Monday, July 06, 2009

Just the Facts, Ma'am

So the hubby and I watched a cheesy disaster movie last night. Impact.

Now, I love end-of-the-world disaster movies. I really love cheesy end-of-the-world disaster movies. Part of the fun is heckling the screen at the ridiculous plots and asking if a real scientist was anywhere near the script past idea stage. I can't get enough of these. (You'd cringe if you saw my Blu-Ray edition of 10.5, but hey, it was only three dollars!) Bad movies can be sooo good.

Impact is no exception to this. Good premise: An asteroid hits the moon, and a chunk of the moon hits the Earth. For a TV miniseries, it was well done.

But the science. Oh my stars, the science.

I've stopped reading novels because they blew the science out of the water and there's no way what they claim in the book is plausible. But I'll watch three hours of the now-twice-the-mass-of-Earth moon winging around Earth and not one single tide is affected. I won't even mention the other laws of physics broken here. Waves of anti-gravity? Seriously?

Why is that?

I think because movies are visual, and we don't expect much of them. If they entertain us for two hours, provide some eye candy, we're happy. But a book is more of an investment. It takes time to read, we have to give ourselves over to the story and we expect our authors to get the facts right. When they don't, we lose all faith and can no longer trust them.

Plausibility is a big thing for books. It doesn't matter how wild the idea is, as long as the author approaches it plausibly. We want to believe what they tell us, but as soon as they trigger our "wrong" flags, it's all over.

Think about that as you write your stories. Don't take the easy way out and say "well, it's that way because I said so," make us believe it. Because if you make us believe, you can tell us anything you want.


  1. So true. I don't give a book more than a few chapters, but I'll sit through movie more than once if I like how stuff is blowing up. I even made it through Transformers 2, despite those Jar-Jar-esque twin carbot things.

  2. I liked the twins in Transformers. Funny blokes, those guys. Anyway, yes, Janice, plausibility is important for me in books.

    But please, please, please can film makers/book writters for once stop with the whole "The world is about to end due to natural disaster and Americans are the only ones who can save us all" plotlines? I mean, for crying out loud America is not God and every other country are more than capable of protecting earth too. These movies always make it seem like when disaster is about to strike citizens and governments of other countries hide underground, burn sacrifices and dance around sticks fire in prayer to America to save them all lol.

    For me, that alone defeats plausibility.

  3. Funny you should say that, Glen. Impact was great in that aspect because they did a mulit-national team to save the world. US scientists working with scientists from around the world, a European spacecraft launching from a Russian site.

    Watching non-US disaster films is fun too since you get to see others save the world in ridiculous ways.

  4. To be fair though, no one does disaster movies better than American film makers. You should see the stuff the do there in England. My lord hahahaha lol

  5. We watched one called Flood (I think). Took place in England, the whole city was flooded due to some issue with the flood gates. I think that one was non-US, but it's been a while.

  6. Yeah... highly magnetic smashed star chunks. Whoo! I liked it for the story element though...