Yeah, that pretty much sums it up - the world is set to end once again, just like it didn't all those times before. This time though, it's different, right? Well, no not really. This time there will certainly be a lot more vivid cinematographic imagery for us to oooh and aaah about, but sadly everyone will still end up having to clear down their bar tabs after whooping it up and grabbing everything that moves for some pre-apocalyptic nookie at the end-of-the-world holiday weekend party.
The coming Hollywood blockbuster disaster movie 2012 is likely to be a visually stunning feast of storyline bereft goo, as we have come to expect of such films. The end of the world is actually a pretty important subject that has yielded many a motion picture delight - who can forget the classic When Worlds Collide - but the issue I have is that the trend is always - the more visually amazing the spectacle, the less accurate the science and the less compelling the human story. Take for example the two asteroid disaster movies that appeared in the late 90's, Armageddon and Deep Impact. The former was by far the most pleasing visually, with a reasonable soundtrack, half decent acting, and a plot that was so gushingly hero-heavy that you almost missed the sickly the-world-loves-America scenes snuck in to the triumphant ending. All very nice, but the science was appalling! Just the X-71's alone docking to a rotating space station and flying like jet aircraft in space is enough to make even a casual science geek giggle.
Deep impact on the other hand concentrated more on the human stories of the characters as the disaster approached. The special effects were minimal in comparison and the science was only a little on the naughty side. Blowing up an object approaching Earth minutes before it impacts is actually quite a bad idea, as all you are doing is increasing the size of the projectiles target area. All of the kinetic energy of the object is still going to hit the Earth, except now the myriad fragments are going to wreak havoc with the atmosphere as well as destroy more targets. At least one large impact will leave us with something to breathe after it hits.
This time with 2012 though, I think we are going to get the most stunning apocalypse recorded on film. The story? Meh, not so much. What is certain however is that once we all survive 2012 with our tax bill intact, the doomsayers will not finally shut up once and for all. This is just the latest in a long, long line of doomsday predictons that are hyped out of all proportions to the point that a significant number of gullable and easily fooled people of various religious persuations are going to buy into.
Although humans are a relatively new addition to the tree of life, we are but one of millions of evolving species. Disaster may come one day, and our species may not survive, but the Earth will not end for a few billion years yet. Long after we have gone the next dominant species may step up to the plate and enjoy the cool stuff we left for them. Will they too have to deal with their own cryers of doom who pop up every few years and scream 'RUN!!!!'? Or will they mature enough to scorn at such inane behaviour?
Happy Disaster Spacers!