Wednesday, May 19, 2004

The Day After Tomorrow

For those who haven't heard, the above is an SF-disaster movie about catastrophic climate change bought on by global warming. The greenhouse-deniers are already kicking up a stink about it being unrealistic and having shonky science - and it hasn't even been released yet. So how bad is it?

Well, the basic scenario - freshwater from the melting north pole shuts down the gulf stream, kicking Europe and America into a new ice age - is possible, and has certainly happened before. Hollywood then takes this basic premise, amplifies it to the max, and time-compresses the results to fit their typical short attention span. So there's silliness - unexplained tidal waves which exist solely as an excuse for special effects; warm summer turning into a deep-freeze practically overnight - but it doesn't sound any worse in that regard than, say, Armageddon.

Those complaining that it is premised on an extreme scenario frankly need to get over themselves. Extreme scenarios are what disaster movies are all about. Yes, the vast majority of asteroids miss the Earth completely, the vast majority of dams do not burst, and the vast majority of towering buildings do not turn into infernoes - but disaster movies are about what happens when things go wrong, not when they go right.

Not that any of the above necessarily means I'm going to go and see it, of course. I'm not a great fan of disaster movies, and paying money to see Lost In Space has made me reluctant to shell out for Hollywood crap. Besides, with the price of movies nowdays, I could just buy a book instead - and Kim Stanley Robinson's Forty Signs of Rain would seem to be just the ticket...