Hello again. Today I thought I’d break with the norm and do another “best of” post. Thing is, this time around I didn’t want to do one dedicated to “best lines” or anything like that. No, today I thought I’d tackle some of the worst moments in movie history. And if there’s one thing I’ve noticed plenty of in my collection of bad reviews, it’s plot holes! Those rare moments that make you stop and say “Uh… what?” Or the kind that make you want to reach out, grab the director by the ears and say “That makes no f@!%@%$ sense! What the hell were you thinking?” Not literally, of course. That’d be creepy, Kathy Bates in Misery creepy.
So, with that in mind, and inspired by all the moments that have made me – and I’m sure others – want to pull out my hair, here’s a list of some of the worst plot holes and oversights I have ever seen. Yep, its a veritable “best of the worst”! And who knows? This might just become a regular thing. There’s certainly no shortage of material. And on the chopping block for today: Independence Day, Terminator: Salvation!, and Equilibrium!
As far as plots go, this movie was a doozy. In fact, it was lot more enjoyable if you checked your brain at the door and didn’t ask too many questions. But, inevitably, at some point you had to pick your brain up, reinstall it, and deal with all the logical inconsistencies it was sure to raise. Here were the one’s that came to my mind:
The Signal: Remember how Jeff Goldblum, a cable man, picked up on that alien signal, the binary code that was being transmitted using Earth’s satellites? Remember how NO ONE ELSE noticed the same thing? That’s right, the guy who installs your HBO noticed something that all the cryptologist and covert brains at the CIA, NSA, and NASA did not. But of course, Director/Writer Roland Emmerich had that one covered. Apparently, the signal was “subtle!”
Backdraft: This is a minor point, but it was still insulting! During the aliens’ assault on LA, Vivica A Fox, her son, and their dog Boomer were all trapped in a freeway tunnel. Whereas most people were consumed by the fire, they survived by hiding in a workman’s shed. Only problem with this is, the fireball went right by the open doorway and left them untouched. Funny, I always thought fire expanded to fill empty spaces. Forgot about the shed exception!
Small World: Remember how Will Smith managed to fly a commandeered helicopter into LA after the aliens leveled it to retrieve Vivica A Fox and her son? Yeah, how did he find them exactly? And what the hell happened to all those alien ships that were shooting down anything that flew? More importantly, how did Vivica A Fox manage to find the First Lady and the downed White House helicopter? Come to think of it, this movie was full of these kind of unlikely reunions! Why, for example, did Will Smith decide to wander to Area 51, hundreds of miles away from his airbase and where he got shot down? Was it just because the president and several other main characters happened to be there? And how is it that the big caravan of mobile homes, with Quaid and his family in it, manage to meet up with him in the middle of the desert? How small is LA? Or the Nevada Desert for that matter?
The Plan: Remember how Goldblum came up with the big world-saving plan towards the end? The one that involved planting a computer virus in the mother ship, yadda yadda yadda… Yeah, how did he manage to figure out how to crack the alien’s technology? We’re talking about a race with vastly superior technology. So not only was a cable man able to detect an alien signal that the best minds at NASA, the CIA and NSA could not, he was also the only one who could figure out how to bring them down. Oh yeah, and how does Will Smith know how to fly an alien ship? He saw one in combat… I’ve seen fighter jets in combat, does that mean I can fly one of those? I’d like to think so! Emmerich raised the holes in this one too, but he dismissed them by putting them in the mouth of a douche bag character who we weren’t likely to listen to! Seriously, by the time he was done bitching about the logical inconsistencies of this plan, we were ALL hoping he’d be fired. And then he was… yay!
The Mother Ships: Remember those big alien ships that had shields that could withstand nukes? Remember how when they went down, the US airforce started ripping one to shit with their missiles? Same with the alien fighters, they blew right up when hit with mere bullets. Seems odd… you’d think solid metal hulls that are capable of withstanding the intense pressure and heat of space flight and atmospheric entry would be able to withstand bullets and air to air missiles. Granted they DID say they weren’t doing ENOUGH damage, but the fact that they were doing much at all was a bit of a surprise. But that wasn’t nearly as odd as the stunt Randy Quaid pulled. Remember how the big alien ships had those big alien ray guns, the ones that could level entire cities? Yeah, turns out that if you fly a single jet into the barrel of one, the entire ship will explode… How the hell does that work?! Does putting your finger in the barrel of a gun make the gun explode? No, it makes your finger explode as the bullet rips through it and anything else in the way! And this was with a freaking city-leveling laser! In short, Randy Quaid’s plane should have exploded harmlessly beneath the gun, not blown the whole ship up! But that would have been way less heroic… Funnier, but less heroic.
Man that was a stupid movie! Fun, but stupid!
Here was a movie that started off good but got real messed up towards the end! Yep, as soon as they dropped the hammer and revealed everything, you got to see how little sense this sequel really made. I tell ya, it had so many holes, you’d think a Terminator took a gatling gun to it!
The List: So the machines made a hit list in this movie with Kyle Reese’s name at the top and Conner’s not far behind, right? And they also created a man-machine hybrid in the form of Marcus, right? And their plot all along was to have him help them kill Reese and Conner so they would win the war, right? Right! So… why the hell didn’t he just kill them? What was the point of delivering Reese and Conner into their lair if the goal was to kill them all along? That’s like the long-movie equivalent of a villain putting James Bond into some complicated death machine instead of just shooting him! It’s like, if you want him dead, why put him in a situation he can actually get out of? You’re life not challenging enough as it is? Especially with Reese, Marcus had him at gunpoint twice within the first thirty minutes! First time when he stole his shotgun, second time when he was showing him how to hold said shotgun. Boom! Movie’s done! But instead, we get a big convoluted plot where they end up being captured, apparently thanks to Marcus, when it seemed like all he was doing from the beginning was try to help them!
“That was our plan all along!”: Marcus spent the first portion of the movie wandering from the desert to the ruins of LA. There, he met (totally by coincidence) Kyle Reese. Reese and his little friend were captured IN SPITE of Marcus’ efforts to protect them, not because of them. Marcus then found John Conner (again, purely by coincidence), and convinced him to let him go to Skynet’s base so he could save them. John then went to that base to save Reese as well because the resistance was planning on attacking it. So really… how was Skynet orchestrating all this from the beginning? Seems to me that everything that happened up until this point was well beyond its control. Contrived? Hell yes! But saying that this all be part of some master plan doesn’t make it any less so. If anything, it’s just a weak-ass attempt at justifying these contrivances by tying them all together.
The Future: How did Skynet know that Conner would somehow come to defeat it? How did it know that Reese was his father? Finally, how his did it know that it had failed repeatedly to “get John Conner” in the past? The only way Skynet could have known how the future would work out is if someone told it, just like how Conner knew about the future because his mother told him (and she was told by Kyle Reese). In short, someone who has actually been there needs to come back and tell you. And that bits ruled out by the fact that all three Terminators that came from the future were destroyed. So really, how does Skynet know a thing about this whole temporal thing? It got a crystal ball, some kind of device that can see the future? Nuh-uh!
Chip in the neck: If Skynet wanted to control Marcus, which apparently they were doing all along (though he didn’t know it and it really didn’t seem like they were), why do it through a chip he could easily remove? Why put the damn chip in his neck? Why not his brain? Just like with the whole delivering Reese and Conner to them, this seemed like an easily fixable situation. Rip, rip! Problem solved! Remember how Skynet said to Marcus, “You cannot save John Conner”? Well… yeah, actually he could! And thanks to Skynet’s stupid, convoluted planning, that was exactly what he did!
The Machine HQ: Did you notice how at the end of the movie, the Resistance people just show up and pull Conner, Reese and Marcus out of the base? Didn’t that seem remarkably easy? What about those gun towers and other defenses we just saw? What happened to those? Were they just for show? And if it was this easy, why couldn’t they have done it way back when and shaved a couple years off the war?
Temporal Paradox thingy: We know from the first and second movie that Conner exists because Reese went back in time and had sex his mother. We also know that he didn’t go back in time until after they broke into the machine HQ, presumably in 2029, destroyed Skynet and discovered the time machine. But in this alternate future, where Judgement Day happened later and the Resistance destroyed Skynet sooner (2018), there was no time travel to speak of. Sure they shamelessly and senselessly said that the war was still on because Skynet’s “global network” was still out there, but if Skynet is gone before it built its time machine, wouldn’t that mean that no time travel ever took place, and John Conner therefore wouldn’t exist? Think about it! Conner exists because Reese had sex with his mom, but if Skynet was destroyed 11 years before he was supposed to go back in time, then it would never have built the time machine, Reese would never have gone back, and Sarah Conner would never have gotten pregnant with him. Come to think of it, the same holds true of the Terminators and even Judgement Day! No time machine, no Terminators going back, no basis for Skynet’s creation… Whoa! I just went cross-eyed!
Wow, that’s a lot of holes. Am I being too harsh? I mean, I wanted to like this movie. Really, I did! But it made it just so damned hard!
Worst for last! This movie had holes so big a truck could pass through them! Seriously, by the end, you were taking stock of them all and realizing that they essentially rendered the entire premise moot. Where to begin…
Cleric Extraordinaire: So the movie starts with us being told that Bale’s character is like the prodigal son of Grammaton Clerics (not too subtle reference to the movie’s religious tone here!). Way he puts it, he’s always been able to get inside “sense offenders” (sex offenders!) heads and know how they think. And yet, this guy not only failed to notice his wife was an offender, but his children too! Turns out, she was loving him in secret for years, and the kids stopped taking their Prozium after she was hauled off to be incinerated. So really, that means he was living in a house full of offenders for years and didn’t even notice! If he’s the best they got its little wonder why they lost to the Underground!
“Don’t lie to me!”: There are countless examples of people who are supposed to be emotionless showing emotion in this movie. Taye Diggs does much of that with his constant smiling, but by far the worst was Angus MacFadyen’s huge outburst. Seriously, how did Bale’s character not notice that? I know, truth was he was never taking his Prozium, but that’s not supposed to be common knowledge. You’d think he’d be a bit more subtle than to slam his fist down on a table and yell at someone. Especially a man who is specially trained to seek out and kill the kinds of people who do that. But then again, this is the same guy who didn’t notice that his wife and kids were offenders, and they were doing it for years. Yeah, he’s safe!
Gun Switch: Ah, yes! The scene where Bale switches guns with Diggs, and then frames him for the murder he already committed by using his gun to do it. Wait, what? Yeah, that’s how it played out in the movie. Bale framed Diggs for the murder of several officers of the state by (apparently) using his gun to do it. Problem is, he didn’t swap guns with him until AFTER the event. Only way this would make sense was if he already switched them, committed the murders, and was just giving him his own weapon back at this point. That would have worked just fine. All that would be needed is an added scene or a flashback showing Bale how stole his gun beforehand. The other way, the way it happened in the movie, makes no damned sense! Sloppy stuff like that makes the audience think someone in the editing booth was either asleep at the wheel or high! Maybe they had the right idea!
“We planned this”: By the end, Bale is about to meet “The Father”, but realizes he’s been had. Turns out, his nemesis Diggs is alive, his whole mission to find the Underground was a ruse, and he himself was selected because apparently they thought he was a latent sense offender and just hadn’t realized it yet. Uh… how did they know this exactly? I mean yes, he did BECOME a sense offender, but that was the result of an accident! He somehow forgot to stock up on Prozium, broke his last vial, and the damn pharmacy was closed! That’s how it all began, the result of an unlikely, totally implausible accident. So really, how could they have foreseen this and planned it all out? Man, its just like what Terminator: Salvation did, except Wimmer did it sooner! Note to all writers and directors out there, DON’T IMITATE KURT WIMMER! I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but his movies aren’t exactly getting nominated for most original screenplay!
“I Feel!”: By the very end, we learn that MacFadyen, the true leader of Libria, is himself a sense offender. Makes sense in a “we ripped off” 1984 kind of way, the leaders are hypocrites who don’t follow their own rules. But really, this means that the head of this dystopian state has been breaking the rules all along and no one seemed to have noticed. Either that or all his colleagues in government were doing the same, how else could he have gotten away with it? With all the Clerics, informants and surveillance devices they have out there monitoring for offenders, wouldn’t it have been really easy to spot a public figure exhibiting emotion? Am I over-thinking the bit? Probably. At this point, the movie is over anyway so who the hell cares?
Man that was a stupid movie. No, no addendums to that statement – like it was still fun, so long as you checked your brain at the door. It was just a stupid, stupid movie!
Well, that’s all for now. I could go on, but I’m already in a bad mood just thinking about all these plot f$@*-ups! Quite frankly, I’d like to get back to reviewing books or movies that I actually enjoyed. And seeing as how I finally got my hands on a copy of Idoru, I think I’ll do just that. Stay tuned!