Most screenwriters and film directors aren't generally known for their scientific prowess. They sometimes try to be scientifically accurate, but more often than not they end up fudging the facts in the name of good storytelling. No complaints here, but it can still be fun to look at some examples of bad science in movies. With that in mind, here are six examples of the worst science in movies.
"Forbidden Planet." This (fantastic) science fiction adventure does a lot of things right. It has a great sense of mystery and wonder, the special effects are all top-notch, and the electronic score is years ahead of its time. But a few of the basic scientific premises brought up in the movie don't pass the smell test. For example, a robot with the power to make unlimited quantities of any substance. The most ridiculous premise of all has to do with the movie's monster, which turns out to be a physical manifestation of the bad guy's subconscious. Yeah, that … that's not possible.
"Attack of the 50 Foot Woman." Objects from outer space usually just burn up harmlessly in the thermosphere. In alien spacecraft is transformed into a 50-foot giant.The laws of physics being violated here are too numerous to list, but the image of the movie's famous poster is still burned into everyone's memory.
"The Fly." Scientists have been trying to crack the secret of teleportation for decades. But they should remember to keep flies out of their laboratories, if the science in "The Fly" is to be believed. The scientist in the movie is unwittingly transported across space, but when he emerges, he finds his head and arm have both been replaced with the head and arm of a housefly! Worse, a little fly is buzzing around with his head, and his arm. Horrifying, yes, scientifically possible, hopefully not.
"The Nutty Professor." Jerry Lewis is a lot of things, but a man of science he is not. In this Jekyll-and-Hyde parody, Lewis gets turned from ultra-nerdy Julius Kelp into the super-suave Buddy Love, who talks and acts suspiciously like Dean Martin. Unfortunately for nerds, the scientific formula for turning people into Dean Martin hasn't been discovered yet, and isn't likely to.
"Robinson Crusoe on Mars." This story about an American astronaut stranded on planet Mars was originally billed as being "scientifically authentic." That may have been true when the film was released in 1964, but scientists know a lot more about Mars these days. For instance, Mars' atmosphere is not just "thin" and difficult to breathe in for long periods, it's completely bereft of oxygen. And those combustible rocks the astronaut uses to make fire? Not real either. And no scientist ever proposed the idea that aliens were mining Mars using interstellar slave labor.
"Batman: The Movie." Not all bad science in movies comes from pure examples of the science fiction genre. In 1966's "Batman," the comedic take on the Batman mythos starring Adam West, the villains use a particularly dubiou weapon called the dehydrator, which sucks all the moisture out of a person's body, leaving them in a pile brightly colored sand. Need something even more scientifically questionable? In order to bring someone back from this state of dehydration, all you have to do is dump some water onto their sand pile. This goes from bad science into the realm of silly fantasy.