I saw this movie last night – Thursday, 20th November 2014 – at the suggestion of the local Astronomy Society. The underlying basis for the Society’s interest was the claim the movie was scientifically sound. This, of course is a claim to be examined.
Allow me to say first I enjoyed the movie.
The story line is fairly consistent, with exceptions. What comes out halfway through the plot does not contradict the previous knowledge in any significant manner, with one major exception.
(Not to say there are no surprises, but the surprises are within the reasonable and logical realm.)
The acting is very good; all the characters are ‘who they are’, for lack of a better phrase. Characters seem to believe they are that character. An observer doesn’t get the feeling they are a group of actors merely repeating memorized lines.
Special effects are good. Then again, compared to some of the movies I remember as a younger man, they’d have to be. Nor in my opinion did the special effects overshadow the story line. Too many movies seem to think special effects replace plot and acting.
Spoiler alert: The ending of this movie is somewhat expectable and somewhat strange. I will probably mention things here that might compromise any surprises contained.
The beginning of the story is that of Earth in the near future. The underlying premise of the situation is a variation on the Global Warming Caused by Humanity farce. Global Warming is not mentioned by name, however, ‘nature’ seems to become hostile to humanity. No reason is given for this, just the symptoms. Various types of ‘blights’ have attacked crops and those species of crop food are no longer grown – they cannot successfully be grown.
One species is okra. There is some form of disease that attacks the plant and renders it useless as a food crop. This is a plot device I find somewhat humorous. While the annihilation of a food crop is bad news, I would not note the lack of okra in any event. Millions of children might even cheer.
However, wheat has already been ruined and corn looks to be next. No mention of rice, but rice isn’t normally grown in dry land farming.
The only explanation given for the crop failures is the various ‘blights’ that have occurred. There are also dust storms reminiscent of the ‘Dust Bowl’ conditions of the 1930s in the United States. No reason given for this phenomenon, other than the unexplained but suggested revolt of nature.
At this point, I find the movie waxes somewhat political and religious in non-obvious ways. For instance, one of the characters says there are ‘no armies anymore’. Only very ‘gifted’ children are allowed to attend college – which seems to be a state controlled and decided process. Those who cannot attend college (must?) become farmers. Farming is the default duty of all citizens, due to increasing food shortages.
The school teacher objects to a book brought from home. The ‘home book’ is an old text book which has been retired and a new ‘corrected’ version only is allowed. The ‘corrected’ book denies the U. S. Moon landings in the 1960s, explaining those were merely political propaganda used to destroy the Soviet Union. (I’m sure this will delight some of the more gullible conspiracy buffs.)
So the United States in this movie has a government operating on the premise of controlling citizens and telling them lies. Sounds like the Democrat Collective has fixed the voting machines for good, doesn’t it?
However, with all that, regular citizens are reasonable free to run their lives with a great deal of control – other than the financial and ecological constraints widely thought to be ‘nature’.
Also missing from the life of regular people is any hint of Christianity – or any other religion. No churches seem to exist – at least not seen – no one mentions prayer or anything remotely resembling ‘religious belief’.
Then the protagonist, through his rather intelligent and cute ten year old daughter, finds a coded message in a pile of dust. The message is the map coordinates of the only remaining NASA laboratory in the United States. (This is the major exception to the logic of the plot I mentioned.) NASA is working on a project to build a large enough space ship to move humanity to another ‘viable’ world. A world that is not worn out and where nature has not ‘turned’ on mankind.
Here is the contradiction: Why would a government who denies and even discourages any sort of scientific inquiry secretly fund a NASA project to leave Earth? Why isn’t money being spent on research to counteract the ‘blights’ wiping out food crops? Of course, if the government is controlled by the Democrat Collective, genetically altered plants, crops and foods are all forbidden.
The movie’s expressed reason for the secret NASA base is simple. The ‘people’ would not willingly fund such research. These are the same ‘people’ that are being manipulated into believing the Moon landings never happened. These conditions are contradictory.
Then the ‘exploratory’ space ship leaves Earth to seek out a suitable place to move humanity. From here on, the movie is a fairly ‘normal’ science-fiction, more or less action story.
To repeat an earlier statement, everything in the movie – EVERYTHING – is explained in secular humanist terms. In some regards this isn’t a big deal, but it re-emphasizes the secular humanist mindset of Hollywood, chic society and chic science.
There are some ‘gaps’ in the story line. One glaring example is the failed exploration of a water covered planet near a black hole. In the approach to the planet, not one but two missions didn’t notice the monstrous tidal waves. The waves are evident to visual inspection (looking) by the way.
All in all, it’s a pretty good movie. It has a ‘happy’ ending, and one I liked. There are some glaring scientific contradictions involved. But as is true in many stories, without those ‘errors’, there would be little story left. Most viewers will not note or recognize the contradictions.
It is worth seeing as entertainment. It is not a great lesson in either science, human relations, philosophy or politics. But it is reasonably fun. Not as fun as “Guardians of the Galaxy”, but GotG isn’t as pretentious, either.
Oh. The robots are rather original.