Movies That Got Science Really Wrong

posted by ALLpaQ Packaging

March, 06th, 2020

Company News

Want to hear a scientific fact? Movies aren’t always scientifically correct. In fact, the annals of movie history are imprinted with moments where filmmakers just got it preposterously wrong.

Of course, it’s common for movies to play fast and loose with science. Some things you can forgive because, you know, it’s a movie. As Master Yoda would advise: “suspend disbelief we must”. So, we don’t worry too much about the spaceships in Star Wars making a noise as they hurtle through the silent vacuum of space. Truth is, in space, no-one can hear your Tie-Fighter.

Unless we work in criminal forensics, we probably don’t get too upset about the hero detectives getting DNA results in a matter of minutes when, in reality, it would take weeks. That’s okay, we want to get on with the story, we don’t want to have to wait for weeks.

But, some movies and TV shows rely on blatantly ignoring science – and that can stop even the most open-minded viewer from enjoying the story. After all, as we all know: “Ye canna change the laws o’ physics, cap’n!”

Without further adieu, let’s look now at some of the 4 of the biggest movie blockbusters that got the laws of science really really wrong.

Independence Day (1996)

This film features a worldwide invasion of vicious and technologically superior aliens who we (spoilers) beat with a computer virus. The only problem with this is… well, have you tried getting a Mac to run PC software, or vice-versa? Computers are not naturally compatible. A piece of software created on one OS isn’t likely to work perfectly on a different OS.

Yet, the piece of software super-scientist Jeff Goldblum creates uploads wirelessly from his laptop to the alien mothership without a hiccup and promptly shuts down all of the alien computer’s services.

The implication being that these alien overlords from beyond the stars do have Bluetooth and the latest version of Windows, but don’t have firewalls or virus checking software.

Face/Off (1997)

For reasons we won’t go into, here, John Travolta’s hero cop needs to swap faces with Nic Cage’s insane supervillain. Whilst this is medically feasible – there have been facial transplants – it’s far more complicated than the film needs us to believe.

Although the technology used to grow the new flesh looks similar to 3D printing – which wasn’t even an idea, back in 1997 – there’s a lot about Face/Off which can’t face(off) close scrutiny.

Firstly, you can’t just lift a face off a skull like peeling off a plaster, nerves and blood vessels need to be severed and sealed, then reconnected to the new face using good old fashioned needle-and-thread (not lasers, however cool they may appear). Secondly, the healing after the surgery would take months, providing there was no tissue rejection.

But, the key issue would be one of appearance. Bone and muscle structure varies from face to face, offering an almost infinite variety of facial configurations, which is why we all look different. If you peeled off Nic Cage’s narrow, oval-shaped face and attached it to the muscles of John Travolta’s wider, square-jawed skull, it wouldn’t look like Nic Cage, it would look like some stretched, malformed mishmash of them both.

The end result wouldn’t be pretty. Be warned, neither is this clip…

The Matrix (1999)

The chilling notion behind The Matrix is that, when our machine overlords finally declare war on us, we pollute the sky to cut them off from their solar fuel source. So, what do those evil AIs do? They subjugate the entire human race and turn us into billions of coppertop batteries.

The whole ‘real world is The Matrix’ illusion comes about because they need to keep us asleep and passive while they drain our energy.

There is only one flaw in this cunning plan … a human body actually consumes more energy that it generates. D’oh.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)

The origin of the phrase ‘nuking the fridge’! This shows Indy hiding from a nuclear explosion in a standard domestic fridge. Where does one begin with this? The reason the fridge seemed like a reasonable hiding place was because, back in the day, fridges were lined with lead to help keep them cold; and lead was believed to offer shielding to radiation.

The truth is, even if he had survived the radiation, the heat from the blast would have turned his lead-lined fridge into a lead-lined oven and cooked him. Then, there’s the small matter of the blast throwing the fridge several under feet into the air, until it crashed back down to earth and tipped end-over-end at least a dozen times.

That would have broken every bone in the roasted remains of Indy. 

Honourable mentions:

  • Armageddon
  • The Day After Tomorrow
  • Jurassic Park
  • Speed
  • Star Wars

What cinematic science sins have you spotted?

So, have we missed the filmic physics faux pas or the catastrophic chemistry cock-up that winds you up? Track us down on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram and let us know.

TAGS: Bioprocess Containers, movies, science, science fiction,


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