Thursday, March 20, 2014

Science Fact or Cinematic Fiction?

            Movies and television shows are usually made for profit.  For movies, people are going to purchase tickets to escape for around two hours, but they need to choose a movie to see.  For television, people will simply change channels if they do not care to stare at a certain show, so they choose the show they watch.  Generally, people are not movie-critic-physicists.  It follows that the movies and television shows people buy tickets for, or hang around to see, do not require accurate physics (unless, of course, the focus of the story was physics).  This could be because of budget, editing, or just for emotional or comedic reasons.  In The Avengers, Zoolander, and Ben 10, the jumps do not respond correctly to the Law of Acceleration.
            In The Avengers, title characters from a few blockbusters such as Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America, are in a single movie.  Naturally, The Avengers resulted in Paramount Pictures drowning in money.  I liked the movie a lot, but I only saw it once.  For this paper, I looked at some scenes again, and realized that I had not noticed how much I had ignored and how much I had not noticed.  For example, there is a fight between Iron Man and Thor in a forest, and aside from a tree I noticed had evaporated, I also noticed that when Captain America jumps from a tree to stop Thor and Iron Man’s skirmish, he does this without any weight gain from the push off of the tree.  In fact, the tree stays unmoved, and looks very disconnected from Captain America.  It feels like the two entities were filmed at different times.  The Law of Acceleration, Part 1 video puts it as, “Objects always change their velocity in the direction of the unbalanced force” (Garcia).  The Law of Acceleration, one of the Laws of Motion, asserts that something like gravity (an unbalanced force) would draw a falling entity down.  For the wide arc that Captain America makes to hop the dozens of feet to the dirt, he should have bent his knees a little more, and leaned forward more.  Also because of this wide arc, Captain America is in the air before falling, longer than he should be.  To jump over the tree, Captain America should have had a higher arc, not a wider one.  Especially for someone who is a superhero, the tree should have shaken a little for the jump that Captain America made.  Perhaps the tree was super, too, though.
            A movie I find super, Zoolander, there is another incorrect jump.  Derek Zoolander, portrayed by Ben Stiller, is a male model, and the evil designer Mugatu, portrayed by Will Ferrell, brainwashes him.  Zoolander is being brainwashed as a sleeper agent to murder a Prime Minister at a fashion show, and during training, Zoolander jumps over the dummy Prime Minister.  His air flip is in three cuts.  The arcs of each do not fit together.  The jump off of the runway has a different arc from the air flip, and the air flip has a different arc from the landing.  When the scene cuts mid-landing, Zoolander alights too lightly.  The Law of Acceleration would make gravity affect Zoolander here much more than it actually did.  The second part of the jump is in slow motion, which is most likely how I had not noticed the strange landing previous to reanalyzing as it was not as much juxtaposition.  It also seems like Ben Stiller’s stunt double was shot at another time, based on how close he is in his arc to the Prime Minister dummy and it makes Zoolander’s jump feel disjointed.  For a character with “lander” in his name, Zoolander should land more accurately!
            In another land, the land of Ben 10, a television show on Cartoon Network, there are several incorrect responses to the Law of Acceleration.  I observed the aforementioned incorrect responses in the first episode.  In the error-filled scene, Ben transforms into an eyeless, orange alien on four feet, and then jumps away from his sister.  He first jumps onto a recreational vehicle, which jostles a little bit.  When Ben jumps off of this, the trailer does not move at all.  It should have shaken as it was established that it was able to be jostled just a second or two earlier.  It also should have shaken from the weight gain of Ben’s jump’s takeoff.  He lands in front of his sister, who does not shake, but the “camera” through which the audience looks shakes from Ben’s landing.  Ben then hops deeper into the forest, probably because his sister promises to tell on him.  However, Ben has one very odd jump, which changes its arc near the end of the takeoff, and takes too long for Ben to land.  The Law of Acceleration would have had Ben land sooner due to gravity being the unbalanced force that it is.  Instead, it took longer to land than it did to get to the apex.  This jump was fairly disappointing.
            Despite disappointing physics, I still paid to see The Avengers, Zoolander, and Ben 10, in all of which the jumps do not respond correctly to the Law of Acceleration.  I am a bit sad to see so many errors in one scene of The Avengers, because I did like the film a lot when I saw it.  I still like The Avengers, but it lost a small amount of credit in my mind after reanalysis.  Ben 10 seemed to have lazy animation in the scene that I watched.  Perhaps it is because it was the first episode, or maybe there was not enough money, et cetera, but there were errors upon errors in the physics, perspective, and consistency.  I did not have negative reactions for all of the things I watched, though.  I think that because it is a comedy, I am most ok with the physics in Zoolander.  I will jump to pay closer attention to the physics when I watch movies and television, now!


Garcia, Alejandro, dir. The Law of Acceleration, Part 1. 2013. Film. 20 Mar 2014. <>.

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