Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Reel Facts & Opinions: Science in the Movies

FACT: Earlier this week, a contributor for the movie-geek website (pen-name Copernicus) hosted a special screening of Michael Bay’s blockbuster sci-fi film, ARMAGEDDON. The screening was held in conjunction with the American Astronomical Society, who were there to help the host ridicule the film for all of the science that it got wrong. The host, a scientist himself, held the event to get revenge on Bay for making a scientifically “stupid” film.

OPINION: As blogged here on Reel Speak in June, Copernicus recently wrote a piece which slam-dunked J.J. Abram’s wildly entertaining STAR TREK film. Getting the science wrong to him is an automatic detractor to the movie. While the written piece was written in good faith, this screening of ARMAGEDDON seems to be going overboard.

Let’s clear one thing up right away. The screening was not held to criticize the film on its quality; things like the acting, special effects and storylines did not seem to come into play here. The event was preaching a Rule stating all movies which are scientifically wrong deserve to be shat upon.

Since that is the Rule being preached, then it will be a curious thing to see if similar events are held to criticize other sci-fi films such as STAR WARS or INDEPENDENCE DAY; two very successful films at the box office and in our culture, but both loaded with scientific errors. If Copernicus has a problem with people walking around on an asteroid in ARMAGEDDON, then he should have the same issue with people walking on an asteroid in STAR WARS. If we don’t see such screenings, then a double-standard agenda will be exposed. Think of it in terms of a baseball game; once you establish the strike-zone, it has to stay consistent throughout the game. ARMAGEDDON gets the same strike-zone as STAR WARS.

Such a Rule can be taken a step further. If science is the absolute by which sci-fi movies must be judged, then logically, historical movies must be measured by their historical accuracies. History is an absolute, after all. How many historical liberties were taken in GANDHI and BRAVEHEART? There were many, but that shouldn’t take away from our enjoyment of them.

History, like science should be given a fair amount of respect in the movies, but that doesn’t mean the filmmakers should go into their creations with hard limitations. Making a movie inside of boundaries can be a frustrating thing and can often lead to a boring film. The imaginations of the filmmaker, and the movie-watcher deserves more than that.

What say you?

No comments:

Post a Comment

A few rules:
1. Personal attacks not tolerated.
2. Haters welcome, if you can justify it.
3. Swearing is goddamn OK.