Yes, this is about the movie. It came out late in 2014, so I’m only about eight years late to the party. I watched it for the first time last week, and bits are still floating in my brain now and then. First, I enjoyed the movie. It was suspenseful without horror and had interesting science aspects. It reminded me of some sci-fi movies I enjoyed in my long-ago youth. That being said, this post is a rant about the water world, the plot-hole fulcrum upon which the climax rests.
*Spoilers—are they spoilers if it came out eight years ago?—Spoilers ahead!*
On the Water World
I’ve seen posts about this one, calling out the ticks in the background sound that represent an hour on Earth. Those are what had me searching for how to watch the movie if I had the streaming service. I started out counting them until becoming distracted by the pesky plot and dialog.
First, the ground happens to be perfectly smooth under only two feet of water practically everywhere. I know water equals erosion, but they walked like it was solid, not sand, and erosion takes time. Before you tell me it has had time, no, the whole point of the ticking is that it has not been in this situation long, relatively. I will go deeper into the latter point in the next section. I can dismiss the easily traversable ground, so let’s move on.
Second, the woman exits and makes straight for the data cube. That’s fine. “Hurry up!” “There’s nothing here.” “Let’s go!” She gets trapped. They talk about the mountains moving in the distance. Are you telling me that not one person poked their head out of the craft and LOOKED AROUND!? Yeah, that distant wave looked like mountains, but the one RIGHT BEHIND YOU sure-as-swear-word did not. No, you see that monster bearing down on you and determine the planet is not foul-language viable and get back in the car.
Third, the woman is carried out by the robot helper, and the second man waits outside to help her. She has a robot helper. She doesn’t need him to get in the way and get himself killed in the process. He could have helped her in from the INSIDE! The robot pushes, and he pulls. There was zero need for his suited corpse to be left with whatever happened to the first explorer.
Before the Water World
They could have avoided the debacle in the first place with some sound reasoning. These are some of the greatest minds left, so it is not unreasonable to expect a modicum of logic.
First, they say something about months of travel to reach the other two planets and using fuel, so they use that as a reason to go to the water planet first. BUT, they also know that one hour will take seven years of relative time. If they have enough juice to take the seven years, come back up, check the others, and return to Earth, then fuel is not the issue. Which means time is.
The options are—assuming the winner is the last planet they check—a) take seven years, then another year traveling to and checking the other two, or b) take a year checking the other two and another year coming back to the water world. Rough math tells me two years is a better use of a limited time resource than eight.
Second, they knew the math for the time dilation! If one hour is seven years, and the scientist has been on the planet for around twelve years, then she was relatively on the planet for less than two hours. If they go to the other planets first, take a couple of years getting back, then it would leave her there for maybe another twenty minutes. She has all the time in the world to wait for them to finish their chores and get back to her.
Going to the other planets first would also give her more time to take readings and determine if the planet is viable. Assuming a report every hour, including one immediately upon landing, they received two reports. Some tests don’t produce results in that amount of time, and she certainly could not ascertain viability for plant and animal life in two hours. Everything they knew about the situation should have pushed them to the other locations first and the one on the cusp of the enormous black hole last. Plot required otherwise.
The question is, could you have made the movie without that irrational decision? Not with the point, lesson, or resolution the movie had. The movie was less about space exploration and more about temporal mechanics. Both are pretty cool, no real people were harmed by the fictional bad decision, and I enjoyed the temporal journey. All is well.
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