Having been raised by a father who was a full-time engineer, part-time astronomy teacher, I’m well acquainted with the fun of nitpicking movies and TV shows when they decide to take liberties with things like the laws of physics or common sense. But to paraphrase old Ben Kenobi, your enjoyment of that activity depends largely on your point of view. If you’re the one doing the nitpicking, it can be good fun. If it’s somebody else pointing out the flaws in one of your favorite movies, however, it can become a greased-up waterslide into a vat of pure rage. Thankfully the Hard Sci-Fi Movies twitter account has removed the names of the offenders so we can all enjoy the fun. Even though the offenders totally know who they are.
Two FBI agents compile irrefutable proof of paranormal activity. They collect one million dollars from the James Randi Foundation and retire
— Hard Sci-Fi Movies (@HardSciFiMovies) October 30, 2013
The premise is simple: take any of the more far-fetched science fiction concepts we’ve all seen trotted out many times over the years, then subject them to the harsh, cleansing daylight of reason. Because they’re totally right: never once have I seen a fictional psychic cash in the long-standing million-dollar bounty offered by the James Randi Foundation for proof of psychic ability. (Unsurprisingly, that reward remains unclaimed in reality as well.)
A computer interface requires users to navigate a virtual 3D environment to access files. The designer is ridiculed by his peers and fired.
— Hard Sci-Fi Movies (@HardSciFiMovies) October 29, 2013
I actually laughed out loud at that one. How many times have we seen the “visual interface” in hacker or cyberpunk movies? A visual interface that is a stupendously inefficient way of actually getting anything done? I still catch shows doing this today, because the bottom line is that working on a computer is not visually interesting to a third party. It’s better for everybody if they just type really fast while possibly unrelated things flash across the monitor.
An intelligent robot is exposed to a clever logical paradox. It stores it in memory under Clever Logical Paradoxes.
— Hard Sci-Fi Movies (@HardSciFiMovies) October 27, 2013
Well balls, now how am I supposed to defeat my android nemesis? I so wanted to see the smoke come out of his ears while he repeats “ERROR ERROR” over and over. Star Trek has used this trope at least once, but they’re hardly the only offender.
An exploratory starship sends an away team to a mysterious, hostile planet. The captain and first officer prudently elect to remain aboard.
— Hard Sci-Fi Movies (@HardSciFiMovies) October 23, 2013
And there goes pretty much Star Trek as a whole. Of course, fans have been joking about that for decades. I always thought there should have been an episode of Next Generation where Picard insisted on leading the away team so Riker stunned him and left him bound and gagged in the conference room. If nothing else you’d think this sort of thing would be a red flag during the captain’s next Starfleet performance review.
A gifted boy is trained from an early age to become the ideal space fleet commander. He moves to Korea and becomes a pro-gamer.
— Hard Sci-Fi Movies (@HardSciFiMovies) October 25, 2013
I’m going to assume that one is Ender’s Game tie-in marketing.
Robots design a huge machine to use humans trapped in virtual reality as a power source. After a feasibility study, they opt for wind power.
— Hard Sci-Fi Movies (@HardSciFiMovies) October 22, 2013
Wach-ouch-ski. This next one’s my favorite, though.
An alien race is severely allergic to water. Earth is swiftly ruled out as a candidate planet for invasion.
— Hard Sci-Fi Movies (@HardSciFiMovies) October 19, 2013
Silly Signs aliens. You crossed the interstellar void to invade our home, but you didn’t bother to do a quick scan of Earth’s wikipedia entry. If you’ll excuse me, I have to go plan my invasion of Venus. I’m sure the weather’s fine there this time of year, right?
A man walks into a police call box. It is slightly smaller on the inside. He places a call.
— Hard Sci-Fi Movies (@HardSciFiMovies) October 16, 2013
Yep, there’s just no way around it. Sometimes you just have to tell the quiet little voice of reason to shut the hell up and let you enjoy the show. Is Gravity 100% scientifically accurate? Probably not. Is it a damn good time at the movies? You bet. In fact, I’d say that’s a pretty good quality test when it comes to science fiction: does it keep you entertained enough to willfully ignore the liberties it takes? $370 million global box office suggests yes…