This is my first rant, and I am a little proud of it :-) Possible topics of discussion include, why is science so often cut out of Sci-Fi movies? What did you think about The Red Planet? How do some movies like The Matrix succeed so wonderfully in suspending disbelief, while others fail miserably?
The Red Planet definitely surpasses
Armageddon in the "Recent Movies" circle of crappy Sci-Fi hell. I am OK with Sci-Fi that has
no science (Star Wars, Matrix), or Sci-Fi that stresses the limits of
science (Star Trek). But have problems with movies like Armageddon that are
full of bad science. Yet somehow, The Red Planet seems openly hostile toward
It starts off with Carrie-Anne Moss introducing all the characters. Almost
literally, the introduction goes like this: "Here's the arrogant science guy,
here's the womanizing pilot, here is the mechanic, here is the philosophical
doctor." It is sad and disgusting in its mediocrity.
They say the Earth has been so polluted, that they must terraform Mars to
save humanity. How in the hell could the Earth be so bad off, that it would
be easier to move to a place with little-to-no oxygen, and extremely
low temperatures and air pressure?
I could look past this, if they had bothered to explain what was so bad
about Earth in the first place.
While orbiting Mars, they get stuck in some ambiguous solar flare storm that it practically
destroys their piece-of-crap ship. This is where I started to notice that
everything about this entire mission is poorly planned. Most 20th century
cars are designed better than the equipment they have. I realized that
this is not a space mission as it would be planned by aerospace engineers,
this is how a space mission would go if it was planned by Hollywood
directors. So it's no wonder that everything falls apart.
I could go into many aspects of how unrealistically unplanned this Mars
mission is, but that would be nitpicky, long, and tedious instead. I will
provide a good few choice examples.
Why are they so frequently in communication blackout?
They send people to Mars, they plant life on Mars, they build habitats on
Mars. But they don't put up a couple of lousy relay satellites?
There was a cool-looking robot that had a friendly "Navigator Mode" and a lethal
"Military Mode." OK, why can it even go into military mode? Shouldn't they
disable that for the Mars mission? This robot breaks all kinds of Asimov
rules, but I won't go into that. After it starts malfunctioning, it purposefully breaks a guy's rib. It could have easily killed all three of them. Val Kilmer says the robot is "playing war games" The robot plays
these games all through the movie. Why would a military robot, obviously
designed to kill, play games? It makes no sense.
There is a wonderful scene where the male explorers are urinating. They are
all laughing, because their urine is arcing up at a much higher angle than
it would on Earth (because of lower gravity). That is all fine and dandy,
but why is nothing other than urine affected by the lowered
gravity???? Why do they walk exactly the same, why do objects fall at
the same acceleration on Mars as they do on Earth?
Probably the most scientifically stupid guy on the mission is the "Science"
guy. He's a geneticist. But in the course of bragging about how cool he
is, he says that the bases of DNA are A, G, T, and P !!!!!!
I would expect any high school graduate to know that they are A, G, T and
C. Maybe the directors didn't know that. Maybe the film-makers have never seen Gattaca. But they could have
bothered to look it up.
Also, the science guy instantly calls the insectoid, explosive life-forms they find "nematodes."
They look nothing like nematodes!!!! Nematodes are unsegmented
roundworms. The creatures in the movie looked like insects. Would it
have been so hard for them to call the creatures "arthropods?"
You could say that the unrealistic robot, crappy equipment, and blackout
periods were there to add suspense. You could also argue that it would be too expensive to realistically
depict Martian gravity. Fine. But what is the reason for the two unnecessary biological
inaccuracies? There were a lot of unnecessary physics goof-ups, but being a
biologist, I am not as qualified to discuss them.
Among its many lame, poorly-explored themes, one of them is an extremely
shallow, half-hearted discussion between "The Scientist" and "The
Philosopher" about the whole Science vs. Faith thing. I think this movie
may have actually been hostile toward science. I just have this sick
feeling in the back of my head, that the film-makers are purposefully
spreading inaccuracies as a part of some subversive plot. But I can't back that up.
As a scientist, I will just follow Ockham's
razor. The much simpler explanation is not that The Red Planet is some
anti-science conspiracy. It is just an extremely dumb movie.