Wolf Gnards talks a fairly good movie game. And if you haven't noticed I talk a lot about nerds, too. Movies. Nerds. Movies. Nerds. It was only a matter time really for me to put that together. Lots of ways to go. Maybe, my favorite nerd movies? Or my favorite nerds in movies? My favorite movies by nerds? My favorite nerds by movies? Tons of possibilities, but I'd like to start nice and simple with my favorite scientists in film.
These aren't just fake nerds on film, but fake nerds on film who are highly respected in their fictional fields. There's the ultra cool scientist who rides motorcycles and wears leather jackets. There's the antisocial misfit who can only talk to robots without stuttering. There's the uptight slightly evil rule following head scientist who is far less brilliant than the bad ass motorcycle math geek from before. There's the far too beautiful lady scientist who just needs to take off her glasses and let her hair down. And, of course, all your variety of giant robot building mad scientists—some young, some old, but a surprising number with some sort of mechanized limb.
But here's what I've pieced together about all of them. A good movie scientists must:
1.Smoothly speak reams of techno babble anchored with little to know actual scientific principle.
2.Look as good in glasses as with shirt partially ripped open.
3.Able to build key gadgets, replicate antidotes, or navigate through highly complex computer coding in the time between the climax and the dénouement (usually about 60 seconds).
My Favorite Movie Scientists
Dr. Sidney Zweibel aka New Jersey (The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai)
Buckaroo Banzai is the Poochie of movie scientists. Constructed for optimal coolness, and missing the mark in most areas. He's a a physicist, neurosurgeon, Samurai, rock star, Jet Car driver, and comic book hero, and being such needs an equally fantastic motley crew, The Hong Kong Cavaliers. New Jersey is a neurosurgeon, and sings a little, dances, and plays piano. And dresses like a Brokeback cowboy.
Seth Brundle (The Fly)
Brundle is just a man working on the first matter teleportation machine, while all the time romancing Gina Davis. I don't know what's more unbelievable, the telepods or that the man who built the telepods looks good with his shirt off, OR the ace reporter at Particle Magazine is Gina Davis. In real life, the Brundle Fly is probably a little more handsome than the regular Brundle and a believable date for the Particle reporter.
Ian Malcolm (Jurassic Park & The Lost World)
Everyone's favorite mathematician and chaos theorist. Malcolm is stammering brilliance at its best. Uncalled for...and... awkward... pauses... are the... sign of... genius. The bigger question is why invite Debbie Downer to your amusement park to begin with? You know nothing ends well with such a smirking nerd on premises. Also, how many nerds went into chaos theory after this flick? I doubt any of them got half as close to Laura Dern though.
Donald Ripley (Powder)
How many teachers spark up a Frankensteinium Tesla coil in the middle of class? The point of which is just to demonstrate strange things are a foot. Which is really the whole point of Donald Ridley, to explain everything to the audience in a round about gibber jabber. And somehow Jeff Goldblum seems to be doing only a fair to middling Jeff Goldblum imitation. But a genius magnetized bald albino needs a mentor after all, and there's really none better.
David Levinson (Independence Day)
The story of every day MIT educated cable guy who is the only person able to keep up with those crafty aliens. Goes to show that wasting your life watching TV really can pay off. But not only does he figure out what the aliens are up to, but he's the guy who figures out how to stop them as well. He's like ten geeks rolled up in one. TV geek, environmental geek, alien expert geek, alien spaceship expert geek, hacker computer geek, alien language hacker computer geek. But why pay for so many scientists when you can pay for just one Jeff Goldblum to do it all.
Alistair Hennessey (The Life Aquatic)
Alistair Hennessey is the best oceanography, and if not the best, at least, the one who gets all the best grants. Rich, successful, and part-gay, Alistair is everything a good scientific nemesis needs to be. He's even mean to dogs. He's either the worst James Bond villain or the best Steve Zissou villain, either way it marks Jeff Goldblum's second Buckaroo Banzai walk off. Sweet.
I can't put my finger on it, but they all seem sort of familiar to me. Ah yes, gangly, a good movie scientist obviously needs to gangle well.
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