chris kilby -> What Are Your Favourite Plot Holes...? (11/8/2012 4:31:28 PM)
There’s been a lot of talk round ‘ere lately about “plot holes,” some of it quite heated if not downright outraged. Which is actually rather sweet if a bit baffling – It is only a movie after all. And you all know what movie I’m talking about…
So in a spirit of honest endeavour and genuine curiosity (and not just to mock the curious excesses of nitpicking fanboys – nosireebob!) I came up with this little wheeze:
What are your favourite plot holes? No, this isn’t another futile point-scoring exercise, it’s just a bit of fun. I’m talking about those endearing flaws in otherwise favourite films which make you stop and go: “Hang on a minute…!” but you are still prepared to overlook as you would (hopefully) overlook an imperfection in a loved one. Snoring, say. (Don't ask…)
And since it’s still topical, I may as well start with The Dark Knight Trilogy. But be warned, inevitably there be [SPOILERS!] here…
How did Alfred get Batman down off that roof after The Scarecrow zapped him with fear gas?
How come that “microwave emitter” thingie didn’t cook everyone who was anywhere near it while it was busy vaporising the city’s water supply?
Every riot cop in Gotham? Really…!?! Oh well, at least a filmmaker as clever as Christopher Nolan wouldn’t dream of pulling a stunt as dumb as that one ever again…
THE DARK KNIGHT
What became of The Joker and his hostages after Bats went out the window after Rachel?
How could Gordon plan to fake his own death unless he knew in advance that The Joker was going to shoot the Mayor at point blank range? Why not just arrest him then?
How did Bats know where Harvey Dent took The Joker’s goon to interrogate him afterwards?
Shouldn’t the South Korean smugglers who “skyhooked” Bats out of Hong Kong be able to positively ID him as Bruce Wayne?
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES
I think this one’s been covered…
Although, I would like to add: why didn’t Gordon just pin Harvey Dent’s crimes on The Joker? There weren’t any witnesses, it’s not like The Joker’s denials would be believed and ultimately he was responsible for them anyway. Sorted.
Having said that, the undeniable plot holes in Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy are nothing compared those in Tim Burton’s Tetley-tastic Bat-flicks. In Burton’s films generally – he’s notorious for it. He’s just not that kind of director. Mock-Goth whimsy is his thing and good luck to him. Cos if it’s “realism” or verisimilitude yer after, yer barkin’ up the wrong Goth!
How did Bruce Wayne know The Joker was going to shoot him in the chest? That nice (bulletproof?) silver tray wouldn’t have been much use if The Joker had shot him in the head.
How many times does Batman violate his “no killing” rule when he blows up Axis Chemical?
Where did those giant poison gas balloons end up? Metropolis?
The Batmobile seems to be pretty much invulnerable to damage - bullets, explosions, et al. So how is The Joker able to shoot down the Batwing with a handgun?
How does The Joker twig who Batman is? (“I was a kid when I killed your parents.” Say what!?!)
Where does he get those wonderful toys?
How does Selina Kyle survive that fatal fall with little more than a concussion-induced personality disorder and a handy bout of what appears to be invulnerability/nine lives?
How in the name of flip did the Penguin's goons ever get hold of the blueprints to the Batmobile!?!
Sorry, but which side of Two-Face’s fizzog is meant to be the good-looking one exactly…?
BATMAN & ROBIN
Why? Please, God – why?
And across all Bat-franchises, how come more people generally don’t twig who Batman is? He clearly has plenty of cash and a lot spare time on his hands which kinda narrows it down a bit. Batman either has a huge industrial concern (with military contracts up the kazoo) backing him or he’s the richest guy in the city. Or both – that’s a bingo! And as for motive...
By the same token, how come no-one ever notices that Clark Kent clearly IS Superman? I’ve heard about hidden in plain sight, but that really is ridiculous. Is everyone blind? Is that it? Do Clark’s glasses house some sort of Kryptonian cloaking device or “perception filter” which fools everyone? And, er, also works on photographs, etc? Aye, RIGHT!
(And while I'm on the subject, what drugs was Richard Pryor on when he survived that fall off Robert Vaughn's skyscraper in Superman III?)
Speaking of Superman (or Supereveryman), how does Bruce Willis survive that jump off the Nakotomi building without snapping his spine? How does he not bleed to death after walking over all that broken glass in his bare feet? Why didn’t the bad guys just follow his blood trail? And why does he insist on smoking throughout, thus giving the bad guys something to aim at? (Hasn’t he ever heard of what happened to smokers in the trenches of the First World War? Those things really will kill you!)
How does good old Sly manage to outrun and out-bellow a huge frickin’ fireball (in slo-mo, natch – it was the 90s!) while escaping an exploding/collapsing building with no explanation whatsoever as to how he achieves this amazing, if not downright superhuman, feat not once, but twice? With one leap he was free? That’s Superman not Demolition Man!
Speaking of Sly, how come Apollo Creed doesn’t whup Rocky’s white ass? As Wesley Snipes famously said – always bet on black. Unless you’re his accountant, obviously…
How does Ben Gardner’s head get back inside his boat? As a bemused Craig Kingsbury himself has pointed out, that was one conscientious shark, tidying up the ocean like that!
Christopher Nolan’s favourite film of all time is not without plot holes of its own. Not only is it famous for them, ironically it actually owes a lot of its longevity and mystique to them…
If, as Deckard himself says, it is so “unusual” for replicants to return to earth, how come hunting them down was his job? (Oh no you don’t. Don’t hit me with the whole “He’s a replicant”/false memory thing – how come there was an entire division of the LAPD dedicated to hunting them down too?)
If Bryant had the replicants’ rap sheets complete with photos then why did Holden need to V-K Leon to positively ID him?
Another movie which is a lot of Dick – Philip K Dick.
Why doesn’t the Pre-Crime Unit automatically invalidate Anderton’s retina ID the moment he’s fingered (oo-er) as a future murderer?
Why (after he’s gone to the bother of replacing his eyeballs and altering his face to avoid detection) doesn’t every alarm in Pre-Crime HQ go off the moment Anderton flashes his handy eye-in-the-bag ID?
How is Anderton’s wife (under surveillance as well, surely?) able to just breeze into a presumably maximum security prison (albeit a maximum security prison with just one guard in a wheelchair!) by using the exact same EYE-D trick?
Unless of course, in a suitably Dick-ish mind fuck, the murderer (the only character it could have been, incidentally) gets away with it and the rest of the film is just the incarcerated Anderton’s wish-fulfilment fantasy…
Obviously in creating a privacy-free world of all-pervasive round-the-clock surveillance, Spielberg and co must have realised they’d dreamt up the biggest nightmare in dramatic terms since the mobile phone and just hoped no-one would notice.
Oh aye, and if Witwer was so smugly sure that Burgess was guilty why did he hand him Anderton’s loaded gun? What a douche. You didn’t have to be a pre-cog to see that “twist” coming, BTW. Especially if, like Spielberg, you’d seen LA Confidential. Plus Witwer knew that the other pre-cogs couldn’t forsee murders without Agatha so he had no reason to feel “safe” because his own murder hadn’t been predetermined.
And it’s probably better not to mention all the annoyingly egregious thriller clichés which pepper the movie… Oh, alright then, just one. It’s bad enough that the otherwise meticulous (and foreign - natch) villain should give himself away so blatantly (“I didn’t say she drowned”) but why does Anderton’s wife have to point out to the murderer that he’s just given himself away? D’OH!
Ah’m tellin’ ye, if ma Dick had that many holes in it ah’d take it tae the doctor…
(PS: How does Colin Farrell keep getting work as an “actor”?)
Apart from the death of her daughter, Ripley doesn’t seem to suffer from any culture shock (or degenerative muscle-wastage) after waking up from her 57 year cryo-sleep. I think she’d have noticed a few changes which, given the exponential nature of technological advancement, is bound to be even more pronounced in the future, don't you? Imagine you’d woken up this morning after falling asleep in 1955. Like the Daily Mail...
If Weyland-Yutani knew about the alien all along why hadn’t they already acquired one? After 57 years the company seemed to have forgotten all about LV-426. Indeed, after the not-entirely satisfying events of Prometheus, it turns out the company has known about the aliens a lot longer than that. Like 1969 when Erich von Daniken published Chariots of the Gods?…
RETURN OF THE JEDI
How can the “armed and fully operational” second Death Star not generate its own shields? If it was all a trap, why did the Emperor give the rebels the location of the real shield generator? Why didn’t he set up a convincing dummy one?
(It’s the same reason Bane didn’t kill those cops – the good guys would have been stuffed if he had! The same way the rebellion and the Star Wars saga itself would have been had that Imperial gunner been doing his job right and shot down the escape pod with the droids and the Death Star plans in it at the start of the first film!)
Indeed if the Emperor is so bloody clever why did he waste the Empire’s precious time and resources building another Death Star with exactly the same design flaw as the original? And how much would it cost to actually build one of those things anyway?
THE STAR WARS PREQUELS
Having said that, if the Jedi were so clever, how come not one of them could sense who the Sith Lord was when he was standing right in front of them the entire time and couldn’t have been more obvious if he had a top hat and a waxed moustache or was stroking a white cat? Never trust a hippy, that’s what I say. Especially a hippy that wears karate pyjamas all the time!
Just how fick/gullible is Anakin Skywalker anyway? Dark Lord of The Sith, my Tauntaun! What a dumbass!
And speaking of dumbasses, why do fanboys bang on about Vader going “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!” when he finally realised that the Emperor has stiched him up like a cyborg kipper and he had fucked his life up beyond all redemption? What was he supposed to say – “FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!!!”?
YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE
How on earth did SPECTRE hollow out a volcano (!) and build a huge frickin’ – * ahem * - secret base inside it without anyone noticing? Can you even begin to imagine the manpower/logistics/sheer to-ing and fro-ing involved?
Indeed, how come 007 always just happens to get issued with just the right gadgets he’ll need to get him out of some very specific and unlikely jeopardy later on? How come he never has superfluous gadgets? (He always uses each one as though it were decreed by some predetermined plan or something!) How come he never says “Damn! If only I still had that exploding dildo thing from my last mission…”?
How is Bond still able to function/drive/shoot straight with all that booze he gets through? “The namesh Bond… Jamesh Bond. You’re my besht mate you are… * hic *” (Maybe that explainsh why Connery talksh like that!)
How come Bond isn’t maddened by syphilis or contracted any number of nasty STDs what with aw they women he’s shagged over the last 50 years? Somehow I doubt such an unreconstructed “misogynist dinosaur” is the safe sex type. Not with the amount of booze he gets through. Bastard! Lucky, lucky bastard! Apart from the syphilis, obviously.
And the real biggie, of course, is… Why don’t the bad guys just shoot him? And where would Austin Powers be if they did?
Why does everyone insist on calling Independence Day "ID4"? How wanky is that? It doesn’t even make sense!
How could humans fly a spaceship designed for eight foot pilots with tentacles? (“I don’t think the Empire had Wookiees in mind when they designed her, Chewie”!)
How on earth could you interface a laptop with an alien computer mainframe? And a 1996 model laptop at that when I’m lucky I can log on to EMPIRE without mine crashing like George Michael popping down to the garage for some munchies?
What would the death toll/long term environmental damage have been from all those ten mile wide spaceships dropping like flies out of the skies over the major population centres of the world? I reckon that would have finished the aliens’ job for them? I’m talking extinction-level event here – just look at that asteroid which took out the dinosaurs.
Doesn’t anyone think it’s a bit weird that a German likes indiscriminately blowing the shit out of America at every (im)possible opportunity – Godzilla, The Day After Tomorrow, 2012…?
And speaking of asteroids, don’t even get me started on ARMAGEDDON! (Armageddon outta here before ah ghie masel’ a fanboy coronary!)
How did that T-Rex manage to sneak up on those ‘Raptors at the end? On tip-claws? How did it get silently through the front door of the visitors’ centre in the first place? And who cares? How cool did it look anyway...?
THE LOST WORLD
How did that other T-Rex end up secure in the hold of the ship (The Venture – nice touch) after munching its way through the entire crew?
Why is there always a great, big, handy King Kong-sized door in the giant wall supposedly erected to contain him? In every version? Skull Island? Fuckwit Island, mair like!
THE BIG SLEEP
A famous one this – who shot the chauffer? Even the writers (including Chandler) didn’t know.
PLANET OF THE APES
How come Charlton Heston doesn’t notice the apes are speaking English? The MANIAC!
THE INVISIBLE MAN (AND ALL VARIATIONS THEREOF)
How come Invisible Men, Women and Kids aren’t all blind? Cos their retinas would be transparent too. And on a related question, why was The Hollow Man so shit? (Also, how did partial invisibility somehow render Kevin Bacon invulnerable to harm/fire/bullets/etc?)
All giant bug movies are impossible because of the nature of insect respiration – except Mimic which, uniquely, does actually address this. Also there’s the whole body mass/collapsing under their own weight issue.
Ah will look fer this film. Ah will find this film. An' ah will mercilessly rip the pish oot ae this film…
How is it the first person big Liam runs into at one of the busiest airports in the world just happens to be the guy who facilitated the kidnapping of his daughter? What were the odds of that happening, do you think?
How is it the one drugged-up, sex slave he rescues at random just happens to be the one who knows where his daughter is? Couldn’t have been that out of it, then.
Indeed, how come big Liam doesn't encounter any Scriptwriting 101 hurdles and just happens to run into precisely the right people at the right time, always picks the right door first time, etc at every plot juncture as he goes from A-B effortlessly negotiating this knowingly ridiculous if mindlessly entertaining film like he’s following a map or a script or something? Maybe The Force was still guiding him…
How come no-one seemed to realise that this film was surely taking the piss? Out of the Statham/Nuts-“reading” brigade who lap this sort of braindead shit up like Tony Montana on a coke-hoovering expedition mostly? But also, I suspect, out of American paranoia about foreigners? (It is, I think, a sly if knuckle-dragging satire of American foreign policy and xenophobia generally.)
And why was EMPIRE so uncharacteristically po-faced and sniffy about it in its unintentionally amusing review? And how long before Taken gets an imminent-sequel inspired reappraisal…?
On a more general note, how do movie characters routinely survive fatal car crashes without so much as a hair out of place? Similarly, how do they go crashing through windows and the like with nary a scratch? (For once I know what I’m talking about. I took a dive through a glass door when I was a teenager – 56 stitches. ‘Nuff said.)
But I’ve saved the biggest and best plot hole till last. And it’s a beauty. In fact, it’s more a plot black hole…
BACK TO THE FUTURE PART II
How is old Biff able to return to his own time in the stolen DeLorean? As soon as he gives young Biff the Sports Almanac in 1955, he irrevocably alters his own future along the same lines as the alternate, “hellish” Potterville-on-crack, Biff-dominated 1985 as well.
But that would have trapped Marty and Doc Brown in “their” future without the DeLorean and brought the Back to the Future trilogy to an abrupt halt of course with Biff triumphant in his own timeline. I think. Remember Doc Brown’s expository, diverging timeline/reality diagram on the blackboard? This one still gives me a sore head…
Anyway, that’s yer lot. I don’t want anyone thinking I’m some sad, anally-retentive geek with too much time on his hands. Er…
These are all mostly off the top of my head, BTW. There’s bound to be more to follow. But do feel free to join in – I’m sure there must be a lot more plot holes in Burton’s Bat-flicks, for instance. Or, in the spirit of t’internet, to nitpick my nitpicks to death if you like. I love a bit of irony, me!
Like I said, it’s just a bit of fun. There isn’t a film in the history of the cinema that you can’t play this game with. How come people rarely go to the toilet? (The last time I saw someone go to the bog in a movie was Batman Begins. Indeed, I have yet to see Batman take a dump - all those tedious Dark Knight Rises nitpickers are missing a trick there, surely?) Time was no-one ever locked their cars either. No film is perfect. They are all hopelessly flawed in some way or another. Therefore:
ALL FILMS ARE RUBBISH!!!
And it’s not just films. What about Shakespeare? (Why doesn’t Hamlet just kill Claudius?) Dickens? (How come all his novels depend on the most outrageous happenstance and coincidences? Why you’d think he was just making them up as he went along…) Dare I say, The Bible? (No, let’s not go there. I get into enough trouble with irate online types as it is already. Besides, there’s that episode of The West Wing…) All nonsense, obviously. All rubbish. Ah’m tellin’ yez, Will, Charlie and God were all lucky there wasn’t an internet back in their day!
Or is it all just a matter of the willing suspension of disbelief? Or, you know, plot mechanics. Although it occurs to me that some people are more willing to suspend their disbelief than others…
Hang on a minute? Wasn’t there an article like this in EMPIRE once? I know there was – It’s Only A Movie But… it was called – cos I wrote my first letter to the mag about it ten years ago. Yikes! Indeed, I based a lot of this thread on that very letter. Yet another obvious “plot hole” for the nitpickers to crow about. Knock yersel’s oot. Please!