Saturday, December 20, 2008

Biggest Movie Plot Holes, Volume 1

Okay so I like movies as much as the proverbial next guy.  In fact, unless I'm next to my roommate Dave or Harry Knowles and his crazy neck beard, it's likely that I like movies MORE than the next guy.  And because of that, I understand that they are movies.  They are fictional stories and the whole reason they're entertaining is BECAUSE they came from the imagination of some author or screen writer*.  If they were real, then they wouldn't be movies.  They would be our boring lives where we get up, eat, work, watch TV and sleep.  (Okay, so maybe that's MY boring life ... but anyway ...)  I get it.  It's not real.

With that said, I can't help but take issue with certain plot holes in movies.  Here's a couple.

The rules of Gremlins

In case you were born in the last 3 days, Gremlins is about an over zealous present-seeking father that goes into a shady-looking shop in "China Town" and pretty much steals a tiny creature from an old dude with a sweet beard.

Pops' loot from his theft is a creature (species: mogwai) that is eventually named "Gizmo" and he's the cutest thing alive.  But (shocker) we learn that it's not all fun and games with Gizmo.  Turns out you have to do more than walk Gizmo and let him out to pee before bed.  Here are the rules of owning a mogwai:
  1. Avoid exposure to direct sun light.  Descendant of vampires maybe?  
  2. Don't get him wet.  Interesting.  Sounds like this will be a little tricky.  Is he allowed to at least drink water?  What happens if some Jell-O accidentally drops on him?  Does that count as wet?
  3. Don't feed him after midnight.  Here's where I take issue.
As I already mentioned, I understand that I'm objecting to a single innocent (and plot-driving) piece of admnistrivia within a movie about a previously undiscovered species that is a fluffy biped male (I think?) living teddy bear that was shop-lifted out of China Town ...

But still ... don't feed him after midnight?  Are we talking Eastern time?  Greenwich mean time?  What happens on daylight savings day?  We're supposed to understand that mogwais have some sort of complex internal biological clock that actually keeps track of time by the hour?  Let's say Gizmo scores some frequent flyer miles and you take a flight from NY to AZ and you land in Phoenix 1AM AZ-time.  Can I feed the guy (girl?) or no?

And moreover, it's ALWAYS after midnight if you think about it.  It's 7:38pm right now ... which is ... after midnight from last night.  When does the clock reset?  6AM?  8AM?  Maybe mogwais like to sleep in and breakfast isn't usually until after noon.  

All I'm saying is I like rules and try to follow them.  You give me a mogwai as a gift ... and this kid is going to starve to death.  

In the end, none of this matters because (spoiler alert) wouldn't you know it, all of the rules end up getting broken in the movie and dang if what follows isn't exciting.  But still ... no food after midnight?  Impossible rule to follow, I say.

Doctor Octopus' demonstration in Spider-Man 2

The super villain is Spider-Man 2 is a nuclear physicist who eventually goes bonkers and tries to kill Spiderman (er, uh, spoiler alert - sorry, forgot).  But before losing it, the movie reveals that "Doc Ock" is actually trying to use his knowledge for good.  He's trying to use nuclear fusion to come up with un-ending energy.  The key word there is nuclear.  He's trying to learn how to control nuclear-level reactions.

And how do you prove your worth to Os-Corp (the company that's funding your research)?  Well you put on a demonstration of course and invite all your colleagues and a bunch of media members.  So he puts on this demonstration where he reveals the following:
  • He's developed 4 mechanical arms that are necessary to attain the nuclear reaction he's hoping to achieve.
  • These arms are "impervious to heat and magnetism."  Uh, wow, that sounds pretty impressive and useful.  I chuck these things into the sun and ... it's all good?  Dang.  Wait, what?  There's more?
  • The "smart arms" are attached to his body by something that appears to attach itself to each vertebrae in his spine.  You sure you're not a bio-chemist too, Doc?  Cuz that kind of interface doesn't sound easy to pull off.  Huh?  Still more?
  • The arms are controlled by his brain through a "neural link".  "Nano wires" feed directly into his cerebellum.  And THIS still isn't what you want to demonstrate today?  You think maybe you could pass those plans to me then?  Cuz I pass right by the patent office on my way home.  Oh, still more to show off?  Sorry for interrupting.
  • These arms will help him control a nuclear reaction inside an environment no human hand could survive in.  
Without taking a breath, Doc Ock just revealed arguably 4 scientific break throughs that would change the world as we know it.  Finally, one of the people observing this demo pipes up.  And what does this chick ask the doctor?  Well, let's list out all the questions she doesn't ask:
  • With this amount of ridiculous mind-blowing technology, what the crap do you need funding from Os-Corp for?
  • Seriously, you didn't even mention all the pins that stuck in your vertebrae.  What the hell, dude?
  • It's IMPERVIOUS to heat?  You sure you know what that word means?
  • So walk me through this.  You have the skill to create both a neural link and a material that's impervious to heat, but the only way you've figured out how to control a friggin' nuclear reaction is basically by MANUALLY taking control of 4 smart arms?  You have to drive this thing?
  • Oh, and here's a related question.  How long did it take you to learn how to control 4 extra appendages?  Is there some sort of course at the annex that teaches you how to triple the amount of arms your brain can control?  And we're not talking about using them to make a sandwich or even build a car.  We're talking about controlling fusion!
  • And finally, speaking of nuclear reactions, in the name of heat-impervious smart arms, why the hell are we about to try to set off a nuclear reaction in a flipping4th floor loft apartment in Man-flipping-hattan, New York?!  They didn't choose the location of Area 51 because of its natural beauty.  They picked it because they needed a place to.  Test.  Nuclear.  Reactions.
No no.  None of those.  What does she ask instead?  Something to the effect of ... "If those smart arms are so intelligent, what is to keep them from taking control of YOU?"  And THEN he points out the "inhibitor chip" that protects his "higher brain functions"!  I mean,  are screen writers taking crazy pills?!  She asks about the one plot element that will eventually be the key to Doc Ock turning evil?  It's the worst attempt at foreshadowing I've ever seen.  

Again, I know it's fake.  I know it's a movie about a guy that can stick to walls because he was bitten by a radioactive spider, but did they have to introduce the "inhibitor chip" via the most improbable question ever (given the circumstances) spoken by an extra that was probably off the set before lunch?  Not to mention that the inhibitor chip reveals that he has learned how to separate "higher" brain functions from "lower" brain functions and then translate which functions are which to some kind of computer AI!?  Was Ock going to skip over his 5th scientific revolution if she didn't ask?

What I'm trying to say here is ... know your audience, screen writers.  The people that are coming to see Spider Man 2 are not expecting to see something that resembles a documentary.  They're expecting to overpay for crappy popcorn and see some special effects.  You don't need to ground every plot point in reality.  And if you're going to try to do that, how about using some reality where all the demonstration observers freak out and run for their lives when they realize they're about to be blown to nuclear smithareens along with the rest of Manhattan?

P.S.  My favorite sci-fi movie is The Matrix: a movie based on the idea that we're all living in a big shared dream while our combined body heat is farmed to keep a civilization of robots alive.  Hypocrite?  Looks that way.

*Unless of course the movie is "based on true events," but I already ranted about that here.