NASA At 50: Five Bad Astronaut Movies
Part of commemorating 50 years of NASA is acknowledging its role in lionizing the men and women who performed those historic missions. The names of Alan Shepard, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Sally Ride are well known, and rightfully so, for their contributions to America's space program.
And then there are those astronauts of less impressive pedigree.
5. Planet of the Apes (2001)
No, not the original Chuck "Damn dirty apes" Heston version, but the ghastly Tim Burton remake. In which we learn that even the most iconic of films can be improved by the addition of Mark Wahlberg and the infamous "Ape Lincoln."
4. Missile to the Moon (1958)
So many cheesy 1950s space movies, so little time. What elevates Missile to the Moon over similarly named fare like Destination Moon or Cat-Women of the Moon? Giant fucking rock monsters! Oh, and obligatory commentary by Fred Willard and Mike Nelson.
3. Moonraker (1979)
Arguably the worst of the Roger Moore Bond flicks (and that's saying something), Moonraker not only brings the goofy Jaws back for another run (and turns him into a good guy), but also features a space battle that makes the Attack of the Hawk Men in Flash Gordon look like the Normandy assault in Saving Private Ryan. Fun fact: the film's premiere was supposed to take place in Houston to coincide with the first ever space shuttle launch.
2. It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958)
When Challenge 141 (what happened to the first 140 Challenges?) returns from the first manned expedition to Mars with...something on board, it's up to an intrepid rescue crew to warn the unwitting citizens of Earth. Can they succeed without their "teleradio?" And how will Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett escape plagiarism charges after ripping this movie off to come up with Alien?
1. Capricorn One (1978)
Finally, while we're all celebrating NASA's anniversary, let's not forget those folks out there who maintain the whole moon landing thing was a hoax. Like the 9-11 "truthers," these pinheads believe a government incapable of faking a few WMD stashes in Iraq is cunning enough to pull off an elaborate deception involving hundreds, if not thousands of people. Here, the Capricorn 1 astronauts learn why they have to go along with the lie.
And watch out for that O.J. Simpson...he looks like he might have a mean streak.
-- Pete Vonder Haar