Ugh, what a rough week at the movies. I reviewed both Persecuted and Lucy for Aleteia. Both movies are pretty dumb, so it’ll just depend on what you’re in the mood for. Given current events, Persecuted actually has a decent message about the erosion of religious freedom, but it’s buried under a ton of cinematic ineptitude. Lucy, on the other hand, is well made, but utterly stupid in logic, philosophy, and especially its science.
Of course, Lucy’s reliance on the completely discredited notion that humans only use 10% of their brain capacity shouldn’t be that much of a shock. Hollywood is notoriously bad at getting basic science right. The War of the Worlds, Jurassic Park, Star Trek, they all get things wrong. Heck, Armageddon alone has a whopping 168 scientific errors. Yes, NASA actually counted them so they could use the film during training to help recruits recognize scientific improbabilities.
It’s not just the big releases, though. B-movies and cult films are just as slipshod with science, as the following 5 movies will attest…
THE BLACK HOLE
Sure, most of the movie is pretty goofy, but I have to admit as a kid I always liked the ending of The Black Hole when the survivors of the the USS Palomino plummeted into the titular phenomenon, passed through heaven and hell, and emerged into a brand new universe on the other side. It’s a shame that because of the gravitational forces involved, what you would really experience if you fell headlong into a black hole would be what astrophysicist Martin Rees termed “spaghettification”, the stretching out of your body from head to toe until you eventually became nothing but a stream of subatomic particles. Bummer. Don’t worry though, scientists speculate that if you fire your ship’s rockets at just the right time, you’ll still have a few moments to say your final prayers before the end.
THE HIDEOUS SUN DEMON
I reviewed The Hideous Sun Demon a while back. The story involves a scientist who is able to “devolve” himself into a reptilian life form because, according to the Biogenetic Law first proposed by Ernst Haeckel in 1866, an “embryo fully repeats the evolutionary process of its species before it's born. In other words, a human being starts out as a single cell organism, then becomes a fish, then a reptile, and finally a mammal.” The lead character simply finds a way to reverse this process and go backwards from human to lizard. The problem is that all of this is, of course, nonsense. As the technology behind embryology developed, it became obvious that we start out as tiny single-celled humans and we end up as crotchety old humans. Kind of puts a crimp in some arguments for abortion, doesn’t it?
ATTACK OF THE PUPPET PEOPLE
Attack of the Puppet People is just one of many B-Movies featuring human beings shrunk to the size of a toy. And why not? It’s a fun idea. Think about being able to sleep in a Barbie dream house. Think about being able to fit into a Star Wars X-Wing Fighter toy. Think about having to eat your weight daily just to survive. Yeah, it turns out that just like a hamster or a shrew, a human that size probably wouldn’t be able to maintain his body temperature unless he found a way to increase his metabolism exponentially, meaning he would probably have to eat for 24 hours a day. I wonder if that would count as gluttony.
Maybe we could bypass the previous problem if we just kept on shrinking people until they became microscopic in size. Then, just like in Fantastic Voyage, we could inject them inside someone’s body to perform surgery. Of course, considering they would be completely blind, I’d prefer not to be on the receiving end of their laser scalpel. You see, at microscopic size, a human’s eyeballs would actually be smaller than the wavelength of visible light, meaning they couldn’t see a thing. Fortunately, Jesus was speaking metaphorically when he told us, “The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light.” Otherwise, these byte sized bozos would completely out of luck.
VILLAGE OF THE GIANTS
Oh well, forget shrinking. Maybe going the other way would work out better. At least that’s what the juvenile delinquents in Village of the Giants thought. They stole some stuff from Opie that let them balloon up in size and then they took over a town, demanding buckets and buckets of fried chicken and dancing around in slow motion for entire reels at a time. Sadly, in real life, they would have to eat all that chicken while writhing around on the ground in pain because all of their leg bones would have crumbled into dust. According to science, the only way a giant human’s leg bones could withstand the stress of the load bearing down on them would be for the legs to actually widen more than they lengthen, so the load stays proportional to the mass. What can I say, God made a universe with mathematical laws. You don’t like it, take it up with him.
So yeah, there’s a lot of films full of bad science out there. But you know what, I like most of them better than Lucy because they don’t pretend to have the answers to life, the universe, and everything like Lucy does. I prefer my stupid movies to know they’re stupid.