Entertain Me, But Don't Insult Me
Engineers and other technical types (myself included) seem to enjoy pointing
out inane and totally unrealistic special effects and dialogs in sci-fi movies.
Examples are legion, from uploading a virus to an alien computer in Independence
Day (surely aliens have Norton AV), to Day After Tomorrow when the water freezes
in NY, but no expansion effects are visible. That's nothing compared to the early
films, though. In the first science fiction film produced, "A Trip to the Moon,"
in 1902, six travelers (not even yet termed astronauts) were fired from a large
cannon while inside a protective capsule. The unsuspecting explorers are quickly
captured by lunar inhabitants. In a daring scene, an escape is made where our heroes
manage to make it back to the capsule and nudge it off the edge of the moon so it
can fall back safely to Earth, and splash down in the Atlantic Ocean. Of course,
even if a cannon could be built that was capable of launching a projectile into
space, no human could survive the acceleration. Then there is that fact that while
walking on the moon it appeared to have gravity like the Earth's, but when it came
time to push the capsule off the edge, suddenly the gravity was gone. The entire
14-minute epic is one bit of laughable absurdity after another. As the general public
gets more sophisticated, however, the effects must be more believable. Who amongst
us that was around for the original Star Trek episodes thought them outrageous?
Now we watch re-runs and think differently. Sci-fi has thus transformed in a century
from being inspiring and thought-provoking, to being fodder for a good belly laugh.