Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Science Fact or Cinematic Fiction

Rolling! Action! Or reaction?
Is the Law of Action-Reaction present in modern animated films?

As humans, we have this fascination with stretching the truth. The idea of having super human strength, the ability to withstand high speed tumbles without being harmed, or having toxic flatulence are just a few of the abilities we all wished, at one point of our lives, we could have. Unfortunately physics and more specifically the law of Action-Reaction does not allow us to have any of the abilities. The law of Action-Reaction states basically that to every reaction, there always will be an equal opposed reaction. Yes, mind boggling, right? Let me see if I can quickly try to explain. If you are currently reading this essay, there is the good chance that you are being seated. The simple action of being seated has a reaction. What is that reaction you say? Well to put it plainly, the chair that you are sitting on is reacting to you sitting down. The chair is pushing against you so you don't fall down. If the law of Action-Reaction did not exist then you could not sit down and do many other things. Although that is neither here nor there. What we need to understand is that there is always an equal reaction to any kind of action either that being jumping, running, or producing gas. In this essay, we will be analysis specific scenes in three animated films, Open Season 3, The Croods, and Hotel Transylvania, and look at specific examples of the Law of Action-Reaction being broken  

To start off, Open Season 3 is an animated feature released in 2010 by Sony Animation and is the last iteration to the Open Season trilogy. The story, in review, is about a friendly grizzly bear by the name of Boog who finds himself isolated and lonely due to of having a family. As a result, Boog finds comfort in a Russian circus but is bamboozled  to stay in captivity and work for the circus. It is the job of Boog’s forests friends to find and free him from the clutches of the Russian circus.  As a movie based in Russian circus, there are many tricks performed by both the human character and the animals. Some tricks are more believable than others but one that stood out was a scene of Boog’s forests friends invading a circus performance as a result of trying to set Boog free. During the hectic scene one of Boog’s friends Nate, an giant Old English Sheepdog, lands on the end of a catapult that launches him upwards and on top of unicycle that is balanced on a tight rope 20ft. in the air. As you can tell, this is already a scene that is stretched beyond reality. The possibly of this situation happening is very unlikely. First off, when Nate is catapulted 20ft. up in the air, a small thin trapeze artist is the person that causes him to fly upwards. The possibly of this happening is very unlikely considering that the trapeze artist probably weights as much as the dog. Such a height is very unlikely. If we consider the Law of Action-Reaction, the trapeze artist has to weight significantly more for the affect to happened. Such reaction to the action of the trapeze artist don't relate. A much more believable reaction would be the dog would not be launched that high up in the air. A foot or two seems to be a much more reasonable height.

The Croods is an animated film by Dreamworks Animation released in 2013. The film is about a family living in the pre-historic era facing both physical and emotional dangers while in search of a new home in a unforgiving world. The film revolves around the idea of family unity and how the relationships between parents and child is something to cherish. This film is full of action and full of beautiful environments. One scene that stood out in particular is one of the first scenes in the film. It involves the whole family trying to scramble and obtain a large egg away from an unwilling group of creatures. The scene is fun and chaotic because we see all the characters running, jumping, and tackling all of the obstacles in their way. It resembles that of a football game. At the end of the scene we see the father, Grug, in the air stretching as far as he can to catch the egg in mild air. In a graceful swoop, he obtains the egg and he tumbles down and crashes into a boulder. At the point of instant contact with the boulder and Grug’s back, the boulder seems to crack in half. Considering that Grug weights a healthy 200 lbs. and his momentum is great, I don't believe it is enough for him to crack a boulder in half. The reaction of the boulder is not believable to the the action of Grug crashing into it. If the logic of the boulder were true, then I believe some of the energy would bounce off the boulder and onto Grug’s back resulting in his back bones shattering. A reality that the filmmakers were not intending. Although this allows a dramatic scene to end on a funnier note, the shattering of the boulder disregards the Action-Reaction Law.

Another fun film that also tends to break the Action/Reaction Law but in a more humorous approach is Hotel Transylvania. The film is about an over protective Count Dracula who builds and runs a hotel for monsters who are looking for an oasis from the evil and menacing humans. Unfortunately, the day comes that a human by the name of Jonathan who finds his way to the hotel and falls in love with the count’s daughter, Mavis. This film pushes reality by displaying beautiful animation to really capture the idea that monsters are just like us except with fangs or claws or giant horns, or cool bat shifting power; the list can go on and on. One scene in the film that breaks the Action-Reaction Law in a humorous way involves one of Dracula’s friends, Murray the mummy, who arrives to the hotel and is greeted by all of his friends. One of his friends, Frank Frankenstein, sneaks right behind him and flatulates like not tomorrow. The aroma really tends to bother some guest in the immediate vicinity. Following that ordeal, we have a maid scoop up the aroma and takes it next to an open fireplace. Then the aroma is realized to the open flames and a giant combustion happens. Although this add a very humorous note to an already crazy world, the idea of flatulance combusting like gasoline is very unlikely. The action of flatulance reacting like gasoline being combusted is very unlikely considering that flatulance does not cary the chemical components to be combustible. Unfortunately, flatulence just smells bad. So the more realistic approach would be a bad smelling room filled with very unpleased guests. 

In conclusion, these three films break the Action-Reaction Law in various comedic ways. Open Season breaks it by giving us the idea that animals are just like humans and some times require the help from a friend. In the Croods, the films tends to sell the audience the idea that life during the prehistoric era was a struggle to survive. It was such a struggle that the characters feel superhuman capable of withstanding beatings and tumbles. And Hotel Transylvania tends to engulf the audience into a whole new world full of monster looking for a vacation and having fun. Although all three films break the Action-Reaction Law, that only adds to the experience that make these films rememberable. 

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