Wednesday, April 06, 2011

More reasonable science in "Paul" than in "Source Code"

by Salman Hameed

I was excited about watching the new Duncan Jones film, Source Code. I absolutely loved his earlier film Moon (see the review-post here), which was a brainy, low-budget, sci-fi movie. It is hard to talk about Source Code without giving away some key elements of the story. So I will leave the movie to discover it for yourself. All I can tell you is that the movie deals with issues of consciousness, personalities, free-will - and some ham-handed physics thrown-in for plot-purposes. The science is completely preposterous. However, once you buy the basic premise, the movie is quite interesting/entertaining - until the last 15 minutes. My problem with the last 15 minutes is that it starts violating the rules the movie had set for it self - and as a result, I don't I have much to say about issues related to science & religion. You can watch the preview of the film here:



Source Code is made with a much bigger budget than Moon. I'm curious if the studios had a hand in shaping the overall story, especially towards the end. Even the characters are not that well developed. C'mon Duncan. You can do better than this! The movie is not a disaster - but I think my expectations were definitely high. Hope his next film goes back to the roots of good story telling.

I also had a chance to see Paul earlier this afternoon. It is by the same duo (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost) who also did the absolutely fantastic Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. Paul is about two British nerds who encounter an alien while visiting the American southwest. Yes, it has much of the nerd-references to the famous sci-fi films - but successfully avoided overdoing it (it is more of a loving take on science-fiction). Of relevance to this blog is that the movie explicitly deals with the interaction of science & religion. In addition to a hilarious sequence about evolution, the movie throughout takes an unapologetic stance for science. I was waiting for the movie to enter some squisshy-land where miracles and science can live side-by-side - but nope, it did not happen. Good for them! There are enough movies out there on miracles and on religion. We need more Pauls!

In any case, check out Paul. It is funny and smart - though not as good as their zombie take in Shaun of the Dead. Seriously, if you haven't seen Shaun of the Dead - you should give it a chance.

Here is the preview for Paul:



Also see Free-will issues in "The Adjustment Bureau"

2 comments:

Basmah Riaz said...

What do you think of this paper/article?

http://xxx.lanl.gov/abs/1104.1314

Salman Hameed said...

Very interesting Basmah.

I think there is no question that Wickramasinghe and Hoyle have been treated unfairly in the academic circles. They should be taken more seriously than they are. At the same time, I think their claims of alien life forms, while always interesting, have never really stood up to further tests. For example, the E.Coli signature in GC-IRS7 was really intriguing. However, as far as I remember, it faltered at wavelengths farther in the infrared. In graduate school, we once had a seminar in which we looked at the works of very smart "outcasts" of astronomy, such as Hoyle, Arp, Wickramasinghe, etc. We looked at this particular paper and this is what I remember from it.

I would love Wickramasinghe's claims of alien lifeforms to be correct! It would be so cool! But so far, the evidence is still wanting.

Will look into the paper a bit more, and write again if something else jumps out of it.

Hope you are doing well.