10 Films That Actually Got Biology Right

The movies that actually did their homework. 

Contagion Gwyneth Paltrow
Warner Bros.

The representation of science in cinema has always been questionable. Too many times, films deem it good enough to just chuck some buzzwords in like "quantum" and "cloning" to justify completely nonsensical plots that are often nowhere near the realms of possibility.

And I hate to break it to filmmakers, but scientists see right through this.

Out of all the scientific disciplines, a strong case can be made for Biology being the most shafted by Hollywood. We get it, screenwriters, your priority is to make the film exciting, and you don't fancy bogging it down with clunky terms and exposition.

Still, all we ask is to do better than have someone in a lab coat shout "gene editing" a few times before proceeding to do whatever you want (yes Rampage, especially you). While you're at it, maybe you could do away with the stereotypical scientist portrayals as well?

The thing is, biologists actively root for these films; a good representation can highlight the field they love. All that's needed is a genuine attempt to respectfully include key concepts without using them as a get out of jail free card. Not only can it be done, but it's already been done, and here's the evidence.

10. Slime Mould - Life

Contagion Gwyneth Paltrow
Columbia Pictures

Life is a perfect example of how to integrate biology into a film production without it taking centre stage. With the simple concept of an alien organism wreaking havoc on a spaceship, many life scientists recognised the instigating life form's design, as it's grounded in some interesting biology.

The alien in question was actually based on an organism called Dictyostelium, a type of slime mould routinely used as a model system in molecular biology. Biologists were fascinated by the ability of individual cells to come together at specific points in their life cycle to form 3D spore-like structures that act as a single unit.

So, consulting scientists suggested that the production should base the alien on this. The two groups then developed the idea further to create an entity that's visually interesting, where its hive-like mentality provides a distinctly unique threat.

The production also had a medical expert guiding them on set through certain scenes, which is always good practice. A scene involving a cardiac arrest (where a heart stops beating) came off as particularly impressive, with the expert drafted in describing it as "about as faithful as one could be". This is exactly how to make sci-fi plausible yet exciting.


Born in the Med but made up north. Loves a cheesy action flick almost as much as the walk back to the seat after another round of karaoke