he realises he has a problem. Here, gravity is implausibly present all the time (no, I won’t even discuss the rocket packs that push downwards), except when the characters remember it’s not actually there at all, in order to solve a problem.

It really is unfair to call this Die Hard in Space : unfair on the Die Hard films. See the much better Deep Impact instead.

Rating: 5

[ unmissable | great stuff | worth watching | mind candy | waste of time | unfinishable ]

reviewed 12 November 1998