In last week’s Roundtable, we looked at some of the TV clichés that annoy us the most. This week, let’s pick apart plot holes in popular movies.
Even otherwise good movies sometimes suffer plot holes. What we’re specifically looking for here are places where a movie’s script either contradicts itself or just plain doesn’t make sense. These are a lot more serious than simple continuity errors, such as when the cup of tea a character is holding switches hands from take to take. Little flubs like that are common byproducts of the filmmaking process, where actors have to repeat an action dozens of times and scenes are shot out of sequence. However, a fundamental flaw in a movie’s story is a usually a sign of sloppy writing.
Time travel movies almost always create paradoxes, but the one that bothered me the most is the obvious plot hole in ‘Back to the Future, Part III‘. Those of you familiar with the film will remember that the major problem after Marty arrives in 1885 is that an Indian put an arrow through the gas tank, allowing all the gas to leak out and, later, pretty much destroying the entire tank when Doc Brown tried a few explosive gasoline substitutes. The rest of the film is spent figuring out how to get the disabled DeLorean up to 88-mile-per-hour speeds.
But wait! Our genius Doc Brown has forgotten that there’s already a SECOND DeLorean in 1885. One with a perfectly fine gas tank, and possibly even some extra fuel inside. It’s the one he arrived in 1885 in and buried in the cave for Marty and 1955 Doc to uncover. So why not just switch DeLoreans, knowing that 1955 Doc will be able to fix the gas tank in that one with 1955 technology? Hey, maybe leave a note inside about bringing some extra gasoline while he’s at it? 1885 Marty can then take the intact DeLorean and get back home quickly – with no train tracks, and no train to smash the DeLorean to pieces upon his return to 1985.
Oh well, I guess that would have made for a very SHORT movie.
As soon as the poor saps in ‘Jurassic Park‘ enter the T-Rex paddock, we know they’re screwed, but they shouldn’t be. Why? Well, because the place where the T-Rex rips through the fence is where there should be a very large wall. Right after the T-Rex simply steps out of the paddock, it pushes the Ford Explorer over the barrier where it falls a considerable distance before being caught by a tree. Where was that wall a minute ago?
This makes for a great suspense sequence, but the T-Rex shouldn’t have been able to easily step out of its enclosure. Also, with such a steep drop-off, how would any visitors to the park be able to see the T-Rex to begin with?
This might seem like a continuity error at first, but the plot of the movie hinges on this scene. It leads the movie to where it goes. It greatly affects the characters and where the plot goes forward from that point.
Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)
It’s a safe bet that anyone reading this has the three rules in ‘Gremlins‘ seared into their brains. How much have you really thought about them, though? Okay, you can’t feed a Mogwai after midnight. These creatures are presumably from some impossibly distant land, though. Why are they attuned to Eastern Standard Time? When is it safe to feed a Mogwai again?
Water causes gremlins and Mogwai alike to multiply, but beer doesn’t cause them to reproduce, nor does stomping through town during a friggin’ snowstorm! Maybe I’m thinking about this too much.
When it comes plot holes, the ‘Star Trek’ franchise isn’t exactly a tight ship, but the latest films take the porous plots to their least solvent.
My specific choice is one of the most noticeable problems with ‘Star Trek into Darkness‘, even for those just barely paying attention to the movie. Multiple scenes build up the magic properties of Khan’s elixir blood. Meanwhile, other scenes go on about the 72 torpedoes, each holding one of Khan’s other genetically-enhanced crewmembers, who presumably have similar blood. So, rather than desperately chase Khan for a blood sample, why don’t McCoy, Spock and Scottie just open up a torpedo?
Now, magic blood may be a dumb gimmick, but by the logic of this movie’s plot, there’s so much magic blood available it might as well come out of a replicator.
The first ‘Terminator’ movie establishes that only living organisms can travel through the time portal, which is why the human resistance fighters must travel naked and can’t bring weapons with them. The Terminator cyborgs can only come through if their metal endoskeletons are covered in a shell of organic flesh. So how does the entirely liquid metal T-1000 in ‘Terminator 2‘ get through?
I still love the movie, but the whole plot kind of falls apart if you ask this question.
Tell us in the Comments about big plot holes that have bothered you in popular movies.