Tuesday, September 28, 2004

It's hard being a science geek while watching a movie.....

I often have a hard time watching movies. Sure, I can still enjoy a movie, but my family gives me a hard time as they watch a movie with me. The other night, I watched the broadcast of the Tom Hanks movie "Cast Away". It was a good movie - really enjoyed it. But there is some bad physics, particularly in one scene. So Tom Hanks character is riding in a FedEx cargo plane which is running through some really bad weather and ultimately crashes (hence ultimately stranding Hanks character and his wonderful co-star "Wilson" the Volleyball on a desolate island). So Hanks character during the crash sequence, unbuckles himself from the jump seat in order to grab the pocketwatch his girlfriend gave him for x-mas and of course, the plane makes its crash landing in the ocean after he has unstrapped. So he grabs onto the cargo netting after one of the pilots gives him a raft, which he is holding on with his other hand. The plane hits the water and the water crashes through the cockpit and into the back of the plane and Hanks goes flying. Basic physics question: Which way should he go flying? In the movie, he goes flying into the back of the plane. Physics would have him go flying right into the front bulkhead - 200 knots to zero in a couple seconds at best is a lot of G's into the direction of motion. So there I am laughing at the TV, trying to watch the rest of the scene.... Ah, the life of a critical thinker....

I can't remember seeing any film that at least pretends to be based on reality that doesn't suffer from these kinds of continuity and science goofs. Whether it is the phase of the moon jumping around or being plain wrong or a coke can jumping from place to place as a scene plays out. Even footprints in the sand or Luke Skywalker climbing out of the trash bin (having been sucked below the watery muck) with perfectly groomed hair. I'm not the only one who watches for goofs in movies - check out the Internet Movie Database, search for your favorite movie and check the link called "goofs" under "fun stuff" on the left and you'll see a sample of the myriad of mistakes for that movie. You may never watch a movie the same way again..... Sorry.



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