Wednesday, January 02, 2013

The problem with 'realistic' fantasy

As mentioned in my previous entry I managed to catch-up with both "Death Valley", "The Walking Dead" and "Monsters". As you may infer I like this sort of thing, the trouble is I really have to disengage certain reasoning aspects of my brain to enjoy them. Namely the parts that comprehend the laws of physics and biology; and the part that doesn't assume that all world governments are staffed by morons (which I admit is a little harder to switch off).

Why do I name these types and not the "Iron Man" "Batman" type of films? Because I know they take place within a specific universe that allows this. Both Marvel and DC have magic; what's an ultra-thin metal that can withstand the actions of a whip that can cut through a F1 car compared to that. These other types seem to try to take place in our universe where the premise of the action is the only 'weird' thing to happen.

Death Valley is one I can enjoy easily because of its high camp quality, it doesn't take itself seriously so I don't have to either. The other two are ultra-grim, never-smile, this-is-real fare though I'm supposed to take it seriously and I just have trouble.

Monsters is the easier of the two to explain why this is the case - a space probe that is thought to have picked up the first signs of extra-terrestrial life breaks up on re-entry over Mexico and in a few years time a new set of lifeforms have spread over the area prompting the creation of a quarantine zone and a massive wall between the USA and Mexico. Political nuance aside - seriously?

Okay sure a probe could break-up, but in which instance any life-forms are also likely to burn-up with it. Unless they are protected, which I assume they would be, and the case cracks open on landing; which is what must have happened. So given improper storage this is still a 'box' containing extra-terrestrial life-forms and would therefore be the most valuable item on our planet. Even given the jungle setting the USA would be combing the area for it; retrieved it and gone.

But let's assume they didn't have the funding, what did the box contain? Actual multi-celled organisms or simple microbes? Assuming the former they'd have escaped the box and... been eaten by the first predator that came across them. Or not, they could be tough enough to be predator rather than prey, but they'd still have to adapt to terrestrial conditions. Think that life is life? Consider how many 'natural' things exist on this planet that are poisonous to humans. Multi-celled life-forms of this type are pretty much dead. Could be a plant - by our definition plant-life has evolved to use sunlight; sure with certain elements in our atmosphere; but a near-pure solar-powered entity could exist. In that instance it wouldn't really matter where it landed provided there was sunlight it could survive. Except in this film we see that the organisms have bonded with trees and produced multi-storey creatures. By itself that's a large energy requirement.

Microbes then. Low energy requirement and potentially high adaptability. Yep they could survive and thrive, but to go from this level to aforesaid creatures in several years - no frickin' way.

Then there's the quarantine zone aspect. Supposedly these lifeforms have spread out to be noticeable and defined as dangerous; and even considered as an active threat; yet the response is to seal it all up? If it were microbe level then it's going to spread by air, water, or avian migration - a wall ain't going to help. Carpet bombing would start; hell small-scale tactical nukes would be let off to eradicate all life in the area. Oh but it's in Mexico, yeah because the USA has a long history of respecting other countries laws and boundaries when its own interests are threatened. So no - not possible.

The Walking Dead confronts me in basic biological terms; let's call them what the show veers away from - zombies. Okay in-world it appears to be a virus that has affected everyone, but only manifests when a person dies. Okay not only entirely possible but an actual thing, there are plenty of diseases that can't get a hold on a living organism due to its own internal defences. The problem here is that we appear to have a virus that can't act against said defences, yet at the same time can defend against all those others that would normal act against a deceased person. In other words wounds inflicted don't seem to fester half the zombies should be either liquefied or mummified dependent on local conditions. Next step is the walking part of the walking dead.

Here's a quick question - when you were born or at the birth of your first child - could they walk? I'm guessing not; it's something that has to be taught. Walking is not a basic muscle action; it depends on balance, sight, a whole host of actions coming together that allow a human to walk without any apparent conscious thought. Someone these zombies have retained that ability. Must be difficult to walk too given the amount of blood that's collected in their legs; because, hey. they don't appear to have a circulation - they don't bleed from wounds; which also incidentally means the virus can't travel to fight off infection either.

Then of course there's the virus itself - how is it surviving? All things require energy and this not only has enough to live but enough to go around to power all those limbs. Walking, grabbing, biting are all movement and that means muscles that in turn require energy. Okay they're eating things, but in order to use that requires both digestion and circulation; which they don't appear to have.

They're impossible.

Okay I watch them, for the most part there's an interesting story to tell; but parts just up and make me squirm with just how utterly stupid everything is.