1. Matt G says

    It would be funnier if it said “you’ll never enjoy sci-fi or action movies again.” Don’t over-explain jokes aimed at smart people.

  2. Lassi Hippeläinen says

    OTOH, action flics become comedies, when you see how stupid their physics is. But maybe you shouldn’t laugh too loud at some of the scenes…

  3. Bruce Fuentes says

    I was a history major and I have a similar problem.
    Any movie by Mel Gibson that has any historical aspect at all needs to be banished from my sight.

  4. Holms says

    An action scene that surely sets a record for stupidity. In case the scene is not very clear, this is a submarine attack against the bad guy HQ underneath the arctic polar cap. The submarine battle is already absurd enough to make me sigh out loud, as the vehicle agility and reliance on machine gunnery are more suited to a WWII aircraft dogfight, but the finale is possibly the towering champion of action movie stupidity.

  5. jrkrideau says

    @ 3 Bruce Fuentes
    Do you mean that Braveheart is not a strict documentary? 🙂

    Just after Braveheart was released I read a comment from a Scottish historian who said she had noticed ~107 mistakes and that was in, IIRC, the first 1.5 minutes.

  6. Rob Grigjanis says

    I don’t have a problem with sci-fi or action films in general. Suspension of disbelief allows me to enjoy films with FTL, silly misconceptions about distances, and even occasionally time travel. Of course mileage varies, but if the story is good enough, it usually doesn’t matter that much.

    The things that bother me most have little to do with having been a physicist. Like James Bond doing a jump and landing which would have broken his ribs, and ruptured his spleen and liver, at the very least. You don’t need a physics degree to recognize stuff like that.

  7. Bruce Fuentes says

    #5 I don’t expect a strict documentary but at least some of the story should follow the actual history. HIs revolutionary story The Patriot is just as bad.

  8. Bruce Fuentes says

    Some of the best comments about BraveHeart.
    “farcical representation as a wild and hairy highlander painted with woad (1,000 years too late) running amok in a tartan kilt (500 years too early).”[56]
    “the battle of Stirling Bridge could have done with a bridge.”
    “The events aren’t accurate, the dates aren’t accurate, the characters aren’t accurate, the names aren’t accurate, the clothes aren’t accurate—in short, just about nothing is accurate.”
    Finally, in Scottish history “brave heart” refers to Robert the Bruce not William Wallace.

  9. garnetstar says

    Chemistry is too dull to come up very often, but I remember jumping up and screaming at the TV during an episode of Breaking Bad: “You can’t dissolve a body with hydrofluoric acid, it only dissolves the bones! You need to use an oxidizing acid first, like nitric!”

    No one who was there at the time cared.

  10. Silentbob says

    @ 6 Rob Grigjanis

    I know what you mean! You know the thing that makes me cringe every time in Iron Man? When Tony Stark escapes captivity by firing himself into the air like a ballistic missile, describes a nice parabolic arc, and crashes full-force into solid ground, but is fine… because he’s wearing armor. It doesn’t work that way!!! X-D

    It doesn’t bother me there’s no such thing as an arc reactor. It doesn’t bother me that you can’t really have a cylindrical hole in the centre of your chest someone can fit their whole hand in. It doesn’t bother me he goes on to build a suit of armor that flies from the US to Afghanistan at supersonic speed -- with no fuel! I can suspend disbelief about those things.

    But how am I supposed to suspend disbelief that an ordinary man slams into the ground at terminal velocity and doesn’t have so much as a concussion, let alone being pulped? Lol.

  11. mailliw says

    The Accountant turned out to be a tedious action film instead of the thrilling account [pun intended] of a group of bookkeepers struggling to reconcile a $10.99 discrepancy in the monthly close.

    [Spoiler] At the end the CFO says “just write it off”.

  12. blf says

    Then there are the movies which are so absurd (without intending to be) the physics, chemistry, etc., errors aren’t the main problem. They might even be a relaxing distraction from the constant shouting at the overall stupidity.

    A “classic” in this sense is perhaps the 1961 Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, whose basic premise was the Van Allen radiation belts had caught fire. The plot, such as it was, was a disagreement whether firing a nuclear-tipped missile from a certain precise spot in the Van Allen belts would cause them to be “blown away” from the Earth, or whether to wait as “calculations” claimed when the temperature reached a remarkably precise 173 degrees (Fahrenheit, presumably) the burning radiation belts would self-extinguish. The action bit was one submarine with a “traitor” on board being chased through minefields by another submarine as the two rival plans shot it out with each other.

  13. jrkrideau says

    I spent some time on the intrnet trying to persuade someone that the TV show “Due South” was a documentary but I do not think they believed me.

  14. mnb0 says

    My bigger problem with many sci-fi, action and historical movies I think them boring. A historical movie I enjoyed with all its historical inaccuracies is King Arthur from 2004, with Clive Owen ao. At the very beginning it claims:

    “Historians agree that the classical 15th century tale of King Arthur and his Knights rose from a real hero who lived a thousand years earlier in a period often called the Dark Ages.

    Recently discovered archeological evidence sheds light on his true identity.”

    A fine example of Poe’s Law. Whoever from this point expects anything else than historical nonsense is utterly naive.
    At the moment I cannot think of an example of an enjoyable (ie rare) action movie with impossible physics. But the same principle applies: if an action movie manages to capture me I don’t care about physics anymore, despite me being a physics teacher at secondary school.
    It’s fiction, you see. “You’ll never enjoy action movies again as you’ll always notice the wrong physics” simply misses the point.

    PS: I just checked IMDbn’s list of 200 best action movies of all time. My favourite one is Seven Samurai from 1954 (nr. 46) …..
    A goof IMDb mentions is “When we first meet Gorobei, Katsushiro is about to test him (by hiding behind the entrance). Gorobei notices Katsushiro’s shadow on the entrance and laughs, realizes that someone is hiding there. However, the position of his own shadow reveals that the sun is on the other side, therefore it was impossible for him to notice Katsushiro’s shadow from where he was standing: It would be cast backwards into the room, not towards the entrance.”
    Funny, but otherwise I couldn’t care less.

  15. garnetstar says

    OK, the one that annoyed me most wasn’t even science, just common sense.

    In the very first episode of the TV series “24”, a terrorist had occasion to skydive out of a passenger jet cruising at the normal altitude of 35,000 feet.

    Leaving aside anyone’s ability to do that, the terrorist jumped out of the *front door* of the jet, where the passengers enter and exit.

    So, PSA: DO NOT jump out of a plane that has a big jet engine coming forward towards you at >600 mph.
    Actual skydivers always jump out of the back door of planes, *behind* the wing, and those planes don’t even have jet engines.

  16. ardipithecus says

    I can enjoy some movies in spite of the discrepancy between reality and story. I still notice the bad science or whatever, but don’t let it interfere with enjoyment. Even mundane stuff like in Dante’s Peak where 2 teenagers are found dead in a pool and nobody investigates.

  17. flex says

    @8, Bruce Fuentes,

    I had read a couple biographies of Robert the Bruce prior to watching Braveheart and while I agree with a Scottish acquaintance of mine who said William Wallace was a bandit, I found the real tactics used at the Battle of Stirling Bridge much more impressive than that idiotic movie showed.

    The bridge was undermined so that it could be caused to collapse, and beyond the bridge was a causeway several miles long through marshland. The marshland was so boggy that horses couldn’t move through it. So Wallace allowed the English cavalry to cross the bridge, and because of the narrow causeway the cavalry was not massed together but only one or two abreast for miles. Once the cavalry had crossed the Stirling Bridge, the bridge was collapsed and pikemen came out of the sides of the causeway to push the horses into the marsh. This worked amazingly well, the cavalry was unable to move, and without any infantry support, they were slaughtered. It was a brilliant tactics and it’s the reason the casualty numbers were so lopsided. But it had nothing to do with personal bravery or commitment to a cause. Somehow, in reality, bravery and commitment come second place to logistics, tactics, and strategy.

    “It is always useful to face an enemy who is prepared to die for his country. This means that both you and he have exactly the same aim in mind.” General Callus Tacticus

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