April 28, 2008

Poll: Best Science Movie?

The folks over at ScienceBlogs have an interesting movie poll running based on suggestions from the Seed editorial group. This is apparently their short list of the "most accurate, highest impact, most compelling" pro-science movies:

I can't complain too much about their choices, except to say that I'm not sure Jurassic Park counts as pro-science. Wasn't one of Ian Malcolm's greatest one-liners: "Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should."?

While the film did a nice job, imho, presenting the science at hand, it was an early version of what would grow to be Michael Crichton's legacy as a "novelist of doom" when it comes to extrapolating the possible impacts of new technologies.

Genetic engineering, rock on! Computer-operated safety systems, way cool! Until the grid shuts down and all hell literally breaks loose. The take-home message for me was definitely that there are some things humans are not meant to mess with, and Velociraptors are pretty close to the top of the list. (Don't believe Mikey? Well don't come crying to him when you are not prepared to prevent a raptor attack...)

So what's my pick for the best pro-science movie, you are forced to ask? I'd like to say Princess Mononoke: It's a compelling story; it appeals to a wide audience, including people under age 25; and it ends with the message that there has to be balance between environmentalism and progress.

But I guess it falls short in the "most accurate" category, since actual science content is thin to the point of invisibility. So I'm gonna be cheesy and go with Apollo 13. You can't really argue with a Hollywood blockbuster that manages to keep the human drama in check while giving viewers a fairly realistic slice of astronaut life—or at least a realistic view of a crisis situation.

Any other votes? Lay 'em on me, but only if you can tell me why.

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