Inspired by a twitter conversation a couple of weeks ago started by @GeoSciTweeps and #BadGeologyFilms I wanted to see what geology films were available if you wanted to get a dose of geology viewing. Now this is totally skewed towards UK Netflix as that is the streaming service I use – I’m not being paid for this post, I just thought it would be fun!
So here are some of the geology films that you can watch on UK Netflix right now (in three parts). I‘m quite glad that actually it includes a mix of fictional and documentary style movies – and also some of the big classic geology films. There are many other movies that have aspects of geology to them available (as I have touched upon before), but I have only included films where geology is a major (if not the major) part of the storyline. Obviously there will be differences in other streaming services and countries – do you have any good films available to you that you can add to this list?
Jurassic World (2015)
The latest in the franchise of ‘Dino’s gone wild‘, as everyone knows this should be called Cretaceous Park (which doesn’t have quite the same ring to it). There are several delightful problems such as the Velociraptors are actually Deinonichus (as Velociraptors are the size of turkeys which is less visually impressive, but I’m sure IRL would still be pretty terrifying) and should be feathered and there are many, many levels of perversion of genetic science, this is still a solid addition to the halls of Geo-Cinema.
In this installment the park has been taken on by new owners, with new attractions – yes the Mosasaur is worth it – and is open to the public. Nothing can go wrong there, right? Right?
Geoaccuracy score – 2/5
Geohilarity score – 4/5
The Core (2003)
The grand-daddy of geology films, The Core is THE film that geologists love to hate. Speak to any geologist and they will undoubtedly release a tirade around their favourite part – possibly with reenactments. There are also several drinking games (for those appropriately aged and please drink responsibly) that go hand in hand with this beauty. My favourite moments? The amethyst geode floating around in the mantle that somehow has breathable atmosphere and of course the peach flambe demonstration. Because I always take a peach and a homemade flamethrower to meetings. Yes.
When the Earth’s core stops rotating, a crack team of scientists, pilots and a minor celebrity are dispatched to get it running again with the help of some questionable geology and a few atomic bombs.
Geoaccuracy score – 2/5
Geohilarity score – 5/5
More specific to volcanologists, this is one of the two big volcano films of yesteryear, the other being of course Dante’s Peak. There are more recent films that use the spectacle of an eruption to drive the action and drama, but Volcano will always stand tall in the landscape of Geo-cinema. It gets props for having the scientists (even the unfortunate casualty) played by women as well as men and poses the interesting question of what would happen when a volcanic structure meets modern infrastructure? However there the science veers off…. er, a bit. I always enjoy the part when the scientist uses a basketball to predict the course of the lava flows – seriously, at first sight you think ‘yeah ok’, but the more you think about it the more ridiculous it becomes.
L.A. sits on top of dormant geological structures, but when those structures turn out to be not so dormant after all, it’s up to Tommy Lee Jones and Anne Heche to save the day. As the tagline says: ‘the coast is toast’ (facepalm).
Geoaccuracy score: 4/5
Geohilarity score: 3/5
In all honesty there are few films from this era that are not plagued with the representation of social issues that we would not tolerate today, from racism (both expressly in the film to the awful racist tropes used to portray people of different nations and backgrounds), sexism and casual violence towards children just as starters. This film suffers from all of these (kicking off with a woman chasing a picnic that fell off a boat and FAINTING UNDERWATER at the sight of a dinosaur) and in all honesty, it does make this a difficult film to watch. It also suffers from some extremely outdated ideas about palaeontology and some absolute corkers of inaccurate science. As a positive, there is some awesome stop motion Harryhausen style animation, but if you like that, there are better films out there to check out first.
When blasting to build a new harbour in a tropical island against the wishes of many of the locals, some cocky white dudes uncover some dinosaurs and a ‘caveman’ frozen by compressed gas (OK…) then released from the rock (….OK…) by the dynamite. They drag the dinosaurs up on to the beach where they thaw and are then reanimated by lightning (………) and the rest is, well, predictable by 1960’s film standards. The animation is always hilarious, but the rest is pretty dire.
Geoaccuracy score: 0/5
Geohilarity score: 1/5
Journey to the Center of the Earth (1988)
Only in name is this film anything like the actual Journey to the Center of the Earth – and it’s the most painfully 80’s movie I have seen in a long time!! It is such a tenuous link that I considered not having it in this list – but it’s a perfect example how bad a film using a geological premise (volcanoes in Hawaii link to some version of a habitable center of the Earth) can get, and not even funny bad. It’s truly a terrible terrible film and really belongs more in part three of this description… more on that later!
When three teenagers chase a dog and a child into a cave in Hawaii, they accidentally fall down to the center of the Earth during an eruption (the child is left at the surface to raise the alarm – which works out surprisingly well). What follows is an 80’s infused hallucinogenic experience of dream sequences, stilted dialogue and disconnected non-romances. And a lot of hair. It’s Journey to the Center of the Earth, but not as we know it!!!
Geoaccuracy score: 0.5/5 (for stating that volcanoes are igneous)
Geohilarity score: 1/5
So that’s it for part one….stay tuned for part two, where we move into the non-fictional geology films….
Do you have any additions from your own services? Or additional thoughts on the films I have reviewed here?