The Do-It-Yourself Formula for Space Disaster Movies

Outer space is one of the most fascinating things to the human mind. Its boundless mystery opens up an infinity of questions and possibilities. That being said, not a whole lot seems to go on up there. People head out once in a while—maybe they’ve got some important space-business to take care of. Take down a meteor, communicate with aliens, moonwalk.

And, more often than not, something goes wrong. But don’t give up hope: one of those nifty astronauts (most likely the handsome one) will step up in the heat of the fight and make everything kosher. Sorry, space-kosher. So why, if this same thing keeps happening, are we as a people so fascinated by and in love with the space genre? Simple: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

With the imminent release of Apollo 18, American audiences are brought, once again, to their favorite cinematic frontier—inspiring us to compile a simple formula for the makings of a great space movie:

____________________ go into outer space in order to ____________________, but the mission goes awry when ____________________. It’s a good thing ____________________ (but it’s too bad ____________________).

With this framework, we’ve managed to highlight some of our favorite extra-terrestrial epics of the big screen. Fill in the blank spaces in accordance with your own favorite space-movie. It’ll be a blas—um, out of this worl—uh… it’ll… be a pretty good time… –space continuum. Just do it.

Deep Impact


Robert Duvall and some other people go into outer space in order to stop a comet from colliding with Earth, but the mission goes awry when they split the thing in half, actually creating two still-pretty-bad comets. It’s a good thing the Messiah crew sacrificed themselves to save the world (but it’s too bad a tsunami wiped out a whole bunch of likeable characters).

Space Cowboys


Clint Eastwood and Tommy Lee Jones go into outer space in order to repair an old satellite, but the mission goes awry when computers go haywire and rockets stop functioning. It’s a good thing Eastwood learned to“fly by the seat of his pants” (but it’s too bad Tommy Lee Jones was stuck on the moon).

Apollo 13


Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon and Bill Paxton go into outer space in order to walk on the Moon, but the mission goes awry when an oxygen tank explodes, and everyone exhales too much. It’s a good thing everyone turned out okay in the true story (but it’s too bad they trained for years, and never actually got to go to the moon).



Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck and a bunch of hooligans go into outer space in order to stop a meteorite from hitting Earth, but the mission goes awry when spacejunk rips a hole in their space ship, and someone needs to stay on the asteroid to detonate the meteorite manually. It’s a good thing Ben Affleck is good at drilling (but it’s too bad Bruce Willis is such a nice guy).

Galaxy Quest


A bunch of cast members from a sci-fi TV show go into outer space in order to negotiate a treaty between alien races, but the mission goes awry when none of them know how anything about science. It’s a good thing for super-nerds with unceasing dedication to sci-fi series (but it’s too bad for the angry reptilian guys who are, in reality, far superior to pesky humans)



Some corporate giants and a crippled soldier go into outer space in order to mine some Unobtainium, but the mission goes awry when blue people turn out to be pretty cool. It’s a good thing the power of dragons and trees overcome the power of guns and robots (but it’s too bad for all the bystanders forced to return to Earth).




goes into space in order to escape a decomposing Earth, but the mission goes awry when humanity gets super fat and an evil steering wheel takes over. It’s a good thing Wall-E, a spunky young robot with a song in his heart showed up to teach everyone a little something about love…and walking (but it’s too bad generations of lethargy have deemed the human race irreparably unhealthy). 



Jodie Foster goes into outer space in order to hang out with her dead dad…or something, but the mission goes awry when it turns out it never actually happened…maybe? It’s a good thing she got out of that chair before it crashed into the space ship wall (but it’s too bad everyone will think she’s crazy for the rest of her life).

Destination Moon


A scientist, a soldier and a businessman go into outer space in order to see what the moon has to offer, but the mission goes awry when their gas-guzzler ship uses to much fuel. It’s a good thing Woody Woodpecker was around to teach them (and us) a little thing about space travel (but it’s too bad they need to “drop some dead weight” to return home).

Abbott and Costello Go to Mars


Abbott and Costello go into outer space in order to …well, it was kind of an accident, but the mission goes awry when two Louisiana criminals hijack the space ship to Venus. It’s a good thing the fellas are deemed heroes once they return home (but it’s too bad the Venutians have the power of cake-dropping).