Thursday, 3 March 2011

Armageddon and the Apocalypse

The aspect of Blue Bloods which interested is the treatment of the motives of the bomber. This was personal, almost a family matter and designed encourage Americans to be opened minded about Muslim’s with the bomber being female and white while husband was portrayed as ethnic Muslim and peaceful. While the bomber talked about taking her husband and her son to a beautiful place there was explanation of why she was prepared to also kill and maim the large number of adults and children involved given the stated size of the car bomb which had been identified. Previously I have mentioned the Fox news Channel programme which stated that the Iranian leader believed that the Christian Apocalypse was similar to Muslim teachings about how heaven would be reached for all true believers after God has destroyed and sent to hell the non believers through the forces of famine, fire, water and plague.

I was therefore fascinated to suddenly find on Sky Anytime the appearance of three programmes, two documentaries and one film epic on the same subject. I only view one of the documentaries on the history channel which suggested that apparent build up of flooding around the world, the Asian Tsunami, New Orleans, Australia etc and the earthquakes, in Haiti and New Zealand for example were indications of a gathering momentum. The programme argued that there were 1 million deaths a year from Malaria and other Mosquito transmitted diseases and that along with famine humans were not concentrating enough attention and resources to prevent that which was preventable.

The documentary also explained that at some point the earth would be hit by a meteor of sufficient size to create a seismic explosion of such magnitude that the world could be destroyed. There was reference to such an explosion which is said to have devastated the evolving planet 65 millions year ago. I also said earlier that Melvin Bragg and his guests were this morning talking about the nature of the expanding universe and I mentioned the possibility of several such phenomena in space and what would happed if the accelerating forces at the end of two developments collided.

In therefore could not resist a showing of the extraordinary long (150m) film Armageddon, created for release in 1998 I suspect because of the approach of millennium. The film has four good actors. Bruce Willis is a rough neck driller, regarded as the rest in the world. Ben Affleck is his number two who he regards as a son and Liv Tyler is the daughter who has effectively been raised by Bruce and his team on oil rigs and gas drills over past two decades since her mother left him holding the baby. The one thing he did not wantwas his girl to get involved with a roughneck, yet she was expected to be with him wherever he went and in effect treated her emotionally in some ways more than most men and women couples trust and interact together. The fourth character is another member of the team, an unstable genius played by Billy Bob Thornton. He and part of his team are on an oil drill which strikes oil as some Asian entrepreneurs are visiting and when the USA government call comes to save the world from extinction. Before this a space shuttle is destroyed while it is being fixed and meteor showers of significant size blow up part of New York (i.e. before 9/11). Coinciding with NASA working out that the problem is a large chunk of space rock heading directly for earth, a lone observatory with an expensive and powerful telescope also identifies the situation and calls on the government to claim the right to name the new sighting.

The film opened within two and half months of Deep Impact with Morgan Freeman and while I have seen both films for some reason they are not listed among the 450 films mentioned in the film section of these writings. The solution worked out by NASA is to send two space shuttles when the 6 mile lump of rock is behind the moon and drill to a depths of 800 hundred feet/metres and then detonate a hydrogen bomb remotely controlled from earth, which will have the impact of splitting then rock in such a way that the trajectory of the pieces will take them out into space away from the earth planet and presumably the moon! I m told that the science in this film is considered dodgy.

Willis agrees to assemble two teams, the back up led by Affleck and arranges for some of the best men with whom he has previously worked to supplement his immediate team. One is a biker, another a gambler and others womanizers. It does not require imagination that the idea of training such individualists for a space flight and such an important mission does not fill the command structure at NASA with any enthusiasm after Willis has kicked out the astronauts who were being trained along with a space drilling equipment for an ongoing project to Mars.
His men only agree to participate in the mission, knowing that returning is unlikely, by making requests which vary from cancellation of parking tickets to not paying any government taxes on what they earn for the rest of their lives.

The stress of the training and the mission is such that despite the timetable he insists that everyone has an overnight break of ten hours so that they can indulge their fancies and let off steam. Affleck and Tyler make love and decide to marry much to the horror of Willis while one of the party gets permission to call on his ex wife and son he has not seen since babyhood because of the court restraining order he has taken, he calls to say sorry and to give his son a model of a space shuttle.

They set off and the President of the USA in tandem with other leaders announce to their people the seriousness of the situation for the first time and the once only attempt to prevent it happening. A larger than average bit of the rock lands in central Paris turning half the city into a crater while another lands in the Asian Pacific. Everyone who can goes into caves and underground shelters in the feint hope that there can be some survivors while others join in prayer and everyone sets out to be with their families.

The mission meets with initial disaster and communications failure. They need to refuel at a Russian space station which blows up because of a fault but fortunately both craft manage to get free with about 90% of the required fuel and to rescue two of drilling crew including Affleck who goes back to get a trapped comrade.

The shuttle in which the duplicate drill team led by Affleck crashes killing pilots and at least one of the team and then miraculous they find the drilling machine is intact and manage to get iy out of the ruined shuttle and then to power it in such a way that it manages to fly over a chasm and to get to where the others have landed, some 26 miles from where they should, and therefore creating problems for the drilling equipment on the mission. Then because of communication problems there are only a dozen minutes to complete the drilling and remote control detonation. When the first drilling runs into problems the Presidential order is given to remotely detonate the available bomb in the hope that it will reduce the impact if not change the overall trajectory. Bruce pleads for more time as does the NASA chief knowing that any premature detonation will be futile. Someone at NASA manages a communication override which stops the detonation but the order is given to proceed but before this can be enacted a secondary communications system comes on line so they have the full time available before the rock passes the point of no change.

There is further disaster when the drill strikes a gas pocket killing a team member and blowing up the drilling equipment. Willis advises NASA that they have failed and to prepared for the worst. Then the other team arrives and the drilling depth is achieved. However the surface begins to heat up and the remote trigger mechanism is damaged so someone must stay behind to press the manual trigger while the rest leaves. They draw lots and Affleck is the loser but Willis who goes to the surface to see him off does a switch so that he remains and Affleck returns to care for his daughter. They return to a hero’s welcome after the project is a success.

The film received a mixed reception with four technical Oscar nominations and Bruce Willis awarded the worst acting award, a Razzle.

I end with the question. How did the New Treatment Book, Revelations come to be included and who write It. No one seems to know.

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