Science fiction is just plain stupid, and here’s proof

Silent and sinister, they sneak up and attack when you least expect. It's ... the TREES!: Wait a minute…didn’t I see this same plot in Day of the Triffids?
Silent and sinister, they sneak up and attack when you least expect. It's ... the TREES!: Wait a minute…didn’t I see this same plot in Day of the Triffids?Courtesy sjarvinen

OK, so I, like, never go to movies. Nine bucks for the pleasure of driving for miles, sticking to someone else’s timetable, buying over-priced popcorn, sitting through previews, and crowding into a dark, poorly-ventilated fire trap with a bunch of loud strangers? I fail to see the appeal. Unless the movie features a truly spectacular acting talent, such as Scarlett Johansson or Jennifer Aniston. Then I’m all over it. Otherwise, I’ll just wait for the DVD.

And that goes double for science fiction. Is there a more useless genre? Science is fascinating precisely because it’s true. I walk into a sci-fi flick, and within five minutes I can actually feel myself, everyone around me, and the entire Universe, getting dumber.

(I may be the only person in America who has never seen even one of the Star Wars films, and have not even the slightest desire to ever do so. If that makes me a better person than everyone else, I can live with that.)

Well, apparently there’s this film out now called The Happening, in which trees decide to rebel against mankind by emitting poison gas or something. I probably should have said “Spoiler Alert” up there, but, seriously, I’m doing you a favor by discouraging you from wasting your money on this dreck.

Anyway, a bunch of scientists with a selfless love of humanity and far stronger stomachs than I have viewed this alleged “film” and reported back on five major scientific flaws, which, with any luck, will spoil the film for everyone for all time.

To which the critical mind responds: "Only five?"

Meanwhile, the magazine The New Republic ignores the science and looks at the moral world of the movie and declares it the most reprehensible film they’ve ever seen.

Though Zooey Deschanel is kinda cute…

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

See, I rarely watch TV, but I do go to movies, and I didn't know anything about this one.

And it sounds totally awesome! The trees seriously spray poison? I can't believe I was going to skip this! You can take the foxy actors, but leave the poison-spraying trees for me.

Pff. If I want science, I can fall out of my darn bed (whoops). The trip and the landing will be all about science, but I doubt I'll see any poison trees. I'm leaving work early.

posted on Mon, 06/16/2008 - 10:31am
Thor's picture
Thor says:

Here is an interview in USA Today with M. Night Shyamalan about how he works science into his movies.

posted on Mon, 06/16/2008 - 11:18am
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

"I had the idea for the movie and then I asked a research assistant to check into it."

Oh, God, Mr. Shyamalan is going to fire me. Unless... "There actually is some research, sir, that suggests aliens hate water. I looked into it, so just, you know, make that movie."

posted on Mon, 06/16/2008 - 11:56am
Gene's picture
Gene says:

Probably the shortest interview in history. ;-)

Meanwhile, the Strib's own James Lileks ponders whether there really is any Science of Star Wars.

posted on Mon, 06/16/2008 - 12:09pm
Thor's picture
Thor says:

Most of the critics of the Star Wars exhibit never mention that they actually haven't seen it. In Lileks case, he does admit he hasn't seen and continues to criticize it. But I've been through it a couple of times and the interactives in the exhibit are high on science, low on Star Wars. Like any good scientist would do, you gather data, analyze it and then come to conclusions. The Star Wars exhibit critics seem to want to jump right to step three.

posted on Mon, 06/16/2008 - 12:56pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

I believe you're missing the point. Lileks is arguing that science plays a minor and incidental role in Star Wars. The movies are actually about magic -- called "the force" -- which is the opposite of science.

Lileks says he's going to see the show. Like any good scientist, he has formed a hypothesis based on available data, and now plans to perform an experiment to test his hypothesis.

Of course, neither Lileks or any of the other critics are scientists, so there is no reason to expect them to follow the scientific method.

posted on Mon, 06/16/2008 - 2:59pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

James Lileks has posted his review of The Science of Star Wars. You can find it here.

posted on Fri, 06/20/2008 - 12:21pm
mdr's picture
mdr says:

Day of the Triffids was one of my favorite childhood movies. You can rent it on NetFlix. However, I'd much rather see it in a theater in all it's widescreen glory - despite the cell-phone chatting dipsticks, and highway robbery popcorn (you can always sneak in your own stuff). There's just something communal about seeing a great movie in a theater with a large audience. Bad movies, on the other hand, stink no matter where they're viewed.

The mention of TRIFFIDS brings up another point regarding M. Night Shyamalan. In his lame movie SIGNS he used the same element that's used in DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS -namely good old H2O- to save the day. However, the Triffids arrived here nilly-willy flying in on space dust during a spectacular meteor shower, while the aliens in SIGNS came to Earth with a purpose, i.e. to conquer us.

But as my son pointed out if the aliens in SIGNS were so dang smart and supposedly superior beings, why would they bother trying to conquer a planet that's made up of 70% of the one thing that can stop them?

posted on Mon, 06/16/2008 - 2:07pm
Thor's picture
Thor says:

They wanted Doritos.

posted on Mon, 06/16/2008 - 2:12pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

Day of the Triffids is good, but it can't hold a candle to Night of the Lepus. Especially the scene in the warren where the hero engages in hand-to-hand combat with the giant killer rabbit, played by... a man in a rabbit suit!

posted on Mon, 06/16/2008 - 3:01pm
Thor's picture
Thor says:

Here's the link to Jimmy Lileks' video quiz of Star Wars exhibit visitors. Spoiler alert, if you've never seen any Star Wars movies, you will have some movie surprises spoiled by this quiz.

posted on Mon, 06/23/2008 - 11:17am

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