Film: Meteor

Meteor is a 1979 impact event film, one of the last attempts to maintain the disaster movie genre (although given the basic premise of two of the blockbusters of more modern times, maybe it was prophetic). An all-star cast including Sean Connery, Karl Malden and Natalie Wood work to stop a five-mile wide meteor (yes, a five-mile wide space rock is called a meteor, not an asteroid) from hitting the Earth in six days after it was detected within the asteroid belt.

And astronomer is crying.

This film provides examples of:

  • Artistic License Astronomy: And HOW! (In spite of having not one, but TWO scientific advisors.)
    • As stated above, a five-mile wide chunk of rock is called a meteor, instead of an asteroid. Meteors are technically the visible path of a meteoroid that has entered the Earth's atmosphere.
    • Within two days, Challenger 2 is able to divert from its approach to Mars towards the asteroid belt, which would take several days if not weeks.
    • The asteroid belt is not a jumbled mess of rocks. The asteroids are actually spread out; you could fly a ship through the asteroid belt and barely come within sight of any.
    • The poster says that Orpheus is approaching at 30,000 mph and will hit in six days. In six days, it would have travelled over four million miles, nowhere near the distance from the asteroid belt. For reference, Mars is some eighty million miles from Earth, and the innermost main belt asteroids are over a hundred million miles from Earth.
    • When Orpheus passes by, the sun is in eclipse!
    • Some of the missiles launched seem to run out of fuel and space. Rockets are supposed to run out of fuel and glide to their destination.
  • Captain Obvious: "It's coming apart in a million pieces!"
  • Cutting the Knot: Neither the United States or the Soviet Union is willing to admit they have a satellite with nuclear weapons pointing at each others country. So the President goes on television saying that both countries have a satellite put up to avert an incoming meteor and saying he'll be asking the Soviets for help. This way everyone can get on with co-ordinating their efforts instead of wasting time in diplomatic denials.
  • Disaster Movie
  • Last Stand / Monumental Damage: The last chunk of Orpheus heads for New York, and manages to hit the AT&T building, as if the asteroid knew where the launch was being ordered from.
  • Licensed Pinball Table: No, seriously. Click here.
  • Old Shame: The majority of the cast hated the film, most notably Natalie Wood.
  • Special Effect Failure: The entire movie. This is particularly true of all the scenes set in outer space, where every spaceship, station, and missile is an obvious plastic set using a stagelight as the sun in one shot, and the meteorites that shower upon the Earth's cities are equally unconvincing bright lights zooming across still shots of the various disaster zones. Considering what other disaster movies had been able to accomplish around the same time in the 1970s, Meteor is a particularly embarrassing case of this trope.