Ridiculous things that movies always get wrong

12:00 pm EDT, November 21, 2012

A lot of movies are unbelievable. However, sometimes they just get things plain wrong. In this opinion piece, Richard looks at some of the less obvious (yet no less ridiculous) things that crop up time and time again.

There’s something to be said about a good story. Actually, there is more to be said about a bad story than a good one, but that contradicts with my opening narrative. But while we’re on the topic, have you ever noticed that the longest reviews and critiques are generally negative? Isn’t it odd that we enjoy criticism more than appreciation? Clearly there is something odd from an evolutionary standpoint that enlightened humans revel in masochism, albeit in an intellectual way. Anyway, getting back to good stories.

I’m talking about the kind of tale that gives you a strange tingling deep in your stomach containing a mixture of apprehension and exhilaration. It’s really a conflict between wanting to get to the end of a story and not wanting the story to end. One of the few good conflicts in life; the only other one I can think of is deciding whether to leave the job you love for another one that is a bit duller but pays 10x more and gives you a free helicopter. If that tingling is closer to nausea, then you’re more likely to be hungover than exhilarated. On the other hand, if you’re watching say, The Shawshank Redemption, and you get nothing from it emotionally, then you’re probably just dead inside. Finally, if that tingling is a bit further down from your stomach, then you probably aren’t consuming a good story, but instead watching pornography.

What really fascinates me is that we’re fully willing to abandon all plausibility when we’re gripped in something, whether it be a film or a book or television episode. We know (or at least should know) when reading something completely fictitious (Harry Potter, Twilight, the Bible, etc) that the plot is out-with the realms of probability or even possibility, yet we pursue the fantasy with energy and gusto.

There are, however, some regular occurrences (particularly in the movies) that I want to focus on which simply defy all logic, belief and credibility yet no one seems to bat an eyelid or even notice. Before we begin, I know what you’re probably thinking. “Can’t you just enjoy movies for what they are and be done with it?” … “Weren’t you JUST moaning about everyone in journalism complaining all the time a mere three paragraphs ago?” … “Are you THAT much of a killjoy?” … “I didn’t actually like The Shawshank Redemption, but now that you’ve mentioned pornography. Hmmm…” and so on. Well, yes. These are all true, but allow me to paint a picture for you…

Professionally, I’m a scientist. I work in an academic institution where I’m expected to make claims and back them up with sufficient evidence. If I say something unsubstantiated, the first response I typically hear is, “prove it!” Scepticism, it seems, is contagious. A questioning, inquisitive and arguably narcissistic mind has been instilled into me, and it has boiled over from the test tube of science and into the dubious world of entertainment.

7 things that movies always get wrong:

Massive Explosions in Space

Virtually every science fiction movie ever made makes this glaring error. When the Death Star blows up at the end of Star Wars, there is a massive boom with sparks and fire and debris and so on. This is all nonsense. It’s nonsense in Star Wars, nonsense in Star Trek, nonsense in The Avengers and nonsense in everything else. I can accept that say, in the future, mankind has found a way to make space travel a regular occurrence. I can accept that we interact with alien life. I can even accept that the aliens seem to speak English. This isn’t impossible, just highly improbable. What IS impossible is to see flames of any kind in space. Why? Because flames require oxygen to burn and there is no oxygen in space. And there is no boom either. Sounds require air to travel and as we’ve just learnt, no air means no loud explosions.

This might not bother you, but I wince each time I see one of the fundamental laws of physics essentially shat over in each sci-fi movie. Imagine you were watching something really terrible like My Best Friend’s Wedding. I know, it’s a horrible thought, but bear with me. Now imagine that as Julia Roberts’ character starts singing “I Say A Little Prayer” at the wedding reception, she started hovering in mid-air instead, then a pink unicorn crawled out of her massive, massive mouth. This is exactly how ridiculous it is to have an explosion in space, yet somehow, if a floating Julia Roberts in the middle of a romantic comedy transpired, your gut instinct would not be to admire the wonderful special effects but instead to ask “Why?” You might even raise an eyebrow.

Reason: Explosions look cool. It IS possible to have a small and very instant ignition if a massive ship was to blow up, from the oxygen inside the ship. However, that oxygen would burn up in a fraction of a second in the vacuum of space.

Humanoids in Space

While we’re on the topic of space, let me point out another ridiculous notion, and that’s the general assumption that aliens have a slight (often profound) resemblance to humans. Our own particular species wasn’t just planted on this planet the way we are now. We’ve evolved over millions of years of gradual, non-random change and along the way, we’ve developed the tools that we need to survive.

Our distant cousins, for example, didn’t walk on their hind legs like we do now but on all fours. Our legs have grown stronger and stronger as we gradually made more use of them. Our bodies’ intake of oxygen and output of carbon dioxide (which subsequently fuels other life) developed to become a seamless process. Why aliens would share this is simply ludicrous.

Why would one assume that aliens have noses (or can even smell)? Perhaps on their home planet, it favoured their species from an evolutionary standpoint to eat through their anus. Perhaps they don’t even have an anus. Perhaps their entire “body” for lack of a better word is just one giant anus. Come to think of it, that seems rather efficient doesn’t it? One organ that eats, sniffs, breathes and poops.

Reason: Set and prop designers lack imagination. And for some reason, we’re apparently more likely to identify something as an alien if it’s closer looking to humanity than not.

Knocking someone unconscious

How many times has James Bond refrained from killing someone (how gracious), instead given them a quick chop to the face, rendering them unconscious? Sometimes they wake up later but generally the movie just moves on and we assume that the victim will recover from Bond’s assault. He kindly allowed them to live. Ehhh, I’m afraid not.

People do get knocked unconscious in real life all the time, but it generally only lasts for a few seconds at most. Any longer and it’s typically called something different: a coma. Yes, all those times John McClain or Jason Bourne left someone “asleep,” they weren’t being humane at all. They were giving those poor people a likely dose of brain-damage and probably a very upset wife to top it off. Fiends!

Reason: You can punch someone unconscious and still get your movie listed as a PG-13, however, if you start shooting people, then that’s much more likely to up the censor’s rating.

Rationality will detonate in T minus 4 minutes

For some unknown reason, it’s customary for a (stupid) ship’s computer to tell us that the space ship, or secret base or bomb will blow up in “T minus 60 seconds,” or some other value of time. Why? Who knows. T stands for time. Therefore, if the ship is to explode in T (Time) minus four minutes, that means the ship has already exploded four minutes ago! This phrase is used time and time again, yet no one seems to spot this glaring logical error. Funny how the ship’s computer is sufficiently well programmed to be able to initiate a self-destruct mechanism, yet the simple task of telling the time is beyond it. The ship’s computer SHOULD be telling us that detonation will happen in T plus four minutes, however, let’s be honest, this isn’t that useful either.

If I’m unfortunate enough to be on a vessel somewhere that is about to be incinerated, the last thing I want is an incorrect countdown. Quite frankly, clarity is a must. Instead, I want a loud shouting voice that repeatedly warns, “RUN! THIS SHIP IS ABOUT TO BLOW UP BUT THERE WILL BE NO EXPLOSION AS WE’RE IN SPACE, BUT YOU’RE STILL GOING TO DIE FROM IT! FOR GOODNESS SAKE, RUN! ARGHHH!” Or better still, ships that don’t self-destruct at all. That’s probably easier for all concerned.

Reason: The term comes from NASA, when they say “launch in T minus 60 seconds” where T stands for “Takeoff.” T actually makes sense in this context, but ever since Ridley Scott (incorrectly) used the phrase in Alien, it took on a new meaning and other screenplay writers started using the term without wondering what it meant.

The Elevator Hatch

Whenever an elevator breaks down in a movie or TV programme, someone invariably pushes open a hatch on the roof and climbs up in fear that it might plummet to the floor. I’ve been looking for a hatch in an elevator for 25 years and I’ve yet to see one. Have you?

Secondly, what do they expect to find up there? It’s a shaft. The only way is up because the elevator is blocking your way down and as I pointed out earlier, you can’t just randomly hover upwards (unless you’re still imagining my image of Julia Roberts in My Best Friend’s Wedding). You may as well climb back down the imaginary hatch and wait for the rescue to arrive.

Thirdly, the elevator will never just plummet to the ground because like any moving object, it has brakes.

Reason: The hatch seemingly provides a story-arc for whatever follows it. No other reason can be attributed to this nonsense.

Childbirth

Movies always seem to romanticise childbirth. There is always a lot of screaming, and then a loving mother embraces her newly born child. For some reason, such fictional births never seem to include the part where the woman shits herself. Yes, you read that correctly. Most women tend to defecate during birth; it is natural, albeit unpleasant. As a result, I suspect a new mother’s first reaction isn’t to hug her new child, but for someone to very quickly wipe off the faeces that is now dripping down her legs and smelling quite badly.

Another more unpleasant part of childbirth: it’s actually quite common for doctors to make a small cut in a woman’s vagina, giving the baby’s head more room. This is also perfectly routine. However, when Rachel gave birth to her baby in Friends, at no point did a doctor come along with a scalpel and slice an extra inch down her woman-bits. Perhaps this is a bit too much realism for Jennifer Aniston to convey in her acting? One does struggle to find a good expression for illustrating one’s torn vagina.

Reason: If we showed the unromantic side of childbirth in the media, we might put mothers off of having babies which might endanger our human race? I’m sure something stupid like this crossed the mind of the TV producer or film director.

Computer Hacking

This one is my absolute favorite (or most hated, depending on which way you look at it). Firstly, the idea that one can hack into some government agency from an HP laptop in around 11 seconds by pressing lots of keys very quickly, and secondly, the wonderfully elaborate user-interfaces that the computer seems to have on its monitor showing bright colors, wavy lines and moving shapes.

If the aim is to gain access to someone else’s computer (like Q was trying to do in the new James Bond movie), why on earth did he or anyone else spend a seemingly massive amount of time making the process look so pretty? Surely that’s just counter-intuitive AT BEST, given all these moving shapes are going to be a bit of a distraction when you’re desperately trying to guess someone’s password.

Reason: Movies try to make computer hacking seem cool and sophisticated. The reality is most hackers are middle-aged men, considerably overweight, and sitting in front of a screen with just a lot of text on it and nothing else (because pretty much all hacking is done on a command line). Go to hackertyper.com, type really fast and see how movies fake it.

These are just some of the many things that bug me when watching a film or TV episode. I’m not at all advocating that movies should be based firmly in reality because then the magic of fantasy would be lost forever. However, I think (due to movies) that we sometimes forget just what is and isn’t real.

Most importantly, now you know how difficult it can be for scientists to go to the cinema. It turns out, people sitting next to you find it rather irritating when you’re scoffing at something every seven minutes.

The final 10 episodes of Pretty Little Liars will air starting in April 2017.

The news was announced via Facebook Live by the Pretty Little Liars creator, Marlene King, along with the stars of the show, Troian Bellisario, Ashley Benson, Lucy Hale, Shay Mitchell, and Sasha Pieterse. You can still watch the video on the official Pretty Little Liars Facebook page.

The conclusion of the show has been rumored for quite a while now, with King even stating earlier in the year that season 7 would likely be the end of Pretty Little Liars “as we know it.” However, up until now, speculation continued about how the show could potentially continue past its seventh season.

Read full article

The final 10 episodes of Pretty Little Liars will air starting in April 2017.

The news was announced via Facebook Live by the Pretty Little Liars creator, Marlene King, along with the stars of the show, Troian Bellisario, Ashley Benson, Lucy Hale, Shay Mitchell, and Sasha Pieterse. You can still watch the video on the official Pretty Little Liars Facebook page.

The conclusion of the show has been rumored for quite a while now, with King even stating earlier in the year that season 7 would likely be the end of Pretty Little Liars “as we know it.” However, up until now, speculation continued about how the show could potentially continue past its seventh season.

A possible film was previously discussed as an option to end the series, but that seems to be off the table now. The series finale will now be a “two-hour, drama-filled television event.”

As for what we can expect for the final 10 episodes of Pretty Little Liars, it will “continue to be filled with homecomings and reunions.” We’ve already seen so many familiar and forgotten faces in season 7, so it will be nice to be able to say a final goodbye to even more characters.

On top of the returning characters, we can also expect a wedding! Obviously Ezria is the couple to watch for this, since they recently got engaged, but you never really know with Pretty Little Liars.

The summer finale of Pretty Little Liars season 7 is airing tomorrow, August 30, so we will have a long wait before the final 10 episodes air in April 2017.

The series finale will be followed by the premiere of Marlene King’s new series, Famous In Love. If you need a Pretty Little Liars fix after the show ends, this may be a good show for you to check out!

Famous In Love will be another one-hour drama that will supposedly “put the spotlight on the dark side of fame.” It is based on the novel of the same name, written by Rebecca Serle.

How do you feel about ‘Pretty Little Liars’ ending with season 7?

Behind-the-scenes looks at next year’s live-action Beauty and the Beast continue to leak off the animated film’s 25th Anniversary Edition, arriving in September.

Today we have four new previews. This one’s a particular doozy because we get to see a first look (sort of) at Emma Watson as Belle, who has yet to be unveiled in full. The dress she’s wearing in this concept art may be best remembered from the animated movie for its appearance in the scenes surrounding the song “Belle”:

beauty-and-the-beast-belle-emma-watson

Read full article

Behind-the-scenes looks at next year’s live-action Beauty and the Beast continue to leak off the animated film’s 25th Anniversary Edition, arriving in September.

Today we have four new previews. This one’s a particular doozy because we get to see a first look (sort of) at Emma Watson as Belle, who has yet to be unveiled in full. The dress she’s wearing in this concept art may be best remembered from the animated movie for its appearance in the scenes surrounding the song “Belle”:

beauty-and-the-beast-belle-emma-watson

Three pieces of concept art appear to have been drawn up for the costume department. We’re also getting a look at Gaston (Luke Evans) and Mrs. Potts (Emma Thompson):

beauty-and-the-beast-mrs-potts

beauty-and-the-beast-gaston

Finally, we have a shot of Luke Evans and a woman rehearsing a dance scene that appears to take place on top of a table. In the background you can see additional concept art depicting Mrs. Potts (in kettle form), Chip, and a piano (who might be played by Stanley Tucci and named Cadenza):

beauty-and-the-beast-belle

Last week we got to see several other first looks from this same behind-the-scenes featurette, including Dan Stevens as the Beast (human form), Cogsworth, and Lumière.

At this rate, the whole behind-the-scenes look may be spoiled by the time the Beauty and the Beast 25th Anniversary Edition is released to the world on September 20.

The live-action Beauty and the Beast arrives this March and is directed by Bill Condon.

Report: Warner Bros. wants Daniel Radcliffe to return for ‘Cursed Child’ movie

File this one under: Crazy rumor that's also somehow... plausible? (But it's probably not gonna happen.)

10:49 am EDT, August 29, 2016

If Warner Bros. are indeed working on a movie version of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, they’ll likely be looking to bring back the o.g. Harry himself, Daniel Radcliffe.

At least that’s the hot buzz from NY Daily News, whose “Tinseltown sources” also say that a movie version of the play could arrive as early as 2020, and that it might evolve into a trilogy about Harry and his son Albus.

Daniel Radcliffe — the same Daniel Radcliffe who proclaimed in 2010 that “I’m working very hard to establish myself as an actor outside of this series,” and who hasn’t even been to see Cursed Child yet — is reportedly Warner Bros.’ choice to play Harry in the series, which (as unlikely as it is to actually happen) may very well be true.

Read full article

If Warner Bros. are indeed working on a movie version of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, they’ll likely be looking to bring back the o.g. Harry himself, Daniel Radcliffe.

At least that’s the hot buzz from NY Daily News, whose “Tinseltown sources” also say that a movie version of the play could arrive as early as 2020, and that it might evolve into a trilogy about Harry and his son Albus.

Daniel Radcliffe — the same Daniel Radcliffe who proclaimed in 2010 that “I’m working very hard to establish myself as an actor outside of this series,” and who hasn’t even been to see Cursed Child yet — is reportedly Warner Bros.’ choice to play Harry in the series, which (as unlikely as it is to actually happen) may very well be true.

After all, as amazing as Jamie Parker is as Harry Potter on stage, Warner Bros., must be aware that most Harry Potter fans won’t be able to see the play live, and therefore wouldn’t necessarily be as hyped about a ‘Harry Potter movie’ that didn’t star the actors from the original movie series.

Related: Have you read all of Hypable’s original Cursed Child coverage? (There’s a lot!)

As NY Daily News notes, however, Radcliffe is very much doing his own thing, with even the sources admitting that he’d “need some persuading” before agreeing to reprise the role he’s trying very hard to distance himself from.

Aside from this small inconvenience, there are plenty of other reasons why this would not — and perhaps should not — work out.

First of all, Dan Radcliffe is currently 27 years old, and if Warner Bros. was really planning the Cursed Child movie for 2020, he’d have to play the part of a 36-40-year-old Harry in the movie at age >30. We all remember how awkward the Deathly Hallows epilogue turned out, and we’re sure there aren’t many of us who’d want an hours-long version of that (for not to mention the possibility that they’d split this story into two movies).

Second, once they got Radcliffe back, they’d have to get everyone else, too. You couldn’t just have the original Harry back while introducing a brand new Hermione, Ron, Draco, Ginny, etc.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly: Daniel Radcliffe is not Harry Potter. While movie fans will probably always see Radcliffe’s face when thinking about the character, he existed on the pages of the novel series first, which means a potential Cursed Child movie wouldn’t be recasting anyone if they went with new actors — they’d simply pick a new, older set of actors to embody the iconic characters.

Having seen the play on stage, this writer would personally much rather see the original Cursed Child cast reprise their roles for any eventual movie version that Warner Bros. puts together. A lot of the play’s success hinges on these actors’ performances and chemistry, and it’d be a shame to lose that magic on screen.

Would you want to see Daniel Radcliffe back as Harry Potter in a ‘Cursed Child’ movie?