Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Maths Teacher Goes to the Movies: Shrek The Third

(oh that it should come to this...)

Well, heck, what else is a maths teacher to do with their holidays?
And besides, who says maths teachers can't take an interest in popular culture? (I mean, who else kept the fashion flame burning for cardigans and corduroy jackets, if not us lot?) So every now and then, I'll be offering some movie reviews - from an educational perspective, obviously.

How's the movie?
It's fine. It's been pretty harshly reviewed as far as I can see, so I did go in with low expectations. But if - like the good Doctor Mark Kermode of Radio 5Live - your measure of a comedy is that it should make you laugh out loud at least five times, then this movie more or less fits the bill. Obviously there's a law of diminishing returns at work with most sequels - and indeed "threequels", and that's probably the case here. But I was never that much a fan of the first Shrek anyway, to be honest. I mean it was fine, but it wasn't that good. And it's the same here. Don't go in with high expectations, and you'll pass the time reasonably enough. Not exactly a ringing endorsement, but there you go.

How's the maths?
Well, I didn't really see much, which can't be much of a surprise. I guess the title of the movie is worth approving in that at least it doesn't do the silly "Alien cubed" approach. But disappointingly few mentions of differential equations... what is the world coming to?

Can I teach with it?
Well, I daresay a few teachers of other subjects will chuck this in the DVD to keep a class quiet at Christmas. But for maths teachers? Hmm... maybe a little project on the diminishing returns of sequels in terms of quality as mentioned earlier: find a formula for the quality indicator of an "n-quel", where n is a positive integer(*). Is the relationship one of exponential decay? Is it linear? Does Hollywood even care, when the cash register keeps ringing?

(*) Blimey, just realised, what with the business of "prequels", I suppose n could be negative too... and I suppose "Die Hard 4.0" introduces the idea of sequels being rounded to one decimal place. And I've sat through any number of irrational sequels...

I'll get my coat.


Mikael said...

So - seen any transcendental x-quels yet?

maths teacher said...

Well, I suppose people would argue that, say, Godfather Part II is (unusually) better than the original - though let's keep quiet about Part III - but I doubt you could ever say a sequel transcends the one before... unless you have any suggestions?

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