Movie physics, suspension of disbelief, and viewer engagement

Obligatory link to Amazon page for Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics.

So far it’s been a very entertaining read: it basically expands on what he has on his website with a lot more detail and an amusing writing style.

Yeah, exploding cars, endless bullet clips (tho in the **Matrix ** world I probably can forgive that), and people crashing through glass windows with only a few scratches are bad enough on their merits, but I wanted to discuss something else. He does take the Matrix movies to task for the silly explanation of how humans are used as energy sources.

In a world where we could take accurate physics on faith (as we can in the one we inhabit), we could, if we found ourselves in the Matrix world at some point, examine that proposition, realize that it would never work the way that it is explained, and then be certain that there is another, deeper & truer explanation for why humans are hooked up to such a network. Possible conclusions include that this is just another level in the Matrix (which may have virtually infinite levels), or that the machines use humans in a way which doesn’t involve power generation-perhaps the Matrix needs the human brains to properly work, or something, in a manner not achievable via silicon circuits.

But in the films we actually see and dissect in our world, where directors routinely throw accuracy in physics to the wind, we can never be sure that the filmmakers put in such an explanation as a Red Herring, implying that something else is at work, or that they were just lazy, came up with a half-assed rationale for the human network, and just left it hanging at that. An extra dimension of enjoying the film is thus lost, because I can’t use my knowledge of how physics actually work to make the assumption that there must be more than that going on in a given scenario.