It’s a rare movie that has no plot holes at all. Even movies nearly everyone likes, like Star Wars (I speak of Episode IV, in case that’s unclear), are occasionally rife with them. Of course, for many geeks — myself included — part of the fun of seeing a movie is identifying and discussing its plot holes afterward.
Here, then, are ten plot holes from geeky movies that, in my judgment, are ones that are easy to miss — even though some of them seem pretty obvious once you think about them. Please feel free to add your own favorite plot holes in the comments, and check out the first and second lists of plot holes (AKA “unanswered questions”) we’ve published on GeekDad before. (Note: The list below contains spoilers for the movies listed, out of necessity.)
10. The Matrix - The machines are keeping humans alive for their body heat, right? But they also have nuclear fusion reactors, and (while I haven’t run the numbers) I’d be willing to bet that a single fusion reactor would generate more net energy in an hour than all the humans on today’s Earth would in a day. Plus, fusion reactors are considerably less likely to try to escape, so it’s pretty clear the only reason the humans are still around is so the movie can exist. Oh, and while we’re at it, how come the simulated world everyone’s living in still has computers? Wouldn’t it be much smarter to remove the computers, thus significantly reducing the likelihood of someone like Neo making an appearance?
9. Jurassic Park – The scientists clone dinosaurs from the DNA in the blood in a preserved prehistoric mosquito. The problem is that blood cells in many animals (humans included) don’t carry DNA, and when they do they don’t carry nearly enough that the frog DNA they use to fill in the gaps wouldn’t dominate the bits of dinosaur DNA. Plus, of course, they would have no way to determine which DNA strands came from which dinosaur — and which from the mosquito itself!
8. Spider-Man 2 - Doctor Octavius is trying to find Spider-Man, and Harry suggests he talk to his good buddy Peter Parker, because Pete is always taking photos of Spider-Man. Doc Ock promptly finds Peter and Mary Jane at a coffee shop, and introduces himself by throwing a car at them through the window, which would certainly have killed them if Peter hadn’t been Spider-Man, sensed the danger, and pulled himself and MJ to the floor. But Doc Ock has no idea that Peter is Spider-Man, so why would he try to kill the person he wants help from?
7. Superman & Superman II – It’s just astonishing how Superman conveniently acquires new powers whenever his already-impressive selection of powers is inadequate to the task. In the first film, Lois Lane dies in the massive earthquake caused by the nuclear missile hitting the San Andreas fault. Superman, understandably distraught, suddenly and miraculously not only has the ability to turn back time by flying around the Earth really fast a lot of times, but somehow knows that he has that ability, despite it never having been mentioned previously. Then, at the end of the second film, the same thing happens again — only this time it’s an amnesia kiss. How exactly is he supposed to be able to remove the memory that Clark Kent is Superman, while leaving other memories intact? It’s never explained at all.
6. Star Trek II & Star Trek III - At the end of STII, the Genesis device creates a planet out of the Mutara nebula and the USS Reliant, right? And that’s fine as far as it goes, because scientists do in fact think that planets form out of nebulae. There’s just one tiny little question, though: Where did the sun for the planet to orbit come from? It sure wasn’t there before the device detonated, and if the device could create a star from a nebula, you’d think Carol Marcus would’ve mentioned it.
5. Batman Begins – Ra’s al Ghul (AKA Ducard) and the Scarecrow use the microwave emitter they stole from Wayne Enterprises to vaporize all the water in Gotham City, thus making people inhale the toxin contained therein. A creative idea, to be sure, except that human beings are 60-75% water (depending on age and other factors). So everybody in Gotham should be boiled to death in their own tissues.
4. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith – The final, climactic battle between Obi-Wan and Anakin rages all over and around the river of lava on Mustafar. Then it ends when Obi-Wan leaps onto the bank and tells Anakin he’s lost because Obi-Wan has the high ground. He turns out to be right, as Anakin leaps into Obi-Wans flashing lightsaber. Seriously, though, how does being on high ground matter when you’re both wizards who can levitate objects with your minds, leap incredibly high, and move astonishingly fast?
3. The Princess Bride – When the Brute Squad is cleaning up the Thieves’ Forest, Fezzik finds Inigo and nurses him back to sobriety. He tells him about Vizzini’s death and, more importantly, about “the existence of Count Rugen, the six-fingered man.” That’s great, except… how does Fezzik know Rugen is the six-fingered man? We see Westley notice Rugen’s extra digit, but he’s knocked out and taken directly to the Pit of Despair, so he clearly had no chance to tell Fezzik. And even if Fezzik had seen Rugen, is it really likely he’d have noticed? Fezzik isn’t that bright or that observant. (Incidentally, I looked this bit up in the book, and it doesn’t explain how Fezzik knew, either.)
2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - This is a problem in the book as well, but it’s in the movie so it counts. Barty Crouch, Jr., disguised as Mad-Eye Moody, arranges for the Triwizard Cup to be a portkey to take Harry to the graveyard in Little Hangleton so that he can be used to bring Voldemort back to life and then killed. He’s in the guise of a teacher at the school, so he had any number of opportunities to make a portkey out of, well, pretty much anything that he could be sure Harry would touch — Harry’s schoolbooks, his shoes, whatever. It’s been argued that Voldemort wanted to keep his existence a secret and make it look like Harry perished during the task, but really, having Harry just disappear without a trace wouldn’t be any more suspicious. And, incidentally, why did he make the cup a two-way portkey? It’s been established that most portkeys are one-use, one-way only. Why not make this portkey one of those, so that Harry had no way to escape?
1. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back – Once Luke starts to figure out that the silly-acting, funny-looking little creature he’s with is in fact Yoda, Yoda’s mood changes. He criticizes Luke (legitimately, it must be said) and argues that Luke shouldn’t be trained to be a Jedi. Obi-Wan has to argue with him to get him to change his mind. Really, though, what choice does Yoda have? He either trains Luke or… what? The Empire wins? Good plan, Jedi Master.