Now that the craziness of the first online EGU ever is over (it was great, wasn’t it?), it is time to sink back into our lazy lockdown routine. Essential part of this routine? Watching bad science movies of course! So here is the top 5 geodynamic movies you should watch this lockdown! Get some popcorn, video call some friends, and laugh while all the geodynamic principles you hold dear are butchered for the sake of sensationalism. Enjoy!
1. The Core (2003)
This classic should be required watching for every Earth scientist. The premise is that the Earth’s core stops spinning, which – of course – means that everyone will die within a year. Bad. So smart scientists take a little trip to the core (as you do), to fix this minor problem. Of course, it’s not completely trivial to go to the core and they encounter some obstacles along the way (hot, molten lava in the mantle, among other things).
Watching this movie begs the question why there are still core geodynamicists out there trying to model the core. Clearly, they could just invert a rocket and see for themselves what’s happening at depth.
Highly recommended to watch with deep Earth friends and/or a few drinks.
Warning: Passionate deep Earth scientists might start to shout angrily at the screen or heavily sigh in frustration. Plenty of giggles guaranteed.
2. Ice Age: Continental Drift (2012)
Everyone studying lithosphere dynamics and tectonics can rejoice with this fourth instalment of the Ice Age franchise. Mammoth Manny, sloth Sid, and sabre tooth tiger Diego try to manage their family and love life while battling with the additional complexity of continents breaking up left and right, separating them from their loved ones in the process. For some reason, the writers of Ice Age thought prehistoric animal pirates were the way to go, so there is also that.
It certainly does make you wonder if anyone has ever modelled the effect of acorns on lithosphere dynamics. Maybe something for a future project?
Go into this movie with the lowest expectations possible and enjoy the crazy ride!
Warning: Although the title includes the famous ‘continental drift’, the execution of this concept in the movie is questionable at best and might make geodynamicists tear their hair out.
3. Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008)
The famous novel of the same name by Jules Verne from 1864 has resulted in many movie adaptations with respectable ratings on IMDb ranging from 2.1 to 7.0 out of 10. Essentially, it shows that mantle geodynamicists are completely redundant, because we already know what’s inside the Earth: dinosaurs. Obviously. At present, I have not yet come across any mantle convection models exploring the effect of dinosaurs living in the centre of the Earth, but I am looking forward to the first publication on this.
The 2008 version knows that it shouldn’t take itself too seriously and heavily plays on the comedy, making this delightfully light entertainment. They occasionally try to sound scientific and even manage to throw in jargon like ‘muscovite’. Sit back, relax, and enjoy this lighthearted movie with a geodynamic touch.
Warning: Overexposure to this movie can result in chronic eye damage for Earth scientists due to continued eye rolling.
4. Armageddon (1998)
An asteroid is Earth-bound and the impact will effectively obliterate all life on Earth. Nothing new there, but it needs to be dealt with nonetheless. NASA to the rescue!
This movie is particularly suited for all planetary geodynamicists out there, impact modellers, fans of meteorites, and – of course – people studying the Moon-forming impact. I am sure your work will greatly improve by seeing the effect of such a large impact first-hand.
If you insist on a more scientifically accurate movie, you could opt for Deep Impact (1998) which is apparently basically the same movie, but the science is supposedly a bit better. Therefore, it subsequently did worse at the box office than Armageddon. Or am I confusing my correlation and causation again?
Warning: Space engineers have an increased risk of drowning in their tears while watching this movie.
5. Dante’s Peak (1997)
This movie is a classic one for the geologists and volcanologists among us. A little town called Dante’s Peak lies next to a dormant stratovolcano. I mean, I say dormant, but is it? Probably not, because otherwise the movie would be very boring. Debating whether or not to warn the town of an impending eruption (don’t want to give false alarms now, do we?), geologist Harry is tasked with keeping everyone save amidst burning lava flows!
Seeing how hands-on this geologist is, I fully expect all natural hazard scientists to personally visit their research areas, give a warning, and try to evacuate everyone on their own. Good luck.
Considered by some to be the least bad geology movie out there, Dante’s Peak is sure to delight anyone with or without an affinity for the Earth Sciences.
Warning: Excessive derisive snorts could result in a permanent altered sense of smell in trained geologists and volcanologists.
Bonus: Lava (2014)
A sneaky bonus must-see is the Pixar short Lava from 2014. It somewhat (emphasis on somewhat) accurately depicts how hot-spot volcanoes work and how a volcanic seamount chain develops. Of course it cuts some scientific corners, but it is just too cute and adorable, so this is easily forgiven. If you need a pick-me-up during lockdown, I highly recommend you invest a little less than 6 minutes of your life to watch this amazing short.
Another beautiful ‘geodynamic’ Pixar short is La Luna (2011), which provides an alternative explanation for the phases of the Moon.
Google/youtube these Pixar shorts. You will not be disappointed.
Warning: Since this is Pixar, it is advisable to perhaps have some tissues at the ready.