The SEED question of the week is this one:
What movie do you think does something admirable (though not necessarily accurate) regarding science? Bonus points for answering whether the chosen movie is any good generally….
Hmmm. I know I’ve posted a few movie reviews here. Let’s see, what have I said…
After careful analysis of the Pharyngula cinematic history, I’ve come to a few conclusions. My taste in movies is indefensible, and doesn’t seem to have much to do with science, so I’m not going to try. The representation of science is generally execrable. The Day After Tomorrow was appallingly bad; X-Men 3 had less serious intent, but it’s treatment of genetics and evolution is abominable. Scientists are generally portrayed as cold, soulless creatures with goals that transcend conventional morality—movies aren’t good at explanation, but at least they try to flatter us.
The question asks me to pick out a movie that does something admirable regarding science, even if it isn’t very accurate. I’m afraid I’m going to have to choose Underworld: Evolution, because it shows that vampire scientists are very clever at coming up with hi-tech solutions to defeat a werewolf infestation, which may come in very handy in the coming apocalypse, and because, well…Kate Beckinsale in skin-tight black leather. There’s a whole grand lesson in evolutionary biology, mammalian physiology, and materials engineering right there.
For the bonus points, no, the movie isn’t particularly good, except that it’s got Kate Beckinsale in skin-tight black leather.
I’m afraid I haven’t seen any serious mass-market movies that do much of anything for science. There’s something about trying to be entertaining to a mass market for a whole hour and a half or two that is antithetical to actually presenting the real process. Perhaps part of the problem is that people want a story with a beginning and an end, and science is this ongoing event that lacks such discrete and conclusive conclusions. Maybe it’s a good thing for movies to confine their treatment of science to issues in how to resolve a werewolf problem.