atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#5757: Yeah, that wasn't worth $5

Spoiler warning, but I'm doing you a favor.

Mrs. Fungus wanted to watch a movie; we ended up watching Life, the story about a group of people aboard the ISS who are examining the first soil samples from Mars and they find a single-celled organism which is still alive.

My feeling--upon seeing the trailer, in the theater--was "Yet another godlike alien creature that somehow manages to be the do-all-be-all of survival machines, much better than puny humans." People trapped in a space station struggling to defeat the wily alien.

It looked bad. It was bad. It was bad on a bunch of levels, but the usual stupid Hollywood bullshit was in full effect, and that alone made it bad.

Well, what if we ignore all the stupid Hollywood bullshit? "What bullshit?" you ask?

Oh, let me count the ways:

1) Space station has thrusters which can de-orbit it. No. ISS may or may not have attitude thrusters, but they're not going to be enough to de-orbit the station. Attitude thrusters don't have enough delta V to materially change the orbit, even if you purposely set up a burn to do it.

2) Alien goop can access interior of station through attitude thrusters. No. That's like saying an alien could get into your car's cabin through the exhaust pipe. The plumbing for the thrusters is entirely separate from the lifesystem, and with good reason: the binary fuels used for attitude thrusters are extremely poisonous and corrosive. The alien lifeform is carbon-based; it would not live through taking a dip in monomethyl hydrazine or nitrogen tetroxide, and even if it could, it couldn't get inside the station from the propellant tanks.

3) Alien goop is 100% biologically compatible with terrestrial life. There's nothing about human flesh which it finds poisonous. This isn't actually too big a leap, because the carbon-based lifeform needs oxygen and water and some source of food. But it's entirely different from Earth life, and it shouldn't be able to so easily metabolize terrestrial proteins.

4) Alien goop somehow understands everything humans are trying to do. So Jake Gyllenhall is attempting to pilot a Soyuz capsule out into deep space--which is bloody impossible because a "lifeboat" isn't going to have enough fuel to do that--but the alien goop restrains him and prevents him from doing it. How the hell does the goop know what the control stick is for? How the hell does the goop know enough about human technology that it knows that if it keeps Jake's hand off the stick, the capsule will automatically land safely? The reason given for this is that the goop's cells are all multipurpose--sensory, musculature, and brain, all in one. Given the mass of the creature at the end of the movie, though, it's still not enough; elephants have bigger brains than this thing was and they're not supergeniuses who know how to pilot Soyuz capsules even though they've never seen one before, ever.

5) Mission commander has "firewall protocol" which none of the other crew is privy to until it's too late. Astronauts always know the full parameters of their mission. If the mission involves remaining in space to die with a hostile alien lifeform, they're going to know about it before they ever take off. So if, yeah, the thing gets loose, there's no argument about how to proceed. Astronauts are dedicated to their missions. They don't want to die any more than other people do, but they will if they have to. It's part of the job description and it's a dangerous job.

6) All sorts of tech which is not real or appropriate. The sleeping pods, with motorized covers. In real life they use sleeping bags. The incinerator in the lab module--fire is a very bad thing in space. Certainly there wouldn't be a way to disconnect the incinerator and use it as a hand weapon, blasting flaming gas everywhere. The fire suppression system in the lab (not triggered by Deadpool--sorry, the guy who played Deadpool--waving his flaming hand cannon around) would dump, if triggered, something like Halon into the module to supress fire. Halon works by displacing oxygen; and if the alien goop had managed to get into that system (it tried to) it would have ended up in a tank full of Halon, which doesn't contain any free oxygen, and the thing would have gone into hibernation or died. Wouldn't have done it any more good than getting into the thruster tankage would have. But you can't really use Halon in orbit because it's heavier than air and works by pushing air away from the fire, and that only works when there's gravity. Without gravity, you need to replace all the air in the module with Halon. (I said fire in space is bad news. I'm not kidding.) Oh, and by the way, Soyuz capsules are not designed for water landings. They come down on land.

7) Soyuz capsule docked with station is thrusting station out of Earth orbit. No. The best you could do with the mass of the ISS and the propellant on a Soyuz command module would be to raise the orbit higher; you could not even push the thing into cislunar space let alone "into deep space". And as usual we have a docking ring which is extremely sturdy and capable of withstanding thrust until the writers need it to fail, at which point it's no longer all that sturdy.

And I could go on and on and on about this. I don't think I need to, do I? Even if all this nonsense had been correct it still would have been a bad movie; it just would have been less bad. None of the characters was sympathetic and we never bothered to learn their names. The only character whose name I know was Calvin, the alien goop, so named because a little black girl asked the astronauts to name it after her school.

The first half of the movie is dead boring. The second half of the movie is full of stupid horseshit. Do not watch this movie because it sucks.

Zero stars: "Worse than Gravity."

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