Monday, 23 November 2015

The Martian VS. Interstellar

I am not a SciFi fan in the sense that I'd consume every inch of crazy crap I'm thrown at. To be very honest I love the science behind these movies when there's consubstantiation and it's not just the dumb rule of "it is because it is".

SciFi movies have a massive responsibility in educating the coming generations of science fiends. In the past they did not do much for me, there was one or two movies in my first two decades of life that actually got my attention and answered questions properly. I am very inclined to the why rather than the stunned gasp of the "REALLY?!!!". 

Regardless of fitting on your personal choices or not, I leave you here with two movies that at very early stage of my life robbed my hears to science:

The Fly (1986) by David Cronenberg, 7.5 in IMDB - freaking crazy blending of eccentric acting and theories of mutagenesis. And the greatest thing about it is that it doesn't want to be cute or Marvel-driven. The process is really disgusting and ugly.

Jurassic Park (1993) by Steven Spielberg, 8.1 in IMDB - it really triggered that interest in me for Biotechnology and Genetics.

Some might argue about the absence of Robocop from this list - well!, the only reliable science was that dude being burned by acid because even when I was a child I could hardly believe that a person hit with over 100 bullets could ever survive at all. What about ET?, you ask. My friends, I was so happy when ET phoned home and then cycled there not to ever return that that should say it all.

I admit these might not be the best examples of reliable SciFi movies with a honest grasp of explanations and knowledge. But these were the ones that triggered in me the potential and the curiosity for this realm. As I advanced in life I became peckish, choosing the cream, wishing for the best, especially after my son was born due to the limited free time I nowadays enjoy. 

Recently I have been going mad with cosmic physics, the laws that govern the universe, I am very inclined to do a serious games on that topic with SciBoard Games as soon as I clear the PhD thesis from my agenda. It's been amazing reading and learning so much from the universe as I have been recently. In what concerns movies the list is still quite short... again, I am very peckish and don't really fall for the first thing thrown at me. However, and I agree some might consider this ridiculous, two movies made me visit the cinema recently (or not so recent) even with a brain damage from a brutal load of work.


And where the first was an incredible nice surprise of a horrible script fused to an amazing display and exploration of the laws of the Cosmos, the second was purely a deception in all scientific ways but with a nice script. The first is therefore my winner. I personally did not like The Martian, it looked like a bunch of American Hollywoodish amalgam of cheesy moments. Interstellar is not at all a great story, but the science facts behind it are so much better. The Martian is like watching a soap opera where NASA and the Japanese come out as the greatest friends ever. With Interstellar we see how the variables in the universe and their tiny infinite units are worked out... and that is quite amazing when in a movie.

What about you guys? What SciFi movies have made you go to the cinema or changed your dreams towards science?

Image taken from, [,manual].


  1. There are SO many great science fiction films … and I use the descriptor “great” as an explanation to perceiving a genre that makes one think about possibilities, relationships, and outcomes. Cinematics are often not in unison with scientific laws and theories, but I think that’s the ultimate draw. Explaining Einstein’s Theory of Gravity with a trampoline and bowling ball is so simplistic, yet amazingly beautiful. I agree with the difficulties and time constraints allocated to first watching the movies, than questioning/ discovering/ researching the science behind the movies, and finally involving others in the scientific discourse behind the vested natural principles. Yet the “why” has to come from active discussions about the films. There can be nothing gained, or at least an absolute lack of HOTS – higher order thinking skills, through the passive absorption of others’ ideas without inquiry.

    I remember something about “A life unexamined … “ but I digress. These movies are exactly the morsels of engagement that bring the NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards) to the masses through the “Nature of Science”, specifically: 1) World View, 2) Inquiry, and 3) Enterprise. I feel it is our responsibility (as scientists, teachers, adults, and parents … three daughters of my own) to help make the science intelligible, humanistic, and approachable. With less than 5% of elementary education teachers (2011 study) having a background in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), does it not make sense there is a “learned” fear of science intertwined into our society? People hear a little bit of information (notice I did not say learn) and have knee-jerk rampages from there. Bring on the Anti-Vaccers, Flat Earthers, and Conspiracy Theories. Which leads me to the point that many decide on an outcome without taking the time to understand the foundations (science) behind it. Hence an intuitive line from the Island movie reveals the probable depth of inquiry for most, “Just because people wanna eat the burger doesn’t mean they want to meet the cow”.

    Anyways, here’s some of my favorites science fiction films …

    “The Happening (2008)” which takes the relationship between flora and fauna to a whole new level.

    “The Island of Dr. Moreau (1977, 1996)” simply asking how much genetic intrusion is too much.

    “Splice (2009)” has a “Jurassic Park” meets Dr. Moreau feel.

    “GATTACA (1997)” bringing to light the constant conflict between heredity versus environment.

    “Jurassic World (2015)” is an excellent fourth chapter in extinct biotechnological advancements gone awry.

    Any of the “Planet of the Apes (1968-70, 2001, 2011, 2014)” has to make one think about the present day “Primate Sanctuary” … formerly “Great Ape Trust” in Des Moines.

    “The Island (2005)” sheds light on our species’ focus on immortality at all costs … and morality.

    “Contagion (2011)” and “Outbreak (1995)” have special vantage points on a future pandemic.

    There are a lot more films I am probably not thinking of, but all of the ones mentioned above have changed (or solidified) how I understand specific scientific endeavors. The perceived dichotomy between science and morality is often something worth, at least slight, admiration by those presenting on the “big screen”.

    My two cents worth,
    Bechtel (Bec)

  2. Thanks a lot for your comment. I'm just really sorry that it is anonymous because we could share a lot of interesting views on this matter.