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Critical Research Failure / Live-Action Films

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Critical Research Failures in live-action movies.

  • Near the end of Alvin and the Chipmunks Road Chip, Simon claims that there's no such thing as 1000%. As any child whose passed 5th grade math could tell you, percentage is a numerator built on relative quantity. Claiming that 1000% doesn't exist is roughly equivalent to saying the number ten doesn't exist. It was a clumsy way of stating something that is true; there cannot be more than 100% of something where 100% is defined as the limit of that thing. For example, you cannot give more than 100% of your time. But you could give someone more than 100% of the amount of money that is in your wallet, by using a credit card.
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  • The Amazing Colossal Man features a scientist who claims that "the heart is made up of a single cell."note 
  • In Avengers: Age of Ultron, it's a huge plot point that Ultron is prevented from hacking into the "Nexus Internet Hub" in Norway and gaining access to nuclear codes. There are two major problems here:
    • Not only does the Nexus Internet Hub not exist in real life, but the entire point of the Internet is not relying on a central hub. It was originally created by the US government wanting to connect its defense systems in such a way that the network would still function if one or more points were destroyed. Even after the Internet went public and international in the 90s, it retains this fundamental aspect.
    • No country keeps its nuclear codes online. In the United States, the codes are printed on hard copy and have to be spoken by the president over a secured phone line. The system has more or less stayed the same since the 1940s to avoid the exact problems this movie spells out (keeping the codes from falling into the hands of a malicious hacker).
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  • Biggles: Adventures in Time: The tagline of the film is "Meet Jim Ferguson. He lived a daring double-life with one foot in the 20th century and the other in World War I." World War I happened in the 20th century.
  • The Deadly Mantis: "Every known species of animal has a bony skeleton." What?! Then someone asks him "Every animal?" and he replies "Even birds have bony skeletons". Apparently in this universe people think only humans have bones.
  • Die Hard 2:
    • If you have even a cursory knowledge of airports, the entire plot will fall flat on its face. It relies on the whole cast not knowing that all of those airliners flying around without a working runway can just fly to another airport. The movie tries to explain this by saying that the nearest other airport is shut down because of the snowstorm, but if those airliners are carrying enough fuel to circle the sky for two hours, they can just fly to an airport farther away. For reference, the film takes place in Washington, D.C., which has two nearby airports that are actually mentioned in the film: Dulles International (the target of the terrorist plot) and Reagan National (the one that's shut down). With the Mid-Atlantic United States being the most densely-populated region in the country, there are at least a dozen major airports within 300 miles of DC that an airplane can reach in two hours with fuel to spare (Baltimore International, for instance, which isn't that much farther away from Dulles than Reagan), not counting the various military bases that would receive commercial airliners in the event of an emergency.
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    • It also features a scene where the hero claims that the criminals were carrying "Glock 7" handguns that are invisible to airport scanners because they are made of porcelain rather than metal. Even accepting this ludicrous premise (a real Glock is about 87% steel in reality and cannot get through an X-ray or metal detector, and the action of firing a bullet creates too much pressure for the barrel or chamber, even of a handgun, to be made of anything but metal), anyone would know that bullets are also made of metals such as lead (there's a reason the phrase "Eat lead!" refers to bullets), and would thus set off metal detectors regardless of what the gun carrying them is made of. This is also ignoring that airport scanners don't just look for metal, but shape as well. A non-metallic gun will still show up, and though it won't be as bright as a metallic one, anything gun-shaped will raise eyebrows.
  • Ever After: After the robbers are chased off, Leonardo da Vinci reaches into a saddle bag and unrolls the Mona Lisa. It takes about ten seconds to check the real painting was painted on wood, and can't be rolled.
  • Five Children and It: A teacher says that 3,486,522 is a prime number. Even numbers other than 2 can't be prime numbers.
  • Fantastic Four (2015): Victor's rant about how it's not "fair" that Planet Zero will be first explored by astronauts instead of the people who built the teleporters has a lot of this. He complains that maybe they're going to send in the CIA. The CIA, being an intelligence agency, would have absolutely nothing to do with the exploration of new planets. Their purview is more about already-established countries.
  • Flight Of The Living Dead has an amazing one for anyone with even a faint knowledge of medicine, by having a mutated Malaria Virus be the cause of the outbreak. That must be one hell of a mutation to turn a parasitic protozoan into a virus.
  • Godzilla: For all the good things we can say about the Japanese cut of the first Godzilla, it's still got a pretty glaring one of these when Prof. Yamane says that dinosaurs lived 2 million years ago, when any child could tell you that they went extinct 66 million years ago.
  • The Kissing Booth 2: While Elle is visiting Noah in Boston, they both order alcohol at a bar. Elle is asked for ID, though strangely Noah is not asked. Even with her ID though, Elle shouldn't legally be allowed to buy alcohol because the drinking age in Massachusetts is 21, and both Elle and Noah are around 18.
  • The Lawnmower Man: The infamous line "Yesterday he absorbed Latin in two hours. It took me one year just to learn the Latin alphabet". Latin alphabet is the same as the modern English alphabet, minus a few letters (such as J, U and W) that were added later.
  • The Matrix:
    • Morpheus's exposition that people are kept in suspended animation because they were needed as batteries for the machines is such an egregious violation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics that it makes everyone with just a cursory knowledge of physics groan. The original treatment had the brains of humans used as sub-processors, which is at least defensible, but thought to be too complicated for moviegoers.
    • Agent Smith mentions his contempt for humans, claiming that humans are the only creatures that don't instinctively seek an equilibrium to stop population growth, saying they are more like viruses than mammals. In reality, all animals will reproduce out of control if given the opportunity (i.e. enough food and a lack of predators). Humanity has witnessed (and caused) this to happen in a wide range of species when something happens to the population of their predators or when introduced to a new environment (rabbits in Australia for example). There is no natural instinct against it-rather, a species will continue doing this until they wreck their environment and go extinct, or are culled by predators (assuming they are prey animals).
  • Patch Adams: The title character is ranting at God after love interest Carin diesnote . At one point, he laments that of all the creatures on Earth, humans are the only ones who kill their own kind. Ever watched the Discovery Channel, Patch? It'd be more accurate to say that humans are the only ones who bother to feel bad about it.
  • According to Puma Man Stonehenge is apparently an Aztec artifact. Even if you only have passing knowledge of the Aztecs and Aztec Mythology, you'd probably know Stonehenge is in Europe while the Aztecs were in Central America.
  • Scream 2: Randy states that The Empire Strikes Back can't be considered a case of a movie sequel being better than the original because it was part of a planned trilogy, and thus is not a true sequel. Even accepting this dubious premise, anyone who knows even the first thing about the creative development of the original Star Wars trilogy knows that about the only planned thing about sequels to the first film was that there would be sequels; Splinter of the Mind's Eye was written to be a low-budget sequel to A New Hope in case it was a flop, and ESB went through several major rewrites before it became the classic it is.
  • The Suckers: Characters who should know better In-Universe (they all connected to big-game hunting) talk about orangutans in Africa and snow leopards in South America. Apparently the writer thinks that all apes are found in Africa, and that there is no distinction between a leopard and a jaguar.
  • In the No Budget film Tartarus, a man buys "Bolivian rock" but is given a bag of white powder, which he starts snorting. The filmmaker apparently didn't know the difference between powder cocaine and crack cocaine. Then, the dealer reveals that he's a cop and demands to know who the man's supplier is. The man's supplier would be the undercover cop himself, who just gave him the drugs. The filmmaker apparently didn't understand basic aspects of the drug trade.
  • This Island Earth has this line: "It's only Neutron. We call him that because he's so positive." Neutrons of course have no charge.
  • A View to a Kill: Roger Ebert pointed out that the villain's evil scheme makes no sense if you have any knowledge of computer manufacturing. Zorin's plan is to corner the market on microchips by destroying Silicon Valley, which would wipe out his competitors. In reality, this would do very little to affect Zorin's market share, since microchips aren't usually manufactured in Silicon Valley. If he wanted to destroy his competitors, he would have had to attack factories overseas somewhere like China. Also, given that many of the tech firms in Silicon Valley produce devices that require microchips, Zorin would essentially be taking out a huge chunk of his own customers.
  • Waterworld. Even if every single polar ice cap and iceberg on the planet melted, it wouldn't be nearly enough to flood the entire Earth. Let alone have Denver be a mile underwater.


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