Do you know what I love about movie critics? Nothing. You heard me, nothing. Why, you might ask? Is it because they dis your favorite movies? Sure. I mean, two movies that I hold very close to my heart are Contact and The Postman. These are two films that have an amazingly orginal story with great characters and acting, not to mention a plot and storyline that kept me on the edge of my seat. While watching both these movies in the movie theater, I attentivly stayed glued to my seat, despite the fact that I had downed a Big Gulp from my local 7-Eleven before seeing Contact and I had to pee real bad. But I couldn’t leave, I just couldn’t. My threat of an immently exploding bladder was taking a back seat to my need to know what happened next.
You can’t say that about many movies that come out today.
Now, if I had listened to the critics on TV – you know who you are – I would have never gone to see either of those movies. And you know what? I would have missed out. One particular critic said – and I’m paraphrasing here, but I think this quote is pretty close despite the fact that The Postman came out in theaters more then fifteen years ago – some movies are like a long ride on a slow horse, well, The Postman is like a long ride on a dead horse. Really? He must not have gotten out much.
What makes this so much more disturbing is this a continual screw-up that is made by almost every critic that is working in the biz even today. They still wouldn’t know a good movie if it snuck up behind them, crawled up their rectum and exploded out their head. Yeah, I need a better analogy. But the fact remains that they are paid oogles of dollars to write up a review and then read it on T.V. for you good folks sitting at home watching, but they haven’t got the first clue on why a movie is good or bad, or what even constitutes a good movie – i.e. characters development, story line, and originality, just to name a few.
So it bothered me when I came across this review written by one person on their feelings on why a science fiction movie can be given a bad or good sticker based on how well they get the science. For the purpose of this post, I will focus on The Last Starfight, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Contact, and Stargate because these are all great movies that did, for the most part, get it right and got it done and got it done well. However, for the most part you should just take it for granted that people who make lists like this generally haven’t got the first clue about what science is let alone why the science in any particular movie can be said to be right or wrong. We must also remember that the fiction in science fiction is put there for a reason. It’s not a misnomer, I assure you. It should also be noted, for clearity, that science fiction movies, while trying to be as accurate as humanly possible, are telling a story that centers around a protagonist and their struggle to overcome something that is usually beyond their control, and therefore it can be said that science fiction movies care more about the story of the character then anything else. And everything else can be describe as something that is there to make the story more exciting or to move it along.
Lets get started, shall we:
First instance of alleged wrong doing: Sound in Space. For this example Contact is checked implying (I think, now that I re-read the article is doesn’t make it exactly clear that checks represent an ignoring of science, but onward and upward) that a sound, somewhere in the movie, is heard in space. Now, I have watched this movie a lot – I mean a lot. It is one of my favorite movies and Carl Sagan is, well, a genius who past much before his time, not to mention science educator and deeply involved in the making of a movie that was based on one of his books. And of all the times that I watched the movie, I don’t recall a sound being heard in space, unless the author of this particular article is referring to the opening scene where we are travelling in space and as we move further and further from Earth, our radio transmissions go further and further back in time. If this is the case, then yes, radio signals can’t be heard in space, but the reason for this scene was for the viewer to be shown that as you travel away from the Earth our radio and T.V. transmissions diminish and seemed to travel back in time, and should in no way be meant to mean that said transmissions can be heard in space. I thought that was clear, but maybe I was the only one.
Also cited was Easy Communication with Aliens. This faux pa was also attributed to Contact. For the sake of argument, let us just say that this is completely wrong. Nowhere does the movie lead you to believe that communication with aliens would be easy. Astronomers don’t even think this, if they did there would be no SETI or other programs that focus on finding signals from outer space, which there are plenty, because we would already be in contact with aliens because it would be that easy. But it’s not.
Lastly, is the statement All Planets have Earth Gravity. Nowhere, in any movie that I have ever watched has this ever been implied. This error is said to encompass the movies The Last Starfighter and Stargate. The reason why this is total B.S. is that in no movie that I have ever seen have the characters jumped out of their spaceships and said “Gee, Argmonimus, this planets gravity is exactly the same as the Earth…” or “0.8012” or “1.190 Earth gravity.” We just don’t know how close or far it is to our own so to say that any science fiction movie say all aliens planets have the same gravity as Earth’s is just plain wrong. Movie leaves this aspect of science to be expanded upon by the viewers imagination.
If anybody out there, anybody at all, thinks that I am wrong in what I have written here, please let me know. Until then, all I will say is you, the viewer, should trust your own instincts when it comes to movies, because, realistically, in my experience, critics know less about what makes a movie good or bad, then a taxidermist knows about dentistry.