January 27, 2011

Bad Geology Movie of the Month: Four Quick Updates

Posted by Evelyn Mervine

Those of you who read my inaugural November Bad Geology Movie of the Month post may be wondering why I forgot to write about a bad geology movie in December and why I haven’t yet written about a bad geology movie in January. I apologize. Watching and reviewing bad geology movies takes time, and I am a busy graduate student. I think that my bad geology reviews may have to be a little more sporadic than once a month, at least until I graduate. We’ll see, though! Maybe some months I’ll review more than one movie. I’ll just write the reviews as I have time. I am also working on refining my format. For my first movie review I think I spent too much time describing the plot (humorous as the plot may be) and too little time analyzing the science (or lack thereof) in the movie.

For now, here are four quick updates relating to bad geology movies:

1. Since the AGU Sciences Meet Hollywood session back in December, I have been thinking about why I want to review bad geology movies. I realize that much of what I want to do is simply point out the scientific inaccuracies. Although pointing out errors may seem mean, I will try to do so in good spirit. I understand that Hollywood geology will never be completely accurate, nor should it be. If someone in Hollywood made a movie about how I do geology, I think it could be terribly boring. More often than not, I spend hours picking crystals and reducing data. Even when I am in the field, the pace of research is often painfully slow. I measure rocks for hours. I meticulously collect rocks. I find maps far too interesting. None of my usual science activities done at their usual pace would make for a good Hollywood plot. So, I understand why Hollywood has to “spice up the science” in order to make a film interesting.

However, I am going to pick apart the science in the bad geology movies– not necessarily because I wish the movies had been made differently, but rather because I want there to be a place on the internet where people can find answers to questions such as, “What’s wrong with the geology in ‘The Core?’ ” or “Can we really travel to the center of the Earth?” I want a place where people can find out about the accuracy– or inaccuracy– of geology in bad geology movies from real geologists. 

2. My good friend Arthur– who is a geologist and fellow lover of bad geology movies– has agreed to join me in my quest to review and pick apart the science (and lack thereof) in bad geology movies. Arthur is a geophysicist and modeler while I am a geochemist and field-based geologist. Together, I think we will make a great team to review bad geology movies. We are discussing the best format for this– we will likely start a new blog specifically devoted to reviewing bad geology movies. If the site goes well, perhaps we can eventually invite some other geologists (a sedimentologist? a paleontologist?) to help us pick apart the science in bad geology movies.

3. Thanks to an inquiry about the forthcoming “Ice Age: Continental Drift” movie, I am now an official volunteer science consultant for the Science & Entertainment Exchange. I may or may not be contacted by people in Hollywood, but I’m happy that I’m in the database. So, Steven Spielberg– feel free to ask me questions about geochemistry or marine geology.

4. To tide you over while Arthur and I set up the bad geology movies site, I will be reviewing the geology in the three “Ice Age” cartoon movies over the next few weeks. I haven’t heard anything from the “Ice Age” people about adding a science extra to their forthcoming movie. However, just in case they do contact me I figure I’d better do my homework and re-watch their previous movies. I even bought the actual DVDs (on a grad student budget!) so that I can view all the DVD extras! Remember, if you want to support my campaign to add a science extra to “Ice Age: Continental Drift,” you can also write a letter or can join my facebook group here.