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NASA Names Best & Worst Sci-Fi Movies of All Time 610

mvar writes "Working through the year-end best/worst movie lists can be a feat of Olympic proportions, but there's one list which is so damn cool you'll definitely want to give it a whirl. NASA and the Science and Entertainment Exchange have compiled a list of the 'least plausible science fiction movies ever made,' and they ranked the disastrous (in more ways than one) 2012 as the most 'absurd' sci-fi flick of all time."


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NASA Names Best & Worst Sci-Fi Movies of All Time

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @12:20PM (#34754758)

    I know you're being sarcastic, but it is money well spent. NASA faces huge uphill battles from people wondering why they aren't doing as much as they could be, and why we're not building colonies on the moon. SciFi movies are the primary tool to impression people as to what is technologically available to us. Bad movies give the public unfair expectations of what could happen, who controls it, and how it can be fixed. These people then write their congress people and complain that NASA isn't doing enough. Congress then gets onto NASA on how they're spending what they're spending, and how they should change priorities. The public is dumb, congress is dumb, and they're controlled by images given in SciFi movies.

    Think if a majority of the people in this country were convinced by "2012" that the world would really end at that year. Their priorities for government spending would be dramatically different.

  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @12:21PM (#34754766) Journal

    Yes, SF shouldn't have a moral message. It should just be shoot-'em-up.

    Obviously Gattaca was done on a relatively small budget, but it told a pretty compelling story that isn't exactly a mile away from what we'll likely be facing in fifty years.

  • by ScentCone (795499) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @12:23PM (#34754790)
    now I know why we never returned to the moon

    No, it's because the NASA administrator says that the president has told him that NASA's top priority is to find ways to make Muslims feel better about themselves []. So, there's a lot of re-tooling going on, to make that happen.
  • I liked 2012 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Andy Smith (55346) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @12:33PM (#34754898)

    What is the point of writing about 2012 being "absurd"? It was a special effects action movie intended to entertain people in a cinema for 2 hours. Mission accomplished, for me and millions of other people. The same team that made 2012 also made films about alien invasions and giant lizards, so they aren't exactly aiming for hard realism and non-absurdity.

    Someone at NASA isn't making an interesting or valid criticism, they are demonstrating their own lack of humour.

  • by BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @12:52PM (#34755154) Homepage Journal
    The 'alien lifeform debacle' as you chose to propagandize it, was a very important and interesting discovery regarding the fundamental ingredients for life that is still being reviewed by major microbial scientists worldwide. Not recognizing the significance of that announcement just because it wasn't the discovery of alien life (something that NASA never advertised, but, rather, a speculation that the media over-hyped) does little more than betray your ignorance on that particular matter.
  • by toygeek (473120) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @01:00PM (#34755250) Homepage Journal

    We home school our kids, we believe in the Bible, and yet we view the whole "2012" thing as absurd, that the rapture is equally absurd, and that science does explain a LOT, but that there's also a lot it doesn't explain. We also don't think that the earth was created in 6 24 hour days and is only 6000 years old. That's ridiculous. We also don't think that dinosaur fossils were put here to test our faith. So in other words, we think for ourselves.

    Now, there are those who are *exactly* as you describe, and of those we feel the same way you do. But, its not fair to use such a blanket statement. So let me correct it for you: "don't tell that to the *fundamentalist* homeschooled idiots...."

  • by ScentCone (795499) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @01:08PM (#34755372)
    Don't you feel bad about being so dishonest?

    Actually, no, I don't feel bad because I'm quoting the guy. He said it, not me. I suppose I do feel bad that the head of such an important agency, and perhaps even the president he takes orders from, think so little of Muslims that they think it's OK to condescendingly say - out loud - that anything NASA can or should do would make them "feel better about themselves." That's the most smarmy, patronizing bunch of BS I can possibly imagine.

    Incidentally, this was widely reported, and Obama's main press spokesman was asked about it. He did a ham-handed job of badly spinning it, and said he didn't know why the NASA director said that, blah blah blah. So, either the director said things accurately - which makes Obaman's idea of the top priority for that agency to be a complete disaster - or the director was completely BS-ing, which means he should never have had that job in the first place. Neither is a good scenario.
  • by rahvin112 (446269) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @01:12PM (#34755414)

    Ignore the plot of Gattaca, the morality lecture on genetic engineering and ask yourself this: In the future are human beings going to start tampering with the human genome? If the answer at any point in the future is yes, then the science in Gattaca is likely realistic. I actually agree with their assessment, the future portrayed in Gattaca where genetic information is used to discriminate and people begin to improve the human genome is VERY realistic. It will start with where they said it would start in the movie, the first tampering will be to remove disease, then it will be a slippery slope to make people smarter, stronger and more gifted. As the techniques improve testing will become so quick and routine that a microchip that can read out your entire individual genome in seconds is possible. Once improvements are made those that are "improved" begin to discriminate against those that aren't. From the first time I saw Gattaca I realized they accurately predicted the future of genetic engineering.

  • by myc (105406) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @01:19PM (#34755474)

    I find it interesting that NASA showed no love for 2001: A Space Odyssey.

  • Most realistic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @01:21PM (#34755492)


  • by biryokumaru (822262) <> on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @01:27PM (#34755570)
    If that $14T was all spent on actually worthwhile endeavors like NASA, we'd be having this idiotic argument on Mars.
  • by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @01:44PM (#34755804)

    My god you people are disgusting.

    Wishing people dead because they've been raised to believe something foolish? Most laymen in the world have serious misconceptions about science (I'm 99.9% certain that includes you), yet just because you understand what amounts to a hill of beans more than one particularly ignorant group of people you hope they all commit mass suicide?

    You are a rotten excuse for a human being, you seriously disgust me. I'd rather have 10 people who believe the earth is the center of the universe yet are capable of treating each other with decency and consideration* than a million well-informed, smug, self-centered assholes.

    In other words, go fuck yourself, you smug, self-important bastard.

    *I'm not trying to imply earth-centrists are capable of treating each other with decency and consideration, I'm simply pointing out what personal characteristics actually matter in real life.

  • by mikael_j (106439) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @02:07PM (#34756092)

    Lately I've begun splitting what people call sci-fi into three different subgroups.

    1. First up is Hard sci-fi. I'm a bit more liberal with this definition than some hard sci-fi fans in that I can actually accept premises like "If we assume this theoretically possible thing/event is possible practically..." while many hard sci-fi fans seem stuck in some strange rigid world where anything that hadn't been discovered or invented by 1973 is completely outrageous and clearly not deserving of being called hard sci-fi.
    2. Then there's plain Sci-fi, this is anything from stuff that's not quite realistic enough to be called Hard sci-fi all the way down through the regular wagon train to the stars stuff and "What if...?" movies that are to say the least a bit rough around the edges when it comes to scientific accuracy.
    3. Finally there's Hollywood/Action sci-fi. This is where about 90% of the movies labeled "Sci-fi" tend to belong. It's either "movie from $other_genre, IN SPACE/THE FUTURE/THE PAST/THE WORLD OF FAIRIES AND ELVES!!11one" or genre mashup movies along the lines of "Let's take this sci-fi idea and make it more action-oriented to draw in the 15 to 30 year old male demographic, add some romance for the girlfriends, some comic relief for the kids and..." that just happen to take place in a "typical" sci-fi setting.

    Yes, I'm a bit bitter, Hollywood is butchering sci-fi with every new movie and if I ever open my mouth about it to friends and acquaintances they immediately start namedropping movies from the third category as examples of how there are plenty of good sci-fi movies being made...

  • by c6gunner (950153) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @02:22PM (#34756270)

    Yeah, and everyone I know in the ghetto has at least a PhD. Plus they all run their own businesses, quite successfully. There are no poor people anywhere - it's a myth.

  • by fermion (181285) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @03:04PM (#34756736) Homepage Journal
    The best scifi, like the best literature, deals with relationships. The best scifi, look at Heinlein, Pohl, Robinson, Le Guinn, Norton, Asimov. All these focus on how emerging technologies will impact our relationship with each other and the world t large. For example, as technology allows us to communicate and trasport ourselves more quickly, what will this do for us. For drama the effects are often negative, but then it is not about the effects themselves. It is about have the courage to think about the impact of the technology. I am convinced that speculative fiction is not popular because most people do not like to thing about these immediate consequences, based in reality. Most like to posit a fanciful hypothesis with no basis in observation, write a book about it, and call it philosophy. Or simply gossip about the fictional neighbors are doing.
  • by SvnLyrBrto (62138) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @03:17PM (#34756912)

    That cuts both ways though. I've read about the police's and prosecutors' frusteration at the "CSI effect" and I'm fine with it, despite the fact that the details depicted on the show are sometimes dodgy or exaggerated. And beleive me, I know the frusteration. I know enough science to sit there and kibitz when the show gets things wrong. And, working in computers, I've had to explain that, "No, computers can't/dont actually do that." my share of times.

    But juries demanding to actually see hard physical evidence of a crime, instead of just taking the word of some random guy who said: "he done it." is a GOOD thing... a VERY good thing! Peoples' freedom and sometimes their lives are at stake in a criminal trial. And if the government is going to take away either; we should damn well be a whole lot more sure about that than we are now. "Innocent until PROVEN guilty." and "Better a thousand guilty men go free than one innocent should suffer a trial." and all that.

    And boo effing hoo for the cop who's PO'd that his version of events is not golden anymore, or for the DA who's seen his conviction ratio drop. It's almost routine now for DNA evidence, for example, to exonerate people who've spent years in prison, falsely convicted after some crooked cop lied in court to frame him and the DA went along with the sham just to get his numbers up. How many innocent people have lost years of their lives because of this? Have we executed anyone because on this? Even person, even one year, is intolerable. (And does anything ever happen to the cop and DA who set someone up for the crime they didn't commit? Nope.)

    So yeah... I'm all in favor of anything that conditions juries to expect to see real evidence... even if that expectation is unrealistically high... as opposed to taking the word of a human who may be lying. It's absolutely better than the alternative.

    And as a purely practical matter; your friend, frustrated though he may be, still comes out as a winner and should be happy. Said "CSI effect" is also generating more demand for forensic evidence in order to convict. Higher demand means a higher budget and more cool toys for him to play with... and better job security as well.

    Looks, to me, like a win-win across the board.

  • by bsDaemon (87307) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @03:20PM (#34756950)

    Perhaps (s)he believes that the Bible provides a good moral framework and appreciates that, while at the same time understanding that its literature and as such uses metaphors in an attempt to make points accessible to as wide a number of people as possible. If the GP is here, then likely they're smart enough not to take literature literally, but just accept it for what it is.

  • by MBGMorden (803437) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @04:09PM (#34757464)

    That's good, but I'd argue that someone who view the Bible as a good moral framework but takes it as literature is not religious. I personally view a lot of the teachings of Buddhism as a very good moral framework - but I live under no delusion that the spiritual aspects of the religion are true. Therefore I am not Buddhist, nor do I "believe" in Buddhism.

    I'd also argue that going to a religious text just to pickout a basic moral framework is kinda pointless - there are easier and more basic ways to do that. That's like buying a computer because you need a 6" length of copper wire. Sure it's in there, but there are far more efficient ways to get it.

To iterate is human, to recurse, divine. -- Robert Heller