Bunk Science In Cinema

Willful suspension of disbelief. It’s an important concept in fiction, especially in the science fiction and fantasy genres. It’s where we, as the viewer or reader, are willing to accept things that we know or suspect to be either impossible or highly improbable. Usually because they’re presented in such a way that they seem to make sense, are required to advance the narrative, or just make for a more enjoyable experience. So we’re willing to look past it.

This suspension is what lets us accept the loud explosion when a ship in outer space explodes, despite the fact that we know there is no sound in a vacuum. The climactic space battle would be a bit boring if it were held in dead silence, so we ignore it. It lets us look the other way when trees pull up roots and start walking around and talking in Lord Of The Rings. The Ents are such interesting and compelling characters that we don’t care how utterly improbable such a life form is.

I saw a movie last night that not only stretched that suspension of disbelief to the breaking point, it threw it down on the ground and stomped all over it. I’m speaking of The Core, a film whose science is so bad, it hopped genres from sci-fi to comedy. Big budget aside, this movie barely ranks as a B-Movie.

I could go on for hours with examples, but here’s a few:

Pigeons will not start flying into windows and cars because the Earth’s magnetic field has changed. They still have eyes people! Nor would they shatter windows if they did, especially car windows that are designed to NOT shatter. They might crack a few here and there, but not shatter them.

The whole space shuttle crash landing is pure comedy. It’s not near as maneuverable as they present, it’s only slightly more nimble than a brick and certainly not enough to maneuver it into the drainage ditch such as they did. Plus, it takes much longer for it to land, more than long enough to have made proper course corrections and landed on-target.

The sun could not heat up the Golden Gate Bridge enough to melt it and cause it to collapse, even with no ozone layer, atmosphere, or magnetic field. Plus, if it did collapse from the cables being severed in the middle, it would collapse outwards due to the tension of the cables, not inwards as shown.

The 200 megaton nuclear bombs they take are about twice the size of the largest nuclear bomb ever built, and about twenty times larger than anything in existence today. Even with that bunk, these are still only a tiny fraction of what would be needed to start the core spinning again.

An “MRI” system that can see through solid lead? *snicker*

What kind of magic radios are they using that can transmit and receive through thousands of kilometers of rock and magma?

A giant crystal cave in the middle of the Earth? Wow, umm… where to begin on that one? Between the extreme heat and extreme pressure at these depths, there is no way this could form, let alone be magically cool enough, and with low enough atmospheric pressure inside, to allow them to get out of the ship and walk around in it. Funny, funny stuff here.

The government always has web pages to control all their top secret experiments, don’t they?

I had no idea you could make a nuclear bomb more powerful by simply leaning a couple more plutonium rods next to it. Good to know.

I’ll stop there, you get the idea. It’s bad, bad, bad. Nearly every single bit of science in the whole movie was inaccurate, or even completely fabricated. That said, I did actually kinda enjoy the movie for the comedy of it all. If you’re the type that can enjoy a really bad movie by reveling in it’s badness, this might be worth a good laugh for you too. I’d hope Hollywood might learn from the failure of this disaster of both science and storytelling, but I suspect this won’t be the last example of bunk science we see. In fact, I’d wager they have much worse in store for us in the future.