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Five of the Dumbest Sci-Fi Mistakes in Movies
I am a huge fan of Science Fiction. For as long as I can remember, I have been totally enamored by the sights, sounds, and stories. There is no shortage of it either. Books, TV shows, radio plays, and of course movies. Movies were always my favorite. There is nothing quite like suspending your disbelief for a couple of hours and just enjoy the show. And of course, you really DO have to suspend your disbelief. If you couldn't, you really wouldn't be able to get into it at all.
It is so necessary to suspend your disbelief because much of what you see is implausible if not impossible, in real life. There are way too many examples of this to even bother trying to list them. We allow this sort of thing going on because though many of the things we see may be impossible now, but they could be possible at some point in the future. Whereas we know it's impossible to travel through space faster than light, we all would love to believe that it will be possible in the near future. And we are more than willing to forgive the impossibility of it for the time being.
This article is specifically going to concentrate on some examples of things that are just SO ridiculous (and/or stupid), that there is no way to excuse them.
1: Planet Climate
Just about every science fiction story ever told has made this error. We can easily forgive the fact that just about every planet just happens to have a temperature, breathable atmosphere, and gravity that is suitable to humans. But how is this possible on a planet that is entirely frozen, or desert, or jungle, or water?
In order for there to be a biosphere at all, it is necessary to have a wide variety of climates all across the globe. I'll give a little leeway for jungle planets. That actually could make some sense. But a planet like Tatooine, made famous by Luke Skywalker, is just a huge desert. Or as we like to call it in this solar system, Mars. As we have seen, we can't even be sure that bacteria has been able to survive there for the past billion years, assuming it ever did at all.
2: Superman Turns Back Time by Reversing the Spin of the Earth
We get it. Superman was really, really upset because Lois Lane died. So his plan is to reverse time for long enough to save her life.
There are so many reasons why this is just ludicrous. For a start, time would not reverse simply because the rotation of one object was reversed. That doesn't make any sense at all. Moreover, if Superman were to reverse the rotation by flying really fast around it, presumably there would be some friction on the entire planet in order for that reversal to happen. There is not a single thing on the planet - or even the planet itself - that could withstand a disturbance like that. Plus, the earth spins at about 1000mph, and is moving around the sun at a brisk 67,000mph. Imagine if that were suddenly halted, reversed, and started up again. Assuming the planet didn't simply break apart, the entire surface would immediately be worn smooth by the blizzard of flying projectiles, then washed clean by the ~76% of water that would slosh over the globe at 1000mph. All of this because everything on the planet would not uniformly stop and move along with it.
3: Star Trek Generations - The Nexus
This thing is just so cool. Much was explained in the Star Trek universe as to what this thing is, and how us little mortal beings can interact when inside it. So who cares about much of what the thing does or how it exists?
The only thing that was never explained was how it managed to fly through this galaxy once every 39.1 years. Through the galaxy?! Do you have any idea how big the galaxy is?! Star Trek does. They had an entire series based on the fact that even at warp 9 (the fastest speed they could travel), it would have taken well over 100 years just to get from the far side, to back home.
I mock this because Star Trek, above all other science fiction, actually does adhere to some realism in science. They really do their best... Except in this case.
Many things within this solar system can't even orbit the sun in 39.1 years. Many of the long period comets out there have orbits that take millions of years to complete. This solar system is actually REALLY big.
You could say, "Well, it's traveling much faster than light, or follows different rules, because subspace" or something. But it was shown in the film moving at a plodding rate slow enough to just breeze over the landscape of a planet. So it is not moving faster than light. And it is not in subspace. If it were, blowing up stars to change the gravitational pull in parts of the galaxy would have no effect on it whatsoever (the primary plot of the antagonist).
The bottom line is, in a mere 39.1 years, something moving at the rate at which it was observed moving, it wouldn't even be able to make it out of a single solar system, let alone orbit the entire galaxy.
4: Starship Troopers - The Asteroid Attack
The setup here is that The Bugs, being the malevolent jerks that they are, sent an asteroid from orbit around their planet, hurling to earth. It struck in Buenos Aires, killing everyone there. Those bastards!! But, great Odin's raven, that was a spectacular shot!! I'm not sure exactly, but according to this graphic, they shot it from the other side of the galaxy altogether.
They did this by having one of their large beetle dudes fire some plasma out of their ass, and hit an asteroid, to send it this way. This is of course, impossible. The force of the plasma impact was enough to send this asteroid completely to the other side of the galaxy, but not enough to damage the rock at all. This is of course, also impossible. Not only did the asteroid make it that far, but it was able to pinpoint the exact spot in our solar system where earth is - and it was a direct hit. This is of course, also impossible. That thing must have been moving many times the speed of light in order to make it that far that quickly. Except when it almost hit this spaceship.
They managed to dodge it. Whew... That was a close one.
I think all of my sarcasm is enough to show why this was so ridiculous.
5: Space Travel in General - Getting Around
It occurs to me after writing all of this, that the biggest recurring problem I find is that science fiction writers have no concept of how large space really is. Either that, or they hope people don't think about it very hard. They neatly resolve this issue mostly by employing technology like warp drive, or hyperspace, or wormholes. These technologies allow our heroes to travel the tremendous distances between the stars in reasonable times. And there really is no point in picking that apart. Some handle it better than others. But it's fine to have things as they are.
That is, it's fine for interstellar travel. And it's fine when technology is employed. It is not fine when things travel that far, that fast, without that technology; like that asteroid in Starship Troopers. Another great example of this was when The Millennium Falcon got stuck around the Hoth system. They had no hyperdrive. So they couldn't escape. They somehow flew within that system far enough to stumble onto an asteroid field they were previously unaware of. You'd think those things are a bit more conspicuous than that. And then they managed to travel to another star system altogether (Bespin), in what could have only been a few days.
To clarify - even in the Star Wars universe, hyperspace is not only necessary for escape from the Empire, it's needed to travel between systems. In other words, they made it very clear that the ship couldn't travel fast enough to get out of the system, only to have them do it anyway.
After all, none of this makes me love science fiction any less. I'm enough of a fan to understand that the science behind science fiction is not what it's about. Much of that is supposed to be ignored, no matter how ridiculous it is, in order to just sit back and enjoy the ride. I'm really just poking fun at some things that I think were totally absurd, and writers must have thought that no one noticed.