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Thread: Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics

  1. #1
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    Slashdot had a link to this site that discusses Bad Physics in Hollywood:

    Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics [intuitor.com]

  2. #2
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    Wow, am I glad they mentioned sparking bullets! This has been one of my major-league, number-one gripes for a VERY long time.

    I grew up out in the boonies, where, as a youth, I could fire guns without a great deal of concern for safety. And, yes, we had a lot of junked cars on our property. I used to go out and shoot at them. Guess what? NO SPARKS! Nice little neat smooth holes. Period.

    I have HATED the conventional effect of bullets sparking when they hit metal (or wood!) for a very long time.

    And, yes, I've also fired at rocks. (Dumb!) No sparks. Lovely ricochet noises, but no sparks.

    Silas

  3. #3
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    I like the XP: physics from another world rating.

    Bad medicine in the movies is often extreme. Fainting, unconsciousness, CPR, and hospital scenes are the worst. If we all fell into unconsciousness every time we were hit on the head by a bottle... I bet the physics of that event could not be correct.

    And what on Earth makes all those women faint [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_confused.gif[/img] , and why don't the men ever?

  4. #4
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    The BA has a link to this site on his movie page.

    http://www.badastronomy.com/bad/movies/index.html

  5. #5
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    The thing that bugs me most about movie physics is rear end car collisions. When was the last time you saw (in a movie) a car run into the back of another car and not do a barrel roll? Have you ever seen it happen in the "real world"?

  6. #6
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    On 2002-06-16 08:19, Kaptain K wrote:
    The thing that bugs me most about movie physics is rear end car collisions. When was the last time you saw (in a movie) a car run into the back of another car and not do a barrel roll? Have you ever seen it happen in the "real world"?
    I think you'll find that cars used in films, especially Hollywood films, are made by Acme (Destructible) Cars, Inc. They are designed to explode in an enormous fireball if they get bumped, dinged, scratched or go off the road at any speed. If an Acme car is driven by the hero, however, an automatic Hero-sensor delays the explosion until he has departed the vehicle.

  7. #7
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    On 2002-06-16 04:22, beskeptical wrote:
    I like the XP: physics from another world rating.

    Bad medicine in the movies is often extreme. Fainting, unconsciousness, CPR, and hospital scenes are the worst. If we all fell into unconsciousness every time we were hit on the head by a bottle... I bet the physics of that event could not be correct.

    And what on Earth makes all those women faint [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_confused.gif[/img] , and why don't the men ever?
    Brings to mind that Simpsons episode where they're trying to save Homer from the cult. Got 'im in the car, then started whacking him over the head to knock some sense into him. The result??? Well, instead of getting knocked out, he just kept stating the obvious "OUCH" with every hit. There's good medicine for ya!

  8. #8
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    However, I'm reminded of the Simpsons episode where Homer and Barney get selected for the space shuttle. The NASA guy slugs em unconcious with a sap and his colleague asks him if that was really necessary. I think the answer was "yes, it is."

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    And another thing, these guys never seem to have any trouble recouperating either. After getting slugged on the head, they come to with nothing worse than a bump and a headache.

    It always amazes me how much punishment movie heroes can take. The bad guys get dropped with one shot, but the heroes take bullets, beatings, and more and just keep going. Worse than the Terminator, who at least has an excuse. And at the end, a couple of makeshift bandages are all that's needed to get them back on their toes and ready to save the world again.



  10. #10
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    On 2002-06-17 13:12, David Hall wrote:
    "...these guys never seem to have any trouble recouperating either...a couple of makeshift bandages are all that's needed to get them back on their toes and ready to save the world again."
    Chip: (Using Schwarzenegger voice and accent) "Tired? Who's tired? I'm not tired. We attack now."
    But actually, that is something the Sc-fi heroes (and some heroines) inherited from the movie western. All those bar room brawls with broken bottles and furniture.

  11. #11
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    Whether one faints or gets knocked out, they always wake up instantly, at just the right time.

    You don't want to know what happens in the real world when your head gets hit hard enough to really get knocked unconscious. If you are out for more than a few minutes, I guarantee you won't wake up ready to roll.

    About the broken glass, When I was a kid and went on a Universal Studios tour, (before it became a theme park), we got to eat glass, it was really rock candy. That was what they made the windows out of so the crashing cowboys wouldn't get cut.

  12. #12
    I know bad physics in Star Wars is an easy target, but here's what Ben Burtt says about the "seismic charges" in Attack of the Clones.

    I will say that this is something I've wanted to do since A New Hope, we just never had a sequence which allowed the explosion to be featured in a way that I could exploit the idea of delayed sound in space... what I call an "audio black hole", an explosion so cosmic that the energy of the sound is unable to escape at the time of ignition, but is released a moment later.
    I'd have to deactivate my higher brain functions for this to make any kind of sense. Still, it was a cool effect.

    Paul "there's an Air In Space museum" Unwin

  13. #13
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    On 2002-06-18 14:26, Paul Unwin wrote:
    ... Still, it was a cool effect.
    I think it's best all around to just leave it at that.

  14. #14
    and you've got to love the way the hero is always able to dodge something at the last minute. be it a bullet, car, spaceship, LASER!!!!! even though he is going so fast that everything becomes a blur.

    those heroes must ship out with some kind of slow-motion, x-ray vision and spiderman senses.

  15. #15
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    On 2002-06-19 06:45, Renaldo wrote:

    those heroes must ship out with some kind of slow-motion, x-ray vision and spiderman senses.
    Well, if you're talking about Spiderman, Superman, Star Wars, or The Matrix, you actually CAN say that. But otherwise, I think not. [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]

  16. #16
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    On 2002-06-18 14:26, Paul Unwin wrote:
    Still, it was a cool effect.
    When I was watching the movie my first reaction was "Way COOL!" It wasn't until after the movie that I started wondering about the physics of it. I'd say on the "dazzle factor" scale the effect was definately a success. [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif[/img]

  17. #17
    On 2002-06-16 04:22, beskeptical wrote:
    I like the XP: physics from another world rating.

    Bad medicine in the movies is often extreme. Fainting, unconsciousness, CPR, and hospital scenes are the worst. If we all fell into unconsciousness every time we were hit on the head by a bottle...
    This was always a favorite bit of move ** for me. I worked as a bouncer for a few years in my youth and I can assure that knocking someone unconscious is not that easy. In fact, the only guy I ever saw get knocked out had some pretty serious injuries to take away from the experience, not a mere bump on the head.

  18. #18
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    Did you ever notice that the hero who gets shot is ok because the bullet only hit thier shoulder? I dated a Med student once who commented that's a really serious place to be shot, You have the subclavian artery (which supplies blood to entire arm) As well as the humerean nerve cord. Any bullet penetrating though the shoulder/clavicle area will cause permanent damage if not death.

  19. #19
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    On 2002-06-21 10:15, ronin wrote:
    Did you ever notice that the hero who gets shot is ok because the bullet only hit thier shoulder? I dated a Med student once who commented that's a really serious place to be shot, You have the subclavian artery (which supplies blood to entire arm) As well as the humerean nerve cord. Any bullet penetrating though the shoulder/clavicle area will cause permanent damage if not death.
    Not to mention bullets don't often go straight through. And they leave big exit wounds. And your lung is pretty high up in that clavicle area. And if you puncture the lung or bleed into the pulmonary cavity your lung will collapse. And, they never put the ventilator tube in correctly........(chuckle, chuckle)

    Speaking of bleeding, how come Anikan didn't have any spurting arteries when his arm got chopped off? I suppose those swords cauterize but arteries are pretty big there to be closed by a one shot cautery device.

  20. #20
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    Well, considering that in Episode 1 they used a lightsaber to melt what looked like a bank vault door, cauterizing a major artery shouldn't be a problem. [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]

  21. #21
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    Then where was the smoke? Burning blood vessels smoke in the OR. [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif[/img]

  22. #22
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    In one of the Star Wars books (One of the Zahn books. I forget which one exactly.), after Luke gets done chopping up a few stormtroopers with his lightsaber, the ship's guard is mystified as to how they died, because there was no evidence of physical wounds. Then the captain suggests they look for microscopic incisions. Sure enough, the troopers died by being sliced through by a microscopically-thin object that simultaneously cauterized and rejoined the halves.


  23. #23
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    How come bad guys in movies hire wimps who cant shoot if their life depends on it(and it usually does if there is a hero around) and no matter how badly hurt the bad guy is he is still able to use his unlimited supply of bullets to kill every bad guy when a team of highly trained s.w.a.t. team members cant shoot even one of them (i am specifically refering to Die Hard 2).

    Also if you get hit in the shoulder , it would most likely destroy the ligaments nerves, and the arteries in the area making your whole arm immoveable and also making you bleed into your arm and probobly torso. As stated before.
    The foce of the bullet would also probobly shatter the bone and the clavicle puncturing the lungs and several other blood vessels, basically really screwing with the rest of your day.

  24. #24
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    By the power of the mail daemons granted via Google...

    I command this thread to LIVE AGAIN!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by g99
    How come bad guys in movies hire wimps who cant shoot if their life depends on it(and it usually does if there is a hero around) and no matter how badly hurt the bad guy is he is still able to use his unlimited supply of bullets to kill every bad guy when a team of highly trained s.w.a.t. team members cant shoot even one of them (i am specifically refering to Die Hard 2).
    See the Evil Overlord list. Obviously, not all Hollywood villians have perused this useful resource. (Pay attention Humphrey, if you haven't already read the list. )

    Kizarvexis (part time Thread Necromancer)

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by ronin
    Did you ever notice that the hero who gets shot is ok because the bullet only hit thier shoulder? I dated a Med student once who commented that's a really serious place to be shot, You have the subclavian artery (which supplies blood to entire arm) As well as the humerean nerve cord. Any bullet penetrating though the shoulder/clavicle area will cause permanent damage if not death.
    So uh what is the best place to be shot? Well obviously not be shot at all is best but just out of curiosity which part of the body after being shot by a bullet (say 9mm) will sustain least critical injury and recover without permanent damage?

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by ronin
    Did you ever notice that the hero who gets shot is ok because the bullet only hit thier shoulder? I dated a Med student once who commented that's a really serious place to be shot, You have the subclavian artery (which supplies blood to entire arm) As well as the humerean nerve cord. Any bullet penetrating though the shoulder/clavicle area will cause permanent damage if not death.
    And lets not even talk about what happens when a bullet hits bone. I was trained to shoot for the pelvis when dealing with someone who is hopped up on drugs. If you take a hit there, I do not care what you have been taking, you are going down.

    Zamboni is quite right that there is no good palace to get shot. People who watch movies have no idea just how devastating a bullet from even a pistol can be, let alone a high powered rifle.

    There are a few real world incidents where someone is hit several times and keeps fighting. The incident in Florida where the FBI decided to ditch the 9mm after putting 15 rounds in a guy and not stopping him is a classic example. Of course none of the rounds hit anything vital. I am not a big fan of the 9mm, but it would have done the job it one of the hits was center-mass.

    At least in Aliens they explained that the rounds were explosive tipped. I have never even seen a steel core round spark. A few calculations would also show that even a 12ga will not pick a guy up off the ground and throw him across the room.

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    I'm looking forward to their review of The Matrix Revolutions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Glom
    I'm looking forward to their review of The Matrix Revolutions.
    Forget the physics. It was a nonsensical plot, with nonsensical battle scenes.

  29. #29
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    @Ripper 2.0:
    What about the so-called "extremety shot"? Would a hit to the foot or palm of the hand be less devestating? Or would you bleed to death?

    Assuming you are a member of the law enforcement (as oppose to a gun slinging gang), how do you peform non-leathal take downs with a gun (from a distance, bashing the guy doesn't count).

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zamboni
    @Ripper 2.0:
    What about the so-called "extremety shot"? Would a hit to the foot or palm of the hand be less devestating? Or would you bleed to death?

    Assuming you are a member of the law enforcement (as oppose to a gun slinging gang), how do you peform non-leathal take downs with a gun (from a distance, bashing the guy doesn't count).
    You don't. A gun is deadly force, and you only fire it when the situation warrants killing the guy. And you always fire to the center of the body.

    (Depictions in TV shows and movies notwithstanding)

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