Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Non-football item

I don't expect science fiction to be "realistic." I wouldn't watch a "realistic" science fiction movie. The spaceships couldn't launch in bad weather, or could be destroyed in orbit by a loose ball bearing. It'd take a thousand years to get from one star to the next, even with sequels. But I do expect a science fiction movie to be internally consistent. Set the ground rules however you want -- go ahead and give Jedis telekinesis, or put a spaceship at Area 51 -- but for pete's sake. the characters have to live by them.

I just saw The Chronicles of Riddick on the HBO. At one point, mercenaries take the fugitive Riddick to a prison on the planet Crematoria. We're told that on this planet, it's 700 degrees on the day side and "300 below" on the night side. The only time it's safe to be outside is just before dawn. When the sun rises, the ground cooks and the air catches fire (more or less). When the sun sets, everything freezes solid. Those are the ground rules.

If I demanded realism, I'd wonder how in hell Crematoria has a breathable atmosphere. I'd also ask how anyone managed to build anything on the planet, even an underground prison. But under the ground rules, Crematoria does have breathable air and an underground prison. So I won't quiblble.

The problem comes after Riddick and the other convicts break out of the prison. They light out across the scorched earth (or, the scorched crematoria, I suppose), headed for the hangar where the mercs have parked their ship. The sun rises. The air begins to explode. One of the convicts is vaporized. It's 700 degrees now. Riddick and his surviving compatriots, as well as the fleeing prison guards and the newly arrived Necromongers, survive by staying in the shade.

Now, when it's hot out, it's hot whether you're standing in the sun or not. When it's 700 degrees and the air itself is bursting into flame, standing in the shade is not going to help you. Even if you wear shorts.

Further, in order to rescue a friend who has gotten trapped in the sun, Riddick pours water over his head, which makes him immune to the heat. We've just seen a man have the flesh vaporized off his body, and Riddick fends off 700 degree worth of solar oomph with a bottle of water. Must have been Propel.

By the by, I couldn't help but notice how similar the Necromongers were to the invading aliens(?) of Dean Koontz's The Taking. But to point that out would make me a total science fiction geek, and we can't have that.