The Order of the Stick: Utterly Dwarfed
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    Default Professionals Annoyed By Entertainment

    An odd thought popped into my head awhile ago. Basically, I was thinking about how often we see articles on various doctors, lawyers, scientists etc complaining about how badly their line of work gets misrepresented by media. Heck, you can do a youtube search right now and probably find say, a dozen channels of doctors dissecting House episodes, or lawyers talking about law and order. But then it occurred to me, do we have any scientists here who read/watch sci fi and groan every time they bring up some sort of magic space metal or other element that makes all sorts of crazy things possible? Element zero from Mass Effect, duranium from star trek, durasteel from star wars, etc. Do you find yourself going, "THATS NOT HOW THE PERIODIC TABLE WORKS!" Or, "THOSE THINGS DONT DO THAT WHEN ALLOYED YOU DOUGNUTS!" Do you have to totally turn your work brains off to watch star trek especially since they raise technobabble to an art form?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Traab View Post
    An odd thought popped into my head awhile ago. Basically, I was thinking about how often we see articles on various doctors, lawyers, scientists etc complaining about how badly their line of work gets misrepresented by media. Heck, you can do a youtube search right now and probably find say, a dozen channels of doctors dissecting House episodes, or lawyers talking about law and order. But then it occurred to me, do we have any scientists here who read/watch sci fi and groan every time they bring up some sort of magic space metal or other element that makes all sorts of crazy things possible? Element zero from Mass Effect, duranium from star trek, durasteel from star wars, etc. Do you find yourself going, "THATS NOT HOW THE PERIODIC TABLE WORKS!" Or, "THOSE THINGS DONT DO THAT WHEN ALLOYED YOU DOUGNUTS!" Do you have to totally turn your work brains off to watch star trek especially since they raise technobabble to an art form?
    There are a lot of misconceptions in entertainment especially in science fiction.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Traab View Post
    An odd thought popped into my head awhile ago. Basically, I was thinking about how often we see articles on various doctors, lawyers, scientists etc complaining about how badly their line of work gets misrepresented by media. Heck, you can do a youtube search right now and probably find say, a dozen channels of doctors dissecting House episodes, or lawyers talking about law and order. But then it occurred to me, do we have any scientists here who read/watch sci fi and groan every time they bring up some sort of magic space metal or other element that makes all sorts of crazy things possible? Element zero from Mass Effect, duranium from star trek, durasteel from star wars, etc. Do you find yourself going, "THATS NOT HOW THE PERIODIC TABLE WORKS!" Or, "THOSE THINGS DONT DO THAT WHEN ALLOYED YOU DOUGNUTS!" Do you have to totally turn your work brains off to watch star trek especially since they raise technobabble to an art form?
    Some of the examples you listed don't bother me at all. Using a totally fictional unobtanium by definition does not misrepresent any real science.

    What bothers me is when by all accounts a scene should be obeying ordinary laws of physics or notions of scale and just... doesn't.

    Let's, for example, consider The Expanse:

    New super powerful fusion rocket engine? Sure, I'm on board. Weird space organism that manipulates the laws of physics in weird ways? Awesome.

    But if you tell me that two very large objects are approaching each other at sufficient relative speed to cause a multi-megaton explosion on impact, and then they lazily drift past one another like a Carnival Cruise, I'll get annoyed. Or if you tell me that Ceres is being spun to produce centrifugal gravity, when there isn't anything giving it enough tensile strength to hold itself together because it's so big and massive.

    Especially when the series goes to great lengths to be far better than average at showing things working in a reasonably realistic manner when normal physics is at play. They set the bar high for themselves, so it's jarring when they miss it by multiple orders of magnitude in a few scenes like that.

    Less serious missteps didn't bother me as much. Like how they only show the effects of Ceres' low effective rotational gravity a few times, but most of the time people are walking and falling and clothes are flapping as per Earth gravity. Because of course it's filmed on Earth, and I understand how expensive it would be to make the movement and motion look right in every single shot.
    Last edited by gomipile; 2019-09-28 at 08:49 PM.

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    Default Re: Professionals Annoyed By Entertainment

    Technobabble, at least for me, isn't a problem at all. By its very nature, technobabble implies laws or phenomena we aren't yet familiar with, so even if it's obviously just vaguely-scientific words strung together, it's not enough to ruin suspension of disbelief.
    What does bother me is when they use concepts that are well-understood and clearly defined, then ruin them. The worst is when they authoritatively say something that's definitively wrong, or when they explain something one way and then the opposite happens. (Cough Ant-Man cough)
    That's all I can think of, at any rate.

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    The thing that always annoys me the most is that I can't think of a single time where I actually saw real CPR in fiction. This stuff is literally about life and death. Don't teach people nonsense about it because nobody on set can't be bothered to take a first aid class.
    If you spread nonsense ideas about nuclear physics no damage will be done. But this is just so irresponsible it should be illegal.
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    I'm terrible for this, to the point where my wife won't watch certain films and shows with me.

    Anything involving the pharmaceutical industry is particularly bad - very few people outside the industry has any real inkling of the amount of paperwork and regulatory hoops we actually have to jump through.

    The most realistic depiction I've seen is two lines from The West Wing, where one character was complaining that a pharmaceutical company was selling its new product for a massive markup when it cost pennies to make. The other character said something along the lines of "Now you know that's not fair. The second one cost 17 cents - the first one cost $35 million dollars'.

    The number was correct for the time, but adjusted for inflation and the increasing cost of R&D, that figure was estimated to be around $450 to $1.2 billion a couple years ago.

    Quote Originally Posted by Traab View Post
    But then it occurred to me, do we have any scientists here who read/watch sci fi and groan every time they bring up some sort of magic space metal or other element that makes all sorts of crazy things possible? Element zero from Mass Effect, duranium from star trek, durasteel from star wars, etc.
    Personally, a show gets one suspension of disbelief then everything has to follow logically the outcome of that one suspension. I quite like Mass Effect since pretty much all its technology and development follows on logically from a substance that reduces mass when subjected to an electrical current. For example, their weapons utilise near zero mass metallic slivers accelerated up to near relativistic speeds; these slivers regain their mass once they leave the weapon, so you have stupidly fast, very light projectiles.

    If anything, the mass driver weapons aren't actually powerful enough - a 4mg projectile accelerated to 0.1 c would have approximately 1.8 terrajoules of KE (in comparison NATO 5.56 has 1.6kj of KE) and when you're getting up to this level of energy transfer, pretty much everything is explosive. Putting it another way, that mass driver weapon hits with the equivalent of ~430kg of TNT.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    The thing that always annoys me the most is that I can't think of a single time where I actually saw real CPR in fiction. This stuff is literally about life and death. Don't teach people nonsense about it because nobody on set can't be bothered to take a first aid class.
    Part of it is that you can't do real CPR without seriously injuring the actor receiving the CPR, especially when you have to film the scene multiple times from different angles to find the right one.
    Last edited by Brother Oni; 2019-09-29 at 12:49 PM.

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    I'm not exactly a professional by the standards of this thread (I work in IT), but I did do physics and electrical engineering at school and university. As said by other people, what annoys me most is when things that should work by regular physics do not. The scene gomipile mentions in the Expanse is acceptable to me because it's done that way for dramatic reasons--if Ceres and Nauvoo were travelling at the speeds they were supposed to be you just wouldn't see anything but the briefest of blurs.

    No, what really annoys me is scenes like Star Trek: Generations, where a missile with no obvious warp capability gets from the surface of a habitable planet to its sun in a matter of seconds--and when it hits the light seen by the people on the planet changes *instantly*. That's where trying to make everything look dramatic goes over the edge into ridiculous, IMHO. This is just a general problem with Star Trek writers generally having no idea of what distances are like in space.

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    Doing science wrong can ruin a movie for me in extreme cases. Take the movie Lucy. It used the same tired "you only use ten percent of your brain" basis that Limitless did a few years prior. But I didn't mind when Limitless did it because they take this false concept and apply logic to what it might be like if the idea was true. They give me an interesting story about a guy getting really smart. Lucy tells me that random criminals might expose me to a drug that will unlock the other 90% of my brain and it will... allow me to walk up walls? I think that's a thing that happened in that movie? Also, the ending, it's just... Those are things a brain doesn't do. You can't completely changed your physical makeup like that by thinking really hard. Your body has no system for it, and your brain can't activate what isn't there. Luc Besson is one of my favorite directors, but man, what a stinker of a movie. There's no logic to any of it. Maybe it's a better movie if enjoyed together with a few hippie scientists that have their own substances to test on you.





    Doing scientists wrong, the same way you can do doctors or lawyers wrong, is usually not a problem. Again, extreme cases can spoil the fun, but that's sort of equal across all professions. If the second in command of a battleship is skipping around happily because she got the skipper to agree on going on a date with here than no, that's not how professional officers I want to be rooting for would be behaving in the middle of fighting off an alien invasion. (I still enjoyed The Asylum's American Warships better than the actual Battleship movie though, because at least the main character isn't a whiny bitch who keeps complaining despite the universe handing him everything on a silver platter). So yeah, a scientist not following proper common sense protocols and thus releasing an alien disease or something can be a little grating, but if you need to have experience working in a lab to even catch it it usually isn't too bad. It's the big deviations anyone can catch that tend to get me.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lvl 2 Expert View Post
    Doing scientists wrong, the same way you can do doctors or lawyers wrong, is usually not a problem.
    Except I can't think of a single movie where there was a scientist as the main protagonist, that they even had a half decent attempt at getting the science right.

    Off the top of my head, Scrubs is actually very realistic medically, which covers doctors. Similarly for lawyers, My Cousin Vinny is usually the go to for American law (and for a painfully sharp satire of Japanese law at the time, Phoenix Wright, Ace Attorney).

    Quote Originally Posted by Lvl 2 Expert View Post
    So yeah, a scientist not following proper common sense protocols and thus releasing an alien disease or something can be a little grating, but if you need to have experience working in a lab to even catch it it usually isn't too bad. It's the big deviations anyone can catch that tend to get me.
    Except that most TV and film writers tend to be the humanities students that failed lab classes, so don't have a clue how an actual non-school/university lab works. As an example, sites where the offices and labs are separate, don't allow PPE like labcoats to be worn in the office areas, yet pretty much any depiction of a pharmaceutical company will have lab coated staff wandering around communal areas like the lobby.

    Typical depictions of the security measures for infectious materials are laughable - pass key to get into the area, then the items are usually just in a fridge in a corner. While that's about the level of security for non-controlled substances at any pharmaceutical company (at least our fridges are locked, with the keys held in a separate locked cabinet), anything more dangerous than that is significantly more secure. I've talked with someone who worked at Porton Down (UK governmental NBC weapons research facility) and the gowning up process alone was insane, let alone the controls to get in.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brother Oni View Post
    Typical depictions of the security measures for infectious materials are laughable - pass key to get into the area, then the items are usually just in a fridge in a corner. While that's about the level of security for non-controlled substances at any pharmaceutical company (at least our fridges are locked, with the keys held in a separate locked cabinet), anything more dangerous than that is significantly more secure. I've talked with someone who worked at Porton Down (UK governmental NBC weapons research facility) and the gowning up process alone was insane, let alone the controls to get in.
    And if you think most film/tv security protocols are bad, try the one in the recent Dr Who where the biohazard room vented to the outside world in the event of an emergency, I mean, why have a bio-hazard room at all?

    In general I can switch off my brain to the mistakes, but I agree, it's when they try to be accurate and then get a basic pieice wrong that really grates.

    For me the most amusing example of a scientist's reaction was watching the original Jurrasic Park in the cinema - at the point where they extract the blood from the amber-trapped mosquito and then produce the DNA, the friend I was watching it with turned to me and said "there's more to it than that" - it's (roughly) what she was doing her PhD on at the time...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Khedrac View Post
    In general I can switch off my brain to the mistakes, but I agree, it's when they try to be accurate and then get a basic piece wrong that really grates.
    More so when they try to be outwit you and then get the basic pieces wrong.

    So the Dr Who one is a bit worse it raises the question "How will they do that...", and then "Hah you didn't think of this answer", and you go "Well no because I know Biohazard labs fume cabinets aren't set up like school chemistry labs!". It's not too bad because it's not really the point of the story (the mystery is that they will do something accidently* and will the Dr stop lying).

    If we moved it to Sherlock and a few changes, you'd have something to throw the remote at the TV for.

    *and if they could predict what a biohazards lab, chernobyl-event sequence is, then between writing and broadcast it ought to be made unrealistic pretty damn sharpish

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    Quote Originally Posted by factotum View Post
    No, what really annoys me is scenes like Star Trek: Generations, where a missile with no obvious warp capability gets from the surface of a habitable planet to its sun in a matter of seconds--and when it hits the light seen by the people on the planet changes *instantly*. That's where trying to make everything look dramatic goes over the edge into ridiculous, IMHO. This is just a general problem with Star Trek writers generally having no idea of what distances are like in space.
    ...or possibly they do know, and made the artistic decision that waiting well in excess of 16 minutes* between firing the missile and seeing any effect was possibly a little too long for a 118 minute film.

    That's not to say you can't make a good scene with more realistic timings - you could have the Enterprise racing to intercept the missile (and failing because it is too small and fast, and they are additionally distracted by trying to fight off the Klingon Sisters). But that might be thematically just as bad as the scene is already pretty crowded.



    * That's assuming a simillar orbit to earth, light takes ~8 minutes to get from the surface of the sun to the earth, so the absolute shortest round trip at light speed would be ~16 minutes. Obviously physical phenomina would be dramatically** slower.
    ** Or comedically, in some cases.
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    I am not a professional of any sort, but I generally dislike the insertion of quantum mechanics in technobabble. It's just so often used as a lazy, magic wand to accomplish whatever the writer wants. "As Deepak Chopra taught us, quantum physics means anything can happen at any time for no reason."

    I'd much rather have the characters have a much lesser understanding of the underlying physics and just demonstrating what you need to know in order for the technology's function within the story to be clear. In particular, I think this method of depicting science or technology tends to age better and be more receptive to a wider audience. Obvious exceptions are in parody, like most of Futurama's usage of technobabble.

    For something similar, portraying someone as a professional, then having them make an obviously potentially catastrophic error is rather lousy as well. If the story requires the character to make an error, why make them a supposed pro at the thing the plot needs them to do? If the plot involves sending only a dozen or so people into a highly specific operation, you're going to choose experts of various kinds. But that is rarely done probably because it would be very hard and time consuming to write.

    That said, whenever I see "highly trained pros are going to do a thing" types of stories/movies, I just walk into it expecting to see people with a high school level of understanding and training going to do a thing. It's generally what gets produced so I don't expect to see anything otherwise.

    The ideal solution is to just have a cast of characters with no highly particularized level of knowledge.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Khedrac View Post
    And if you think most film/tv security protocols are bad, try the one in the recent Dr Who where the biohazard room vented to the outside world in the event of an emergency, I mean, why have a bio-hazard room at all?


    How did anyone think that even remotely made the slightest bit of sense??? That's not merely ineffective, but actively counterproductive to the entire purpose of the place.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Manga Shoggoth View Post
    ...or possibly they do know, and made the artistic decision that waiting well in excess of 16 minutes* between firing the missile and seeing any effect was possibly a little too long for a 118 minute film.
    There's lots of ways around that - you could simply add a "the probe made impact 16 minutes ago, we should have visual evidence now", complete with whoever's on the sensors not wanting to tell the rest what the result they can't change is, for example. This is the same franchise where an in-universe combat tactic (the "Picard Maneuver") relies on exploiting lightspeed sensors while you can move FTL.

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    Maybe it would be helpful for me to assume that movies and TV shows take place in a alternate reality where technobabble works as an explanation and you can make elements do whatever you want if you're a good enough chemical engineer scientist. Also, cars run on napalm so they always go kablooie when crashed.
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    And you don't need to be a scientist to know that sci-fi gets evolution frequently very wrong.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BannedInSchool View Post
    And you don't need to be a scientist to know that sci-fi gets evolution frequently very wrong.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gnoman View Post
    There's lots of ways around that - you could simply add a "the probe made impact 16 minutes ago, we should have visual evidence now", complete with whoever's on the sensors not wanting to tell the rest what the result they can't change is, for example. This is the same franchise where an in-universe combat tactic (the "Picard Maneuver") relies on exploiting lightspeed sensors while you can move FTL.
    It's also the franchise where, at different points in the *same episode* (Enterprise: Broken Bow, for those wishing to check it out), we have dialogue indicating the maximum speed of the ship is around 100c (Neptune and back in 10 minutes, a comment about travelling at 30 million kilometres per second when travelling at Warp 4.4), yet it will apparently only take four days to reach the Klingon homeworld!

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    Sci-fi writers should remove all the number keys from their keyboards. It's for their own good.
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    Yeah, there is a reason "sci-fi writers have no sense of scale" is a trope.

    It's an easy mistake to make though. I ran a pretty hard sci-fi ttrpg session last week. During my preparation I designed a ship for the PC's that had 60000 m/s of delta-v, and enough life support to support the crew+passengers for 3000 hours for a trip from venus to jupiter. I reckoned that was plenty, but I decided to run the number anyway, and I was happy I did. I didn't get it wrong by that much, but the space-ship definitely needed 4000 hours of life support for a straight shot from venus to jupiter.
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    Comedian Dara O'Brien did a set on the movie "2012" that I didn't even twig the first few time I've happened to watch the movie. It just so happens I saw the his show on tv and then couple days later the movie was on so it stuck.

    His sticking point was the plot-hook at the start, never again brought up or acknowledged, where the "neutrinos are mutating" and heating up the world causing the apocalypse. And completely inexplicably the Mayans got it right (they even mention it in the movie, and this time I was thinking, "no the Mayans got lucky").

    Sometimes it's entertainers being annoyed by the science being wrong.

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    Quote Originally Posted by snowblizz View Post
    His sticking point was the plot-hook at the start, never again brought up or acknowledged, where the "neutrinos are mutating" and heating up the world causing the apocalypse.
    I cannot possibly express the amount of things that are wrong with that concept. And I'm merely a mechanical engineer, not a particle physicist. *shudder*
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    That was the comedy skit where he said they might as well have said the Latinos are mutating, isn't it? And then got the actual actor who delivered the line in the movie to come on and do the comedy version!

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    Let me give an example:

    In Prince Caspian, I have no problem whatsoever with swashbuckling rodents or a horn calling people from another world, because those are magic. When the supposedly-nonmagical Calmorenes have rapid-fire trebuchets with counterweights on both ends, well, that I have a problem with.

    But Hollywood has apparently realized that science advisors work for cheap, and so in recent years, it's been getting better. Like, in Interstellar, I don't know how relevant the science was to the plot (I haven't seen it), but the science itself was superb: They got Kip Thorne to do it, and then actually ended up teaching him some things about wormholes (they've got some really good computer programs for ray-tracing). And heck, even most of the Marvel movies (except for the Ant-Man movies and Endgame) have made at least a good-faith effort to get it right (to the extent that it doesn't interfere with superheroics).
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tvtyrant View Post
    I had my grandfather tell me that carpal tunnel happened because my ancestors rowed boats and they passed the warping caused by that down. Lamarck is never going away
    We call that epigenetics now. It's totally hip science again.
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    Quote Originally Posted by factotum View Post
    That was the comedy skit where he said they might as well have said the Latinos are mutating, isn't it? And then got the actual actor who delivered the line in the movie to come on and do the comedy version!
    That's the skit, but I don't know about any actor. Dara did it on a live-recording show (I watched it, most recently, on tv). He ends the set by mutating into a Latino...

    Quote Originally Posted by DeTess View Post
    I cannot possibly express the amount of things that are wrong with that concept. And I'm merely a mechanical engineer, not a particle physicist. *shudder*
    I am embarrased to say I did not notice it the first time, nor until Dara pointed it out. Then again, when you watch a movie where the earth cracks because the Mayans said so you quickly learn to tune out.

    The absolutely most hilarious part to me, yes really, comes at the end, spoiler warning, when Dara notes that "so what happened to the neutrinos then?" because it ends with a Noahs ark kinda of deal. Why did the neutrinos stop to mutate? Did they mutate back? Who knows right? It's given so little thought that it's wildly inconsistent even within the movie. It's like the writer forgot at the end he made a big deal out of something at the start.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
    Like, in Interstellar, I don't know how relevant the science was to the plot (I haven't seen it), but the science itself was superb:
    I'm sorry, but you don't get to say the science was superb in a movie that ultimately concludes "love can warp the time-space continuum". I cannot even begin to explain how annoyed I am by all that. I watched it because everyone said the same, "oh the science is solid" and some of it may be, but for pete's sake it uses "love is magic!" as an explanation.
    Last edited by snowblizz; 2019-09-30 at 07:20 AM.

  28. - Top - End - #28
    Colossus in the Playground
     
    Eldan's Avatar

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    Default Re: Professionals Annoyed By Entertainment

    Quote Originally Posted by snowblizz View Post
    That's the skit, but I don't know about any actor. Dara did it on a live-recording show (I watched it, most recently, on tv). He ends the set by mutating into a Latino...
    There's a version on youtube where he brings on the actual actor to play through the scene with him.

    And as far as I'm concerned, Interstellar was horrendous. Like, they made a big to-do on making a movie where they paid attention to time dilation and working with scientists to get the look of a black hole right, mostly to get brownie points with nerdy reviewers, and then completely screwed up on science all over the rest of the movie.

    Love transcends space and time indeed.
    I solemnly swear,
    To devote my life and abilities,
    In defence of the United Nations of Earth,
    To defend the Constitution of Man,
    And to further the universal rights of all sentient life.
    From the depths of the pacific, to the edge of the galaxy.
    For as long as I shall live.

  29. - Top - End - #29
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    DrowGuy

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    Default Re: Professionals Annoyed By Entertainment

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    There's a version on youtube where he brings on the actual actor to play through the scene with him.

    And as far as I'm concerned, Interstellar was horrendous. Like, they made a big to-do on making a movie where they paid attention to time dilation and working with scientists to get the look of a black hole right, mostly to get brownie points with nerdy reviewers, and then completely screwed up on science all over the rest of the movie.

    Love transcends space and time indeed.
    And that why fact-checks exist.
    Last edited by Bartmanhomer; 2019-09-30 at 09:02 AM.

  30. - Top - End - #30
    Titan in the Playground
     
    BlackDragon

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    Default Re: Professionals Annoyed By Entertainment

    Quote Originally Posted by snowblizz View Post
    I am embarrased to say I did not notice it the first time, nor until Dara pointed it out. Then again, when you watch a movie where the earth cracks because the Mayans said so you quickly learn to tune out.
    I honestly don't think anyone went in to "2012" assuming it was going to be full of scientific rigour. It's one of those things you watch for the action setpieces and turn your brain off for the rest of it.

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