My newly favorite Czech TV channel, Prima Cool (which airs not only The Big Bang Theory), was broadcasting a silly 2008 U.S.-German-Austrian science-fiction catastrophic global warming film, Lost City Raiders, tonight.
If you have 98 minutes, the whole movie is right here on this blog.
I kind of enjoy watching catastrophic movies – and view it as 1% of my job, too. In this case, I feel satisfied and you should also feel satisfied because this cheap $6 million movie scored the worst grades you may think of, see e.g. 39% at IMDb.
The rest of the blog entry is full of spoilers.
It's year 2048, a power of two, and the sea level has increased by something like 15 meters (the reality will be less than 0.1 meters) which, the authors believe, puts about 1/2 of North America (mostly the Eastern 50%) under water (in reality, even 15 meters would only submerge a tiny percentage of the land).
So they realize that the IPCC was right – in fact, the catastrophic global warming was worse than previously thought, even when they said that it was worse than previously thought – and a clever cardinal from the New Vatican (which is the ordinary Vatican with some buildings replaced by floating islands above the former city) figures out how to save the Earth. They must find the staff of Moses in the flooded streets of the New York City that became a part of the ocean. A man, a scuba diver who later dies – but has two (adopted) sons – accepts the challenge and the sons ultimately complete the task (despite explosives and puzzles in the churches) and meet with their tough babes in a restaurant in order to emit a few "wise" words about the future.
You may think that the effects are cheap and unspectacular but it's probably nothing compared to the predictable and stupid plot. The movie was addressed to the most undemanding audiences and once again, we must feel some kind of a satisfaction when we see that a politically correct theme and attitudes aren't enough for success. Thank God – even though in some cases, it does look like these conditions are sufficient for success.
When I said all these critical words, I must say that I have enjoyed the movie as entertainment. My rating is 60%.
P.S.: Some details. Moses' scepter is originally supposed to be in a Vatican library. It's not there: a member of the Order of the Temple stole it 800 years ago. So it could be in his grave in Dresden, DDR. They go there but find out that they have a competition: the former girlfriend of one of the sons, Giovanna. She's a scuba diver and self-taught geologist who tries to lower the global sea level by whole millimeters by detonating small holes in the ponds. ;-)
She's hired by an even more hopeless crackpot, the greatest owner of the land in the world, who wants to slow down the sea level rise, too. He has two methods: to hire Giovanna as a researcher who creates holes in the Mediterranean Sea so that the ocean pours into these holes (it sounds similar to some policies proposed by the IPCC); and to hire her to find the scepter, too. Well, a competition for the father and two sons. The rich guy who hired Giovanna has a spy in the Vatican, another cardinal. In Dresden, the graves have double floors etc. The father dies there after an explosion when a rock falls upon him.
After his death, the sons bring some historical object from the grave to the "good cardinal": the father asked them to do so. However, they want to abandon the risky job of looking for the scepter. That changes when the good cardinal tells them that the good cardinal, their adoptive dad, as well as their (late) biological fathers (archaeologists) were members of a special cult looking for the scepter.
Meanwhile, it also turns out that the rich guy, Niklas, has sold his land. He actually wants to raise the sea levels and then turn it back when he cheaply buys the land beneath the sea level, and so on. He wants to destroy almost everything and control the world. His cardinal-spy is caught at some time and his motivation was even worse: he wanted to complete the end of the world, a job that God began 2 millenniums earlier. ;-)
The sons who have decided to continue in their three fathers' mission hire a busty waitress-mechanic, Carol, who gets a new coil for their boat, avoids a fat innkeeper who wants sex with her because an old placard for his pub only covers 1/2 of the value of the old stolen coil (she abruptly becomes a sweetheart of the other brother who didn't have sex with Giovanna), and they go to see the grave of Richard the Lionheart – it may be at 3 places. Giovanna and the rich guy are there before them and find the scepter. Giovanna becomes sure that the rich guy is a villain a minute before he closes her body to the grave together with Richard the Lionheart so that some archaeologists may find the bones of Richard and Giovanna in the year 3048.
When the grave with Giovanna and Richard is thrown to the ocean, it just happens that her former boyfriend is swimming around. He opens the box, saves the babe, and they easily overtake the boat of the richest guy in the world. ;-) Once they're in charge of the scepter, they notice that it works as a perfect projector. It shows a movie about Pangaea and some "electromagnetic intersections" around the Earth. By a complete coincidence, Giovanna who watches is is the only person in the world who understands these electromagnetic intersections. So their skepticism goes away. (Giovanna starts to tell everyone that science is constantly failing because they used to be 9 planets and now there are just 8 planets – surely a hot topic in the year 2048; her anti-science interpretation of the redefinition of a "planet" remains unchallenged).
They sail to one of the intersections and find out a cave. The scepter is also a key to a lock which opens a sophisticated lab. Inside the lab, there is a convenient 13,000-kilometer-deep (about 3 meters in diameter) hole through the Earth, too. :-) The plans on the walls prove that the mechanism is nothing else than what Giovanna has been working on (but a greater realization of it) – a plan to lower the sea level. The door closes, confines them, and for some time, they're afraid they would die while they could save the land. But 3 of the 4 young people escape when the door temporarily opens.
The last guy has to return to the lab in the cave when he finds out that the evil cardinal – who escaped from the New Vatican after he was outed by the good cardinal as a spy (he instantly jumped to the New Vatican waters) – tries to stop the process of the saving of the Earth. They fight for a while. Finally, the son manages to throw the cardinal to the 13,000-kilometer-deep hole and save the scepter. He restores the process and thinks that he will die. But fortunately, he saves his life, too.
The process is activated after a while. A huge hole is created in the Earth and a big fraction of the world ocean pours there – some kind of giant waterfalls. Well, as the two couples are drinking champagne in the restaurant, they're told by the good cardinal on the screen of a 2008-style cell phone that the sea level dropped by 10 meters in the Mediterranean Sea. They don't want to be annoyed by such details when they are having fun. The cardinal tells them that the sea level in other parts of the world ocean isn't dropping but it seems that they will have some extra job, to go to a few dozens of other similar spots where they have to produce a similar huge hole into the Earth to stop the flood.
All the previous activities done for the cardinal and the scepter cult were unfunded. So I suppose that the rest of the activity needed to save the Earth didn't receive a eurocent of the EU taxpayers' or New Vatican money, either. Obviously, they saved the world in a cheaper way than the UNFCCC and the Kyoto protocol.
As I have said, I developed the pleasure of watching and enjoying movies even if every second of them is completely illogical nonsense, so I liked the film despite – and perhaps partly because – of its immense stupidity and lack of realism. Realistic if not mundane yet fictitious movies and novels is something I can't stand; it's the socialist realism that I am immensely bored by (independently of the politics).
One day later, on Sunday, I watched another catastrophic movie called 2012 and shot in 2009. Its budget was $200 million, about 30 times more expensive than the Lost City Raiders, but it was more chaotic and even more silly from a scientific viewpoint.
The Mayan prophecy about December 21st, 2012 gets realized in a bizarre way. The Earth's core gets quickly hot and the surface is cracking, and so on. The reason behind all these phenomena? The neutrinos from the Sun "mutated" and became equivalent to microwaves. Holy crap. Didn't they also wanted to say that neutrinos started to have sex with bunnies? ;-)
Alternatively, couldn't they have just asked a physics grad student to invent something slightly less dumb if they already pay $200 million for the movie so that all the movie staff wouldn't be identified as a gang of uneducated naive imbeciles on physics blogs?
With this being said, it was clear that the effects were much more professional and expensive than in the Lost City Raiders – and I was crying like a small baby.