If anyone knows science, it's NASA. Right? The people there spend their days monitoring the cosmos and putting human beings into outer freaking space. Science is their game. And since the Internet is full of geeks constantly lining up to poke holes in this or that science fiction franchise, we can look to NASA as a sort of Master Geek authority on all things sci-fi. After all, who are you going to listen to: an acne-faced high schooler with the screen name PwnORz or a forty-something government administrator with top secret clearance? That's what I thought.
NASA, in their infinite wisdom, has a pair of lists for us today. Along with the Science & Entertainment Exchange, they voted on the top seven most realistic sci-fi movies and the top seven most far-fetched. Fans of disaster epics, brace yourselves: it's not a good day for you. Here are the lists:
Most Implausible Sci-Fi Movies
1. 2012 (2009)
2. The Core (2003)
3. Armageddon (1998)
4. Volcano (1997)
5. Chain Reaction (1996)
6. The 6th Day (2000)
7. What the Bleep Do We Know? (2004)
Most Realistic Sci-Fi Movies
1. Gattaca (1997)
2. Contact (1997)
3. Metropolis (1927)
4. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
5. Woman In the Moon (1929)
6. The Thing from Another World (1951)
7. Jurassic Park (1993)
I just have one question: what about Battlefield Earth??!?!?!?!?
Excuse me. So the top four most ridiculous sci-fi plots from a scientific standpoint are disaster scenario stories. Meanwhile, extra-terresetrial life seems to be the theme in terms of sci-fi "getting it right." That could also be because the idea of alien beings is such a mystery, it could literally be anything. Hell, science recently discovered a brand new life form here on Earth that subsists on arsenic. Anything is possible.
I will say that it warms my heart to see Andrew Niccol's excellent Gattaca at the top of the "most realistic" list. It's a near-future tale set in a world where genetic alterations happen in utero, allowing for the birthing of a more perfect human. Those who are born in more natural ways, without any genetic tampering, exist at a lower class level in society. The story follows one of these so-called "invalids" (Ethan Hawke) as he assumes the identity of a recently crippled "valid" (Jude Law) in a business deal designed to give both men what they seek. Great movie.
Niccol is currently busy working on another near-future story, Now, which unfolds in a world where the human race has figured out a way to "switch off" the aging gene. As was the case with the valid/invalid subtext, Niccol will explore present-day concerns about our society through the lens of a life in which time is considered a form of currency; spend lavishly and live short or live long without the prosper. He's got a great cast for that one, including Olivia Wilde, Cillian Murphy, Justin Timberlake, Alex Pettyfer, Amanda Seyfried and Johnny Galecki, and it's currently pegged for a 2011 release.