Saturday, June 23, 2012

"Seeking a Friend for the End of the World" when NASA can't deflect a large asteroid


Seeking a Friend for the End of the World”, the new “romantic comedy” from Focus Features and director Lorene Scarfaria, provides enough warning to deserve to be reviewed on this blog.

The obvious comparison in Lars von Trier’s “Melancholia” (Movies blog, Nov. 11, 2011). That film is much grimmer and moodier, and more gradual in introducing the phantom planet menace. This time, the rogue planetoid is called “Matilda” (“On the Beach”), a sexier name than “Melancholia”.  And here there is no Wagnerian, chromatic music; just pop stuff.

This film (Sacrfaria) hits us right away.  The anti-hero, life insurance agent Dodge (the “man-o-lantern” Steve Carell  -- his chest never shows here) , sits in his car and hears a radio message that a space mission  (the last chance to “save mankind”) to destroy a 70-mile-wide approaching asteroid has crashed and failed.  The world will end in three weeks as a fireball from the explosion encircles the earth.  (In “Knowing” in 2009, it was a fireball from a sun storm).  

Society shuts down quickly.  The last airline flight, on Delta, lands.  Plans are announced to cut off Internet and power about a day before.  Rioting breaks out.

Dodge goes on a road trip to reunite with a sweetheart (Keira Knightley), and a number of family paradoxes emerge.  But it all sounds pretty silly compared to the “big problem”.

The film is supposed to take place in New Jersey but doesn’t look like it.

At the very end, there is only a sonic boom and a whiteout.  But it is the end of the world.

It probably would take much less than a 70 mile asteroid to wipe us out.  Maybe 5 miles would do.  A comet would have to be a bit bigger.  Could NASA deflect a large asteroid now?  The largest one, Ceres, is in the asteroid belt and is considered a “dwarf planet” now.

The film seems silly compared to the 1998 hits, “Armageddon” (asteroid) and “Deep Impact” (comet). 
The film was produced by Mandate Pictures and Indian Paintbrush.

I saw the film at the AMC Courthouse in Arlington VA in a small auditorium but with new digital projection. The audience was not particularly impressed with a main story that seemed too trivial for the premise. 

The official site is here


Pictures: (1) When a new cell phone tower invokes Stephen King's "Langoliers"; (2, 3):  A woman was advertising this film a short distance from the AFI Silverdocs, at the Metro station in Silver Spring. MD.

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