Being the ever proud overly cynical movie critic I am, I was bored one day and started thinking about movies that have one or two things that make me go "wait, what were the writers thinking when they got to this part of the plot". Obviously nothing is perfect, but for the sake of entertainment I decided to put together a list of six pieces of bad or lazy writing that only stand out when you sit back and think about it on your own free time.
6- The Enterprise could have been saved with a simple procedure
Star Trek: Generations
I could probably make a post of lazy writing using nothing but the Star Trek: The Next Generation
movies if I really wanted to, but I’m going to keep it down to two entries (another one is coming up) just for the sake of variety. Remember Star Trek: Generations
, that could-have-been-good movie that featured a pointless crossover between the original series and TNG
, something Gene Roddenberry really never wanted to happen (besides Bones’ cameo in the pilot episode of TNG
). During the film Geordi LaForge is captured by the Duras sisters, Klingon women who wanted to rule the empire, and they implant something into his visor that lets them see what Geordi sees, a pretty clever little trick that I don’t think ever happened in the series. The Klingons eventually give Geordi back and tail the Enterprise while cloaked. They keep an eye on what LaForge is doing and when he returns to the engineering section of the ship they eventually discover what shield frequency the Enterprise is currently running at, because knowing this will let them penetrate their shields. The exploit this, cripple the Enterprise, and cause Dianna Troi to crash the ship onto a planet destroying one of the most memorable space ships in television history before it ever really gets to do much on the big screen.
But when you think about it…
Ever since their first encounter with The Borg what is the first thing pretty much every ship does when there’s even a remote chance of their shields being compromised by enemy weapons? They change their shield frequency – Data even does this on the fly during a fight with The Borg during the series. I’m pretty sure the people who wrote the Next Generation
movies never watched the actual TV series at all, because most of the Next Gen
movies have plot problems that can be solved by really simple means yet the crew takes the most intricate path possible towards saving the day. In this case – rotating the shield frequency is the simple solution (hell, it’s even an ability in Star Trek Online
). One of the bridge officers could have easily just said “change shield frequency to” and then ran off a bunch of random numbers and suddenly the Enterprise is perfectly safe again. Then Riker and the others can just kick back in their chairs and dick with that 30 year old Bird of Prey that dared fire on the Federation flagship.
5- Batman leaves innocent people alone / Gordon doomed us all
The Dark Knight
I didn’t know which Dark Knight
moment to choose from because neither are really big enough to warrant me talking about them alone, so I decided to merge the two of them together for a two-part piece.
Part 1 – Bruce Wayne, Harvey Dent, and Rachel Dawes are all at Bruce’s “let’s all jackoff to Harvey Dent” party, when suddenly The Joker shows up and causes a big ruckus. Joker immediately declares that he’s here looking for Harvey Dent (why, though, remains a mystery) and will probably murder people until he gets his way. Bruce incapacitates Harvey and hides him away while Rachel ends up being stuck with Joker. Joker then threatens to cut up Rachel and gets rewarded by getting punched in the face by the goddamn Batman. Sensing that there’s some sort of emotional “thing” between Batman and Rachel (because Batman makes it pretty obvious), Joker decides to dick with Batman and throw Rachel out a window prompting Batman to dive out to save her. The movie stays with Batman who makes a dramatic rescue and saves Rachel’s live (…for now), and we then move onto the next scene in the film.
But when you think about it…
Joker came looking for Harvey Dent, not Batman. Finding Batman there was an unexpected coincidence. Distracting Batman by throwing a woman out of a window should have bought Joker plenty of time to search the penthouse and find Harvey without any sort of interruption (not to mention the obviously braced shut door Bruce hid Harvey in would have been a dead giveaway). What the fuck happened here? Did Joker think the 5 minutes it would take to have his thugs search the penthouse and do the thing he came here to do in the first place was that much of a pain now? We’ll never know, because the movie decided that a super villain left alone in a room with innocent civilians wasn’t important enough to follow up on.
Part 2 – The Dark Knight
has a pretty spectacular chase scene in it that is loaded with coincidental “golly jee whiz” moments that should really shatter any idea that the Nolan Batman movies are “realistic”. Near the end of the chase sequence, things boil down to Joker alone on a major street shooting a machine gun at Batman. What the audience doesn’t know yet is that Gordon is disguised as a generic cop guarding Harvey Dent’s convoy. As the scene goes on, Batman chickens out of running Joker down with the Batpod and ends up getting knocked unconscious as a result. Just before Joker decides to off the unconscious caped crusader, Gordon comes out of nowhere to save the day and apprehend The Joker.
But when you think about it…
Joker is waving a machine gun around in the middle of a street completely unguarded by anybody else, why didn’t Gordon just shoulder his gun and put a couple of rounds into Joker while he wasn’t looking? If Gordon was able to sneak up behind Joker while Joker was dicking with Batman, he easily could have shot down a clearly homicidal mass murderer. Batman doesn’t kill people because he’s not a cop, therefore killing someone would make him nothing more than a murderer just like the people he hates. Jim Gordon is a cop
though, and he’s actually allowed to kill people if it’s deemed necessary.
This scene happens before Joker takes anybody hostage or sets up any of his other large scale plans, there was no real reason Joker absolutely needed to be apprehended alive. Gordon not only could have killed Joker, he flat out should
have killed Joker. A psychotic murderer is walking down main street firing a gun, he has no hostages, and no guards. I’m pretty sure every other single cop ever would have dropped the guy now before he does anything else, like kidnap your District Attorney, blow up a hospital, or threaten to blow up two boats full of people.
4- Data had multiple ways to survive
Star Trek: Nemesis
The extremely mediocre movie Star Trek: Nemesis
tries to desperately do anything emotionally relevant by ripping off Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
and having a fan-favorite character sacrifice himself in order to save the Enterprise (and also because Brent Spiner felt he was getting too old to play Data). This time Spock is played by Data and Khan’s exploding starship is replaced with… another exploding starship. The only difference is that the noble death happens on the enemy starship instead of the Enterprise. Captain Picard finds himself stuck on the bad guy’s spaceship in order to stop the bad guy. And since the Enterprise is the least reliable ship ever when shit gets real, the transporters on the ship conveniently aren’t operating when they need to get Picard away from the giant exploding plot device. Data decides to grab a one-man transporter and literally leap through a hole in the Enterprise
to board the other ship and save Picard. After saving the captain, Data accepts his fate and shoots his phaser into the enemy super weapon that makes the ship explode. This ending was generally disliked enough to the point that the Star Trek comics actually retconned this and brought back Data.
But when you think about it…
Data, the guy who’s got so much CPU power he can actually be used as a backup computer for the fucking Enterprise, should have clearly known there were multiple avenues for survival. If you’ve watched any Star Trek: The Next Generation
(and let’s face it, anyone who actually went and saw this movie only saw it because they were TNG
fans) you should know that the Enterprise has shuttle bays full of small shuttles. These small shuttles all have their own personal transporters on board as well. Hell, shuttle transporters are how they saved Captain Picard from The Borg in Best of Both Worlds: Part 2
so this isn’t exactly hidden knowledge. Data could have just quickly run down to a shuttle bay, activated a transporter, and safely brought Picard home.
Another option that could have been considered – what caused every transporter to go offline, and what can be done to fix it? The Enterprise clearly has multiple transporter rooms, because Riker doesn’t say “Transporter Room 2” for simple pleasure, so if something happens that causes all
of them to fail then it’s likely a power issue. You know what the crew does any other time something like this happens? Picard or Riker usually bark out “Reroute auxiliary power to _____” and then suddenly the thing that needs more power gets more power, because the auxiliary power bank is the magical battery of plot fixing. Yes, given the state the Enterprise was in, it’s likely that auxiliary power was already diverted someplace else since the ship was pretty much falling apart, but does a single transporter room require that
much power that you can’t just take power away from some empty guest room nobody is using and pump it into a transporter to save the fucking captain
Then there’s the third option Data could have considered, leaving the ship the same way he got on board by jumping back into fucking space
. We just established fifteen minutes prior that the cold vacuum of space doesn’t affect Data, so why can’t he just jump out of a window and float back to the Enterprise? Oh, you think he needs to stay on board to fire the phaser into the plot? He doesn’t even need to do that because phasers can be set up to either fire automatically or be set up as improvised bombs – like that time Wesley set up a phaser to automatically fire at a forcefield as a diversion when the entire crew was brainwashed by a video game, or those ten dozen times someone has found a phaser set to “manual overload”.
3- Just bring your kids to you
Leo DiCaprio’s character in Inception
takes on the cliché “one last job” in order to get a free pass back to America in order to be home with this children again. The job obviously goes awry
(because otherwise it would be a terribly boring movie), everyone barely escapes the last job with their lives, and Leo gets to go home to have a happy family life with his children.
But when you think about it…
Couldn’t he have just had someone bring his children
to whatever country he was in? DiCaprio’s character could have easily had some relatives still in America who could have flown with his kids to wherever Leo was living at the time. Heck, even Michael Caine’s
character could have done this for him. It seems like a much safer and more practical option than risking all of your friends/co-workers lives by placing them into a dream world where your already unstable mind could manifest terrible things to murder everyone and send them all into a perpetual state of limbo
Yes, this can technically be debunked if you buy into the theory that the entire movie is just a dream
made up by DiCaprio’s character (which, honestly, is probably how it really is). However, if that’s the case then we’ve delved into an entire different level
of potential places the storyline can hiccup.
2- Scarecrow’s poison would have been detected already
The big end-game Ra’s Al Ghul had for Gotham City in Batman Begins
was by using a magical microwave deus ex machine to vaporize Gotham’s water supply and vaporize all of the fear toxin Scarecrow spent months putting into the water supply. In the Nolan Bat-verse, the fear toxin only works in vapor form. Thus, it could easily be thrown into the water supply without detection until Ra’s came along to pull the trigger. Thus, we are treated to a pretty entertaining sequence where Batman and Ra’s fight it out on a train that’s speeding towards the heart of Gotham. And then Batman saves the day by crashing the train and totally not murdering Ra’s al Ghul after spending an entire movie saying he’s not a murderer.
It’s a pretty sound plan that lightly played off of some of the scares of chemical warfare, right?
But when you think about it…
There should have been plenty of warning signs that something bat shit crazy (haha) was happening in Gotham. Scarecrow’s fear toxin is very clearly established in the movie to only be effective in vapor form, not liquid. So, since his toxin is already in the water supply in its liquid form, what would happen if someone boiled some water, took a hot shower, or did anything that results in water vapor happening? Gotham police would suddenly be swamped with calls from people claiming that their spaghetti noodles were actually snakes or that their shower head was Audrey 2 from Little Shop of Horrors
and was trying to murder them.
In all actuality, this might have been a more effective way to poison Gotham than what Ra’s actually ended up doing in the movie. But still, the cases of people freaking out for no reason would have been frequent enough to draw attention from the police and probably prompt an investigation by Batman himself. This would lead to Batman investigating the possible ways this poison could have entered the victim’s system, what catalyst(s) could have set it off, and alert the press on how to avoid it until the poisoned supply is removed. Does this sound familiar? It should, because it’s the exact same fucking thing Batman did when Joker poisoned Gotham in the 1989 movie.
1- Doc Brown should have always known he was going to the old west
Back to the Future
Most people are generally familiar with the storyline in the Back to the Future
, and generally remember that Back to the Future 2
ends with the DeLorean (with Doc Brown inside of it) getting struck by lightning and shot back 1885’s old west version of Hill Valley. This leaves the second installment of the series with a cliffhanger and sets up the under-appreciated third movie.
I’ll recap how the events play out in a little bit of detail, just because it will be important later on. After Marty and Doc take the sports almanac from Biff and destroy it the DeLorean gets struck by lightning and shot back into the 1800’s, Marty knows this because Doc sends a letter from the old west to Marty through a relatively clever use of time-travel logic. Marty, since he’s stuck in 1955 again, promptly runs back into Hill Valley to find 50’s Doc Brown who literally just sent BttF1
Marty back to 1985. Marty and 50’s Doc then use the letter that 1980’s Doc Brown (the one now stuck in 1885) gave Marty to find the DeLorean that shot 80’s Doc into the old west, because 80’s Doc buried it so Marty could use it to get out of 1955 (…again).
During their process of getting the DeLorean again, Doc and Marty discover the gravestone of 80s Doc Brown. After doing a little research, they find out that 80’s Doc gets gunned down 8 days after he writes the letter that Marty gets and there’s an ambiguous line on his gravestone about a beloved Clara. In light of this information, instead of going back to 1985 like 80’s Doc asked, Marty and 50’s Doc use the DeLorean to send Marty to 1885 to save 80’s Doc. Marty and Doc do the whole wild west thing, Doc falls in love with a teacher named Clara, and eventually Marty gets sent back to 1985 while Doc stays behind with Clara (only to build another time machine that looks like a train) and everyone lives happily ever after.
But when you think about it…
Back to the Future 1
already established that anything 1950’s Doc learns becomes a part of 1980’s Doc’s memory. This comes into play in two parts of the first movie – if you pay attention during the opening shot of the movie with all the clocks in Doc’s home, you’ll see there’s a cutout of Doc hanging from one of the arms of a clock just like 50’s Doc does in the climax even though none of this happens yet in the movie
, and 80’s Doc Brown reassembled the letter that Marty gave him in the 50’s in order to save his own life. This means that anything 50’s Doc learns because of Marty should instantly become knowledge of 80’s Doc, regardless of where 80’s Doc currently is in relative to time.
This means that Doc should have been able to avoid being sent to the old west all together, because he already knew when/where/how it was going to happen since Marty already told him.
As I already said, after Doc gets shot into the 1800’s Marty goes to 1955 Doc for help. In the process of getting this help, Marty tells 1950’s Doc everything involving what happened to his future self and even lets Doc read the letter he sent to Marty. Therefore, this knowledge should have also been known by 80’s Doc who could have avoided the 1800’s trip all-together. Now you might be thinking “What if Doc intentionally sent himself back to 1885?” My response to you would be “But why”? All 80’s Doc would know is that he gets sent back into 1885 and that Marty and his younger self find out he gets murdered some time later. Considering 80’s Doc has already used time travel knowledge to avoid his death once (see: the first movie), why would he suddenly do the complete opposite and willingly send himself to a pointless death? The only wild card would be his urge to find out who “his beloved Clara” is after 30 years of pondering about it, which would either make Doc Brown a complete madman or have a bigger set of balls then we imagined.