Natural disasters have long been a favorite subject of big-time filmmakers, but they tend to be portrayed in ridiculously extreme ways. While phenomena like tornadoes, earthquakes, and volcanoes really are quite destructive, they’re not nearly as horrific as how they’re usually made out to be in Hollywood. So with Earth Day here, we at COMET figured now is a good time to take a look at the 10 most unrealistic disaster movies ever made, and what makes them so ludicrous.
Don’t forget to check out COMET’s Planet in Peril Earth Day Movie Marathon, beginning today at Noon/11 C.
Overall, Twister isn’t that bad compared to many of the other films on this list — but it still gets a lot wrong about tornadoes. For instance, there’s no physical “cone of silence” in a tornado like in the movie; that’s a term that only applies to tornadoes on radar. And at the end of the movie, there’s no way Bill and Jo would have been able to hold onto a beam and withstand an F5 hurricane — which has winds approaching 300 mph — according to meteorologist Kathryn Prociv.
9. Dante’s Peak
Like Twister, this volcano movie actually did receive some praise from scientists — but it’s hardly a documentary. The characters would have been incinerated if they attempted to drive a truck through molten rock, and the volcano’s fast-flowing lava in particular, while it looked cool on film, was laughed off by geologists, according to NBC News.
8. San Andreas
Everyone’s heard of the San Andreas Fault, which does pose an earthquake threat to parts of California, but this movie’s level of destruction is just absurd. According to the University of Nevada, Reno’s Nevada Today, cities wouldn’t crumble, the mostly land-locked San Andreas wouldn’t cause a Tsunami or open up into a giant chasm, and the Hoover Dam is in basically no danger of being destroyed by an earthquake. The Rock, however, would definitely represent our best chance at survival.
Coming out around the same time as the similar but more scientifically-accurate Deep Impact, Armageddon went for drama over accuracy. And while almost nothing about the movie is factually correct, the most-glaringly wrong is how Bruce Willis saves the day by detonating a nuclear bomb on the surface of the impending asteroid that blows it in half. According to a Leicester University study, the force needed to break such an asteroid in two would be over a billion times greater than the most powerful nuclear bomb ever made. In other words, we’re doomed.
Released two months after Dante’s Peak and worse in every way, this movie features a volcano that randomly sprouts up from beneath Los Angeles — despite there being no source of magma in the area, which would be required for a volcano to suddenly appear, according to geologist Ronald Charpentier. So while L.A. may still have to worry about earthquakes, there’s zero chance of a random volcano attack.
5. The Day After Tomorrow
Climate change is undeniably real, as are its hazardous effects, but this movie is ridiculous. There’s no danger of a new Ice Age immediately taking shape like in the film, say scientists. “Some of these things are very likely to happen,” Harvard University paleoclimatologist Dan Schrag told USA Today. “We are indeed experimenting with the Earth in a way that hasn’t been done for millions of years. But you’re not going to see another ice age — at least not like that.”
The future predictions of the movie are obviously nonsense, but the disaster itself — all of Earth being fried by a giant solar flare — is maybe the most egregious thing. A giant solar flare striking the planet could cause massive electrical problems, and a big enough one might even heat up the atmosphere enough to harm life, but incinerating cities like the Death Star? Pure fiction.
3. The Happening
Director M. Night Shyamalan supposedly consulted with a number of scientists before writing his “plants attack” movie, but I think they may have played a trick on him. While there are tiny bits of actual science sprinkled about in the film, the overall plot of plants conspiring with each other to attack humans by emitting toxins is completely impossible, according to University of Illinois botanist Joe Armstrong. To quote Mark Wahlberg in the film: “What? No!”
Obviously the Mayan doomsday prophecy didn’t come true, but it turns out that inaccuracy was the least of this movie’s problems. The films depicts pretty much every natural disaster you can think of — volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis — all caused by neutrinos from the sun mutating and heating up the Earth’s core. What does that mean? Nothing, it’s complete gibberish, which is why NASA ranked the film as the most absurd sci-fi film ever made.
1. The Core
So how could anything be worst than 2012, you’re wondering? Well, how about if the Earth’s core stops spinning for some reason, which causes a bunch of ridiculous global catastrophes, leading scientists to drill down to the core and detonate a nuclear bomb to get it moving again. None of it holds up to any form of scientific scrutiny, which is why the film was voted as the worst depiction of science in a film ever by a poll of hundreds of scientists, according to news.com.au. Maybe people should stop making movies about the Earth’s core?
For more of mother nature’s bad side, be sure and check out COMET’s Planet in Peril Earth Day Movie Marathon, beginning Saturday, April 22 at Noon/11 C.