Cinema celebrates Earth

These movies will make you think twice about our home planet. Well, at least some of them will.

Leaving earth behind in <i>Apollo 13</i>

Leaving earth behind in Apollo 13

Hollywood isn’t all that environmentally conscious. That’s what I discovered while compiling a list of movies that bring to mind our fine planet Earth, our ever-important environment and the worldwide need for cooperation in protecting our precious home.

I literally spent hours compiling the list below, and I don’t necessarily like all of these movies. These are just the ones that popped into my head when thinking about the Big Blue Marble. To protect the innocent, I left out stuff like Pauley Shore’s Biodome and anything directed by Joel Schumacher.

Yes, the list contains many science fiction films and disaster epics. It’s as if Hollywood execs think: “Uh … Earth’s a primary subject? Well, then Earth’s gotta go boom or start leaking or something.”

I guess we’ll have to keep waiting for Sparky: The Magical Recycling Dingo.

Apollo 13
National icon Tom Hanks is stuck in space, going around the dark side of the moon, salivating as he spies Mother Earth through a frosty capsule window. Never before, or since, has the idea of just needing the gravity and malt shops that Earth provides been portrayed so vividly.

The polar icecaps melt, and Earth becomes one gigantic swimming pool. It also provides Kevin Costner with the chance to don one ugly-assed set of tights and grow gills. This film explores the nasty possibilities posed by global warming, and if memory serves me right, dead humans are recycled for their energy possibilities. It’s a strange film, one in which Costner’s character has had enough time to mutate into a man-fish since the Earth became a big puddle (that should’ve taken thousands, maybe millions of years), yet the movie postulates that cigarettes from when the Earth was normal would not have rotted away during the interim. Dennis Hopper is always smoking a cigarette in this movie! Somebody please explain this to me!

Blast From the Past
A scientist (Christopher Walken) who thinks the Earth has been blown up in an atomic explosion takes his expectant wife (Sissy Spacek) into his bomb shelter, where they give birth to Brendan Fraser and live for the next 30 years. OK, it doesn’t have much to do with Earth or the environment. I’m just listing the film here in an effort to call your attention to it. It’s funny! Watch it! Christopher Walken and Brendan Fraser are a gas!

Dante’s Peak
An American resort town falls victim to a volcano, essentially one of Earth’s zits, spewing its molten pus all over the place. Many humans perish while all the cute dogs escape virtually unscathed. In Hollywood, cute dogs are impervious to volcanoes, alien invasions, asteroid hits and barn fires. The only entities capable of taking them out are dinosaurs and Fess Parker’s shotgun (see 1997’s The Lost World: Jurassic Park and 1957’s Old Yeller).

“Damn dirty apes” have taken over the <i>Planet.</i>

A truly majestic moment championing Earth-safe products occurs when Randy Quaid’s evil scientist, a man who turns people into freaks for a living, crushes a Styrofoam cup in his hand and proclaims, “Styrofoam cup … bad for the environment!” OK, I’m grasping here.

Dawn of the Dead
Funky moon rays soak the Earth’s soil, causing the dead to rise and cannibalize the living in this gory, entrails-laden ode to how extremely dangerous funky moon rays can be to the Earth’s soil. Wait a minute. Was it this one, or Night of the Living Dead (1968) that had funky moon rays revitalizing the recently deceased? Crap. I can’t remember.

Planet of the Apes
Earth has become a place where damned, dirty apes rule, and Charlton Heston must wear a loincloth in the first of his infamous apocalypse films. It’s a startling example of how humans have the frightening capacity to screw up and allow our fine planet to be overrun by beings wearing what is now quite laughable prosthetic makeup. Tim Burton is remaking this film, and it’s coming to a theater near you this summer. Whether or not the make-up will be nearly as laughable, or the apes will carpool to protect our atmosphere, remains to be seen.

The Omega Man
which is a remake of Vincent Price’s The Last Man on Earth (1964). Part two of Charlton Heston’s “The Earth is Completely Screwed, and I’m the Only One Who Seems to Know” trilogy pits Heston as a germ warfare survivor fighting off a bunch of bloodthirsty, zombie mutants. This film furthers Hollywood’s assertion that the plundering of Earth will eventually result in zombie mutants. I hate zombies, so quit throwing those cigarette butts out your window. Dispose of them in the proper trash receptacle, please.

Soylent Green
In the final installment of the trilogy, Manhattan has become even more of an overpopulated trash bin in the year 2022, and the government has come up with the most disgusting of recycling possibilities. How could we cut down on population overflow and deal with the food shortage at the same time? Well, needless to say, government cheese and shipping families off to space colonies is not the answer.

Red Planet
Earth has become poisoned and uninhabitable, because we aren’t recycling our soda bottles, and Val Kilmer travels to Mars to see if it is possible to make it more “Earth-like.” He and his crew proceed to crash land their vehicle, leave a bunch of dead bodies riddling the planet (still clad in their non-biodegradable space suits) and blow a bunch of things up, thereby polluting the crap out of the Red Planet—just like Earth. Mission accomplished.

All sorts of Earth-related events occurred in Richard Donner’s classic, including the big earthquake that sent a school bus off the Golden Gate Bridge and Margot Kidder’s Lois Lane into a ditch, where she thankfully croaked. Of course, the greatest Earth moment in cinema history occurred when Christopher Reeves’ Man of Steel flew mega-fast around the planet, caused time to go backwards, reversed the earthquake and allowed Margot Kidder to be reborn. She then commenced freaking people out in their back yards while clad in her bathrobe.

The Wilderness Family
Pissed off about traffic and pollution, a husky dad takes his protesting family to the Rocky Mountains, where they live off the land and spend their time running away from, and sometimes befriending, really big bears. Followed by sequels The Wilderness Family Sucks and The Wilderness Family Sucks a Whole Lot More.

The Rapture
If you’re looking for a good end-of-the-Earth flick, this one has God coming back to take all the Christians, leaving star Mimi Rogers behind in his wake. This reaffirms the theory that Rogers’ first husband, Tom Cruise, who was guilty of a similar ditching, possesses many God-like qualities. Oh, Christ, I forgot how much this movie gave me the creeps. Now I’m all disturbed just thinking about it. I’m going to make some chocolate milk.

Earth Gets All Silly
Milton Berle and Jerry Lewis star as aging hipsters who forsake hairspray for ozone-friendly gels and mousses. They then knock over a casino, and shortly thereafter befriend a young woman, played by Brooke Shields, who enlightens them in the joys of newspaper recycling and convinces them to give up their cigars. OK, I made this one up, but it sounds stupid enough to be a real movie, doesn’t it?