It’s no surprise that movies and science don’t jive very well – and for the most part, that’s okay. We don’t want realism – we don’t need to see Jack Bauer pausing for a poopy break, or our favorite hunky stars performing the pre-coitus, awkward, pants-removing shuffle.
Still, sometimes Hollywood doesn’t just ignore reality. Sometimes it corners reality in an alley, steals its wallet, and beats it with a tire iron.
5. Asteroid Bonanza – Empire Strikes Back
Still my favorite movie, but it unfortunately gave rise to the widespread belief that an asteroid belt is a whirling psycho death-blender of spinning, smashing rocks. This is incredibly not-correct, mostly because such a mess of kamikaze rocks slamming into one another would be reduced to harmless gravel within hours.
In actuality, asteroids are incredibly far apart, rotate very slowly if at all, and would make a terrible place to evade pursuit.
4. Hacker/Supermodel – Swordfish
Now, Hollywood has really done a number on the hacker. In the grand tradition of movies making a tedious activity seem exciting, we are often treated to whirling, full-color, 3D geometric designs and patterns representing the sweet l33t skillz of the hacker/sex god at the keyboard. In reality, hacking is mostly just tricking people, learning common passwords, and pinging IPs through a telnet client.
Still, Swordfish takes the cake for two glaring errors: One, Hugh Jackman’s character Stanley Gibson creates a worm program . . . in AutoCAD. AutoCAD is used to design buildings. That’s like saying I surfed the internet in MS Paint.
The second glaring error, well, is that Swordfish’s hacker Stanley Gibson is HUGH JACKMAN. Not since Angelina Jolie in the movie HACKERS have we been treated with a more unlikely representation of a computer geek. I’m not saying we have to see uggos in every hacker movie – but, Hollywood, try to hit the “Justin Long” route rather the “Perfect Specimen of Human Beauty” path.
3. How Do I Moon? – Star Trek Into Darkness
So, if you haven’t feasted your eye-peepers on the sequel to the J.J. Abram Star Trek reboot, you really ought to make the time for it. It’s just as good as the first movie, and yes both movies are great fingers in ears la la la not listening to you.
However, like any Star Trek movie, the science has a tendency to be as loose as a Miley Cyrus after visiting a demolition site. Star Trek is one of those franchises that has a lot of “hard sci-fi” cred that it really never earned. Star Trek talks a big game, but most of it relies on the same non-science as most big space movies. I’m not knocking the franchise – quite the opposite, it’s one of my personal favorites – but it’s important to realize that rerouting power from the EPS conduits to the deflector dish will never generate a “tachyon ribbon” that you can match shield harmonics with to coast through the “anti-time singularity” so that you can impregnate your own grandmother.
Anyway. At one point in “Star Trek Into Darkness,” the Enterprise has had its nacelles handed to it by first Admiral Robocop, and then Sherlock Holmes. This epic non-battle takes place right next to the moon. About a scene later, as a result of the Enterprise “losing power,” the ship begins to crash . . . into Earth. First, let’s remember that if you run out of power in space, you just stay where you are if you weren’t moving, or keep going in whatever direction you were headed. You could argue that various hull decompressions and torpedo blasts might move the (stationary) Enterprise a little, but it would take a bit more than that to put the Enterprise in Earth’s orbit, roughly 238,900 miles away.
Now, I don’t have the hard physics background to give you the exact numbers, but I calculate a 2.fuckno chance of the Enterprise crossing that much distance in two minutes without any impulse or warp engines.
2. No Gotham, I Expect You to Die – Batman Begins
A great movie, but one that takes a wide left turn at Reality Street. Everything is making sense, Batman has pointy ears for radio purposes, he’s a ninja, he gets high on LSD lotuses. Cool, all very exciting and rational. That is, until we learn Ras Al Ghul’s ultimate goal – the total evaporation of Gotham’s water supply with a microwave cannon for the purposes of turning an inhalable neurotoxin loose on the city.
You had me for awhile there, Batman Begins. A microwave gun could in fact be used to evaporate water. Sure, no problem. The brakes? Humans are upwards of 80% water! As it clearly has the range and power to burst pipes and evaporate water all across the city, activating that thing in such a dense region would kill millions of people by turning their bodies into deep-fryers.
The neurotoxin part is largely unnecessary when you’ve murdered Batman, everyone in Gotham, and yourself.
1. George Lucas Hates You – Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull
Never mind the rest of the myriad problems with the attempted-sequel that is Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull. Forget Mutt O’Hannigan, or whatever his name is. Don’t worry about Cate Blanchett’s terrible Russian accent, or the, you know, Pan-Dimensional Crystal Alien-Gods. Spoiler Warning, sorry. Those little bits could almost be forgotten . . . but one scene, one ACT, stands alone in the Halls of Movie Stupidity.
You guessed it. It’s the fridge. That damn fridge.
Indiana Jones escapes a nuclear blast . . . in an icebox. Now, he’s not on the edge of the blast. He’s not just escaping fallout, errant radiation, or the effects of a distant nuking. Oh no, dear friends. That motherfucker is ground ZERO. He is the target. If he was playing Starcraft, that little red laser would be flickering dead-center on his khaki shirt.
But not only does the blast not disintegrate the fridge – which it likely would – it flings the fridge what has to be nearly ten miles into the middle of the desert. Far enough away, I remind you, that he’s able to watch the mushroom cloud safely, still wearing all of his flesh. The impact of such a launch, independent of the NUCLEAR BOMB, would have reduced Indiana Jones to a puddle of red goo in the bottom of the vegetable crisper.
Further evidence that George Lucas is God’s own film-cancer, a blight, a curse on all of us for our wicked ways.