Case Number 18461: Small Claims Court


Discovery Channel // 2009 // 129 Minutes // Rated
Reviewed by Judge Daniel Carlton (Retired) // March 6th, 2010

The Charge

Collisions built the solar system.

The Case

Discovery Channel's Cosmic Collisions is the best attempt by the science world to explain how our planet formed. It examines the various types of collisions occurring in the universe and formulates theories based on what we already know. The first episode, "Collision: Earth," begins with a computer generated asteroid slamming into the waters off the coast of San Francisco, causing a shock wave that violently shakes the city. Next, small fragments of flaming rock fall from the sky, bringing once towering skyscrapers to the ground. Lastly, the Golden Gate Bridge is ripped from its foundation by an unrelenting tsunami whose outstretched arm destroys everything in its path, including an already fiery San Francisco. These events transpire in a matter of moments and life as we know it is changed in an instant. Pretty cool, huh?

This dramatization is based on the asteroid Apophis, whose discovery in 2004 led astronomers to believe that a collision with Earth is a distinct possibility. According to the DVD, scientists predict that a collision could take place in the year 2036 and they calculate the chance of a collision to be 1 in 45. (My own investigating found that, in 2009, the impact probability was adjusted to a miniscule 1 in 250,000 chance. Thanks Wiki!)

Many of the predictions presented on this disc can be taken with a grain of salt. If we removed any dialogue that contained the words "speculate," "might," "could," "maybe," and "guess," the soundtrack would just about vanish. That isn't to say I disliked the disc. To the contrary, I enjoyed it very much because I can view Cosmic Collisions in the same way I can view 2012. It is meant to entertain and it does. As with any Discovery Channel release, the production value is top notch and we are treated to elaborate computer generated visuals throughout each of the three episodes. Although the doomsday scenarios are really only there to stimulate our imaginations, a great deal of information can be learned from this disc about our planet, our galaxy and, ultimately, the universe.

"Collision: Solar System" goes back in time and explains how our moon may have formed from a collision with Earth billions of years ago. Where the first episode went into detail of how a collision could destroy life on Earth, this episode postulates the opposite. Building on information from "Collision: Earth," scientists study craters and formations to construct theories about our origins. Again, no one knows for sure, but it was interesting to hear theories from reputable scholars of what might have happened in our own solar system to bring us to where we are today. I did learn, however, that the Earth and moon grow farther apart every year, but at a distance too small for the eye to notice.

I found the last episode on the disc, "Galactic Collisions," not only to be the most exciting, but the least hokey. We know through findings that the Andromeda Galaxy and our Milky Way Galaxy are on a collision course, traveling toward each other at 270,000 miles per hour! While that may seem disturbing, there is no need to for alarm because the distance between these galaxies is so immense. To help provide some perspective, a beam of light traveling 186,000 miles per second will take 100,000 years to cross the Milky Way Galaxy. Now, considering the even greater distance between the Andromeda Galaxy and our own, the collision won't take place for another two billion years. Moreover, the collision itself will occur over the course of billions of years. We know this because of the galaxies we can see colliding in the night sky and the lack of movement thereof. See? I did learn something.

Cosmic Collisions contained no extras, but my copy came with a bonus DVD of Discovery's Prehistoric Disasters. This included four full length episodes of that series, fourteen minutes of deleted scenes and a playful series of first person featurettes called The Planets aimed at kids. "I am, like, the Moon. You might have seen me orbiting the Earth, etc." Yes, there was a short clip on the Moon and several of Jupiter's moons even though this series is called The Planets. Maybe they know something I don't.

It is important to note that the DVD sold at Discovery does not show the second disc, but the DVD sold on Amazon does. However, the disc on Amazon shows the same cover as mine, but states information pertaining to the IMAX presentation by the same name starring Robert Redford. Please be aware there are different versions of this DVD.

Cosmic Collisions is a great viewing if you can separate the fact from speculation. Superb CG provides for some exciting visuals and I learned numerous things about our universe that I didn't know before.

The Verdict

Not guilty, although sentenced to one light year of community service for making up facts under oath. (Yeah, I know light years measure distance, but it's a joke. Lighten up.)

Review content copyright © 2010 Daniel Carlton; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 70

Perp Profile
Studio: Discovery Channel
Video Formats:
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)

* English

Running Time: 129 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Bonus DVD

* IMDb