An amateur scientific look: Django Unchained

Django wallpaper

A badass Jamie Foxx in a badass movie

Ok, so it’s taken me a while to get back to writing, but I saw this movie and had to write about it 😀

Quick review: it’s Quentin Tarantino. You either like his work or you don’t. As far as his films go, my favourite is Pulp Fiction 🙂 That’s a classic, with Samuel Jackson giving a sterling performance alongside Bruce Willis and John Travolta. I enjoyed Kill Bill Vol. I & II. I enjoyed Inglorious Basterds. But Django has got to be my second best. It’s a spaghetti Western, so lots of blood, a harsh but realistic use of the word n*gger, and some sweet action scenes 🙂 Jamie Foxx is brilliant as the titular Django, along an excellent show from Oscar winning Chrisoph Waltz as his boss/sidekick.

Scientific inaccuracies:

  • Human bodies do not contain that much blood.
  • Human bodies do not fly like that when hit by bullets.
  • That amount of dynamite would not create that big of an explosion
  • Guns of those days were not that accurate

You’ll understand those four points when you see the movie 🙂 And hopefully they help explain what the movie is like 😛

Die Hard 5 is coming out this week, on Valentine’s day I think, John McClane will keep me company 😛

Jeremy

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Science-y stuff: Wanted

So this is a movie that I’ve always been meaning to get around to, but never found the time: Wanted. 

This is another high octane action film that entertains…at the expense of science. It really is a movie for action-junkies. It’s got some of the most ridiculously awesome scenes ever in it. And it’s got Morgan Freeman. What more can a person want?

Right, onto the inaccuracies:

  • The biggest and most obvious and worst-est inaccuracy ever in my opinion: curving bullets. Early on in the movie the main character finds out he has the ability to curve bullets as the fly out the barrel of his gun. Sorry, what?! Physics’ best known macro law (and Newton’s third): for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. When a firearm is fired the “gun powder” (it’s not anymore) ignites, creating hot and expanding gas. This pushes the bullet down the barrel and out the muzzle at lethal velocities. This means the bullet travels in only two directions: forward and down (’cause of gravity). There is no way, ever, you could get a projectile to curve without applying an extra force to it while it’s flying, and since in the movie all the guy does is flick his wrist this doesn’t happen…and the best (worst) bit? Morgan Freeman’s explanation for it: “If no one told you that bullets flew straight and I gave you a gun and told you to hit the target what would you do?”
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  • The main character also has a rare genetic condition where his heart beats 400 times a minute sending adrenalin rushing through his system, allowing him to essentially use slow motion…sorry, but the human body does not produce that much adrenalin, and a human heart can most definitely not stand up to the kind of abuse of 400 bpm!
  • Spoiler alert: lastly and most insanely: the main character ramps a car over a limo to shoot its occupant through the sunroof by, wait for it,  launching off another car! Crazy entertaining, crazy unlikely (it might still be possible though, definitely a job for the Mythbusters)!
  • Spoiler alert: at the end of movie the good guy shoots the bad guy from crazy far away across half a city with a modulated bullet: bits (or modules) break off at various stages of the flight, for what purpose I do not know, but pull the other one mate.

And yes, that is Captain Jean Luc Picard in the facepalm 😛 Hope you guys enjoyed the post, as always let me know if I missed anything.

Jeremy

Double feature of science-y goodness (or lack of it)!

Abe Lincoln, badass

Abraham Lincoln: husband, father, president…vampire hunter

So I unfortunately have my bi-semester test week starting on Monday, and like a good university student I put off studying and went for pizza and movie on a Friday night. I had seen the trailer for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, which had stirred up great excitement in me. Finally a vampire movie where the vampires are the evil, blood sucking creatures that they should be! I really quite enjoyed the film; I went expecting an entertaining B-grade film (not that in a bad way…you know what I mean), and it delivered solidly. Lots of blood, decapitation and badass axe play were plentiful, so if you don’t like any of that, don’t watch it. Anyhoo, on to the scientific critique:

  • During his training Abraham Lincoln is told to chop down a tree with a single blow. But the tree is a good 30cm across, making this an inhuman feat, and since Abe was not imbued with any super-supernatural strength, I’m calling this scene. Although it must be said that when he swings through the tree it breaks more than slices, which is what you’d realistically expect from something the size of that axe head moving with enough speed to do that amount of damage to a tree (which are quite tough) so well down to the people there.
  • Apart from the above scene, the movie does surprisingly well (if I missed anything please let me know), taking into account some exaggerated physics, but the laws are bent not broken, so I’m not going to bother mentioning every little thing. However, at the end of the movie there’s a scene where Abe and his homies drive a train over a wooden bridge that is set on fire. A very nice construction the bridge was too. But as I’m studying the construction of railways as I type this, I noticed some stuff. First off, trains are pretty heavy things, so I doubt that the fire-weakened bridge would have supported the weight of the train and the carriages, but maybe I should be giving those ye olde engineers the benefit of the doubt. But when the train is nearing the end of it’s fateful journey, it and the track it was on drop about 3m down the bridge. Now, the momentum of the train would have sent it going straight through the wooden supports of that bridge all the way to bottom (as I said before, trains are heavy). And thirdly, there is almost no way a train can climb the kind of gradient that one did as it pulled itself up out of the fire-y pit of doom. In the movie a steam locomotive traveled up what seemed to be a 30% incline…pull the other one mate.

Now, the friends I went to see Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter with and I saw the trailer for The Expendables 2, realised it was opening night, and decided to go watch a second movie that night (I had plenty of time to study later I told myself). Now, I must preface this by saying The Expendables 2  is the most testosterone filled 1h40 you can ever experience in your life…ever. It has Arnie, Bruce Willis, and Chuck freaking Norris. And an entire cast of badass men and woman, with Jason Statham being so hardcore my face exploded. It is filled with gratuitous violence, explosions, bullets, one-liners and inaccurate bad guys, making it the most amazing B-movie ever made (probably). It doesn’t take itself too seriously, meaning the movie is fun while being ridiculously badass at the same time. Heck, Chuck Norris tells a Chuck Norris joke, and Arnie and Bruce drive a Smart car through an airport while firing fully automatic weapons…possibly the greatest scene of my entire life.

Expendables poster

Yes. Yes, they all appear

All enjoyment aside, the movie was not scientifically accurate, but it doesn’t try to be, so I still recommend any action enthusiast should watch it.

  • Inaccuracy of the bad guys: the expendables hardly take cover, yet the countless hordes of bad guys cannot hit them…
  • Explosions: everything explodes. EVERYTHING.

I’ll have to watch it again objectively, because the sheer extremity of the movie threw my concentration off with regards to realism.

Sorry that this post took so long, but I’ve been busy at university, and haven’t watched many movies lately.

Jeremy

A twofold (and a half) post: Rock of Ages, Lockout & Fast & Furious 5

Before I get into the less boring stuff I’d just like to say I’ve finished my first month of work 😀 Now it’s back to university for me for a well deserved break 😛

I had the privilege to watch Rock of Ages this week, and I had such a blast. I can’t comment on its scientific accuracy because it’s, well, a musical, but let me just say if you like 70’s and 80’s rock music this will keep you entertained for its two hours. I’ve read some reviews on the’net that rate it quite average, but I found it enjoyable so that’s what counts right?

Lockout

Alright, let’s get down to business. I’m a massive (like second Death Star massive) fan of science fiction. I love it; in fact my first career choice is still to be a Space Marine. So it was with great anticipation I went to watch the movie Lockout. It’s prison in space right? How can you not make an awesome movie from that? Well, it turns out you can. I’m not saying Lockout is bad, it’s still entertaining, but nor is it going to win any awards. It’s average especially looking at what it could have been; I was hoping for Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay the movie. All that being said, I find science fiction movies are reasonably scientifically accurate if you take into account their technologies that don’t openly break the laws of physics. Lockout is no exception, with only two noticeable inaccuracies:

  • Space travel: this is a problem I see in almost every science fiction movie; objects can only travel in straight lines in space. There’s no gravity to affect travel, so once an object is underway it’s underway forever. To change direction in Earth’s atmosphere a plane banks, which means it experiences resistance from the air and it pushes off it, which in turn allows for the majestic sweeping and turning maneuvers you see fixed-wing aircraft perform (just flying normally). So in the vacuum of space the craft has no air to bank against, meaning when it wants to change direction it does instantly and in straight lines.
  • Human exposure to a vacuum: another favourite of films with space travel. In the movie a man is sucked out an airlock and freezes to death instantaneously when he hits the vacuum. This is just not true. Smart scientist types reckon the human body can survive up to 30 seconds in a vacuum and suffer no permanent side effects. As long as you exhale (to stop your lungs from expanding unbearably) you’ll be ok for a bit. Check here for a more in depth article.

Fast & Furious 5

Coming from the impressively accurate Lockout  I get to one of my favourite (not on my classic list, but my decent high octane action movies list): Fast & Furious 5. It brings back a lot of the previous characters into one big super-movie of shear awesomeness without actually needing you to have watched the first four (I confess I only watched the after this one). Heck, even The Rock graces the movie with his presence. If you like cars, gunfights, fistfights, or all of the above combined then this will be right up your cup of tea. The best bit? The Rock fights Vin Diesel, can I say anymore?

However, the movie would make Sir Isaac cringe:

  • Crashing a bus: this is in the opening scene so if you haven’t seen it it this isn’t really a spoiler. The crew needs to crash a prison bus to bust someone out. In order to do this they essentially put a car in front of the bus, hit the breaks and watch as the bus driver attempts to swerve out the way, fails, hits the car and then the entire bus starts to barrel roll, leaving the car unharmed. It is so unlikely that a 15 ton (15 000 kg with passengers) object will hit the back of a car and flip. In almost any conceivable reality it would feel but a slight discomfort, as an elephant might be annoyed slightly by the bite of a fly, and carry on it’s way.
  • Falling into water from height: water tension is b*tch. When you’re travelling at speed (not even terminal velocity) and you hit the surface of water it’s very similar to hitting ground. Two of the crew in the movie jump off a rather high cliff (looks higher than is safe), and hit the water resulting in no injury. I’d bet half my life savings (which isn’t much, don’t get your hopes up) that they’d at least break multiple bones.
  • The final sequence: ok, spoiler alert here. The crew eventually steals the bad guy’s safe with loads of dosh and drive through the streets of Rio pulling it behind two cars. This scene breaks so many rules I’ll break it down:
  1. Friction: it’s also a b*tch. I reckon the safe with the money in it comes close to 8 tons. This amount of weight being dragged along a tarmac road with no lubrication or wheels at those speeds would generate so much heat the entire safe would melt and all the money go up in smoke before it covers 5 blocks. Secondly, there is no way those teeny tiny cars, even if they’re suped up could drag that safe at those speeds and change direction so quickly so rapidly with all that friction.
  2. Momentum: yet again, it’s a b*tch. Those cars drag an 8 ton safe behind them through downtown streets of a city, meaning there’s lot’s of turning and maneuvering. The momentum of the safe travelling at those speeds would be so great that it would whip the cars behind it and hardly slow down every time they tried to take a corner; no way those cars could resist it.
  3. Cable strength: the safe is attached by two cables, one to each car. And they are not big, thick heavy cables. Cables are really tough things I’ll grant you that, but you still do not want to try and jerk them; they are not bungie chord. The cables in the movie would snap from all the jerking around the safe does.
  4. Slicing reinforced concrete pillars: at one stage the cars turn down a street sending the safe careening into a bank. They then proceed to drag the safe through the bank foyer, slicing the pillars with cable while doing so. Now, reinforced concrete pillars are not invincible, but they pretty touch. Those cars could not generate nearly enough power to cut through the columns like that.

All that being said I sat through F&F5 feeling like an 8 year old boy in short pants with my mouth hanging open I enjoyed it that much. I apologise for the long post, I haven’t done this in a while so I’ve got to give my fan something to keep him/her going 🙂

Jeremy