Top Ten Movies That Get Science Wrong
Who's saying what
Movies usually see scientific progress as a great way for humanity to create even bigger explosions. As for whether it’s even remotely realistic that anyone would ever create, say, a robot Robin Williams (as seen in Bicentennial Man), who cares so long as it scares the kids?
But occasionally along comes a film that acts like the on-screen craziness isn’t just a metaphor for some real-world problem or a blatant excuse to run around making things blow up, and that’s when Hollywood’s crack team of scientific minds step in to make sure things are at least marginally plausible. Oh wait, they don’t exist – much like the “science” in the following ten films.
What it gets wrong: Evolution. Okay, spoiler time: you know how the movie opens with an alien drinking goo then dissolving so his DNA can cause all life on a planet that probably is Earth and then millions of years later we get humans – who look pretty much identical to the aliens that created them?
So evolution is just a really, really crappy way of making a copy of yourself then, right? Yeah, uh, no, it doesn’t work anything like that. Then again, director Ridley Scott has said in interviews the original reason the alien Engineers wanted to destroy Humanity is because we killed Jesus. So this film’s crimes against science could have been a lot worse.
What it gets wrong: Spaceflight. Not so much “ha ha, that spaceship says Pam Am and they went out of business years before 2001, way to play the stock market Stanley Kubrick” as “even by the late 1960s people had started to figure out commercial space travel was pretty unlikely because there’s nothing out there.”
J G Ballard was already writing about the Kennedy-era space program as done and dusted years before 2001 pretended we’d be zooming off to the moon for weekend getaways, and everything we’ve learnt since – basically, space travel is insanely dangerous and amazingly boring and when you get anywhere there’s literally nothing humans can live off except maybe water which we kind of already have here – has made it even less likely. Still a great movie though.
(Continued in the next page)