10 Movies Based on Scientific Falsehoods


1
'Sharknado'
The plus side of the “Sharknado” series of films is that it’s campy — it really isn’t trying to pretend that there’s any sort of actual science in the mix. ©Syfy/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

The cult hit "Sharknado" illogically (and hilariously) combines two primal fears — sharks and tornados. The idea is completely nuts, but that's beside the point. Absurdity is the order of the day in this B film.

Once again, it's poor, beleaguered Los Angeles that's at the center of this disaster flick. But the city has never seen a catastrophe quite like this one. Huge waterspouts form off of the coast, causing enormous waves and flooding. More ominously, the spouts suck hundreds of sharks into their funnels. The toothy fish are then spewed all over the metro area, lacerating the locals and essentially spreading chaos of the most bizarre kind.

We probably don't need to spend much of your time reviewing the inconsistencies and unrealities of a flying shark infestation. But in the unlikely occurrence that such a powerful storm struck a major city, you'd have much more to fear from the hurricane-like power of the weather than you would any toothy, flying fish.

Whether it's sharks, volcanos or superheroes Hollywood is always going to take more than a little theatrical license with its products. While the more literal of us will roll our eyes at the silly and egregious scientific mistakes in these movies, it's these exaggerations and outright fantasies that make films so much fun.

Author's Note: 10 Movies Based on Scientific Falsehoods

"Kingdom of the Spiders" was one of the first scary disaster-type movies to really grab my imagination. In this '70s-era movie, William Shatner runs around a small town that's being invaded by an army of aggressive tarantulas. There were no computer-generated effects. These were real spiders running amok, scaring the life out of everyone they could grab onto with their hairy legs. It didn't matter that the premise was ludicrous — I was traumatized for years after seeing the movie, proving that sometimes scary stories have more lasting power than science.

Related Stories

Sources

  • Allain, Rhett. "'Ant-Man' Shrinks by Stretching into Other Dimensions." Wired. July 17, 2015. (Sept. 24, 2015) http://www.wired.com/2015/07/ant-man-shrinks-by-stretching-into-other-dimensions/
  • Allain, Rhett. "Physics Says Ant-Man Should Be Running Weirder." Wired. July 21, 2015. (Sept. 24, 2015) http://www.wired.com/2015/07/physics-says-tiny-ant-man-running-weirder/
  • Allain, Rhett. "The Bad Physics in 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2.'" Wired. Oct. 13, 2014. (Sept. 24, 2015) http://www.wired.com/2014/10/bad-physics-amazing-spider-man-2/
  • DinoBuzz. "Are Movies Science?" (Sept. 24, 2015) http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/diapsids/buzz/popular.html
  • Eisenberg, Eric. "New Infographic Illustrates a Major Flaw in 'Looper' Ending." Cinema Blend. Oct. 9, 2012. (Sept. 24, 2015) http://www.cinemablend.com/new/Infographic-Illustrates-Major-Flaw-Looper-Ending-33458.html
  • Fetters, Ashley. "Time Travel in 'Looper': Dubious, but Not for the Reason You Might Think." The Atlantic. Oct. 3, 2012. (Sept. 24, 2015) http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2012/10/time-travel-in-looper-dubious-but-not-for-the-reason-you-might-think/263192/
  • Flatow, Ira. "Spider-Man Gets a Physics Lesson." NPR. Jun. 29, 2012. (Sept. 24, 2015) http://www.npr.org/2012/06/29/155992722/spider-man-gets-a-physics-lesson-em-the-amazing-spider-man-em-opens-in-theaters
  • Knauf, Charlie. "7 Scientific Facts That Will Ruin Movies for You." iO9. Oct. 16, 2012. (Sept. 24, 2015) http://io9.com/5952209/7-scientific-facts-that-will-ruin-movies-for-you
  • Gray, Richard. "'Jurassic Park' Ruled Out – Dinosaur DNA Could Not Survive in Amber." The Telegraph. Sept. 12, 2013. (Sept. 24, 2015) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/dinosaurs/10303795/Jurassic-Park-ruled-out-dinosaur-DNA-could-not-survive-in-amber.html
  • Hickey, Walt. "The Real Physics of Ant-Man: Blind, Deaf and His Voice Would be Hilarious." Five Thirty Eight. July 17, 2015. (Sept. 24, 2015) http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/the-real-physics-of-ant-man-blind-deaf-and-his-voice-would-be-hilarious/
  • Jarrett, Christian. "All You Need to Know About The 10 Percent Brain Myth, in 60 Seconds." Wired. July 24, 2014. (Sept. 24, 2015) http://www.wired.com/2014/07/everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-10-brain-myth-explained-in-60-seconds/
  • Kaplan, Matt. "DNA Has a 521-Year Half-Life." Nature. Oct. 10, 2012. (Sept. 24, 2015) http://www.nature.com/news/dna-has-a-521-year-half-life-1.11555
  • Langley, Travis. "Scarlett Johansson Film 'Lucy' Pushes 10 Percent Brain Myth." Psychology Today. Aug. 18, 2014. (Sept. 24, 2015) https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/beyond-heroes-and-villains/201408/scarlett-johansson-film-lucy-pushes-10-percent-brain-myth
  • McCarthy, Erin. "Can You Build a Particle Accelerator in Your Home? 'Iron Man 2' Fact Check." Popular Mechanics. May 6, 2010. (Sept. 24, 2015) http://www.popularmechanics.com/culture/movies/a12418/iron-man-2-particle-accelerator/
  • McCarthy, Erin. "The Physics of the Amazing Spider-Man's Swings." Popular Mechanics. July 2, 2012. (Sept. 24, 2015) http://www.popularmechanics.com/culture/movies/a7865/the-physics-of-the-amazing-spider-mans-swings-10251090/
  • Miller, Gerri. "How Real is the New Tornado Flick 'Into the Storm'"? Mother Nature Network. Aug. 6, 2014. (Sept. 24, 2015) http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/climate-weather/stories/how-real-is-the-new-tornado-flick-into-the-storm
  • Mosher, Dave. "The Most Egregious Science Mistakes in Movies This Year." Popular Science. Dec. 28, 2012. (Sept. 24, 2015) http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2012-12/sloppiest-sci-fi-movie-science-violations-2012
  • Smith-Strickland, Kiona. "What 'Into the Storm' Gets Right, and Wrong, About Tornadoes." Popular Mechanics. Aug. 12, 2014. (Sept. 24, 2015) http://www.popularmechanics.com/culture/movies/a11088/what-into-the-storm-gets-right-and-wrong-about-tornadoes-17087518/
  • Zolfagharifard, Ellie. "Fusion Power Could Be Here in Less Than a Decade: MIT Reveals Small 'Iron Man' Reactor it Claims Could Create Limitless Amounts of Energy." Daily Mail. Aug. 18, 2015. (Sept. 24, 2015) http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3202618/Fusion-power-decade-MIT-reveals-small-reactor-claims-create-limitless-amounts-energy.html

UP NEXT

Why Soundtracks Love 'The Day of Wrath'

Why Soundtracks Love 'The Day of Wrath'

The HowStuffWorks podcast The Soundtrack Show looks at the movie life of the 13th century Latin hymn 'Dies Irae.'


More to Explore