Hum... Planetes. I think that one has to go on my Christmas list.
I think that as long as you don't mess around with something too outlandish, you can make huge "reality breaks" without disturbing the viewer. Even the geeky viewer. Space Above and Beyond did something unusual with FTL. They never showed it. I think that style of presentation, or lack thereof when it came to FLT was kind of neat. "Nothing to see folks, we just used a wormhole..." Of course, they did so really bad stuff too.
BSG was supposed to have some sort of weird dimensional bending/ships folding like origami to go into FTL and they nixed it because it would have been too flashy. Independence Day was originally scripted to have a biplane fly into to the enemy ship. Thankfully they changed it to something more realistic like the military turning a fighter jets over to a bunch of civilians.
'That was tops! Who's not good at math? I was all, "Four!"' - Finn, Adventure Time.
So where do we vote?
2001. No question. Let's be fair here - nowadays with CGI at the level it is (if you doubt this, go see Avatar in 3D in a good cinema..), it is possible to depict anything accurately, given the desire and an informed & serious film-maker. But in 1968? There had been nothing like it to date (and would not be anything like it for some years). BTW, I think it is important to note that 2001 on dvd, even on a good home theatre system, falls well short of the 'reality'. It was filmed in Cinerama, and on anything less.. you lose a significant amount of the grandeur of the panoramas in that film - there's a good discussion about that here. I'd LOVE to see it again in the format it was designed for..
So, given appropriate historical handicapping, it was/is in a league of its own (and still stands up very well even today).
I had a boyfriend who had the theory that any story is allowed one great impossibility, but anything more than that starts to take you out of the story. I'm not sure I'd limit it to one, but I think the concept is accurate enough. Suspension of disbelief is easiest when you have to lift the least.
"Now everyone was giving her that kind of look UFOlogists get when they suddenly say, 'Hey, if you shade your eyes you can see it is just a flock of geese after all.'"
"You can't erase icing."
"I can't believe it doesn't work! I found it on the internet, man!"
Cowboy Bebop has two impossibilities: the Gate network and the rapid terraforming. Actually three: the episode with the immortal little boy.
STARGAZING: All I see are the lights of a billion places I'll never go. --Howard Tayler, Schlock Mercenary
And the virus "Monkey Business", how quickly it works.
And the power of the orbital laser. Look at the size of Ed's doodle on South America at the end of that episode.
The immortal boy (and the events in "Boogie Woogie Feng Shui") were linked with the science of the Gates.
Agreed. Sure, The Time Machine is famous... But it's the original written story that's famous, not the recent movie.
"For shame, gentlemen, pack your evidence a little better against another time."
-- John Dryden, "The Vindication of The Duke of Guise" 1684
Otherwise, wouldn't they build Gates far away from planets or moons once in a while, and intentionally cause Gate explosions to create immortal people? Imagine how much people would pay to be immortal.
I'm not a fan of the George Pal version, either. It's incredibly hokey--the melodramatic Time Traveler, the ludicrous, painful dialog* with the Eloi, the dated clothing and hairstyles (yes, in the year 802,701 they're going to wear their hair like they did in 1960). And, of course, the totally different origin of the Eloi/Morlock split from that in the novella; which, to me, totally changes the point. I felt sorry for the Morlocks in the written story. They couldn't help what they became. The Eloi's ancestors were the villains in my mind.
*Oh yes, eight hundred thousand years in the future they're still going to be speaking 20th Century English.
Incidentally, in the 1990s and early 2000s, when the only new Doctor Who was books and audio plays, I got frustrated by the writers' failure to land the TARDIS anywhere other than Earth. (Now and again you'd get a token other-planet story, but invariably it was either Earth in all but name, or else no effort was made to make it credible, let alone interesting.) When I pointed this out, some authors explained, "Ah, I've always thought of the TARDIS as just a time machine rather than a space ship." When I pointed out that the very second story (the one which introduced the world to the Daleks) was set on another planet, they countered with, "Ah, but the plot was exactly the same as the plot of the movie version of The Time Machine, and that was set on Earth, therefore the planet Skaro is really just Earth in the future."
I just now got around to this thread. Although I was a fan of
SF long before 2001: A Space Odyssey was made, it instantly
became the paragon of filmed SF as far as I was concerned
when I saw it at age 15. The only problem I remember noticing
was a most unfortunate "shuttering" of the image when the
Space Station moved rapidly across the Cinerama screen. That
was caused by stop-motion photography in which the individual
frames are sharp, but the image of the Space Station moved so
much from one frame to the next that it caused a visual illusion
of vertical bands. (John Dykstra found that projection at 60 fps
would fix that and gave a startlingly realistic image. Some years
later, Industrial Light & Magic developed "Go-motion" for 'The
Empire Strikes Back' to fix the problem.) My friend complained
during the intermission how extremely unlikely it would be for
two (very small) asteroids to be so close together. (As seen in
a long shot of Discovery. Obviously intended in part to show
that the spacecraft was passing through the main asteroid belt.
A Class-A certified Geek. I think showing the micro-asteroids
like that was was technically ok and a good idea.)
Now that I can watch 2001 on DVD, I find all sorts of problems,
and just the other day I was thinking about how I would have
improved one of them if it were in my power to influence Stanley
Kubrick circa 1967. With only a couple of (very noteable)
exceptions, whenever people in the spacecraft moved around,
they walked, supposedly using Velcro to hold their feet to the
floor. In the extreme closeup introducing this idea, the Orion
stewardess is shown wearing "Grip Shoes", and walking very
clumsily. Clearly, she was not given adequate coaching on how
to walk. For the closeup, I'd have had her hold onto a rail
over her head, so that she was putting nearly all her weight
on her hands, and very little weight on her feet. That at least
would make the weightless walking look more realistic.
Of course, they should have done it all the way they did when
Dave goes into HAL's brain -- hanging from wires. That must
be hard on the actor / stuntperson, though, and only works
when you have a pressure suit to hide the harness.
Now, with DVD, I have the ability to find loads of errors in the
movie I love in large part because of its extreme realism.
-- Jeff, in Minneapolis
"I find astronomy very interesting, but I wouldn't if I thought we
were just going to sit here and look." -- "Van Rijn"
"The other planets? Well, they just happen to be there, but the
point of rockets is to explore them!" -- Kai Yeves
But I have to say.. there are some scenes that I think are just staggeringly well executed, esp. Bowman 'catching' Poole in the arms of the Pod (and in fact almost all of the external space scenes) - I still cannot for the life of me work out exactly how/where they positioned the support wires for the shots of Poole tumbling, then being gently caught, and how the heck did they light all the 'sunlit' scenes so perfectly without obvious penumbra?
And that emergency hatch scene.. still gives me goosebumps as I hold my breath...