Biology-related movie suggestions
December 14, 2010 12:08 PM   Subscribe

I have been asked to come up with a list of biology-related movies for an upcoming Movie Night that my office (Life Sciences Undergraduate Advising) is planning for our Life Sciences undergraduates. However, I'm not a film buff. Suggestions, please!

So far, the front-runner is Gattaca; other suggestions have included Outbreak, The Fly, and Them!.

A few years ago, we showed Cane Toads and Fantastic Voyage.

Any and all suggestions--comedy, drama, documentary, sci-fi, classic, contemporary, whatever--are appreciated, as long as the movie has a biological bent. Thanks!
posted by not_on_display to Media & Arts (43 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Frankenstein? Spiderman? Human Centipede?
posted by backseatpilot at 12:13 PM on December 14, 2010

Inner Space

(bsp beat me to Human Centipede)
posted by bondcliff at 12:15 PM on December 14, 2010

The Andromeda Strain

The Island of Doctor Moreau
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:22 PM on December 14, 2010

Osmosis Jones, an animated tale of a white blood cell detective [Chris Rock] hunting down a virus in the big city (a human body). It's actually a funny movie.

2012, if you want a movie that gets every possible detail of earth sciences wrong (including a face-palmingly stupid scene where a Winnebago outraces pyroclastic flow). Best viewed as a drinking game.
posted by jamaro at 12:24 PM on December 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I should have said, "Any and all suggestions--EXCEPT HUMAN CENTIPEDE--are appreciated!" I like being employed, thank you very much.
posted by not_on_display at 12:24 PM on December 14, 2010

Children of Men? (Humans stop reproducing, chaos ensues.)
posted by carsonb at 12:26 PM on December 14, 2010

OMG, Inner Space: A hapless store clerk must foil criminals to save the life of the man who, miniaturized in a secret experiment, was accidentally injected into him.
posted by carsonb at 12:27 PM on December 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

Jurassic Park
posted by Lifeson at 12:30 PM on December 14, 2010

...I clearly only read half the question.
posted by Lifeson at 12:31 PM on December 14, 2010

posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 12:37 PM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Splice is very biology related. It's also relentlessly stupid, but you didn't mention whether that is a problem.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 12:43 PM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

A Life Without Pain (CIPA documentary)
posted by Rhomboid at 12:44 PM on December 14, 2010

Keep in mind that some of these movies besides Human Centipede are sort of dark and depending on what people are expecting, might not be right for a undergrad movie night. I loved Reanimator but it's somewhat gross and Children of Men is super-dark [though fascinating] so you might want to check IMDB on a few of these before giving them the thumbs up. A few light suggestions.

Weird Science [and you can check out other movies with the "science experiment" tag]
Jurassic Park [other movies with experiment gone wrong tags]
Avatar [and other movies with the scientist tag]
posted by jessamyn at 12:45 PM on December 14, 2010

Ok, less dark: National Geographic: Moment of Death is a really fascinating documentary about what happens when we die.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 12:49 PM on December 14, 2010

posted by Maxwell_Smart at 12:52 PM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Any of the first four Star Trek films? Godzilla? The Hulk? King Kong? The Stand?
posted by SMPA at 1:07 PM on December 14, 2010

Oh, and be sure to check out You Fail Biology Forever, including the subtropes.
posted by SMPA at 1:16 PM on December 14, 2010

Fast, Cheap & Out of Control
posted by newmoistness at 1:17 PM on December 14, 2010

posted by overeducated_alligator at 1:20 PM on December 14, 2010

Ohh, what about Coma? Bonus: it was filmed locally.
posted by bondcliff at 1:25 PM on December 14, 2010

Lorenzo's Oil

Bonus: It's a true story.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:43 PM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Great list! And bonus points for the students if they can pick out mistakes in the movies. (Identifying the Ebola virus by using a standard light microscope? Please!)
posted by Knowyournuts at 1:45 PM on December 14, 2010

Has anyone mentioned "Real Genius?" Is that too out of date? I thought it was a fun one.
posted by Knowyournuts at 1:46 PM on December 14, 2010

Outbreak/Andromeda Strain

Both Innerspace and Fantastic Voyage are about people shrinking and wandering around the inside of someone's body and either would have to be the Platonic form fo waht your'e talking about.
posted by cmoj at 1:54 PM on December 14, 2010

Soylent Green
posted by Ideefixe at 1:57 PM on December 14, 2010

Seconding Fast Cheap and Out of Control, should provoke great discussion.
Never Cry Wolf, or something like Gorillas in the Mist, field biologist stuff?
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:13 PM on December 14, 2010

Real Genius is great but is more physics/CS focused.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:15 PM on December 14, 2010

The Andromeda Strain is really underrated. On a different note, The Swarm and Them.
posted by hermitosis at 2:24 PM on December 14, 2010

Planet Earth x eleventy jillion. David Attenborough's entire backlist, really.

I would agree with the recommendations to keep things fairly light.
posted by endless_forms at 2:25 PM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Life Story is a compelling docudrama (starring Jeff Goldblum & Juliet Stevenson, among others) about the discovery of the structure of DNA.
posted by lovermont at 3:01 PM on December 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

Hard one, bio wasn't my interest even when I was a science student, paid very little attention to.

Thirst This is the closest I could think of, there's virus and medical experiment in it.

These ones contain certain biology-related element, but very light-weighted
Blade Runner cyborgs
The Island clones
Mr. Nobody last human mortal's death in 2092
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde strange mutation
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button strange aging

A documentary that mentions mercury-poisining and Minamata disease.
The Cove
posted by easilyconfused at 6:50 PM on December 14, 2010

I should warn you that Thrist is very very dark comedy/thriller. It has a lot of blood and sex. I'm sure younger people would enjoy the movie, it's just a bit iffy for undergrad movie night. You could watch it yourself at home though, if interested.

The other movies mentioned are pretty harmless IMO. Check the parental advisory ratings for your country on IMDb
posted by easilyconfused at 7:04 PM on December 14, 2010

Gattica is a good one. However, have you shown Race For the Double Helix yet? That's a no-brainer.

And speaking of Jeff Goldblum and weakly bio-related movies, what about The Fly?
posted by overhauser at 7:07 PM on December 14, 2010

I actually control-F'd for Fly, and missed it in your original post. Sorry.
posted by overhauser at 7:11 PM on December 14, 2010

"Outbreak" is an irresponsibly unrealistic portrayal of outbreak investigation, molecular epidemiology, infection control, and medicine. (I would complain in more detail except then I would spoil the profoundly stupid ending for you.)

If you want a better movie about epidemiology and public health, "And the Band Played On" is very good, albeit dated. But most people wouldn't consider that biology.

Double feature of a Jacques Cousteau documentary and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou?

Or there's always Mansquito if you want to play it for laughs.
posted by gingerest at 8:42 PM on December 14, 2010

This is perhaps not as engaging as a fiction or a doc would be, but Science Is Fiction: 23 Films by Jean Painlevé is a true delight. Soundtrack by Yo La Tengo for added awesome.
posted by carsonb at 8:54 PM on December 14, 2010

Best answer: Business of Being Born is a great documentary, as is Grizzly Man

REC and it's remade American counterpart Quarantine

A Civil Action and/or Erin Brockovich or along the water vein -- Chinatown

Sunshine and Moon

Into the Wild
posted by Kronur at 11:14 PM on December 14, 2010

Great suggestions so far. This sounds like a great x-mas holiday, staying in bed, watching movies all day long idea for my own family. I'm chipping in with: Species! & of course the über trashy The Hidden.
posted by ouke at 1:00 AM on December 15, 2010

Response by poster: Thank you all for your suggestions so far! I am compiling a list today. Unfortunately, documentaries are now being nixed for lighter fare, but I definitely will be seeing a few of those on my own. Also, yes, the darker stuff will probably be passed over.

If we end up showing one of these, you'll get a Best Answer checkmark, redeemable at your local Good Karma™ store. Good luck, contestants!

No really, thank you. I have seen a lot of movies, but have trouble remembering the plot lines for many of them. For instance, someone suggested the movie Creator to me, and it wasn't until I read the plot summary that I realized I'd seen it on cable a few times when I was a kid. (I still don't remember it too well.)
posted by not_on_display at 9:39 AM on December 15, 2010

Nthing for Children of Men - it's dark but not depressing. Also Gattaca is so great!

Would Teeth count? Or too campy/b-movie? Definitely not as awful a concept as Human Centipede!
posted by radioamy at 10:35 AM on December 15, 2010

What about the Life Aquatic with Steve Zizzou? Marine biology!
posted by frecklefaerie at 12:32 PM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Hope it's not too late, but 'The Hellstrom Chronicle'', Antz (a bit of fluff), and 'Where the Green Ants Dream' come to mind.
posted by Kronos_to_Earth at 10:52 PM on December 21, 2010

Response by poster: The director of our department had recently seen Moon, is was in love with the movie, so that was the one chosen.

Thanks again to you all!
posted by not_on_display at 1:21 PM on January 18, 2011

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