Netflix spars with Neil deGrasse Tyson over the film "Armageddon'
Neil deGrasse Tyson, a celebrity astrophysicist and media personality, likes to use the social media platform Twitter to render his thoughts on a variety of subjects. However, Tyson's main hobby on social media is to critique the science, or lack thereof, in popular science fiction movies. His takedowns of such films as “Gravity” and “Interstellar” are still lauded or denounced, depending on one’s view of Tyson and his pronouncements.
Thrillist reports that it was in that spirit that Tyson tweeted, five years ago, “Was ready to watch the 1998 film Armageddon (in which the laws of physics are optional) but it's nowhere on Netflix or iTunes.”
Recently, “Armageddon,” a 1998 movie that featured Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck as oil drillers sent by NASA to blow up an asteroid that is on a collision course with the Earth, recently appeared on Netflix. Netflix tweeted Tyson to alert him to that fact, stating, “well its on there now if u wanna ruin it for everyone, neil.”
Tyson responded, somewhat caustically, “Wow. You dug that one up from five years ago (posted February 17, 2013). I'll watch Armageddon again and try not to disappoint those who are angered (as well as those who are enlightened) by my comments.”
As of this writing, Dr. Tyson has not expanded on his remarks in the same, exhaustive way that he took down “Gravity.”
Truth to tell, when it comes to critiquing the science behind “Armageddon,” Tyson is likely to have plenty of targets. From the way gravity would appear and disappear in the Mir space station (which still existed when the film was released 20 years ago) to the idea of ever blowing up an asteroid “the size of Texas,” science took a back seat to the demands of the plot, and not the other way around.
“Armageddon” was a complete success because it has made half a billion dollars worldwide on a $140 million budget. Bruce Willis got to ham it up. Ben Affleck both emoted and looked good doing it. A pre-Lord of the Rings Liv Tyler looked gorgeous. The special effects were eye popping and some of the jokes were even funny. Watching a movie like “Armageddon” for the science is just as useful as watching “Gladiator” for the history.
Neflix is mistaken about one thing. Nitpicking a movie after viewing it is one of life’s pleasures. No one does that with more informed pomposity than Neil deGrasse Tyson. Netflix subscribers should see the movie and then keep an eye on Tyson’s Twitter feed for his great and high-brow insights.