Friday, 13 October 2017

SciFi Disaster Films (1990s)

In the middle of the popularity of cyberpunk, disaster films were still popular, with films like Armageddon (1998) and Deep Impact (1998), and a fascination with genetics, in Jurassic Park (1993) and Gattaca (1997). Throughout the 1980s and 90s a science fiction or fantasy film came out virtually every year, as the film industry catered to the public appetite for escapism and excitement, while still playing on their fears.

Armageddon (1998)

Armageddon

This is a 1998 American science fiction disaster film directed by Michael Bay, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, and released by Touchstone Pictures. The film follows a group of blue-collar deep-core drillers sent by NASA to stop a gigantic asteroid on a collision course with Earth. It features an ensemble cast including Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, Billy Bob Thornton, Liv Tyler, Owen Wilson, Will Patton, Peter Stormare, William Fichtner, Michael Clarke Duncan, Keith David, and Steve Buscemi.

Due to a shuttle's unfortunate demise in outer space, NASA becomes aware of a doomsday asteroid that is on a collision course with Earth. It seems that the only way to knock it off course is to drill into its surface and detonate a nuclear weapon. But as NASA's under-funded yet resourceful team train the world's best drillers for the job, the social order of the world begins to break down as the information reaches the public and hysteria results. As high-ranking officials play politics with the effort, the drilling team all faces deep personal issues which may jeopardize humanity's last chance.

Deep Impact (1998)

Deep_Impact_poster

This is a 1998 American science fiction disaster film directed by Mimi Leder, written by Bruce Joel Rubin and Michael Tolkin, and starring Robert Duvall, Téa Leoni, Elijah Wood, Vanessa Redgrave, Maximilian Schell, and Morgan Freeman. Steven Spielberg served as an executive producer of this film. Notably, Deep Impact was released in the same summer as a similarly themed film, Armageddon, which fared better at the box office, while astronomers described Deep Impact as being more scientifically accurate

The film depicts the attempts to prepare for and destroy a 7-mile (11 km) wide comet set to collide with Earth and cause a mass extinction. A teenage astronomer and his teacher discover an object amongst the stars at night. Little do they know that it's a comet on a direct collision course for earth. After the teacher dies in a car crash trying to report his findings the President announces the comet's existence. He also states that there is no need to panic, because NASA is going to send astronauts on the space mission, Messiah. Their mission is to destroy the comet before it gets too close to the earth. When Messiah backfires, the President announces that special caves will have to be built, and the government will have to have a lottery-of-fate to randomly select 800,000 ordinary American citizens to go along with 200,000 scientists, soldiers, and other officials. These 1,000,000 people will be set aside to save the population from extinction when the comet hits.

Jurassic Park (1993)

Jurassic_Park_poster

This is a 1993 American science-fiction adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg and produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Gerald R. Molen. The first instalment in the Jurassic Park franchise, it is based on the 1990 novel of the same name by Michael Crichton and a screenplay written by Crichton and David Koepp.

The film is set on the fictional islet of Isla Nublar, located off Central America's Pacific Coast near Costa Rica, where a billionaire philanthropist and a small team of genetic scientists have created a wildlife park of cloned dinosaurs. John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) requests Paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neil) and his assistant, Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) to come to the park and ensure that it is safe. Also joining them are Hammond's lawyer Donald Gennaro (Martin Ferrero) and chaos theorist Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum).

Soon the power in the park is shut down by computer systems geek Dennis Nedry who wishes to steal embryos from the park to sell to a secret buyer. In the process, many dinosaurs escape their paddocks, including the deadly Tyrannosaurus Rex, who, during a thunderstorm, escapes his paddock & attacks the children, and eats Gennaro. Malcolm is injured & Grant and the children are then lost in the park. Meanwhile, Hammond, Sattler and the rest of the operations team learn that Nedry (who in the meantime has been killed) has locked up the computer system to cover his tracks. They attempt to get power back in the park in order to escape the island. After shutting down the system, then restoring it, the group realizes that velociraptors are also on the loose, & are now on the hunt for the visitors.

The success of this film led to three sequels, although the third and fourth films were not based on novels as the first two were. Numerous video games based on the franchise have been created by various software developers since the release of the 1993 film.

Gattaca (1997)

Gataca_Movie_Poster

This is a 1997 American science fiction film written and directed by Andrew Niccol. It stars Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman, with Jude Law, Loren Dean, Ernest Borgnine, Gore Vidal, and Alan Arkin appearing in supporting roles. The film’s title is based on the letters G, A, T, and C, which stand for guanine, adenine, thymine, and cytosine, the four nucleobases of DNA.

The film presents a biopunk vision of a future society driven by eugenics where potential children are conceived through genetic manipulation to ensure they possess the best hereditary traits of their parents. The film centers on Vincent Freeman, played by Hawke, who was conceived outside the eugenics program and struggles to overcome genetic discrimination to realize his dream of traveling into space.

In the not-too-distant future, a less-than-perfect man wants to travel to the stars. Society has categorized Vincent Freeman as less than suitable given his genetic make-up and he has become one of the underclass of humans that are only useful for menial jobs. To move ahead, he assumes the identity of Jerome Morrow, a perfect genetic specimen who is a paraplegic as a result of a car accident. With professional advice, Vincent learns to deceive DNA and urine sample testing. Just when he is finally scheduled for a space mission, his program director is killed and the police begin an investigation, jeopardizing his secret.

[adapted from Wikipedia and IMDB]

Ann Marie Thomas head shot (80x90) (300dpi) Web GravatarAnn Marie Thomas is the author of three medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel. Book one, Intruders, is out now. Follow her at http://eepurl.com/bbOsyz

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