Common movie and TV mistakes

This is a list of mistakes, things done wrong, etc. that happen so frequently onscreen we barely notice any more. 'Movie logic', stupid behaviours, and everything related.

New today Factual error: In many action movies someone will instantly kill a man by approaching them from behind, grabbing their cheek, and twisting their head to the side, breaking their neck. The move is even frequently used one-handed. The torque required to actually break a neck this way is enormous and would require much more leverage than simply standing behind someone and twisting their head. Neck cranks are certainly real but they are done in a more traditional "head-lock" style on a grounded opponent. Also, a broken neck is not always fatal, let alone instantly fatal. A broken neck is not even an assured knock-out, so it is absurd to use this move as an effective "stealth kill" in spy movies.

BaconIsMyBFF

New today Other mistake: Particularly in sitcoms, characters will talk about another character behind their back while still being in the same room and talking at a normal speaking level, but the character being talked about somehow never hears anything.

Phaneron Premium member

New this week Factual error: Military characters who deliver incorrect or inaccurate salutes to each other. Real military personnel know how to deliver a proper salute.

Scott215

New this week Deliberate mistake: Rather than gradually exploring character backgrounds as the story unfolds, characters in cheesier movies awkwardly rush to reveal whole biographies in just a couple of lines, right at the beginning of the film. Such an unlikely conversation might go like this: "I'm the luckiest girl in the world, married to the lead developer and network administrator of NASA's most ambitious interplanetary program ever"; and the husband replies, "Well, it helped that your father created the program and took a chance on me after that Wall Street computer-hacking scandal six years ago." There's no subtlety at all, it's just fast-food character development.

Charles Austin Miller

New this week Factual error: Whenever there's an officer involved shooting in television or movies, the officer in question always goes about their work as though nothing has happened. In real life, this is a big deal. It's blasted all over the news and the officer is always suspended pending an investigation to make sure the shooting was justified.

Mike Lynch

New this week Character mistake: When someone tries to call another person's cell phone in an emergency situation and it goes to voicemail, but they just keep calling (with or without leaving a message) but never try sending a text message at least alerting the other person of an emergency.

Bishop73

New this month Stupidity: Ground troops armed with semi-auto handguns, automatic rifles and even heavy artillery just keep wasting ammo, barrage-after-barrage, magazine-after-magazine, against giant robots and monsters 100 feet tall, long after it becomes obvious that the weapons have zero effect. This is an ongoing stupidity dating back to some of the earliest giant monster movies, and is still seen in giant monster and superhero films today.

Charles Austin Miller
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New this month Suggested correction: Surely in the face of a no-win scenario, doing something that may or may not work is better than doing nothing and awaiting your doom. They would be doing everything they could to stop the enemy in the hopes of saving lives. Even if it takes every last round of ammunition, it may eventually be enough to wear down the monster / robot etc.

I hate to disagree. I think one of the best examples is the lates Godzilla movie whre they keep firing their hand guns on it knowing it would be better to just get out, there was absolutely no point to do that. Same goes for Man Of Steel.

lionhead

Agreed. Even in a no win situation, why waste ammunition and time firing on a target that impregnable when you could be doing more to evacuate and save lives.

Ssiscool Premium member

In everything from old Godzilla movies to modern superhero and kaiju flicks, we see military forces line up and throw every bit of small arms and heavier artillery they have at the giant monsters or giant robots, with zero effect. The military always retreats, regroups, then lines up and wastes all their ammunition again, as if they learned absolutely nothing from the first experience.

Charles Austin Miller

In a no-win scenario, you beat a hasty retreat and live to fight another day, hopefully better armed and better prepared next time. You don't hold your ground, futilely trying to bring down a giant monster the size of a Hilton Hotel with small arms fire.

Charles Austin Miller

It's strange because I can understand why filmmakers still do this, even though it makes little sense. They are trying to show that the monster, robot, whatever is unstoppable by conventional means and honestly I don't know how you would do that without these kinds of scenes. Even though they are dumb. It's extra dumb to me when you hear the General yell "Stand your ground, men!" or something like that. Or when the cop runs out of bullets and throws his gun.

BaconIsMyBFF

New this month Stupidity: Characters entering dark rooms, hallways, etc., without flipping on the light switch, even when there's no reason to expect a lack of power, like a storm, sabotage, etc.

Scott215

Other mistake: The hero can usually knock out henchmen with one or two punches, but the main villain (as well as the hero themselves) can take much more punishment. This is practically akin to enemies in video games. In fact, heroes are so confident of their abilities that they can knock an opponent down and know that they are down for the count without even having to verify.

Phaneron Premium member
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Suggested correction: How is this a mistake? Of course the main villain, the boss, is hardest to knock out. If his henchmen were just as strong or stronger, why are they just henchmen? See it like a race, the champion is hardest to beat, that's why he is champion.

lionhead

He doesn't mean that it's in video games, he's meaning that this makes movies and shows like video games using that.

Quantom X Premium member

Just to give an example, at the beginning of the movie "Goldeneye," James Bond knocks out a henchman sitting on a toilet with one punch. But at the end of the movie, Bond and Trevelyan are beating the crap out of each other and neither is knocked unconscious. It's certainly reasonable for someone to be a more formidable fighter than their underlings, but it wouldn't make them magically impervious to blows to the head.

Phaneron Premium member

The mistake is that the hero of the movie very rarely checks to see if a disabled opponent got back up. They are supremely confident that they are out, even if the hero literally just rolled them on to the floor. Makes for good movie magic, but is totally unrealistic.

oldbaldyone

Stupidity: Giving a long drawn out speech before killing someone, allowing the hero to arrive at the last second and save the day. Just pull the trigger and you've won.

The_Iceman

Audio problem: Non-metal items making audible metallic sounds. The audible metallic sound effect of a blade, such as a sword, when it's being drawn from a wood or leather scabbard that doesn't have a metal throat, and also when it's drawn from a fabric or leather belt.

Super Grover Premium member

Stupidity: Highly trained military/police officers/similar in cover during a gunfight who stand up or run out into the middle of the street to shoot at their targets. Also including SWAT teams, supposedly the best of the best, who are bumbling incompetents and get wiped out near-instantly.

Jon Sandys Premium member

Factual error: Whenever police officers are involved in some kind of shooting while on duty, they are always kept on the case. They're never suspended or investigated by internal affairs. In real life, there's a full on investigation that takes months to make certain the officer in question was justified in the shooting, not to mention the intense media scrutiny surrounding the incident.

mikelynch

Stupidity: When someone has duct tape put over their mouth and they're unable to scream for help, or warn someone coming in about a trap. Duct tape over the mouth easily comes off if you open up your mouth because it can't hold your jaw shut. And if you need a little help getting it off your lips because you can't open your mouth wide enough, just stick out your very wet tongue.

Bishop73
Video

Revealing mistake: "Hacking" something by hammering a keyboard and characters appearing they're nowhere near actually typing.

Factual error: People using computers and having what's shown on the monitor's screen projecting clear sharp mirrored images onto their faces. That's not how monitors work.

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Suggested correction: A lot of old CRT's definitely projected the image upon the room if the room is dark enough. If you see this effect on LCD's its fake though as LCD's don't project anything.

lionhead

Cathode Ray Tubes never projected sharp, distinct images on people's faces or in dark rooms. CRTs might provide a diffused, flickering effect in a dark room, like a faulty fluorescent light bulb; but they never projected sharp, distinct images under any circumstances.

Charles Austin Miller

Who was talking about sharp, distinct images?

lionhead

The original post says: "People using computers and having what's shown on the screen projected onto their face. That's not how monitors work!" The original post is talking about sharp, distinct screen images (mainly text and numbers) projected from the screen onto a computer user's face, as if through a projector lens. I've seen this same effect used in films over the last couple of decades.

Charles Austin Miller

Hm, I see. I'd like to see an example of that as I can't recall anything of the sorts.

lionhead

Oh, you've seen it plenty of times. The earliest example I can think of is from 1993's "Jurassic Park," when the raptor breaks into the control room and is hopping around the computer workstations. Sharp, distinct "gatc" genetic coding is shown projected from a computer screen across the raptor's face (starting 1:55:50). Another example is seen in the 1995 film "Hackers," when sharp, distinct text and even graphics are shown projected from an early laptop onto the faces of Angelina Jolie and Jonny Lee Miller (starting 0:50:35 and throughout the rest of the movie). The absurd effect has been used in numerous other films over the last couple of decades, as well.

Charles Austin Miller

Well the Jurassic Park one is definitely wrong as I know that scene well and what you see on the Velociraptor's face is reflection through the ceiling grids above him, not from the computer screen (a mistake that has been corrected I think). Or else it would have shown on Lex's face too when she is using the computer. You are right about Hackers though, however brief and definitely not all times they are behind a computer screen (which is a lot). Come on, give me more, you can do it ;).

lionhead

No, you're totally wrong on Jurassic Park. The coding projected on the raptor's head is coming from the side, it's not from a ceiling grid (that's absurd), and there are several monitors in the control room, it's not a the monitor that Lex was using. Just watch the scene before objecting. As for "Hackers," I never said it was "all the time," I gave you a specific counter time for the effect and mentioned that it also appeared elsewhere throughout the film. It's enough, I think, that the original post and my replies are valid observations of a common factual mistake, while you yourself seemed not to be aware of it.

Charles Austin Miller

Factual error: Someone gets punched in the face or otherwise knocked out and comes around hours later. If you've been unconscious for hours you've got a traumatic brain injury and need medical attention, you won't be hunting down your assailant any time soon.

Jon Sandys Premium member

Factual error: Characters, typically the hero, can crash through windows without so much as getting a cut on them.

Phaneron Premium member
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New this month Suggested correction: Depending on the age of the window, that's the whole point. Safety glass is designed to break in a way to stop people getting hurt.

Ssiscool Premium member

Not every window is made from safety glass. When was the last time you saw a movie where a main character crashed through a store window, office building window, house window, plate glass window, etc. and ended up getting shredded to ribbons?

Phaneron Premium member

You don't often see blood but items of clothing do get ripped. One example I can think of off the top of my head is The Last Stand where Arnie gets chucked through a glass door. His jacket gets rips on it.

Ssiscool Premium member

Factual error: Unless it's a high powered shotgun, bullets don't throw people back when they get shot.

Quantom X Premium member

Factual error: True gun silencers do not exist in real life. There do exist what are called "suppressors," but they don't quiet the sound of a gunshot anywhere near what you see in movies and television shows.

Phaneron Premium member

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