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July 26, 2013 6:45 AM   Subscribe

That's not a plot hole. Allow me to explain. Scott Nye discusses a movie trend that, once seen, cannot be unseen.
posted by The Deej (262 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
 
Inception should have been named Exposition.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:58 AM on July 26, 2013 [14 favorites]


Just think how many articles Scott'll be able to write when someone shows him TV Tropes!
posted by ominous_paws at 7:00 AM on July 26, 2013 [39 favorites]


God, this drives me nuts. The last Star Trek film was full of it. Like ten minutes in, when Scotty was freaking out about how being underwater would wreck the Enterprise, I leaned over to my husband and said, "Pointing out how stupid this is doesn't excuse how stupid this is."
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:06 AM on July 26, 2013 [52 favorites]


Exactly. Now where should I hang this lampshade? Is here cool?
posted by yeti at 7:06 AM on July 26, 2013 [11 favorites]


It's like the exact opposite of a MacGuffin.
posted by R. Schlock at 7:10 AM on July 26, 2013


Scotty was freaking out about how being underwater would wreck the Enterprise

Dear lord, that's over 150 atmospheres of pressure!
posted by A god with hooves, a god with horns at 7:12 AM on July 26, 2013 [22 favorites]


So, if I'm reading this right, action-film dross is action-film dross?
posted by pompomtom at 7:12 AM on July 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's not a plot hole. Allow me to explain.

I'll explain later.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 7:13 AM on July 26, 2013 [9 favorites]



Exactly. Now where should I hang this lampshade? Is here cool?

Wait, is that a link to TVTropes!?


NOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

 
posted by Herodios at 7:14 AM on July 26, 2013 [33 favorites]


"Why is there a watermelon there?"
"I'll tell you later."
posted by xingcat at 7:16 AM on July 26, 2013 [45 favorites]


Austin: So, Basil, if I travel back to 1969 and I was frozen in 1967, presumably I could go back and look at my frozen self. But, if I'm still frozen in 1967, how could I have been unthawed in the nineties and traveled back to the—oh no, I've gone cross-eyed.
Basil: I suggest you don't worry about those things and just enjoy yourself. (to camera) That goes for you all, too.
Austin: Yes.

posted by vacapinta at 7:20 AM on July 26, 2013 [39 favorites]


Weird. It's an article from the universe that doesn't have TV Tropes.

(That universe has flying cars, jet backpacks, and witty robots that bring you breakfast in bed.)
posted by straight at 7:20 AM on July 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


I DEMAND MY WITTY BREAKFAST ROBOT.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 7:21 AM on July 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


I travel back to 1969 and I was frozen in 1967, presumably I could go back and look at my frozen self. But, if I'm still frozen in 1967, how could I have been unthawed in the nineties...

Easy. Thawed is more difficult.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 7:22 AM on July 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


...yeah, all that's well and good, but why do they keep showing close-ups of the phone?
posted by mule98J at 7:23 AM on July 26, 2013


The comfort modern moviegoing audiences have with shittily written movies that don't make any fucking sense but look cool is a source of ever renewing despair to me. I don't mind so much things like The Fast And The Furious, which is just a big-budget B which starts out campy and only gets campier.

But these big tent pole film, especially the superhero flicks --- if you're trying to evoke pathos, if you want me to actually feel something for the characters, you can't riddle the film with moments where what they chose to do is manifestly nonsensical and/or idiotic. Because then their actions have no weight, and we're not able to maintain the illusion that what they do is a meaningful moral choice that reveals something about who they are as opposed to something they have to do because the script calls for a big action sequence at this juncture.
posted by Diablevert at 7:24 AM on July 26, 2013 [45 favorites]


Every Question Ellen Page Asks in Inception

Also I believe it was an early episode of Harmontown where Dan Harmon lays out his frustration with that movie: "They spend the whole movie training her to do this thing and she never does it!!!"
posted by yellowbinder at 7:24 AM on July 26, 2013 [20 favorites]


I appreciate the article, and the ire -- I'm not a nitpicker, usually, but the first Abrams Star Trek bugged the shit out of me, because the plot basically boils down to "crazy old Vulcan almost destroys the entire universe because he is worried his younger alternate-universe self won't be able to make fwiends" -- but I question the premise that this is some new thing.

Off the top of my head: some air was spent in Aliens explaining why they don't just "nuke it from space." Original Flavour Star Wars has to riff on why the Death Star was built in a crazy stupid way with the equivalent of a router's reset hole mounted on the outside. The Fifth Element is about 33% weird exposition and still ends incomprehensibly (and is still awesome). John Carpenter's The Thing has a chunk o' mumbo-jumbo about the rules of the shapeshifting Thing, and They Live riffs a bit on how the magic sunglasses work and how They have walked among us all this time.

The bigger and less grounded an idea, the more ancillary splainin' there is to do about how it all fits together in a way that makes the "but why WOULD a planet-sized sphere of doom have a giant 'KICK ME' sign taped to its back?" questions things we can parse here on Planet Earth.

Well-written is well-written; poorly-written is poorly-written, and a well-written movie (I think) has more confidence to not feel obliged to tighten all the screws, dot all the i's and cross all the t's. Weirdo plot holes in The Fifth Element and Pacific Rim don't bother me because those movies are awesome, but it's not like predicting audience questions and trying to address them up-front just started happening three years ago.
posted by Shepherd at 7:25 AM on July 26, 2013 [16 favorites]


Inception should have been named Exposition.

An AV Club review of that TV show Terra Nova referred to one of the characters (her name was Maddie) as Exposition Maddie, and ever since then with every new show I watch, I try to find the "Exposition [Name]" character for my own amusement.

It's kind of depressing how easy it is to do, and how you're always guaranteed to find one.
posted by phunniemee at 7:27 AM on July 26, 2013 [7 favorites]


it's not like predicting audience questions and trying to address them up-front just started happening three years ago

Two things. One, the objection isn't just to the raising of questions, it's to the raising of questions and subsequent refusal to answer them. Two, he's not saying it started three years ago, he is commenting on what he perceives as a noticeable increase in such moments.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 7:35 AM on July 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


PhoBWanKenobi: "God, this drives me nuts. The last Star Trek film was full of it. Like ten minutes in, when Scotty was freaking out about how being underwater would wreck the Enterprise, I leaned over to my husband and said, "Pointing out how stupid this is doesn't excuse how stupid this is.""

I'm pretty sure that Abrams was just deliberately taunting fans with that. "Hey, they were pissed off that I had the Enterprise being built on the surface of the earth in the first one, this time lets put the damn thing underwater to really jag them."
posted by octothorpe at 7:39 AM on July 26, 2013 [10 favorites]


Basil's full name in Austin Powers is Basil Exposition.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 7:40 AM on July 26, 2013 [31 favorites]


The biggest plot hole was in Up In The Air. There's one scene where they're doing layoffs in Wichita, KS, and one of the people they lay off says "I'm going to jump off a bridge", and I'm like "There aren't any bridges in Wichita tall enough to jump off of!" Have the filmmakers ever been to Wichita? It's flat, totally flat. There's no bridge tall enough that anyone could jump off of and not survive the fall. Really brought me out of the film.
posted by hellojed at 7:41 AM on July 26, 2013 [10 favorites]


In most movies these days I'd honestly prefer them to just tech the tech instead of making up a nonsense answer, but unfortunately that seems to be the screenwriting standard.

Jeff Megall: Sony has a futuristic sci-fi movie they're looking to make.
Nick Naylor: Cigarettes in space?
J: It's the final frontier, Nick.
N: But wouldn't they blow up in an all oxygen environment?
J: Probably. But it's an easy fix. One line of dialogue. "Thank God we invented the... you know, whatever device."
posted by ceribus peribus at 7:44 AM on July 26, 2013 [8 favorites]


Lately I see zero effort from Hollywood on addressing plot holes and story inconsistencies. The latest Trek movie is the prime example of this, despite the great visuals the movie makes no sense. Yet it got fantastic reviews and did great at the box office, and this is the same director that is moving on to Star Wars so we can expect more of the same there.

Personally I find this really discouraging but obviously my opinion does not reflect that of the general moviegoing public. We can argue about this until we are blue in the face but the box office numbers clearly show that good writing is not a factor in revenue.
posted by Vindaloo at 7:46 AM on July 26, 2013 [8 favorites]


Ok. For reals folks.
The other night I fell asleep on the couch and woke up watching inception - except I wasn't totally awake. So I kept falling in and out of sleep while the move went on, then woke up again except the movie was now before the part in the movie that I had been watching. Perhaps I was dreaming about a movie within a dream about a movie about dreaming within a dream.

Or perhaps the cable channel just played it twice - back to back.
posted by Nanukthedog at 7:47 AM on July 26, 2013 [11 favorites]


The other night I fell asleep on the couch and woke up watching inception - except I wasn't totally awake. So I kept falling in and out of sleep while the move went on....

This happened to me when watching Memento, which is probably the best possible way to experience that movie.
posted by oulipian at 7:49 AM on July 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


N: But wouldn't they blow up in an all oxygen environment?
J: Probably. But it's an easy fix. One line of dialogue. "Thank God we invented the... you know, whatever device."
This wasn't even necessary in the original Planet of the Apes. Big ol' cigar in the cockpit, because Charlton Heston.
posted by usonian at 7:51 AM on July 26, 2013 [9 favorites]


Aaaah Memento. Now there's a movie that makes no sense.
posted by sweetkid at 7:51 AM on July 26, 2013


Lately I see zero effort from Hollywood on addressing plot holes and story inconsistencies. The latest Trek movie is the prime example of this, despite the great visuals the movie makes no sense. Yet it got fantastic reviews and did great at the box office, and this is the same director that is moving on to Star Wars so we can expect more of the same there.

I mean, this is the guy who brought us Lost. The first movie made no sense, either.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 7:51 AM on July 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


The best take on the subject, unsurprisingly, comes from FILM CRIT HULK, who wrote a smashing essay on the focus on plot holes. HULK VS. PLOT HOLES AND MOVIE LOGIC. It's a long read but worth the time.

Sorry for the "smashing" bit. Couldn't resist.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 7:52 AM on July 26, 2013 [9 favorites]



For me, the biggest one was "Manhunter". They spend the whole movie doing this "get inside the head of the killer" pop psych thing, and in the end, all that woo was BS because they catch they guy by just looking at the labels from the film shop he worked at. Which, if they had done that in the beginning, the film would be 5 minutes long.

Which just goes to show, doing actual police work will trump the psychological woo any day.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:52 AM on July 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


how could I have been unthawed in the nineties...

Easy. Thawed is more difficult.


"Thaw" is a pretty funny word.

Thaw thaw thaw thaw.
posted by curious nu at 7:52 AM on July 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Off the top of my head: some air was spent in Aliens explaining why they don't just "nuke it from space."

Wha? No. Unless I missed something the discussion was Burke wanting to escape but leave the site intact so teams could later come and get samples, study the aliens, etc. I think it was Vasquez that wanted to nerve gas the nest. Ripley wanted to just nuke the site from orbit, to destroy the entire thing. There are no plot holes there.
posted by cashman at 7:52 AM on July 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


So it seems like the real problem is just that they're letting JJ Abrams and Chris Nolan make too many movies.

Which sounds about right.
posted by kmz at 7:52 AM on July 26, 2013 [15 favorites]


This is exactly why The Prestige is brilliant and Inception is not. And I feel like both movies break the fourth wall by interacting with their audience. The Prestige does it by presenting you a show within a show (e.g., a magic trick that is meant for both the on-screen audience as well as the off-screen one, but at a different level); you relate to the film and characters as two different types of audience (one that is alongside the characters who are the audience to the magic trick that the other characters are performing, the other that is the audience to the entire performance of all the characters). Whereas with inception, the fourth wall is broken by the exposition characters acting like action docents, anticipating every question you may (or may not) have. The effect of this is jarring, especially when you *didn't* think of something and you're reminded of critique of film (e.g., pothole sleuthing) while you're trying to enjoy said film.
posted by iamkimiam at 7:53 AM on July 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Weirdo plot holes in The Fifth Element and Pacific Rim don't bother me because those movies are awesome, but it's not like predicting audience questions and trying to address them up-front just started happening three years ago.

See, there was one plot holes in Pacific Rim that drove me nuts, which was that the conclusion of the movie has little chance of solving the actual conflict of the movie. But at least they didn't hang a lampshade on that, I guess.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:55 AM on July 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Thaw thaw thaw thaw.

It's really not nice to make fun of corvids with lisps.

Or crowth, as they're known.
posted by Celsius1414 at 7:59 AM on July 26, 2013 [19 favorites]


> We can argue about this until we are blue in the face but the box office numbers clearly show that good writing is not a factor in revenue.

Is it too much to ask for a side order of good writing to go along with our special effects extravaganza main course?
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:00 AM on July 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


A common cause of this in film is Adaptation Explanation Extrication. Hollywood executives don't care about faithfully adapting stories from another medium. I hate hate hate having to be the guy who goes to a movie with friends and, when someone points out a huge glaring pothole, is like, "but in the book it makes sense because..."
posted by deathpanels at 8:00 AM on July 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


After a ridiculous car chase in "Fast & Furious 6," rescuee Letty, an amnesiac, asks her rescuer Dom, the lover she's forgotten, how he knew a car would be there to break their fall. He replies, "I didn't—Some things you just have to take on faith." The line strengthens one of the film's running themes.

This bit points out the different ways this is done to tell a story and how not all of them are equal. The above works on a thematic level, rather than sheer plot or physics or reality. Most people don't nitpick movies, they just want an a good emotional journey, so plotholes often aren't a problem.

Star Trek Into Darkess was full of plot holes, but it didn't car, it just wanted to show you supposedly cool characters doing cool things. On the level the movie worked fine ok.

See, there was one plot holes in Pacific Rim that drove me nuts, which was that the conclusion of the movie has little chance of solving the actual conflict of the movie.

How so? They closed the rift and nuked the center that had opened the rift.

Is it too much to ask for a side order of good writing to go along with our special effects extravaganza main course?

Sometimes, yeah. They're spectacles, designed to wow people and draw in huge crowds. Expecting good writing from them seems odd, since that's not what they're about.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:03 AM on July 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I hear you. Summer movies don't need to be Chinatown, but by "good writing" in this context I'm willing to mean "not an incoherent mess."
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:06 AM on July 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


they're doing layoffs in Wichita, KS, and one of the people they lay off says "I'm going to jump off a bridge", and I'm like "There aren't any bridges in Wichita tall enough to jump off of!" Have the filmmakers ever been to Wichita? It's flat, totally flat. There's no bridge tall enough that anyone could jump off of and not survive the fall.

Similarly, when my mom took away my TV privileges and I said, "I'm gonna go out to the garden, eat worms, and die!" and she said, "We don't have a garden," I realized that kids never make empty threats like that and it turned out this whole anecdote was fictional.
posted by straight at 8:07 AM on July 26, 2013 [48 favorites]


Similarly, when my mom took away my TV privileges and I said, "I'm gonna go out to the garden, eat worms, and die!" and she said, "We don't have a garden," I realized that kids never make empty threats like that and it turned out this whole anecdote was fictional.

*BWAAAAAAAMM*
posted by curious nu at 8:09 AM on July 26, 2013 [26 favorites]


I love the Inception backlash. I shit on that movie the weekend it came out and everyone said I was a moron and that it was a masterpiece.

Also, I can't believe someone got paid to write this stupid article.
posted by dobbs at 8:11 AM on July 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


The "How to Do Expositions Well" comparison I like to make is between the first Terminator movie and T2.

In the first, Reese needs to get a ton of info across to Sarah Connor (and the audience) about the future, the war against the machines, and why there's a time-traveling cyborg trying to kill her. The bulk of this exposition is done during a car chase, with a few pauses in the action (such as in the parking garage while they hide from the cops). The audience is never bored, but is able to both get the gist of the backstory while simultaneously engaged in "Will They Escape?"

Compare this with the second movie. The movie (much as I enjoyed it) grinds to a halt at various points for Minutes of Exposition. They are not handled naturally, in the midst of other activity, but instead in what amount to staff meetings. The example that always comes to mind is just after Sarah has decided to leave John and the cyborg at the desert hideout and go kill the scientist, Dyson. As she speeds off (transformed into an emotional killer cyborg herself), John runs after her, screaming. Lots of drama.

But rather than following her immediately, the film transitions awkwardly to John and the cyborg sitting down for a nice chat with all of the raw emotion of the previous moment vanished. How hard would it have been to follow a speeding car throwing up dust in the middle of nowhere?

Instead, time for exposition - "no fate but what we make" - and a sudden, artificial re-ramp up of emotion at the end of the scene, running to the car, and on the road. Why couldn't this have happened on the go?
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:11 AM on July 26, 2013 [8 favorites]


How so? They closed the rift and nuked the center that had opened the rift.

Spoilers spoilers spoilers

It seems ridiculous to assume one nuke would destroy an advanced, multi-planet spanning civilization and all of their rift-opening technology in its entirety. If I were them, I'd be anticipating another attack or another rift opening sometime soon, rather than celebrating as if the war is over forever and ever.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:14 AM on July 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


See, there was one plot holes in Pacific Rim that drove me nuts, which was that the conclusion of the movie has little chance of solving the actual conflict of the movie.

How so? They closed the rift and nuked the center that had opened the rift.


Solves nothing. The mysterious space aliens did it before, and there's no reason to think they can't do it again. I'm more surprised that nobody wondered why people assumed that some kind of big wall would be good enough to stop all these monsters. Or why a genetically engineered monster, brewed up in some kind of monster lab, would be pregnant. Or why both the "they're coming through with mathematical frequency" and "they're coming through because of some serious reason" guys, who have theories that exist in direct opposition to each other, would both be right. Guillermo del Toro can make a fine entertainment, but his plots are five kinds of swiss cheese. (Pan's Labyrinth is a freak event that can't be explained.)
posted by Going To Maine at 8:16 AM on July 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


spoilers spoilers spoilers

There are humans in suits melding minds and dually controlling gigantic robots that walk through oceans and the rift destruction is unbelievable? unbelievable.
posted by cashman at 8:16 AM on July 26, 2013 [8 favorites]


If I were them, I'd be anticipating another attack or another rift opening sometime soon

They are already talking about a sequel. Something about the characters who drifted with the alien something all connected together something.
posted by localroger at 8:18 AM on July 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Honestly, this all gets back to the more general question of why some things trip the "That makes no sense!" alarm while other things sail right by.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:18 AM on July 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


spoilers spoilers spoilorama

Unless I missed something, I don't think the movie was saying the nuke destroyed an advanced civilization and all of their rift tech. It destroyed that particular rift and ended the movie.
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:19 AM on July 26, 2013 [11 favorites]


Or why both the "they're coming through with mathematical frequency" and "they're coming through because of some serious reason" guys, who have theories that exist in direct opposition to each other, would both be right. Guillermo del Toro can make a fine entertainment, but his plots are five kinds of swiss cheese. (Pan's Labyrinth is a freak event that can't be explained.)

Yeah, that was pretty swiss cheesy. And worse, del Toro apparently meant that as sequel bait so it probably really should have been streamlined. I'm assuming something got cut in the editing.

There are humans in suits melding minds and dually controlling gigantic robots that walk through oceans and the rift destruction is unbelievable? unbelievable.

It's called willing suspension of disbelief, and the movie earned that for its basic premise but not the way it resolved the overarching problem for me. It wasn't that the rift destruction was unbelievable, anyway--just that it seemed insufficient for the scope of the problem they were facing. Maybe the movie oversold that problem?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:19 AM on July 26, 2013


Unless I missed something, I don't think the movie was saying the nuke destroyed an advanced civilization and all of their rift tech. It destroyed that particular rift and ended the movie.

They stop the war clock at the end as if the problem is totally 100% solved. Even a "we can party now, but we must be vigilant" would have made me happy, I guess.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:20 AM on July 26, 2013


So I guess I did want a lampshade, on that one.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:22 AM on July 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


Off the top of my head: some air was spent in Aliens explaining why they don't just "nuke it from space."

I just caught this movie on cable last weekend, and I was struck by how well this was handled in the movie. Ripley suggests that nuking the site from orbit was the best course of action. Paul Reiser objects for the sake of capitalism, but since its a military mission he's out of luck, the corporal agrees to nuke the site. They call their lander to pick them up so they can get on with the nuking, and if not for the alien taking out the ship, the whole site would have been a radioactive crater shortly thereafter. The characters actually made the not-stupid decision, but were prevented from carrying it out by a great action scene.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 8:23 AM on July 26, 2013 [32 favorites]


But rather than following her immediately, the film transitions awkwardly to John and the cyborg sitting down for a nice chat with all of the raw emotion of the previous moment vanished. How hard would it have been to follow a speeding car throwing up dust in the middle of nowhere?

Instead, time for exposition - "no fate but what we make" - and a sudden, artificial re-ramp up of emotion at the end of the scene, running to the car, and on the road. Why couldn't this have happened on the go?


Because not everything needs to happen on go, especially after a kid has been essentially abandoned and needs a parental figure. The exposition scenes in T1 and T2 had different dynamics, so of cooers they were done differently.

Solves nothing. The mysterious space aliens did it before, and there's no reason to think they can't do it again.

The nule closed the open door and took out a significant amount of hardware used to send kaiju through the door. Could the aliens come back? Of course. But for now, they're been significantly thwarted. Not sure what some people expected here other than a "WOOHOO we're saved!"

Now the Wall of Life? That was stupid, but it sounded like an idea cooked up by politicians, so it fit.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:23 AM on July 26, 2013


I would say that a lot of it has to do with the gritty, dark, "adult" turn (which I place solely on the shoulders of Nolan's Batman films) that most action movies have taken as of late.
posted by codacorolla at 8:23 AM on July 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


The comfort modern moviegoing audiences have with shittily written movies that don't make any fucking sense but look cool is a source of ever renewing despair to me.

It is true about ten years ago I used to joke about a script that was something like this:

Scene: Large Robot star [well known robot everyone remembers from childhood] Crashes into moon. Initial plum of regolith should spray out from center of impact and be between 1.2 and 1.5 KM tall. Blue explosion from impact with corresponding ring that expands at 200-212 KPH and a sound like an impact detonator that travels around the audience should be heard. The humans in the ISS which is configured to about 2016 construction projections look on as the blast hits Earth. There should be close ups of New York Paris and Big Ben [writer clearly does not know where London is] being destroyed. Flash back to ISS where the astronauts are preparing for impact and the sexy School teacher female actress looks on as her midwest US state is destroyed by impact of explosion from moon and the attractive American Astronaut pulls her away as she dons her Mark IV space suit that should show that it is older than the Male stars Mark V. The Cosmonaut should be a grissled Russian preferably with a previously broken nose and be trying to get his 1970's space suit on, We look out the window again as the earth is torn in half from the destruction of the moon as the ISS astronauts panic to get in the escape pod.

[Insert Dialogue]

Space rips open as the escape pod is torn through whirry whirry time vortex and the astronauts are jolted around

[Insert Dialogue]
posted by mrgroweler at 8:25 AM on July 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


They call their lander to pick them up so they can get on with the nuking, and if not for the alien taking out the ship, the whole site would have been a radioactive crater shortly thereafter

That's the brilliance of Aliens, as opposed to Alien. The Marines knew they were screwed and tried to do a very smart thing: get off the planet and nuke the site. But they were thwarted and and to improvise a Plan B.

Now Ripley going back for the cat in Alien? That was beyond stupid on a plot level, though I can see the thematic sense for it. But Jesus it was dumb and tedious.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:26 AM on July 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sometimes, yeah. They're spectacles, designed to wow people and draw in huge crowds. Expecting good writing from them seems odd, since that's not what they're about.

Dude, I don't expect every car to be as good looking and smooth-cornering as a Jaguar. I do expect it to have tires and a fucking engine. The motherfucker can have leather seats that feel like butter is being massaged into your ass, if it don't drive it's fucking useless. The plot is the engine, not the goddamn fuzzy dice.
posted by Diablevert at 8:28 AM on July 26, 2013 [23 favorites]


Lately I see zero effort from Hollywood on addressing plot holes and story inconsistencies.
I've had that feeling too. I've watched movies for several decades but only recently I have felt that I had fallen asleep, missed a crucial plot point and woke up a few minutes later because all of a sudden something happening on screen did not make any sense. I had this bizarre experience a few times in Prometheus and the Dark Knight Rise for instance, but it's really pervasive (and I'm a highly tolerant moviegoer who can easily suspend his disbelief). I've almost posted an AskMe about this (Is this an actual trend and are Hollywood people aware of it/do it on purpose?) but it would have been too chatfilter I guess.
posted by elgilito at 8:28 AM on July 26, 2013


I don't get why you guys are complaining - there are valid technical reasons why you sometimes need to invert the polarity of the deflector dish!
posted by DreamerFi at 8:30 AM on July 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


This kind of nonsense is part of why I liked Primer. Because the time travel plot is so outrageously complicated and elliptical there's really no hope of puzzling it out. Not even the Internet nerds; there's all sorts of analyses and diagrams online and none make any more sense than the original film. Which is great! Accepting it's all a mystery lets the viewer put the whole question of plausibility out of mind, free to enjoy film itself. To be clear, Primer seems like it should make sense. It's not some stupid spun confection like Lost. Just that it's too hard to work out, so you stop trying.
posted by Nelson at 8:30 AM on July 26, 2013 [10 favorites]


My sense is that a lot of this is getting worse because, rather than actually plotting their movies, writers are deciding which cool/compelling/interesting scenes to include and backtracking to create the connective tissue. Like "I want Prometheus to have a ripple-muscled alien ubermensch who creates life! And a machine that gives abortions! And a scene where the robot serves some dude an alien contaminant!" And then the writers have to come up with a plot that either strings these points together or distracts the audience from how the events don't really string together at all.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:32 AM on July 26, 2013 [11 favorites]


In a lot of ways, I blame Blake Snyder, but that's probably unfair.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:32 AM on July 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


xingcat: ""Why is there a watermelon there?"
"I'll tell you later."
"

"I am the best at writing", thought Anton.
posted by boo_radley at 8:34 AM on July 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


For those talking about the plotholes in Pacific Rim, I would remind you that this movie was marketed as being about giant robots punching giant monsters in the face. I saw the movie and can confirm that this happens many, many times. In one scene a giant robot hits the robot in the face with a boat! That was awesome!

The movie made a very limited promise and delivered on that promise in spades. If you wanted a movie with plot or acting by anyone not named Idris Elba, you should have gone to see a different movie.
posted by Aizkolari at 8:34 AM on July 26, 2013 [15 favorites]


... with every new show I watch, I try to find the "Exposition [Name]" character for my own amusement

Let me help you with another link to TV Tropes: Mr. Exposition

My personal, just recently discovered favorite exampe is this bit from Animaniacs.
posted by ringu0 at 8:35 AM on July 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


For those talking about the plotholes in Pacific Rim, I would remind you that this movie was marketed as being about giant robots punching giant monsters in the face.

Oh, I thought it was loads of good fun, and enjoyed it way more than most franchise action/fantasy movies! But, you know, we're talking about plotholes and that one stood out to me in a movie that mostly distracted me from its plotholes successfully.

To its credit, the scientists actually acted like scientists, despite being played by Charlie Day and English Stereotype Guy from Torchwood!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:36 AM on July 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


N: But wouldn't they blow up in an all oxygen environment?

The ISS runs with a normal earth atmosphere of Nitrogen and Oxygen at 15 PSI, it's likely that any future space craft would too. Of course fire in an enclosed space is a bad idea in general but not because things burn faster.
posted by octothorpe at 8:37 AM on July 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


The plot is the engine, not the goddamn fuzzy dice.

I hear ya, plot is import to me, but isn't to everyone else, at least not to the deep degree I personally prefer. So it's better, IMO, to just roll with it and see if the movie can deliver based on what it offers, as opposed to what I want it to offer.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:38 AM on July 26, 2013


I thought the point of the most recent Star Trek movie was to just have as many send-backs (ups? shout-outs?) to the original series and first two movies as possible without trying to have any actual plot and just sort of re imagining them in this alternate Abrams universe thing.

I hated the first Abrams Star Trek. This new one I lurved BECAUSE of its ridiculousness. It was silly. And awesome!
posted by sio42 at 8:39 AM on July 26, 2013


For those talking about the plotholes in Pacific Rim, I would remind you that this movie was marketed as being about giant robots punching giant monsters in the face. I saw the movie and can confirm that this happens many, many times. In one scene a giant robot hits the robot in the face with a boat! That was awesome!

Hey now! I liked Pacific Rim. Friends of mine who saw it with me liked it, though enjoyment was marred by some of Charlie Hunnam's ham-fisted dialogue.

But to go back to a point that I mentioned upthread - it's really hard to say why certain movies get away with ridiculous plot holes and which ones won't. Why do big ol' unexplained walls set us off but not pseudoscience montages of people getting hooked into robots? Why have people been complaining about plot issues in Star Trek but no one has even thought to mention Doctor Who? The engine that sets the mental standards for what is acceptable is very curious.

Maybe a good follow-up question: can anyone think of a film where the plot holes were sealed up too well? Where too much time was spent making sure everything made sense? (Perhaps Primer?)
posted by Going To Maine at 8:41 AM on July 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


The bulk of this exposition is done during a car chase

Man, it is criminal that Michael Biehn's career didn't just take off based solely on the wild-eyed, "it can't be bargained with; it can't be reasoned with" little monologue alone.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 8:43 AM on July 26, 2013 [7 favorites]


Aaaah Memento. Now there's a movie that makes no sense.

How so?
posted by cashman at 8:43 AM on July 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Protagonist 1: Solve difficult problems while challenged by a powerful and intelligent adversary

Protagonist 2: Be awesome and wait for awesome things to happen because awesome
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:46 AM on July 26, 2013


But to go back to a point that I mentioned upthread - it's really hard to say why certain movies get away with ridiculous plot holes and which ones won't.

Also keep in mind that plot holes depend on the individual and their personal experience or education. Cops can be driven nuts by copy movies that ignore police procedures and techniques, same as fireman, etc etc.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:47 AM on July 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Where too much time was spent making sure everything made sense? (Perhaps Primer?)

Primer "makes sense" if you draw a giant chart of the timeline, but that giant chart doesn't fit in the human mind and there's no way you could possibly come up with it while watching the film for the first time, so the effect is the same as if it made no sense at all.

Not that I didn't love that movie, mind.
posted by murphy slaw at 8:48 AM on July 26, 2013 [3 favorites]




Primer "makes sense" if you draw a giant chart of the timeline, but that giant chart doesn't fit in the human mind and there's no way you could possibly come up with it while watching the film for the first time, so the effect is the same as if it made no sense at all.

Primer is also kind of a poor example because I think it's supposed to be convoluted. (And it's also pretty good.) I suspect that the best examples of this are probably very boring B-movies, the kinds of things that get caught up in the forest for the trees. The Flophouse made it sound like Skyline kind of fit the bill, as it's an alien invasion movie that remains tangled up with people talking in an apartment as an alien invasion happens outside. So perhaps a movie that thinks it's about one thing when it should obviously be about something else.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:55 AM on July 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Primer doesn't make sense cause non actors mumbling jargon isn't an engaging movie.

Friend of mine called Pacific Rim the " Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon of giant monster movies" which I feel is apt.
posted by The Whelk at 8:55 AM on July 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


After a ridiculous car chase in "Fast & Furious 6," rescuee Letty, an amnesiac, asks her rescuer Dom, the lover she's forgotten, how he knew a car would be there to break their fall. He replies, "I didn't—Some things you just have to take on faith." The line strengthens one of the film's running themes. It also plays as a subtle joke on the sort of movie we're watching: an adventure film in which cars can serve pretty much any function.

It's worth noting that The Other Guys does more or less this same thing, spectacularly well, such that it's easily my favorite part of the movie.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:55 AM on July 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also The Other Guys is one of the few action movies to end on a detailed and surprisingly through overview of recent white collar white street crimes.
posted by The Whelk at 8:58 AM on July 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Were too much time was spent making sure everything made sense? (Perhaps Primer?)

Upstream Color is pretty much my defining "I don't know how the fuck all that worked, but it's cool" movie experience. A confident creator with a great script doesn't need to explain it all, and is comfortable with leaving holes for the audience to fill in.

It's the less-than confident creators (or maybe the ones that are getting a thousand studio notes a day) that tend to flail themselves into overexplaining things.

But to go back to a point that I mentioned upthread - it's really hard to say why certain movies get away with ridiculous plot holes and which ones won't.

The trap is that if you explain one thing, you're suddenly beholden to explain all the things. Del Toro would have been better off (IMHO, YMMV) with "hey, a thumping great hole opened in the Pacific and now monsters" and not getting into the rest of it at all. Once he explained that one thing, he was suddenly obliged to explain a whole ton of things about strategy for dealing with that one thing, and that's what everyone is focusing on.

I mean, the idea of building a giant wall to surround all the continents is so spectacularly dumb that it's kind of awesome. How on Earth is that less resource-intensive than building a bunch of really big robots? That's a LOT OF WALL. But he just does a drive-by "No more Jaegers! A wall! Oh no! The wall doesn't work! Dumb idea, sorry, we love Jaegers again!" thing, and nobody thinks twice about it. If the wall had been a major plot point then everyone would be wittering on about the wall construction and the wall this and the wall that.

If your movie is based on One Big Crazy Thing, don't explain your crazy big thing. Just let it be big and crazy and rock it like Dokken. Once you've shown that you have the cohones to just drop Crazy Big Thing in people's laps and not explain it, they'll stop worrying about the small stuff.
posted by Shepherd at 9:01 AM on July 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


There are humans in suits melding minds and dually controlling gigantic robots that walk through oceans and the rift destruction is unbelievable? unbelievable.

After I saw The Two Towers, my friends were excitedly talking about how awesome it was. At one point I mentioned that the Balrog was so much bigger than I imagined it that it kind of took me out of the movie. I was roundly mocked for this. For years, if someone took exception to one small aspect of a movie that already involved larger demands on suspension of disbelief, whatever they objected to was called their "Balrog".
posted by Jpfed at 9:08 AM on July 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


My three favorites are Mercury Rising, Star Trek: Nemesis, and Ocean's Twelve.

In Mercury Rising, an autistic boy can read the NSA's top-secret code. How, you ask? The only explanation we get is a sound effect. Beepbeepbeepbeepbeep. That's it, just what is apparently the universal sound for deciphering.

Nemesis tells the story of a slave race who have been imprisoned inside a planet to mine. They're basically Morlocks, and you'd feel bad for them except that unlike the Morlocks, these imprisoned slaves have somehow managed to construct (in the words of Wikipedia) "a heavily armed warship named Scimitar, with a completely undetectable cloaking device, an arsenal of weapons, and virtually impregnable shields."

And Ocean's Twelve? That's my absolute favorite. Our blue-collar protagonist thieves are bested by a rich, spoiled lone prodigy, and they're dying to know his secret. "How did you get by the laser field in the Great Hall?" Director Steven Soderbergh spends the next minute and a half of screen time sharing his brilliant solution: He danced through the roving laser beams. OF COURSE HE DID. That one is just a big, fat middle finger right to the audience.
posted by cribcage at 9:11 AM on July 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


They stop the war clock at the end as if the problem is totally 100% solved. Even a "we can party now, but we must be vigilant" would have made me happy, I guess.

The same problem you're describing exists at the end of Avatar, where the humans will just be back with nukes in less than a decade. But of course that's also called a "sequel hook."

In Pacific Rim, however, (though they are planning a sequel) I thought the implication was that time works somewhat differently in the other universe, and that the destruction of the rift will buy the humans a lot of time to regroup. The same people had first pinged Earth in dinosaur times, remember, and the monster incursions were separated by weeks in our time but (seemingly) days or minutes or seconds in theirs. If it takes the other dimension six months of their time to build another rift, that could be a century of safety for humanity.
posted by gerryblog at 9:11 AM on July 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


FRIAR LAURENCE

This same should be the voice of Friar John.
Welcome from Mantua: what says Romeo?
Or, if his mind be writ, give me his letter.

FRIAR JOHN

Going to find a bare-foot brother out
One of our order, to associate me,
Here in this city visiting the sick,
And finding him, the searchers of the town,
Suspecting that we both were in a house
Where the infectious pestilence did reign,
Seal'd up the doors, and would not let us forth;
So that my speed to Mantua there was stay'd.

FRIAR LAURENCE

Who bare my letter, then, to Romeo?

FRIAR JOHN

I could not send it,--here it is again,--
Nor get a messenger to bring it thee,
So fearful were they of infection.

FRIAR LAURENCE

Unhappy fortune! by my brotherhood,
The letter was not nice but full of charge
Of dear import, and the neglecting it
May do much danger. Friar John, go hence;
Get me an iron crow, and bring it straight
Unto my cell.

FRIAR JOHN

Brother, I'll go and bring it thee.

Exit

FRIAR LAURENCE

Now must I to the monument alone;
Within three hours will fair Juliet wake:
She will beshrew me much that Romeo
Hath had no notice of these accidents;
But I will write again to Mantua,
And keep her at my cell till Romeo come;
Poor living corse, closed in a dead man's tomb!

Exit

posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:15 AM on July 26, 2013 [8 favorites]


Inception should have been named Exposition.

Exposition, Inconsistency, Distraction, and Hand Waving. Not a catchy title though.

it's really hard to say why certain movies get away with ridiculous plot holes and which ones won't.

Internal consistency.
posted by bongo_x at 9:23 AM on July 26, 2013


I always think of Back to the Future Part III.
The fuel line on the Delorean that Marty took back to 1885 gets damaged, and of course there are no gas stations in the Old West. Luckily there's a another Delorean---the one that Doc hid for Marty to find in 1955---not far away, presumably with enough gas to get to 88 mph and home. They could have either siphoned the gas and repaired the fuel line on the one Marty rode back or take the fully working one, since whatever repairs and refueling the other one needed would be triflingly easy in 1955, no?

Or am I overthinking things?
posted by Bromius at 9:25 AM on July 26, 2013


Bad movies apologize or hand wave away events that do not follow from previous events. Good movies invent their own logic.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:32 AM on July 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


How on Earth is that less resource-intensive than building a bunch of really big robots? That's a LOT OF WALL. But he just does a drive-by "No more Jaegers! A wall! Oh no! The wall doesn't work! Dumb idea, sorry, we love Jaegers again!" thing, and nobody thinks twice about it.

It seemed clear in the movie that the Wall idea was dumb, hence Stacker bringing all the Jaegers together for a final assault on the rift. He was specifically ignoring orders and gathering together a rag tag bunch of soldiers for one last mission to save the world.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:33 AM on July 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Good bad movies just throw wacky shit at you from left field and then don't even comment on it. Camel Hump from Stealth, I am looking at you, you beautiful thing you.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 9:34 AM on July 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Primer "makes sense" if you draw a giant chart of the timeline

Are you sure? After seeing the movie three times, I went through that chart and thought I'd found some errors or inconsistencies, but I can't remember now what they were.
posted by straight at 9:37 AM on July 26, 2013


Jpfed: "After I saw The Two Towers, my friends were excitedly talking about how awesome it was. At one point I mentioned that the Balrog was so much bigger than I imagined it that it kind of took me out of the movie. I was roundly mocked for this. For years, if someone took exception to one small aspect of a movie that already involved larger demands on suspension of disbelief, whatever they objected to was called their "Balrog"."

That balrog was WAY too big.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:37 AM on July 26, 2013


To suggest that plot holes=bad writing is a really fundamental error. No doubt there are certain people who have a particularly "everything must be logical" mind who get driven mad by certain inconsistencies, but there really is no more reason that any writer should feel compelled to tailor their writing to suit that small minority of people than that they should feel compelled to avoid using the word "moist" because some people find it upsetting or compelled to avoid setting scenes in confined spaces to avoid upsetting the claustrophobics. If you go back and look at the works of the greatest writers of the past you'll find endless "plot holes": Shakespeare, Dickens, George Eliot--you name it. These only matter to the extent that the writer makes them something that troubles the audience--or, more particularly, troubles them in a non-productive or story-destroying way. If the vast bulk of the audience aren't coming away from the story saying "but..wait..how did..." then the writers successfully dealt with the problem and can happily ignore that tiny proportion of the audience who likes to pat itself on the back for spotting these kinds of problems and posting about them on IMDB.
posted by yoink at 9:38 AM on July 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Kuzco: No! It can't be! How did you get back here before us?
Yzma: Uh...
[pauses]
Yzma: ...how did we, Kronk?
Kronk: Well, ya got me. By all accounts, it doesn't make sense.
[Kronk holds up a map of the two parties' trails, showing Yzma's and Kronk's falling down a canyon halfway through]
Yzma: Oh, well.
posted by valrus at 9:42 AM on July 26, 2013 [12 favorites]


This drives me nuts as well.

I finally started watching this show everyone is always talking about, West Wing. All the plot devices are so dumb they have to spend 20 minutes an episode explaining them then they never even say what happened. 20 minutes explaining something called a census, and why statistical modeling is good, then we never hear about it again.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:42 AM on July 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


If you go back and look at the works of the greatest writers of the past you'll find endless "plot holes": Shakespeare,

I am enjoying the thought of Shakespearean Nerds sitting in ale-houses with ruffed shirts, stroking stringy chinbeads and shouting "BUT WHY DIDST ROMEO NOT CHECKETH HER PULSE OR SOMMONE A PHYSICKE? clearlie this play is't not worthe a rusty bodkin"
posted by Shepherd at 9:44 AM on July 26, 2013 [60 favorites]


Ooooh, Back to the Future. Did it not occur to anyone else that when Marty gets back to find a confident published father and spiffy pick-up truck that this implies the existence of another Marty who grew up with those things? What happened to that Marty, huh? My guess is he drove off in a DeLorean and ended up in BttF Marty's timeline with a loser father, no truck, and dead Doc Brown. Some happy ending.
posted by localroger at 9:46 AM on July 26, 2013 [9 favorites]


MALOWE: He doesn't even check her pulse! Will is a show ruining scoundrel of top regard! Here - i have labored to produce a fix to the problem and Extra scenes where in the fair Romeo falls for a madien worthy of him named Marloweena....
posted by The Whelk at 9:51 AM on July 26, 2013 [7 favorites]


BUT WHY DIDST ROMEO NOT CHECKETH HER PULSE OR SOMMONE A PHYSICKE?

It's not considered one of his ~Great Tragedies~ for a reason. IT SUCKS. SUCK ON IT NOOB STAN.
posted by fatehunter at 9:53 AM on July 26, 2013


I finally started watching this show everyone is always talking about, West Wing. All the plot devices are so dumb they have to spend 20 minutes an episode explaining them then they never even say what happened. 20 minutes explaining something called a census, and why statistical modeling is good, then we never hear about it again.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:42 PM on July 26


The West Wing ran from 1999 to 2006. It needed to run a few more years for the census to be relevant again.
posted by Nanukthedog at 9:55 AM on July 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaAAAH!

Wow, that was a maze of twisty little passages, all alike.

So how exactly did Jack Torrance get out of the pantry?
How could Angel Eyes sneak up on Blondie and Tuco like that?
How does The Cup remain suspended 13 mile above the ground?


Art.
 
posted by Herodios at 9:56 AM on July 26, 2013 [9 favorites]


My favorite example of this was the DS9 episode where they travel back in time to the setting of the original Star Trek Trouble with Tribbles episode. When everybody else is asking Worf what's up with how the Klingons looked, he just responds: "We don't talk about it."
posted by mach at 9:56 AM on July 26, 2013 [28 favorites]


BUT WHY DIDST ROMEO NOT CHECKETH HER PULSE OR SOMMONE A PHYSICKE?

Dude, that's explained in the deleted scenes on the DVD and the director mentioned the reasons why at London-Con.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:58 AM on July 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


BUT WHY DIDST ROMEO NOT CHECKETH HER PULSE OR SOMMONE A PHYSICKE?

It's not considered one of his ~Great Tragedies~ for a reason. IT SUCKS. SUCK ON IT NOOB STAN.
posted by fatehunter


Fatehunter, are you named for one of my favourite B-movies? Where the plot revolves around an airplane and a cup of coffee?
 
posted by Herodios at 10:01 AM on July 26, 2013


Wendy lets Jack out of the freezer cause she's a codependant abuse victim.
posted by The Whelk at 10:03 AM on July 26, 2013


Herodios, my name is from a Chinese fantasy novel. Thanks for bringing up the movie though; I never heard of it. Must track it down.
posted by fatehunter at 10:07 AM on July 26, 2013


My girlfriend and I answer these questions with "The Great Exposition Fire." Why didn't they just run out the door? Oh, it was blocked by the Great Exposition Fire. Why don't they know this pretty obvious thing about another character? Oh, those documents were lost in the Great Exposition Fire.
posted by klangklangston at 10:07 AM on July 26, 2013 [8 favorites]


The West Wing ran from 1999 to 2006. It needed to run a few more years for the census to be relevant again.

It really is very annoying they have to find someone to explain just about everything to. You would think anyone who works in the white house already knows how the chain of succession works I mean we learn it in grade school and these are like the best and brightest minds America has to offer.

The real WTF is why nobody working there knows anything. But then again I think moves and TV shows make characters stupid in order to make viewers feel smart. Like all the stumpers Bartlett is always asking. These are the smartest people in America and nobody knows a strawberry has seeds on the outside? Of course they do, that is an opportunity for the viewer to think "damn, I knew the answer, if I wasn't so busy I could run down there and get a deputy chief of staff job"
posted by Ad hominem at 10:07 AM on July 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, some of us haven't seen Pacific Rim yet, so could you maybe shut the fuck up about it?
posted by klangklangston at 10:07 AM on July 26, 2013 [11 favorites]


Every thread on "why do movies suck in this way" has examples from recent, big-budget films. Every single one.

At some point, you've got to learn to deal with it or not read them.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 10:09 AM on July 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Spoiler alert Klang is crabby in the morning.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:12 AM on July 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


Ad Hom I have known some WH staffers and they aren't all exactly history buffs.

Sorkin loves to establish The Real Smart People as the ones who know History (old white guy style) but still, there are lots of folks in politics who can tell you who both senators from Nebraska are but not why there are two branches of Congress.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:17 AM on July 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


Man, I should go get a job there. I know all kinds of shit about fruits and the chain of succession.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:19 AM on July 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm more surprised that nobody wondered why people assumed that some kind of big wall would be good enough to stop all these monsters. Or why a genetically engineered monster, brewed up in some kind of monster lab, would be pregnant. Or why both the "they're coming through with mathematical frequency" and "they're coming through because of some serious reason" guys, who have theories that exist in direct opposition to each other, would both be right.

OOH! WE DID! WE SPENT A GOOD SOLID HOUR LAUGHING AT THE PLOT HOLES AND INCONSISTENCIES IN PACIFIC RIM!

SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS! But dear god the movie is so predictable it won't make a shred of difference if you know this stuff really I promise.

We had to make robots to fight supposedly because none of our weapons were strong enough, yet inevitably the robots win by shooting off a huge cannon or some such, which doesn't at all need to be mounted on a giant robot to work.

How about I use the left side of my brain and you use the right side of your brain, but we use them to do exactly the same thing--work the mechanical stuff on the robot to make it fight! Which makes it seem like using both hemispheres of one brain would be plenty good enough. But it isn't. It's too hard.

You know, the robots worked for twenty years, but a few of them are losing now. Instead of putting more money into the program that we hope will save all humanity, let's dump it altogether and build a Wall that is not even tall or strong enough to keep one of our own robots out. Also, let's not put, like, guns on the Wall or make it electrified or spiky or even add some gosh darn broken glass on the top ir anything.

Hey, everybody, what if we just dug tunnels way underground? Seeing as how we hide from the monsters in underground bunkers anyway? No? Okay, let's do that Wall thing. That sounds peachy keen.

Good thing the ocean is always chest deep, so we can see the robots fight. Except by the rift itself. Where the robots have to be taken every time there is a problem. Because even though all the bad monsters come from the rift, we do not want a robot base right by the riff, because we prefer to let the monsters come ashore somewhere and slaughter civilians for a while before we get around to punching them with our giant robotic fists. Because people are still stupid enough to live right on the coastal barriers, even though all the monsters come from the sea.

These monsters are created in a lab! Wow. How come this one is pregnant, then? How could that even happen in the lab, when no two monsters have been the same ever? Also, what is the advantage of sending the pregnant monster to fight us instead of waiting until it gave birth? Seems like it would be more vulnerable or something. Huh.

How about we use huge carriers on caterpillars to move the giant walking robots! Since the caterpillar things can't go in the water (we can build rust-proof walking robots but not rust-proof carriers, obviously) we will then use helicopters to take the walking robots into the water. Just 8 helicopters per giant robot! Because physics works like that.

I am a sad little girl in a city beseiged by monsters. I have on only one red shoe. This is not because I have lost my other red shoe. No, I just prefer to carry it around like Bob Benson carrying a second cup of coffee instead of ever putting it on my damned foot.

We really need this mission to work, so let's use all our weapons to save our friends' lives. Or not. We could just wait until after the shit hits the fan to remember OH YEAH I HAS A GIANT SWORD.

You know what would have been good to have for each robot, since they take two people to operate? A backup team! But we do not have room for that in a GIANT ROBOT, apparently. And we do not have any extra duos, even though we found, like, a hundred guys that could probably pair with our hero and they are now sitting around doing nothing anyway, eating our food and taking up more of that budget we don't have. Except we had the budget to fly them all in in the first place. And we have those cool robot-carrying helicopters...hey, how come we have no flying robots?

Oh! Another good thing to have in a robot? An escape pod! Yeah! So let's only put them in the robot whose job is supposed to be defending the actual robot with the nuke. the nuke robot will have no escape pods. Because no reason at all. Also, let's not foreshadow in any way that an escape pod is even a possibility before. And let's put two escape pods in there, rather than just one, though every time in the past when both people were okay, the robot was also fine, and it is only when one pilot goes down that we have run into trouble before. But now, suddenly, we are actually going to have a backup plan for a chamge, for stuff that hasn't ever happened before.

END SPOILERS!
posted by misha at 10:19 AM on July 26, 2013 [12 favorites]


I've always been impressed with how tight the plot for Hudson Hawk was. Really, this should be the gold standard for believability.
posted by Nanukthedog at 10:20 AM on July 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


cribcage: "Nemesis tells the story of a slave race who have been imprisoned inside a planet to mine. They're basically Morlocks, and you'd feel bad for them except that unlike the Morlocks, these imprisoned slaves have somehow managed to construct (in the words of Wikipedia) "a heavily armed warship named Scimitar, with a completely undetectable cloaking device, an arsenal of weapons, and virtually impregnable shields.""

That's not what drove me nuts about Nemesis. In Nemesis, the slave race hates their oppressors, who live on the next planet over. They hate their oppressors so much that they build a heavily armed warship, fly it right out of the system containing their hated oppressors, in order to slowly drive across most of the mapped galaxy in order to shoot at a bunch of unrelated people who actually only just finished being at war with their hated oppressors. This is, apparently, with the goal of somehow punishing their hated oppressors. What? They're doing what now?
posted by Karmakaze at 10:20 AM on July 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


Someday for a fun exercise, watch the pilots of The West Wing and Commander in Chief (ABC's ripoff) back to back, and watch how various characters are introduced. Aaron Sorkin uses plot and dialogue to introduce characters, and Rod Lurie literally sticks name tags on everybody.

Complain about Sorkin if you want, but take a look at the barrel's bottom. It's worse.

I've always been impressed with how tight the plot for Hudson Hawk was.

James Coburn had eagle eyes to spot Vatican plates from that balcony.
posted by cribcage at 10:22 AM on July 26, 2013


The fuel line on the Delorean that Marty took back to 1885 gets damaged, and of course there are no gas stations in the Old West. Luckily there's a another Delorean---the one that Doc hid for Marty to find in 1955---not far away, presumably with enough gas to get to 88 mph and home. They could have either siphoned the gas and repaired the fuel line on the one Marty rode back or take the fully working one, since whatever repairs and refueling the other one needed would be triflingly easy in 1955, no?

Ooh, ooh, I know this one! Or, rather, the official Back To The Future FAQ knows it.

There are two logical answers to this one…

1.The car mechanic's answer: As anyone who has stored an automobile for a long period of time can tell you, you always drain all of the fluids out of the car before putting it into storage. Doc most certainly would have drained the gas out of the DeLorean if he was going to leave it hidden for 70 years. At the 1955 drive-in, Doc specifically says "I put gas in the tank" indicating that the DMC must have had an empty tank when they found it in the mine.

2.The time travel theory answer: Even if Doc had not drained the tank, he still would not have gone back into the mine for fear of creating a time paradox by accidentally damaging the DeLorean, the mine, or who knows what. After all, since Marty is now back in 1885, Doc's plan obviously worked, and worked perfectly. But what if Doc were to go back into the mine and accidentally cause a cave-in that causes even more damage to the DeLorean? What happens to the future of that DeLorean, when it's unearthed in 1955? And what might that do to Marty and the undamaged future DeLorean now in 1885? As an analogy, imagine a time traveler going back in time, finding himself as a child, and cutting off that child's hand with a meat cleaver. What happens to the adult time-traveler's hand? That would definitely risk a time paradox, and we know that Doc would never go out of his way to risk such a thing for fear of (in the worst case scenario) unraveling the fabric of the space-time continuum and destroying the entire universe.

posted by Servo5678 at 10:25 AM on July 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Fate Is The Hunter (novel)
Fate Is The Hunter (film)

The film is apparently so loosely adapted that the novel's author had his name removed. Hollywood cheese at its very best! The film is all plot-hole, but you don't find that out until the end.

No, Jaye Davidson is not in it, though Glenn Ford, Wally Cox, and Nancy Kwan are.
 
posted by Herodios at 10:27 AM on July 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hudson Hawk: You're supposed to be all cracked up at the bottom of the hill!
Tommy Five-Tone: Airbags! Can you fu***** believe it?
Anna: You're supposed to be blown up into fiery chunks of flesh!
Tommy Five-Tone: Sprinkler system set up in the back! Can you *fu****** believe it?
posted by Nanukthedog at 10:29 AM on July 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


"Yeah! That's probably what happened!"
posted by cribcage at 10:30 AM on July 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


MetaFilter: SOMMONE A PHYSICKE

or

MetaFilter: I am a sad little girl in a city beseiged by monsters.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:32 AM on July 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


For those talking about the plotholes in Pacific Rim, I would remind you that this movie was marketed as being about giant robots punching giant monsters in the face. I saw the movie and can confirm that this happens many, many times. In one scene a giant robot hits the robot in the face with a boat! That was awesome!

When someone is in a fight and they pick something up to hit the other person with, they generally try to grab something that is stronger than their own flesh and bones. They want to strike the person with something that will cause more damage than their fists. So people will pick up a bat or a brick or a wooden board or something like that. No one would pick up a a nerf bat or a steak or a magazine. You want to inflict more damage with your weapon than you could with your hands. That is the point.

These robots in Pacific Rim were designed to fight giant monsters with the lives of all humanity at stake. We can assume that these robots are built with the strongest reinforced metals on the planet. A boat, on the other hand, is not designed to withstand anything as strong as a giant monster. Grabbing the boat to strike the monster is like me grabbing an omelet to aid me in my fight to the death with you.
posted by flarbuse at 10:32 AM on July 26, 2013 [7 favorites]


In fairness, that was a pretty excellent boat-related pounding.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:34 AM on July 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


The other night I fell asleep on the couch and woke up watching inception - except I wasn't totally awake. So I kept falling in and out of sleep while the move went on....

This actually reminds me of the time a friend watched Dark City and The Matrix back-to-back and called me afterwards "to help convince me that the world is still real".

Also, this seems relevant:

"If you're wondering how he eats and drinks, and other science facts,
Then say to yourself, 'it's just a show, I should really just relax'..."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:36 AM on July 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Going To Maine: "Guillermo del Toro can make a fine entertainment, but his plots are five kinds of swiss cheese. (Pan's Labyrinth is a freak event that can't be explained.)"

I tend to only notice the most glaring of plot holes (it's just not how I watch movies), but can you elaborate on this? I'm not saying his plots are devoid of holes, but he's never struck me as remarkable in this regard.
posted by brundlefly at 10:36 AM on July 26, 2013


flarbuse: "A boat, on the other hand, is not designed to withstand anything as strong as a giant monster. Grabbing the boat to strike the monster is like me grabbing an omelet to aid me in my fight to the death with you."

Wasn't that the monster that was spitting metal-melting acid? I figured the ship was for the purpose of extending the robot's reach to stay out of range of that attack.
posted by Karmakaze at 10:41 AM on July 26, 2013


In fairness, that was a pretty excellent boat-related pounding.

I wish I could say that's the first time I've ever heard that sentence...
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 10:42 AM on July 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


Christ almighty, "Nerd" culture has become such a tiring embarrassment that I'm thinking of hiding my Network Admin degree and becoming a plumber.

One of the depressingly common things I've noticed about discussions about "Pacific Rim" is how even in the POSITIVE reviews of it, so many people have to take time to point out how "mindless entertainment" it is, and how they enjoyed it despite knowing how silly the physics and such are. Yes, I too am familiar with both Joseph Campbell and the inverse square law, yet at no point did I feel conflicted or dissonant.

It's interesting to me, because it reflects on the way religious types are often brought up to feel guilty or ashamed at 'secular' pleasures, and have to qualify any such 'indulgences' with contrition or self-deprecation, less they appear less than 'godly'. (and missing the point entirely, but i digress)

I feel like a number of people in my peergroup saw that scene in Ghostbusters where Ray is asking Egon about why he's such a boring creep, and if he even had a slinky growing up, and Egon deadpans "I had half a slinky once... I straightened it." and took that as something to aspire to, rather than illustrating what a weirdo Egon was; like a number of people were born with great intelligence at the cost of their imagination, and it just makes me sad.

and yet, most of these people will wholeheartedly embrace cheesy, inconsistent dreck like Doctor Who without complaint. I'll keep Inception thanks.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 10:45 AM on July 26, 2013 [18 favorites]


Ooh, ooh, I know this one! Or, rather, the official Back To The Future FAQ knows it.

Oh wow. I cannot tell you how happy it makes me that this FAQ exists.
posted by painquale at 10:47 AM on July 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hear hear, Uther Bentrazor. Also, this.
posted by brundlefly at 10:49 AM on July 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


klangklangston: "Also, some of us haven't seen Pacific Rim yet, so could you maybe shut the fuck up about it?"

What the hell are you doing dorking around on the internet if you haven't seen it yet? Go see it right now.
posted by boo_radley at 10:49 AM on July 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


Doctor Who sucks, too.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 10:50 AM on July 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


GO SEE PACIFIC RIM.
posted by maryr at 10:52 AM on July 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like doctor who cause it supports my internal daydream that one day I'll get to go on a SPACE ADVENTURE logic be damned
posted by The Whelk at 10:54 AM on July 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


It's not considered one of his ~Great Tragedies~ for a reason. IT SUCKS. SUCK ON IT NOOB STAN.

Pfft. "Great" my ass. More like Stop Hanging Around the Castle with a Murderer and His Treacherous Accomplices, Pay More Attention to Your Wife Than Your Creepy Friend, How Do You Not Realize Your Children Are Shitty, and a Wizard (x3) Did It.
posted by Copronymus at 10:55 AM on July 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yeah, I enjoy Doctor Who if only because I want a Tardis soooo baaaad.
posted by brundlefly at 10:58 AM on July 26, 2013


How could Angel Eyes sneak up on Blondie and Tuco like that?

From Ebert's Great Movie entry:
A vast empty Western landscape. The camera pans across it. Then the shot slides onto a sunburned, desperate face. The long shot has become a closeup without a cut, revealing that the landscape was not empty but occupied by a desperado very close to us.

In these opening frames, Sergio Leone established a rule that he follows throughout "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly." The rule is that the ability to see is limited by the sides of the frame. At important moments in the film, what the camera cannot see, the characters cannot see, and that gives Leone the freedom to surprise us with entrances that cannot be explained by the practical geography of his shots.
posted by octothorpe at 10:59 AM on July 26, 2013 [13 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos: "Also, this seems relevant:

"If you're wondering how he eats and drinks, and other science facts,
Then say to yourself, 'it's just a show, I should really just relax'..."
"

Ahem:
If you're wondering how he eats and breathes
and other science facts (la-la-la),
Just repeat to yourself, "It's just a show,
I should really just relax..."
[/CowtownPuppetShowPedantry]
posted by Chrysostom at 11:01 AM on July 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


"What the hell are you doing dorking around on the internet if you haven't seen it yet? Go see it right now."

I'm going to see it with my girlfriend's parents, since they hate actually doing things and a big summer blockbuster is about the only way to kill time with them. I will see it within the week.
posted by klangklangston at 11:02 AM on July 26, 2013


We had to make robots to fight supposedly because none of our weapons were strong enough, yet inevitably the robots win by shooting off a huge cannon or some such, which doesn't at all need to be mounted on a giant robot to work.

They tried regular tanks, missiles and planes. That only worked after days and miles of destruction. However, a giant robot gives the monster something to focus on and the robots often managed to land killing blows in the head or chest.

How about I use the left side of my brain and you use the right side of your brain, but we use them to do exactly the same thing--work the mechanical stuff on the robot to make it fight! Which makes it seem like using both hemispheres of one brain would be plenty good enough. But it isn't. It's too hard.

No, as clearly explained in the movie, the neural load tended to stress a single human mind, WHEREAS USING TWO MIND DIDN'T. Did you even watch the movie?!

You know, the robots worked for twenty years, but a few of them are losing now. Instead of putting more money into the program that we hope will save all humanity, let's dump it altogether and build a Wall that is not even tall or strong enough to keep one of our own robots out. Also, let's not put, like, guns on the Wall or make it electrified or spiky or even add some gosh darn broken glass on the top ir anything.

It was a dumb political decision that the leader of the Jaeger pilots blatantly ignored, because it was some dumb. Jesus, stop fucking texting during movies and maybe you'll be able to enjoy it!

Good thing the ocean is always chest deep, so we can see the robots fight. Except by the rift itself. Where the robots have to be taken every time there is a problem. Because even though all the bad monsters come from the rift, we do not want a robot base right by the riff, because we prefer to let the monsters come ashore somewhere and slaughter civilians for a while before we get around to punching them with our giant robotic fists. Because people are still stupid enough to live right on the coastal barriers, even though all the monsters come from the sea.

Sigh, you didn't really watch the movie, did you? Robots enter via rift in Pacific Ocean, then chugg around until they come upon a land mass. And yes people continue to live in places where disasters have occurred, true! Never mind that for 20 years the Kaiju were beaten back, so why not live of the coast?!


These monsters are created in a lab! Wow. How come this one is pregnant, then?


Have you not seen Jurassic Park?! LIVE WILL ALWAYS FIND A WAY!

How could that even happen in the lab, when no two monsters have been the same ever?

Uh, dogs fuck and produce offspring, despite looking different. Why can't giant monsters?!

How about we use huge carriers on caterpillars to move the giant walking robots! Since the caterpillar things can't go in the water (we can build rust-proof walking robots but not rust-proof carriers, obviously) we will then use helicopters to take the walking robots into the water. Just 8 helicopters per giant robot! Because physics works like that.

Don't be hating on physics, that shit is just wrong.

I am a sad little girl in a city beseiged by monsters. I have on only one red shoe. This is not because I have lost my other red shoe. No, I just prefer to carry it around like Bob Benson carrying a second cup of coffee instead of ever putting it on my damned foot.

Maybe her family, who had just been killed had just bought her the shoes. Maybe the damn shoe was all that was left of dead mom, did you ever think of that you heartless Kaiju?!

We really need this mission to work, so let's use all our weapons to save our friends' lives. Or not. We could just wait until after the shit hits the fan to remember OH YEAH I HAS A GIANT SWORD.

Hellloooo people, giant swords use up a lot of energy, of course it's the last ditch weapon, DUUUUUUH.

You know what would have been good to have for each robot, since they take two people to operate? A backup team!

OMG, that would mean the Russians have to get along with Australians. NEVER GONNA HAPPEN. You'd know that if you hadn't skipped out of 5th to watch Dirty Dancing for the Nth time!

Oh! Another good thing to have in a robot? An escape pod! Yeah! So let's only put them in the robot whose job is supposed to be defending the actual robot with the nuke. the nuke robot will have no escape pods.

If you had read the wiki or seen the Comic-con talk or the various interviews that del Toro did you'd know why this was, but since you can't be bothered, now you'll never know and you'll spend the rest of the night in your mom's basement wondering why.

Also, some of us haven't seen Pacific Rim yet, so could you maybe shut the fuck up about it?

Jesus, another west coast asshole, Metafilter is really going down the tubes.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:03 AM on July 26, 2013 [15 favorites]


But to go back to a point that I mentioned upthread - it's really hard to say why certain movies get away with ridiculous plot holes and which ones won't. Why do big ol' unexplained walls set us off but not pseudoscience montages of people getting hooked into robots? Why have people been complaining about plot issues in Star Trek but no one has even thought to mention Doctor Who? The engine that sets the mental standards for what is acceptable is very curious.

I think this is a compelling, and interesting, question, and deserves more of an answer than you've been given so far in this thread. Some factors:
  • Implicit trust in a writer. Sorry, Damon Lindelof, but I scrutinize your works more than I do the works of some other writers, particularly when it comes to portrayals of science vs. faith because I've watched you stumble pretty painfully through them before and you seem to be advocating a somewhat slimey metamessage about the failure of science within science fictional works. But he's not the only one. I have a friend who won't watch Pacific Rim because she thinks that del Toro must be ripping off Neon Genesis rather than paying homage to it. We want to feel like a writer is on our team, and for better or worse, that needs to be earned, mostly through past successes or failures but also through the surrounding marketing and discussion about a work.
  • The universe's general attitude toward logic. So the reason we excuse the non-science of MST3k isn't only because it tells us to ("It's just a show--I should really just relax!") but also because it established the tone early on. This is a show where a man can make sentient robots out of crap sitting around a space station. We'll excuse it its silly excesses, because it's totally in keeping with the universe. Ditto, Doctor Who. Whereas, say, Pacific Rim opens with a lengthy and Very Serious exposition dump, and so we expect the narrative to stay in keeping with that.
  • The audience's familiarity with the "science" tropes being used and how well those tropes are executed in accordance with their expectations. The giant robots in Pacific Rim act like giant robots in things we've seen before, even if they're not really plausible, they're consistent and generally act as expected. Meanwhile, old Trekkies are mad because the Enterprise was built on land and we see it underwater and that's not how Trek ships work. Never mind that we're talking fantasy either way.
  • The pacing and how well it distracts us from narrative problems. JJ Abrams is pretty good at this. For most viewers, he can distract us enough that we at least don't notice most of the problems within the movie itself; it's over dinner after that we're left scratching our head because, wait, that didn't make sense.
  • Earning trust within the movie. Put in big, gaping, obvious plotholes early on and you'll have lost the audience's trust and also broken some of the magic of the universe. Viewers will be on the look out for errors, and will call you on it, and will likely be kinda pissed because they just wanted to be captivated, okay?
Among others, probably . . .
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:03 AM on July 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


I am a sad little girl in a city beseiged by monsters. I have on only one red shoe. This is not because I have lost my other red shoe. No, I just prefer to carry it around like Bob Benson carrying a second cup of coffee instead of ever putting it on my damned foot.

This, though, this seems like silly nitpicking to me. She's a scared little kid whose shoe fell off and she wants her mom to put it back on. I've watched kids limp around just like that because they need you to put it on for them because it's better. I thought del Toro really captured that childhood feeling of terror and fundamental helplessness really well--it wasn't until that scene that I figured out the emotional heart of the movie.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:06 AM on July 26, 2013 [13 favorites]


PhoBWanKenobi: "Whereas, say, Pacific Rim opens with a lengthy and Very Serious exposition dump, and so we expect the narrative to stay in keeping with that."

I wouldn't call that exposition dump "Very Serious," but more "straight faced." It certainly doesn't wink at the camera, but I think the fantastic premise speaks for itself. Camping it up there would be a step too far.
posted by brundlefly at 11:09 AM on July 26, 2013


Well, yeah, but it took the science pretty seriously despite the inherent camp, so later lapses in that stand out as "off"--off tone, off logic. Which is one of the things I liked about the movie, because good camp shouldn't wink at you necessarily but actually should take itself seriously.

Essentially del Toro created the perfect B movie.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:12 AM on July 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I thought it was perfectly obvious that all of Inception was one long dream, and that the idea is the audience infer what they can about the dreamer's life from what he dreams about. Perhaps that's just me.

Movie logic is dream logic. All movies have holes in them (they have to, or some of them would be decades long), but in badly made movies (which does include a lot of newer ones, it's true) the holes are more visible. However, if you go to a movie specifically to look for plot holes (or if plot-hole-spotting is the easiest way for your to accumulate things to say about it) you will find as many as you want. It just happens to be of little or no use or value, because it's such a facile trick.

On the other hand, it's certainly true that more and more scripts are now built from the Blake Snyder model rather than the Robert McKee model (at least McKee understood that there were other ways to make a film), where it doesn't matter how you hit your beats as long as you hit them on cue. But there were always bad movies, written to order by hacks.

Actual hacks, by the way. Writers who churn out words to fill some publishing void or other. Shakespeare was a hack, and it's nothing to be ashamed of.

What is different about newer movies is that they have to move faster - Pacific Rim is quite a good example, in that it's not (I would fervently attest) a stupid movie, but it is one made with the understanding that in order to work it needs to be relatively uncomplicated. It has to go from here, to here, to here, to over there and it has to do it very quickly. So what, in my opinion, makes it a very well-done movie, is that it makes all of those manoevres at high speed and with relatively few mis-steps such that the reverie - the dream logic - is undisturbed. The problem with Prometheus was that there were so many mis-steps - and attempts at explaining things - even the most indulgent viewer (in this case, me) had at some point to throw up their hands and say "Ah, well, it makes no sense at all now". Partly, I suspect, because it had pretensions to seriousness. The problems arise not when the script defies logic, but when the viewer is required to think at all. Ideally, thinking takes place after the movie, as does intellectual appreciation. If someone wants to waste their energy playing "I Spy Plot Holes" it's up to them, but it's really not a very interesting thing to do.

As has been pointed out here before, if someone wants a movie where the writer really has thought out an explanation for every fucking detail, they should probably see the extended version of Donnie Darko.
posted by Grangousier at 11:13 AM on July 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


I thought the opening of Pacific Rim was a kind of filter: serious tone... disaster... the end of the world... but... gigantic monsters? Giant robots! If you're on board with that you'll enjoy the movie, if not, I hope you brought your Kindle and some ear plugs.
posted by Grangousier at 11:15 AM on July 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


HULK VS. PLOT HOLES AND MOVIE LOGIC. It's a long read but worth the time.

Not so long when you end up skipping over more than 50% because that all caps conceit is too damned hard to read for paragraphs on end. Is it some sort of subscription-driving system where becoming a member gets you a button to get to it in readable form?

Seriously too bad; I liked the content and writing but I'm not subjecting myself to that on a regular basis.
posted by phearlez at 11:15 AM on July 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Going To Maine: "Guillermo del Toro can make a fine entertainment, but his plots are five kinds of swiss cheese. (Pan's Labyrinth is a freak event that can't be explained.)"

I tend to only notice the most glaring of plot holes (it's just not how I watch movies), but can you elaborate on this? I'm not saying his plots are devoid of holes, but he's never struck me as remarkable in this regard.


Giving you loads specific examples will be hard, since the films of his that I've seen have been few & far between. Similarly, I really can't comment on his being exceptional in this. Perhaps there's just something about him that sets me off.

I've seen Pacific Rim, the Hellboys, Blade 2, and Pan's Labyrinth. In general, my memories of all these films save perhaps Pan's Labyrinth is that they sketch out a lot of vivid characters and places that I'd like to know better. Hellboy is a great character, and the BPRD is a great location. I'm pretty sure that I though Blade's base in Blade 2 was an excellent environment. Pacific Rim is full of charming, 2D characters and some excellent environments.

The problem is that it often feels to me like there's too much that doesn't need to be there. Blade 2 includes those vampire guys who seem to exist only to die. Ditto for some of the other Jaeger pilots in Pacific Rim. (Other directors do this as well.) Items in Hellboy's bag of tricks show up one time and are never used again. (And ditto for Blade 2, I believe.) Perhaps, instead of saying that he has a lot of plot holes, I should say that he's very sloppy. It's as if he wants to keep every idea in his head in a film, regardless of content. Five hundred characters! A thousand gadgets! Nothing is expendable. When I think of plot holes in del Toro's material, I think of the twist in Blade 2, magically foreseen by Blade. And I think of the clockwork Nazi who is mysteriously able to shut off his heart. (I actually first saw just the second half of Hellboy, later followed by watching the whole movie. Between the two screenings, I kept assuming there was some awesome introduction to the clockwork Nazi & his abilities. Nope. Nothing. Just a "hey, guess he can do that!") (I had the exact same see-end-then-whole-thing-have-expectations-left-unmet experience with Waterworld, incidentally. I'm not saying that del Toro is alone here.)

Pacific Rim, I should add, worked pretty fine for me. I didn't note many of the holes tossed out there by misha. The dialogue wasn't at Hellboy level, but point A led to point B and I was willing to roll with it. In contrast, those other movies often left me vexed at their willingness to just fling random monsters into the frame and then have them destroyed minutes later. (That tree elemental in Hellboy 2.)

It's like a number of people were born with great intelligence at the cost of their imagination, and it just makes me sad.

This feels like a bit of a crass reduction of imagination. Are Casablanca or North by Northwest unimaginative just because they don't involve giant monsters? Let's be fair about that. And while we shouldn't feel apologetic for liking something that's decidedly low culture, it doesn't mean that low culture material gets a pass for having low quality. I'll praise Pacific Rim's world to high heaven while condemning its dialogue to hell. After leaving the theater, one of the friends with whom I saw Pacific Rim spouted out a list of different mecha-themed anime that he felt was significantly more inventive than the movie. (Got to find myself a season of Code Geass somewhere...)

That said, probably some of that criticism did come along because of guilt & hang-ups related to childish pleasures. We can more easily talk about feeling free to indulge in such things than we can actually do so.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:16 AM on July 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


The comfort modern moviegoing audiences have with shittily written movies that don't make any fucking sense but look cool is a source of ever renewing despair to me.

This is not a phenomenon confined to film. Take a look at the media that Americans consume, be it books or magazines or talk radio. The best-selling books over the last ten years are all either (a) written for children (b) poorly written fan fiction or (c) conceal their gaping plot holes with such horrible writing that no one notices (c.f. "Renowned curator Jacques Saunière staggered through the vaulted archway of the museum's Grand Gallery." )

Public acceptance of media is in no way contingent upon it being well-written or coherent. In fact, I could make a pretty convincing argument to the contrary: the easiest way to make a pile of money with your blockbuster is to pretend that your audience is only literate enough to follow your plot if you provide exposition on-screen.
posted by Mayor West at 11:16 AM on July 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


After I saw The Two Towers, my friends were excitedly talking about how awesome it was. At one point I mentioned that the Balrog was so much bigger than I imagined it that it kind of took me out of the movie. I was roundly mocked for this. For years, if someone took exception to one small aspect of a movie that already involved larger demands on suspension of disbelief, whatever they objected to was called their "Balrog".

You missed the debate about the Mount Doom lava viscosity and whether that was suspension of disbelief breaking?
posted by jeather at 11:16 AM on July 26, 2013


> LIVE WILL ALWAYS FIND A WAY!

This comment belongs in the '90s button thread.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:17 AM on July 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


A boat, on the other hand, is not designed to withstand anything as strong as a giant monster. Grabbing the boat to strike the monster is like me grabbing an omelet to aid me in my fight to the death with you.

Not to mention that oil tankers aren't meant to operate as giant cantilevers, so when you pick up one end of an oil tanker in your giant robot mitts, the boat is just going to break into bits. Like Titanic when too much of its bum was sticking out of the water.

The right answer of course is SHUT UP BOATS FROM FORT KICKASS ARE TOTALLY THAT STRONG.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:18 AM on July 26, 2013 [10 favorites]


These monsters are created in a lab! Wow. How come this one is pregnant, then?

Have you not seen Jurassic Park?! LIVE WILL ALWAYS FIND A WAY!


I seriously cannot even tell if you're joking anymore.

Maybe you're the Andy Kaufman of apologizing for shitty movies.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 11:18 AM on July 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't think that the wall in Pacific Rim is any dumber than building a wall between the US and Mexico to keep out all of the illegal aliens. It provided jobs, which were clearly needed.

I mean the wall didn't have to be obviously effective, just politically plausible.
posted by Quonab at 11:21 AM on July 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


"Why is there a watermelon there?"
"I'll tell you later."
posted by xingcat at 9:16 AM on July 26


Supposedly the Banzai Institute was developing a watermelon that could be dropped from aircraft to alleviate famines. Upon reflection, this was probably better as an unanswered question.
posted by Standeck at 11:23 AM on July 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


Going to Maine, I figured you were mostly talking about the Hellboy films. They're my least favorite of del Toros's. They're kind of a mess, but they're fun messes. You can tell that he's having a good time and it's infectious. Blade 2 works better for me if only because it's so straight forward and streamlined, set in a Carpenter-style isolated location. Also, I love the overblown "bad ass guy" dialogue.

I definitely suggest you check out his earlier work, especially The Devil's Backbone. I really love that film. And I'd say that Mimic is one of the artsiest giant bug movies ever made.
posted by brundlefly at 11:25 AM on July 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


See the director's cut of Mimic if you can.
posted by brundlefly at 11:26 AM on July 26, 2013


Are Casablanca or North by Northwest unimaginative just because they don't involve giant monsters?

Of course, Casablanca is in many ways just as fantastical as Pacific Rim or Fast Five.

(And I love all of them!)
posted by kmz at 11:29 AM on July 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I watched Pacific Rim the same way I watched Megaforce. Some movies are just done as action junkie nonsense and how ridiculous it is just adds to the fun.
posted by cashman at 11:37 AM on July 26, 2013


Porn used to bother with trying to establish stories and plots, which the hapless performers would then butcher with their "acting", and none of it was a) believable or b) what the audience wanted in the first place so now porn just gets right down to business.

Action movies should similarly just go straight for the explosions and giant monsters and whatever else they're really about and skip the rest. It's just another kind of porn anyway.
posted by briank at 11:37 AM on July 26, 2013


Porn used to bother with trying to establish stories and plots, which the hapless performers would then butcher with their "acting", and none of it was a) believable or b) what the audience wanted in the first place so now porn just gets right down to business.

Hey. Angels Live In My Town is a classic.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:43 AM on July 26, 2013


Maybe you're the Andy Kaufman of apologizing for shitty movies.

I like to enjoy movies, all of which are flawed to some degree. Obsessing over what I think a movies should do is tedious or boring, when one could just go ahead and enjoy it.

With the huge number of media options available these days, it's odd to complain about Hollywood movies as if they're the only game in town. And with those great options comes a deeper appreciation of individual films on their various merits instead of thinking they should all be like X or Y.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:44 AM on July 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I agree that there are a lot of factors in what makes one plot hole-ridden movie fun and another an exercise in grar-inducing rage, and it's interesting to suss out where your individual "I cannot deal with this plot hole" line is. For example, I loved Pacific Rim and rolled with all of its ridiculousness, with only the occasional wince at awful dialogue. I kind of hated The Dark Knight Rises which also had some truly execrable exposition-heavy dialogue and a ton of stupid plot choices/plot holes. The giant difference in tone between the two movies is essentially why I had such different reactions. Pacific Rim was aiming to be a gloriously fun, good-hearted, monster B-movie. The Dark Knight Rises, on the other hand, was aiming to be a serious, dark, edgy movie that excised basically all of its ridiculous yet fun comic book DNA, so I was not impressed when so much of it failed to make much sense at all.

A certain amount of genre mis-match is, I think, at the heart of a lot of plot hole type complaints. Either the genre mis-match is between the viewer and the movie/book/show (i.e. watching a comic book movie like it's an Oscar-worthy drama) or between the creator and the source (i.e. the aforementioned Dark Knight Rises attempting to make a serious action drama out of a comic book movie). That's not to say you can't be successful with some of these genre mis-matches, but the clash of genres and tones is way more likely to annoy some particular subset of viewers that will loudly complain about it.
posted by yasaman at 11:48 AM on July 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


The rule is that the ability to see is limited by the sides of the frame. At important moments in the film, what the camera cannot see, the characters cannot see, and that gives Leone the freedom to surprise us with entrances that cannot be explained by the practical geography of his shots.

I love this, and I think that it's something that a person familiar with desert landscapes would do intuitively. In big empty places you're either dwarfed by the big emptiness, or fixated on the things within arms' length. There's no middle ground, perceptively (though Leone often will visually bridge the gap, like the fantastic crane shot when Jill arrives in Once Upon a Time in the West.)
posted by oneirodynia at 11:49 AM on July 26, 2013


briank: "Action movies should similarly just go straight for the explosions and giant monsters and whatever else they're really about and skip the rest. It's just another kind of porn anyway."

I would not be an action fan anymore if this were the case.
posted by brundlefly at 11:49 AM on July 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


> Action movies should similarly just go straight for the explosions and giant monsters and whatever else they're really about and skip the rest.

When I was a drunk university student I liked to go on about my idea for The Greatest Action Movie Ever; an opening scene where one person is walking down a street and is fired upon by another person with a handgun. They return fire with a handgun. Followed by two hours of steadily-escalating plot and context-free action culminating in a shot of the earth exploding and a title card reading "FIN DE ACTION CINEMA."
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:51 AM on July 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Maybe you're the Andy Kaufman of apologizing for shitty movies.

Armond White would like to let you know that the position has already been filled.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 12:00 PM on July 26, 2013


What the hell are you doing dorking around on the internet if you haven't seen [Pacific Rim] yet? Go see it right now.

Will you pay the plane ticket so I can get to a country where it's actually showing? Or maybe a time machine so I can go forward to next Friday, when it premieres around here.
posted by ymgve at 12:02 PM on July 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


The rule is that the ability to see is limited by the sides of the frame.

This explains why Snow White and her huntsman were able to evade the queen's soldiers in what looked to be a clearing about the size of a baseball diamond.
posted by cribcage at 12:10 PM on July 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


When I was a drunk university student I liked to go on about my idea for The Greatest Action Movie Ever; an opening scene where one person is walking down a street and is fired upon by another person with a handgun. They return fire with a handgun. Followed by two hours of steadily-escalating plot and context-free action culminating in a shot of the earth exploding and a title card reading "FIN DE ACTION CINEMA."

Takashi Miike says hello. Say hello to Takashi Miike.
posted by Shepherd at 12:16 PM on July 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


"The other night I fell asleep on the couch and woke up watching inception - except I wasn't totally awake. So I kept falling in and out of sleep while the move went on...."

That wasn't Inception, that was Inland Empire. Also, you weren't falling asleep.
posted by Ardiril at 12:22 PM on July 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Shepherd: I saw that movie in a theater and after the end, I and several strangers in the audience looked at each other and asked "wait, what the *hell* was that??"
posted by rmd1023 at 12:29 PM on July 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


JJ Abrams whole schtick is presenting plot holes with no intention of explaining them. That works for certain types of stories, but neither Star Trek nor Star Wars are of those types.
posted by Ardiril at 12:38 PM on July 26, 2013 [9 favorites]


Abrams seems to confuse "mystery" with withheld information.
posted by brundlefly at 12:43 PM on July 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


I would not be an action fan anymore if this were the case.

I agree, and I think porn would also be much better if they added quality stories.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 12:55 PM on July 26, 2013


It's like the exact opposite of a MacGuffin.

Hitchcock was especially bothered by moviegoers who split too many hairs, referring to them disdainfully as "logic buffs." Now that Hollywood thinks hyperliteral comic book nerds are the most lucrative target audience ever, these killjoys are making movies even worse.
posted by jonp72 at 12:56 PM on July 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Takashi Miike says hello. Say hello to Takashi Miike.

Ah, but Miike is the exception that proves the rule. The true genius of the ending to Dead Or Alive is that it comes after about 90 minutes of pretty standard cops-and-gangsters movie tropes, which in turn came after the utterly insane opening sequence. The opening of DOA is strong enough that you spend the entire rest of the movie waiting for it to get that crazy again, and then IT DOES.

Also note that this ending does nothing to prevent Miike from making two more DOA films, both featuring the same two lead actors. Miike doesn't do plot holes, he does lush and verdant valleys of random occurrence.
posted by Strange Interlude at 12:57 PM on July 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'd suggest modern action movies are descended from Harryhausen movies, which definitely are designed to support a string of effects shots, at a time when it was only economic to do a few quite short effects per movie - after Star Wars, they made more of an effort to blend the effects sequences with the narrative bits. So, yes, structurally the same as porn - a string of pearls (as it were), but in porn it's the narrative bit that's atrophied. Musicals are also the same thing, by the way.

If anyone wants to do a Masters thesis mapping out the structural similarities between action movies, classic musicals and 70s porn, I'd be very interested to read it.
posted by Grangousier at 12:58 PM on July 26, 2013


Followed by two hours of steadily-escalating plot and context-free action culminating in a shot of the earth exploding and a title card reading "FIN DE ACTION CINEMA."

Don't forget to include a lead character that you literally can't stop watching.
posted by Strange Interlude at 1:00 PM on July 26, 2013


After a ridiculous car chase in "Fast & Furious 6," rescuee Letty, an amnesiac, asks her rescuer Dom, the lover she's forgotten, how he knew a car would be there to break their fall. He replies, "I didn't—Some things you just have to take on faith."

In what book of the Bible can I find "When you are falling from a great height, Jesus will provide a car to land in?"

"But, you know, it's a movie. There are people who go through movies and look for inconsistencies and continuity errors, and they list them. I fear those people, and I also weep for them."

Plot holes are becoming fairly common, as Hollywood becomes ever more insistent it's all about how the movie makes you feel, not how it hangs together. A search for inconsistencies is a natural reaction to that.

It is possible for random chance to play a role in a movie, but you have to be careful about it, for only in real life can nonsensical things happen unquestioned. The thing is, movie characters have this tendency to act as if they somehow knew the incredible coincidence that just happened was coming all along. I hate that.
posted by JHarris at 1:00 PM on July 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Another thing that really bugs me is how these discussions about "realism" and plot logic are not applied to directors like, say, Cassavetes, but to comic book films with guys in costumes punching and exploding things. That's not what comic book movies are for! This is insistence on accounting for every minute detail of plot logic is actually making genre movies less intelligent, not more so.
posted by jonp72 at 1:01 PM on July 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


"There's always a bigger fish."
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:04 PM on July 26, 2013


"but why WOULD a planet-sized sphere of doom have a giant 'KICK ME' sign taped to its back?"

"I FIND YOUR LACK OF FAITH IN THE 'KICK ME' SIGN DISTURBING."
posted by JHarris at 1:07 PM on July 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


It is possible for random chance to play a role in a movie, but you have to be careful about it, for only in real life can nonsensical things happen unquestioned. The thing is, movie characters have this tendency to act as if they somehow knew the incredible coincidence that just happened was coming all along. I hate that.

I forget where I read this. I think it might have been from those Pixar rules of storytelling that made the rounds a while back, but they said that you can allow random chance to get your heroes INTO trouble, but you should never use random chance to get them out. I think that sums it up quite nicely.
posted by Aznable at 1:07 PM on July 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


I thought Ebert covered this, he called it "The Idiot Plot."
posted by charlie don't surf at 1:20 PM on July 26, 2013


This is insistence on accounting for every minute detail of plot logic is actually making genre movies less intelligent, not more so.

Please explain.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 1:26 PM on July 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Essentially del Toro created the perfect B movie.

I take it you've never seen Pitch Black.
posted by Jairus at 1:52 PM on July 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I can't say it's making genre movies less intelligent, if only because "intelligence" is a pretty vague term when it comes to art. However, unless the film is some sort of labyrinthine, plot-heavy thriller, I don't find obsessing over the minutia of plot logic to be a very interesting or productive way of evaluating a film.
posted by brundlefly at 2:00 PM on July 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's willing suspension of disbelief, and then there's suspension of ALL MENTAL FACULTIES.

Prometheus, I'm looking at you.
posted by piyushnz at 2:27 PM on July 26, 2013 [8 favorites]


Wait, is that a link to TVTropes!?
NOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo


It's kind of funny how quickly that whole "TVTropes? Arrgh! There goes my productivity for today!" thing became a trope unto itself.
posted by Atom Eyes at 2:34 PM on July 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is the reason that Cymbeline is one of my favorite Shakespeare plays - he's basically parodying himself, by having the main characters go through the motions of all of his most famous shows, only to have them respond rationally and thus subvert those plots before they get going. Iago-type presents Posthumous with "proof" that his beloved is unfaithful? He'll surely have to talk to her about this! Imogene awakens next to what she believes to be Posthumous' dead body? She wails and cries and makes her own escape.

It's really quite delightful.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:41 PM on July 26, 2013 [8 favorites]


If anyone wants to do a Masters thesis mapping out the structural similarities between action movies, classic musicals and 70s porn, I'd be very interested to read it.

You might enjoy the book "Hard Core: Power, Pleasure, and the 'Frenzy of the Visible'" by Linda Williams, which, as I recall, also compares it to horror movies, in that these films are structured around long set pieces of song and dance, or violence, or action, or sex, and the plot primarily exists to move the story from set piece to set piece.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:47 PM on July 26, 2013


This is exactly why The Prestige is brilliant and Inception is not.

Leaving aside for the moment whether it is better or worse than Inception, The Prestige is such bullshit and here is why: The viewer is going along with this perfectly interesting story about old-timey magicians, so far so good, and oh man that is a crazy trick illusion, I'm sure they will explain how it's done eventually, oh hey Tesla, neat, and then SURPRISE IT WAS SUPERNATURAL NOT AN ACTUAL MAGIC TRICK, SUCK ON THAT STUPID AUDIENCE, after which I couldn't really be bothered to care about the end of the movie. I mean that is not even fair.
posted by naoko at 2:57 PM on July 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wow, naoko. You maybe should have stuck with it. Or kept the two main characters straight. Either way.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:06 PM on July 26, 2013


Actually, as someone who had travelling circus performers as friends, that's what I liked about it. The is trick is there's no trick, you just have be willing to hurt yourself enough. ( like ask the glass walkers do they do it, they just crunch it kinda fine and develop thick callouses, the trick is being willing to hurt yourself.)
posted by The Whelk at 3:07 PM on July 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Prometheus, I'm looking at you.

That movie was hugely underrated by the internet. A lot of the criticisms boil down to "I wouldn't do that so therefore it's stupid." Understandable from a perspective, it misses some of the subtext of the film i.e. of course the characters were stupid, they were playing at being gods with no idea of how to do so.

The film has its problems, but it isn't as terrible as many people think,.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:24 PM on July 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


That's the brilliance of Aliens, as opposed to Alien.

Aliens had a mind numbingly stupid thing that prevents me from watching it now. Newt. She was supposed to have survived alone all this time, yet, once the team gets there spends the ENTIRE movie screaming at the top of her lungs, and freaking out, showing zero survival instincts at all. It's not even like she's seeing these horrors for the first time, she's seen everyone else on the planet eaten, killed or taken. Terrible, terrible character and writing of her.
posted by usagizero at 3:24 PM on July 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


The is trick is there's no trick, you just have be willing to hurt yourself enough.

As William Potter learned.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 3:30 PM on July 26, 2013


The is trick is there's no trick, you just have be willing to hurt yourself enough.

As William Potter learned.


As T.E. Lawrence knew.
posted by Going To Maine at 3:36 PM on July 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Brandon Blatcher: "That movie was hugely underrated by the internet. A lot of the criticisms boil down to "I wouldn't do that so therefore it's stupid.""

Yeah, the whole "these people in survival situations should act totally logically" thing has always struck me as silly as well. It's a common criticism of horror films and it's never made any sense.

Prometheus got its fair share of flak for that for sure, but that wasn't what made me dislike the film. I found it too pompous, slow and disjointed to work as a straight ahead popcorn genre film, and too shallow and derivative to be the Great Work of Thoughtful Science Fiction that it seems to aspire to. I left the theater yawning and muttering about Chariots of the Gods.

It looks gorgeous though. I'm glad I saw it on IMAX 3D, as it's on my short list of films where the 3D really added something (along with Avatar and Coraline).
posted by brundlefly at 3:41 PM on July 26, 2013


When I was a drunk university student I liked to go on about my idea for The Greatest Action Movie Ever; an opening scene where one person is walking down a street and is fired upon by another person with a handgun. They return fire with a handgun. Followed by two hours of steadily-escalating plot and context-free action culminating in a shot of the earth exploding and a title card reading "FIN DE ACTION CINEMA."
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:51 PM on July 26 [1 favorite +] [!]


Save the apocalyptic ending, this is actually pretty close to the wonderfully bizarre and sadly underappreciated "Shoot Em Up"

that trailer seriously doesn't do justice at how much that film not only ignores, but openly contempts physics and logic.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 3:43 PM on July 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Shoot Em Up is awesome. I love the bit with the filing cabinet drawer.
posted by brundlefly at 3:46 PM on July 26, 2013


SURPRISE IT WAS SUPERNATURAL NOT AN ACTUAL MAGIC TRICK, SUCK ON THAT STUPID AUDIENCE

I've loved (and studied, and used to perform) magic since I was 9 years old. Like you, I was surprised at the Tesla angle, although I would call it "hypernatural" not supernatural. But, I loved it! Maybe due to knowing so much about the secrets of magic, it was great to be in a world where there was some sort of REAL magic.

It also has one of my favorite movie scenes:
Alfred Borden: You went half way around the world... you spent a fortune... you did terrible things... really terrible things Robert, and all for nothing.
Robert Angier: For nothing?
Alfred Borden: Yeah
Robert Angier: You never understood, why we did this. The audience knows the truth: the world is simple. It's miserable, solid all the way through. But if you could fool them, even for a second, then you can make them wonder, and then you... then you got to see something really special... you really don't know?... it was... it was the look on their faces...
posted by The Deej at 3:46 PM on July 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wow, naoko. You maybe should have stuck with it. Or kept the two main characters straight. Either way.

I did watch the rest, I was just irritated. I don't think I did mix up the characters? Did I miss something? Ebert seems to agree with me, (and whoever this guy is does too), fwiw.
posted by naoko at 3:50 PM on July 26, 2013


What I dug about the Tesla bit in The Prestige is that Angier ends up with a crazy piece of magic sufficiently advanced technology -- with obvious financial benefits -- but all he can think to do with it is pull off this magic trick.
posted by brundlefly at 4:10 PM on July 26, 2013 [8 favorites]


all he can think to do with it is pull off this magic trick.

Well, all he can think to do with it is destroy his enemy. (Which is totally in character, and yeah, I dug that too.)
posted by stebulus at 4:17 PM on July 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


What I find awesome about Pacific Rim is that its plot holes or logic holes or inconsistencies feel intentional, and done with a bit of a wink to the audience. In that regard it was in the same vein as Cabin in the Woods (though not explicitly meta) or Machete or Starship Troopers. It was made by someone who thinks about movies, for people who think about movies (and wants to see giant robots bunch giant monsters in their stupid monster faces).
posted by wemayfreeze at 4:21 PM on July 26, 2013 [7 favorites]


I did watch the rest, I was just irritated. I don't think I did mix up the characters? Did I miss something? Ebert seems to agree with me, (and whoever this guy is does too), fwiw.

Perhaps I was being too snippy, but what I meant is that Hugh Jackman's obsessive pursuit of the secret of the trick leads to him working with Tesla to create the supernatural solution, which is twisted and hideous in it's implications, while Christian Bale all the time was doing it in the most dirt-stupid, simple way imaginable, sublimely relying on simple principles of illusion and perception.

That, to me, is fantastic. But not everybody has to like the same things.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:25 PM on July 26, 2013 [7 favorites]


My favorite movies are movies that take place In The Movies, Movie-Movies, they operate on sublime, dreamy movie logic. It's hard to get rig but when you do get it right it's like reliving a beautiful dream.
posted by The Whelk at 4:26 PM on July 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Movie movie movie movie movie. FILM.
posted by Strass at 4:32 PM on July 26, 2013


wait thats just The Dreamers
posted by The Whelk at 4:59 PM on July 26, 2013


while Christian Bale all the time was doing it in the most dirt-stupid, simple way imaginable, sublimely relying on simple principles of illusion and perception.

Well, his trick is really just being mega- ultra- super-dedicated to the trick above all else. Which Jackman's character can't really pull off himself.
posted by LionIndex at 5:19 PM on July 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Angiers is blinded by an illusion of his own making, this revenge pursuit, which is why he can't pull it off. He loses the craft, lost in his own ego. It's just beautiful how these main characters are such mirrors and mirror-opposites of each other. They have relentless dedication, but one is to the self by means of the craft and the other is to the craft through the self.
posted by iamkimiam at 5:53 PM on July 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


An AV Club review of that TV show Terra Nova referred to one of the characters (her name was Maddie) as Exposition Maddie, and ever since then with every new show I watch, I try to find the "Exposition [Name]" character for my own amusement.

It's kind of depressing how easy it is to do, and how you're always guaranteed to find one.
posted by phunniemee at 10:27 AM on July 26


Hey, I'm right here. I've been right here for the entire thread.
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 6:20 PM on July 26, 2013 [14 favorites]


The film has its problems, but it isn't as terrible as many people think,.

It could be substantially less terrible than many people think and still have room to be a pretty terrible movie.

The only way to really enjoy Prometheus is to watch it dubbed into a language you don't speak and pretend that it would all make sense if you could only understand what the characters were saying.
posted by Mars Saxman at 7:32 PM on July 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is insistence This insistence on accounting for every minute detail of plot logic is actually making genre movies less intelligent, not more so.

Since I've been asked to explain myself, I guess I'll explain myself. I think excessive "logicalism" can be bad for genre movies, because most attempts to account for possible plot holes are usually handled through very clumsy exposition rather than through tone, theme, mise-en-scene, or anything else that would make the movie more fresh and original.
posted by jonp72 at 7:46 PM on July 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's not a movie, but I remember reading that one of the investigative-type shows will deliberately do stuff like computer things and jargon wrong specifically because they know it enrages nerds and the writers think that's hilarious. I'd do the same thing, personally.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 7:51 PM on July 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


For me, the biggest one was "Manhunter". They spend the whole movie doing this "get inside the head of the killer" pop psych thing, and in the end, all that woo was BS because they catch they guy by just looking at the labels from the film shop he worked at. Which, if they had done that in the beginning, the film would be 5 minutes long.

Manhunter was so much better than this that I don't even know if we saw the same movie. Graham decides to have them check the labels after a chain of deductions and insights about how the killer was casing the houses via the families' home movies. Even then, when they check the labels, they don't match, but Graham is so sure of his hunch (and knowledgable enough) to have them check under the labels because the work could have been shopped out. So even if—of all things, for some reason—they had thought to check the labels on the home movies of the different crime scenes right away, they still probably would have missed it.
posted by bleep-blop at 7:58 PM on July 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well, his trick is really just being mega- ultra- super-dedicated to the trick above all else. Which Jackman's character can't really pull off himself.

I'd say he shows a fair amount of either suicidal or murderous dedication.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:02 PM on July 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just caught this movie on cable last weekend, and I was struck by how well this was handled in the movie. Ripley suggests that nuking the site from orbit was the best course of action... The characters actually made the not-stupid decision, but were prevented from carrying it out by a great action scene.

Neal Stephenson mentions this plot in specific in one of his essays as a rare and outstanding example of a not-stupid plot in an action movie.
posted by ovvl at 8:11 PM on July 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd say he shows a fair amount of either suicidal or murderous dedication.

Yeah, and besides the murdered clones thing, there's the fact that his big trick, framing Borden for murder, requires sacrificing the Angier persona and becoming Caldlow again. It's not just Borden who's two people that sacrifice one of their lives for a trick.
posted by stebulus at 8:28 PM on July 26, 2013


It's about storytelling.

You don't have to explain everything. In fact you can't explain everything. Even if you try to, no-one cares.

Many more of us have read The Lord of the Rings than The Silmarillion. Not that the latter actually does try to explain everything, but for all the world-building background it does provide I for one still haven't got through it and doubt I ever will. (In the meantime I've reread LoTR a double-figure number of times over the years.) Don't get me started on the films.

As has been pointed out, you don't have to explain anything. That's fine too. Context-free imagistic stuff can be fine, handled right. Nothing wrong with that.

The problem is when you start explaining some things and then break the spell you have set up by having stuff happen which doesn't jibe with the context you have chosen to create. That, in any artform, is poor writing.

Don't say, either implicitly or explicitly, 'in this world, which I am creating for you, X absolutely does hold', and then show me or tell me something where X does not hold. Unless that reversal is / those reversals are somehow the whole point of the story, which is a whole different ballgame and nothing to do with plot holes.

That is what is being complained about here.
posted by motty at 8:49 PM on July 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Essentially del Toro created the perfect B movie.

No,that's Tremors. Which for the most part played absolutely fair with its premisse in a way modern action movies don't sem able to and was far more intelligent than it needed to be.
posted by MartinWisse at 8:57 PM on July 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


Honestly, I love movies. And people who text in movie theaters should be shot.

I have been where Brandon is now, with him complaining about District Nine and me explaining why he was all wrong, it was an obviously awesome movie, and he needed to start accepting that obvious truth and just love it already.

I was kinda sad that Pacific Rim didn't meet my expectations. I went in to the film with happy anticipation. I wanted to like it. And I did think the Godzillas vs the Mighty Morphin' Power Ranger fight scenes were crazy fun to watch. I really wanted a cameo from two tiny women in a birdcage, just to make them even more perfect. Why, if only Gamara (The Childrens' Friend!), was there to help them fight, that little girl wouldn't have had to carry her red shoe down the street!

I just couldn't suspend my disbelief amidst the predictability of the plot, the stereotypical characters, and the gazillion plot problems. They kept jarring me out of movie world into literal world, with its annoying physics and complicated, three-dimensional people. Would that it weren't so.
posted by misha at 10:24 PM on July 26, 2013


Personally, I'm sick of the plot hole concept being expanded to include any decision characters make that are mistaken but plausible (like the Death Star having a tiny vulnerable point, when we know the Maginot Line existed) because some asshole believes that from his detached window into the fiction, he can make decisions smarter than characters in it, why, he must be smarter than the people who made the movies!

This is different from blatant character stupidity a la Prometheus, which reaches back to question what the stupid people are even doing there.

Otherwise, a key problem in fiction is our limited ability to drill down into what's happening to support the story. Historical and forensic narratives are multilayered clusters of facts that aren't beholden to a plot structure or a window of attention suitable for one human, but these are how real things happen. We habitually condense these down into simpler narratives and reach back into meta-information when we need to. In stories we *start* with that rendered down structure and work our way from there into backstory, addressing it when we need to in a gambit to assure the reader there's something like reality back there, even when there isn't.
posted by mobunited at 11:01 PM on July 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Pan's Labyrinth is a freak event that can't be explained.

Are you insane? That flick was as full of plot holes as any Del Toro film, if not moreso.

As a partial list, It has these fashits working for some guy called Frank, who've managed to take over Italy or someplace, are killing people left and right, and NOBODY DOES ANYTHING ABOUT THEM- and I'm supposed to believe that crap? And then there's the girl who congress out of nowhere, so sad, boo-hoo, the goat guy, the spy chick, the rebels named after a Star Trek episode , the bloody bed scene that I think was lifted straight out a Nightmare in Elm Street movie, and at the end she gets shot and goes to Narnia. Basically, an incredible mess- if it wasn't for being able to text and read Metafilter, I would have never made it through the movie.

Look, nobody enjoys fantasy more then I do-well, except maybe my wife, and her friends, and well, pretty much everybody. It's a bunch of brain rotting hogwash. But in any case, I insist that fantasy films make sense. Instead of this crap, Del Toro should try to make a good fantasy film. Like say, "Apollo 13"
posted by happyroach at 11:48 PM on July 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


Ibb shrugged. "I don't know, I just like the idea of being rescued a lot, that's all—being carried off in big, strong arms sort of . . . appeals. thought I could have the plot explained to me a lot, too—but I should have a few good lines of my own, be quite vulnerable, yet end up saving the day due to a sudden flash of idiot savant brilliance." - Jasper Fforde,The Well of Lost Plots
posted by NoraReed at 1:45 AM on July 27, 2013


You know what movie I thought wasn't believable? Lincoln. I mean, ending slavery? Like that would ever happen in a divided lame duck congress. Plot hole central.
posted by Nanukthedog at 6:15 AM on July 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Del Toro should try to make a good fantasy film. Like say, "Apollo 13"

Oh please. In the launch sequence, the various swing arms move individually in the movie, when in reality they moved as one. Right then and there, I knew the movie would suck.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:23 AM on July 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I amazed that anyone would call the vulnerability of the Death Star a plot hole. You can point to hundreds of real life examples of security systems bypassed by trivial exploits.
posted by octothorpe at 7:54 AM on July 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think the Del Toro one that gets me is Hellboy II: The Golden Army. I can overlook all kinds of stuff to stylistic flourish (Nuada and Nuala escape because, er, Hellboy falls unconscious and we can't see them escape? Sure, I'll assume something plausible happened that I didn't see) but the end of the movie, destroys the movie.

So there's this crown, right? Made of sections? Put them together and you get to control the Golden Army? Well the first thought is, "Destroy a section of the crown!" But they don't, and up to the end I'm OK with that, because I'll just assume this is some One Ring/D&D Artifact shit, and is basically indestructible.

Then at the end of the movie they melt the crown like it's no big deal and FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK.

PUT IT IN A VAULT! THE WHOLE BPRD FICTIONAL LOCK-UP-OCCULT-CRAP ORGANIZATION THINGY LETS YOU IT! OR DO ANYTHING ELSE BUT DESTROY IT, INVALIDATING THE REST OF THE STORY!

*Ahem* Sorry, but even though I can let a lot slide, dropping that right at the end, at your point of maximum investment in what's happening is so goddamn terrible.

I guess my thing is that I can in fact be pretty relaxed about this stuff, but when it strains even my credulity, a Bad Thing Has Happened.
posted by mobunited at 9:58 AM on July 27, 2013


As a partial list, It has these fashits working for some guy called Frank, who've managed to take over Italy or someplace, are killing people left and right, and NOBODY DOES ANYTHING ABOUT THEM- and I'm supposed to believe that crap?

I'm a tabletop RPG designer. RPG fans frequently complain that an antagonist is unrealistically EEEVIL if it acts anything like the Nazis or, for that matter, 21st Century investment bankers.
posted by mobunited at 10:04 AM on July 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


I amazed that anyone would call the vulnerability of the Death Star a plot hole. You can point to hundreds of real life examples of security systems bypassed by trivial exploits.

I always find it incredible that people complain about this too. As if they could somehow design a better Death Star. How do you propose to vent the midichlorians from the tractor beam, smart guy?
posted by ActingTheGoat at 2:16 PM on July 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am enjoying the thought of Shakespearean Nerds sitting in ale-houses with ruffed shirts, stroking stringy chinbeads and shouting "BUT WHY DIDST ROMEO NOT CHECKETH HER PULSE OR SOMMONE A PHYSICKE? clearlie this play is't not worthe a rusty bodkin"

I enjoyed it, too, so I wrote two Elizabethan hipsters discussing the popular culture of the day.
posted by Spatch at 2:45 PM on July 27, 2013 [18 favorites]


Ah ha ahahahahahahaha ha
posted by The Whelk at 2:48 PM on July 27, 2013


so I wrote two Elizabethan hipsters discussing the popular culture of the day.

Started laughing at the first character name and the rest lived up to it. ;D Well played.
posted by Celsius1414 at 3:46 PM on July 27, 2013


I want five more like that, Spatch, and I'll produce it for next year's DDc Fringe Festival :)
posted by phearlez at 4:42 PM on July 27, 2013


That is phenomenal, Spatch.
posted by brundlefly at 4:47 PM on July 27, 2013


It's good, Spatch, but is it Cat Town?

deedle doo-doot dee dee....
posted by JHarris at 6:50 PM on July 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Some great films have adopted this approach. Consider the moment in "Lawrence of Arabia" when Lawrence retrieves a wayward member of the traveling party lost in the impassable Nefud. The film doesn't tell us how he found the man, who wouldn't necessarily even be walking in the right direction. Lawrence's unexplained achievement only emboldens his legendary status.

This is a stupid example because this movie is based on actual events. I have seen the movie many times and wrote a college paper on Lawrence. As I understand it, we know he found the guy. We may not know how. Lawrence died young. He may not have ever told anyone what happened.
posted by Michele in California at 8:40 PM on July 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Spatch: "so I wrote two Elizabethan hipsters discussing the popular culture of the day."

In iambic pentameter no less!
posted by ocherdraco at 12:45 AM on July 28, 2013


The Whelk: "Ah ha ahahahahahahaha ha"

I used my computer's text-to-speech function to read this, and it was hilarious.

posted by ocherdraco at 12:47 AM on July 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I enjoyed it, too, so I wrote two Elizabethan hipsters discussing the popular culture of the day.

It pains me that I can only flag that as fantastic once.
posted by Greg Nog at 6:58 AM on July 28, 2013


That movie was hugely underrated by the internet. A lot of the criticisms boil down to "I wouldn't do that so therefore it's stupid."

The movie was perfectly rated by the internet, and is exactly as terrible as people think.

I mean, the robot was cool, but otherwise it was just an awful movie.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:42 PM on July 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


The plot and some of the character actions were completely ridiculous, but thematically it worked fine. Humanity bumbling around in the garden, releasing evil, which raises the question of does humanity even deserve to exist, blah blah.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:56 PM on July 28, 2013


The plot and the character actions are what the majority of people criticize about the movie. Thematically, it might have been consistent, but it was also pretty overblown and pretentious.

Stuff with themes can still be terrible!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:59 PM on July 28, 2013


The plot and the character actions are what the majority of people criticize about the movie. Thematically, it might have been consistent, but it was also pretty overblown and pretentious.

Most of the criticism was ridiculous and overblown, obsessing over relatively minor details, while ignoring the general themes.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:09 PM on July 28, 2013


Eh, if you say so, but I thought that there was actually a lot of interesting conversation about narrative consistency, logic, characterization, and theme that came out of the analysis of Prometheus. Film Crit Hulk's analysis alone--mostly of the religious themes of the movie as an example of the greater issues explored in Damon Lindelof's body of work--was worth, like, Hulk's weight in gold.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:26 PM on July 28, 2013


I think being aware of Lindelof and looking for his signature in the movie is a significant hindrance to appreciating Prometheus. The movie's much better if you aren't determined to slot it into The Lindelof Canon. Most people I know who don't live on the internet liked it, and a lot of people on podcasts I listen to didn't understand the vitriol directed at it. I think it's partly because they don't look into how the sausage is made, so they were much more forgiving of "plot holes" that Film Crit Hulk et al. could not help but see as Lindelof tics and indications of his shallowness.

Sometimes knowing about an author can enhance a work; at other times, it can ruin it. Frank Miller is another figure like this. I wish I knew nothing about him.
posted by painquale at 7:17 PM on July 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Eh, maybe, but my point was that there was a lot of really intelligent conversation about why Prometheus didn't work, including Film Crit Hulk's essay, and it's not just haters hating on stupid things or being nitpickers. I don't think it's really fair to dismiss the criticism as "obsessing over minor details" when, in fact, many critics were writing detailed and well-wrought arguments about why the movie didn't work for them.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:25 PM on July 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was so psyched to see Prometheus when it came out, and was more disappointed by it than any movie that I've seen in a few years. I just sat there in the theater seat cringing as the movie lurched forward from one dumb scene to another. What a huge waste of talent and resources.
posted by octothorpe at 7:46 PM on July 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


Read the orginal script, it's not loads better but it runs much more smoothy and traditionally - set ups have payoffs, etc. If that had been filmed you'd have more"Prometheus was a standard horror/sci-fi joint" and less "Prometheus was a frustrating waste of time."
posted by The Whelk at 8:06 PM on July 28, 2013


Film Crit Hulk's analysis alone--mostly of the religious themes of the movie as an example of the greater issues explored in Damon Lindelof's body of work--was worth, like, Hulk's weight in gold.

Thanks for linking to that, it's certainly a higher caliber of criticism, though I still disagree with much of it. If you know of any other reviews of this quality, by all means link to'em.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:24 AM on July 29, 2013


Film Critic Hulk really has some of the best film analysis out there but like Red Letter Media, you have to learn to filter out the weird and somewhat annoying style that he(?) uses.
posted by octothorpe at 7:30 AM on July 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Most of the criticism was ridiculous and overblown, obsessing over relatively minor details, while ignoring the general themes.

Who cares about the "themes". They weren't at all original and were handled ham-handedly anyway.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 7:50 AM on July 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Film Critic Hulk is one of those critics like Charlie Jane Anders that I respect a lot but basically never agree with.

He shows up from time to time on podcasts, and it's weird to hear some normal guy's voice after only having read him in ALL CAPS.
posted by painquale at 10:09 AM on July 29, 2013


Most of the criticism was ridiculous and overblown, obsessing over relatively minor details, while ignoring the general themes.

First, you have to tell a story. It helps if the story has believable characters and a coherent plot. Only after you've given people a reason to be emotionally invested in the tale you are telling do you get to play with highfalutin conceptual Themes and expect anyone to care.
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:49 AM on July 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


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