Top List Thursdays – What Space Movies Teach Us

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I don’t know about you, but if I ever end up in outer space I might be in deep trouble. It takes astronauts years to acquire their skills, so anyone else would just have to reach deep into their movie knowledge to find something useful. Here are some conclusions…

  • Outer Space Is Not Instant Death

coldContrary to all the warnings about how awful the cold, dark emptiness of space is, you may just be able to survive a relatively quick turn in that endless abyss. Event Horizon first shattered this myth with a hapless crew member being saved by a well-placed Laurence Fishburne in a space suit. Guardians of the Galaxy notes that it is always helpful to have someone SO pissed at you that they arrive within seconds of your distress call. And all Mini Me needed to recover from deep space hypothermia the second Austin Powers is a blanket. So keep your enemies close, but Laurence Fishburne and a good blanket closer.

  • In Space You Can’t Hit S***

lasers

Stop me if I’m wrong, but you’d think civilisations armed with lasers would have better targeting systems. In space wars it should be as simple as pointing in the general direction of something and let the on-board electronics do the rest. Yet Stormtroopers show the accuracy of drunk homeless people armed with front-loading muskets. In The Avengers the invading alien attack is about as accurate as Lady Gaga covering Bob Dylan. And why are Star Trek phasers slower than tazers? Clearly in space – and consequently anything made in space – moves slower. I’m pretty sure that’s what relativity is all about. So you will always have time to dodge an alien’s gunfire.

  • A Wormhole Is A Pencil

wormhole

Who can even begin to understand the multi-dimensional qualities of our cosmos? Nobody, which is why countless science fiction creations simply skirted the whole ‘long distance travel’ travel thing. Most just command for warp, hyperdrive or whatever exotic-sounding word fills the gap. But Event Horizon put a stop to this nonsense by explaining how a wormhole works. It’s basically a pencil poking through a piece of paper. This works so well that Interstellar couldn’t help but to reuse the idea before doing its own elaboration. So if you even need to fake being a science officer on a space ship, just do the pencil-and-paper trick. If anyone asks a follow-up question, say you need to go calibrate something. That’s all people do in space: they calibrate stuff.

  • Getting Off A Planet Is Easy

land

It takes countless tonnes of explosive material to push a rocket out of our planet’s gravitational pull. But this is really a problem that only Earth has. Everywhere else it’s pretty darn easy: like an automatic car you just get in and step on the gas. Now this is obviously due to cutting edge technology, so no matter what planet hopper you own, it has enough juice to at least get you into orbit. That’s not the boggling bit. The real question is: where is air control? And why aren’t ships crashing into each other all of the time. That would certainly be the case if every pilot at an airport just flew off when they felt like it. It’s probably because they had to make a choice between self-guiding laser bullets or ships that actually just fly themselves. Yup, Han Solo is faking it. So know that in space anyone can fly a space ship, because nobody really is.

  • Crashing On A Planet Is Easier

crash

It’s understandable that space craft would have shielding when entering an atmosphere, but then they tend to want to land. You’d think that if that second part doesn’t play out as expected, the result would be an impressive crater somewhere and your atoms distributed in toothpick portions. After all, when Virgin Galactic’s aircraft made a mistake during supersonic speeds, it disintegrated in seconds. Yet spaceships in movies appear to make it to the ground mostly intact. The alien spaceship in Alien looks like it just needs a new coat of paint and all things considered it’s a surprise anyone in Pitch Black walk out of the opening credits alive. In Outlander the spaceship’s main design flaw is that it can’t float after crashing in water, which is just about the worst thing next to a mountain to hit. Numerous ships in Star Trek have taken the plunge, yet never resulting in that big dilithium bang you’d expect. Even Serenity goes down hard in Serenity, but most of the crew walks out of it. Conclusion: in space they do actually make the vehicles out of the same material as the black boxes.

  • Don’t Pack Lunch

food

People in science fiction movies really don’t have many problems when it comes to food. Yes, it is true that food in movies is much like characters going to the toilet: you mostly just assume that’s something they do in between transitions. But outside of the rare sci-fi showing an unimpressed space traveler sucking on a bag of juice tagged ‘roast beef,’ eating off-world doesn’t seem to be a big deal. Even when human astronauts encounter another planet’s delicacies, they can usually chow down. Maybe once you get past the weird stuff, it’s all falafels, schwarmas and Durban curries. That’s the only way to explain how Natalie Portman visited Thor’s world and didn’t spend the first three days on the loo fighting bowel movements of Ragnarokian proportions. She didn’t have the curry.

Last Updated: November 27, 2014

James

A total movie glutton, nothing is too bad or too obscure to watch, unless it's something like The Human Centipede. If you enjoyed that, there is something wrong with you. But bless you anyway - even video nasties need love...

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