Factual error: In the poster shot and in the film, the wave from the Atlantic carrying the carrier JFK into a collision with the White House comes crashing in from the west because the south portico of the White House is seen. The Atlantic Ocean is east of Washington, so the wave should come from the other direction. And even a wave coming from the east could not have made the JFK (CV-67) crash into the White House because the carrier has been retired in 2005 and is berthed in Philadelphia, which is northeast of Washington DC.
Factual error: The astrophysicists talk about the solar neutrinos "mutating" into new particles. This is pure pseudoscientific nonsense- there are only three possible types of neutrino, none of which interact with normal matter to any significant effect. Neutrinos regularly switch between these types. Also, particles don't "mutate", which is a genetic change. No physicist would use this term.
Factual error: About an hour into the movie the plane with our heroes in it is being chased by a pyroclastic flow from the Yellowstone eruption. The flow at one point fully overtakes the plane. A pyroclastic flow is comprised of hot gas and rock sometimes over 1000° Celsius. It not just dust and smoke. The plane would have been ripped apart by both the temperature and the fast flying rocks. Instead it came out of the flow without a scratch.
Revealing mistake: The scene of rioting in the UK features a load of police officers running through a crowd. All the officers shown are wearing black tunics and custodian helmets worn with chinstraps. This is obviously old stock footage from a protest in the 80's or early 90's as nowadays, (and especially in 2012) the tunic has not been worn as general wear for well over 15 years, and Brit cops are now better equipped for protests with body armour, NATO helmets, flame retardant overalls, etc.
Factual error: Given that the main characters are from southern California, it is unreasonable to believe that a father and his two children would drive the 1000 miles one way to spend a weekend camping in Yellowstone National Park, nor would they be able to return home in only a few hours, following the call from the mother.
Factual error: It's stated after the Yellowstone Caldera explodes that the Ash Cloud would hit Las Vegas first, then St. Louis, Chicago and so on. We see Jackson and his family land in Vegas, then the action moves to D.C., where we learn the V.P.'s chopper goes down in the ash cloud in Pittsburgh. A pyroclastic cloud that we see moves at 450mph. It would reach Vegas long before it reaches Pittsburgh. Vegas would have been long gone before Jackson and family could reach it.
Plot hole: During the later parts of this movie there is much talk about 'continental displacement' and this appears to be happening in the film. The Earth's crust is falling apart because of the heating of the inner core, and all the cities seems to be falling apart since the ground can no longer hold them. When our cast finds themselves surprised to be already over China when they figured to be over the ocean, it is explained that Asia has actually moved from where it was. If this phenomenon is taking place globally, how come the monks in China don't seem to have been disturbed at all? In fact the bell the monk rings as the ocean approaches hasn't even been shaken. The arks are built in between the mountains, but the mountains are apparently fine. Shouldn't they be falling like the rest of the crust?
Factual error: American officials, including the president himself, continually refer to the other G8 leaders as "heads of state." They are, in fact, heads of government. The United States is the only G8 country which combines the head of state and head of government into a single position. The others have a separate prime minister (or chancellor in Germany) and president (or sovereign in the UK, Canada and Japan). No American official is likely to make this mistake in reality. The head of government of Italy is appointed as "Prime Minister" also in the Italian version; actually the correct wording should be "President of the Council of Ministers"
Factual error: Air Force One is still complete when it strikes Ark 4 which is simply not possible. The aircraft would have been obliterated by the air pressure wave and the resulting huge tidal wave that hit it, so that only debris would have hit the Ark, certainly not the complete intact aircraft we saw.
Audio problem: An early scene in the movie has Chinese soldiers recruiting Tibetans to work on a secret project which they are told is a dam. As the scene ends, the sound of explosives draws everyone's eyes towards the mountains, where the explosions can be seen several miles in the distance. The sight and sound of these explosions take place simultaneously. Sound travels much slower than light. In reality, there should have been some delay before the sound of the explosions was heard.
Add timeBruce Trestrail
Other mistake: When the monk arrives with Jackson and the others at the gate leading into the secret entrance of the ships, the countdown to impact timer reads about 28 minutes. It is highly implausible that the group, which contains elderly and small children, are able to get to the top of what looks to be a 100 story staircase in less than 15 minutes without breaking a sweat. Once they are inside the hatch, the countdown to impact timer reads about 13 minutes.
Continuity mistake: When the decision to open the gates to let everyone in is made, the countdown is at 15 minutes. When the gate is fully lowered and people start running in, the timer is at 4 minutes. How can they get all the thousands of people on and raise the gates in 4 minutes? It took 11 minutes to go down and 30 seconds to get back up.
Factual error: In the supermarket scene, we can see that the parking lot's pavement and the store's floor starts to rip apart. The amount of energy needed for that to happen would have caused a major earthquake that everybody in the store would have noticed way before the main dialog between the characters begins.
Other mistake: In the scene with the G8 meeting the American President is talking to the G8 members. The Russian President turns to his translator and speaks in clear Serbian language (not Russian!) 'do not go out, stay' (nemoj da izadjes, ostani). Then in the next moment the Russian President tells his translator in clear Serbian 'You can go now' (mozes da izadjes).
Continuity mistake: When the RV camper van lands after its jump on the runway, you can see the steering gear and passenger front wheel has collapsed. In the next shot when Jackson enters the camper to retrieve the map, you can see the wheel is fine, and then its damaged again in the next long shot.
Factual error: Little over an hour into the movie, Yellowstone blows up into a huge volcano. The pyroclastic flow that follows the camper is going at such a speed (the speed of the flow can be seen when the plane is in the air) that it would have overtaken the camper well before it has reached the plane. Even if the cloud would have been slowed down by hills, it would have, after the camper reached the plane, overtaken the plane long before it could take off.
Continuity mistake: Right before the scene where the earthquake happens at the supermarket, we see the crack moving through the parking lot. The cars are parked parallel to the store. We see car after car shake, etc, until it gets close to the front door of the store. After the earthquake, when the news is on the TV, it shows the store after the crack has gone all the way through. The parking spaces and cars are facing a completely different direction.
Factual error: Right when the plane takes off from the airport in Las Vegas, the plane barely misses the Wynn Venetian and hits the Eiffel tower at the Paris. This is impossible as the airport is at the far south end of Las Vegas Blvd. and these hotels are at the far north. They would have had to fly over four miles of other casinos before ever reaching them.
Factual error: The scene where Yuri starts the car with his voice has two mistakes in it. The first one is that to use voice activation in any kind of car you have to push a button to let the car know that you're talking to it and secondly no car manufacturer would make the voice recognition the only way to start the car, there would always also be the option to start the car via a button or with the key simply because of safety reasons.
Factual error: After taking off from Las Vegas for Tibet, our heroes try to refuel the Antonov in Hawaii, only to find the islands devastated. The route from Las Vegas to Tibet takes you nowhere near Hawaii. In fact, Hawaii is only 500 km (300 miles) closer to Tibet than Las Vegas.Also, they expect to go down somewhere in the South China Sea, but the route from Hawaii to Tibet would take them just north of Japan and nowhere near the South China Sea, which is 3000 km (1900 miles) further south.
Factual error: In the film, the world is falling apart because the earth's neutrino particles have mutated and are heating up the earth's core intensely. The top surface of the world would have been utterly destroyed under the pressure of such power before the core could have come close to beginning to boil.
Continuity mistake: When the door opens on the ark to let the mass of people in, there is a large yellow arm that starts to close in on Jackson and his family. The tunnel that his son is pushed into last minute had a large metal door open on it that instantly disappears like it was never there when the arm passes the opening.
Factual error: At several points late in the film, we see shots of the gigantic tsunami thundering across Southeast Asia and India, carrying away buildings, vehicles, people, monasteries, et cetera. The tsunami is still ocean blue with foaming whitecaps as it barrels into the Himalayas, and the water is perfectly crystal clear as it begins flooding the Ark. We even see John Cusack and others wading and swimming in flood water that is as clear as a swimming pool. In reality, when a tsunami slams into a coastline and travels inland, it carries millions of tons of seabed sediment and landscape all churned into a godawful slurry that is virtually opaque black. No amount of illumination can penetrate it, and it would be impossible to see anything beneath the surface. The enormous tsunami depicted in this film, having traveled hundreds or thousands of miles across the Asian mainland, should have arrived at the Himalayas looking like a massive flood of squid ink, rather than crystal clear.
Continuity mistake: When Jackson picks up his kids to go camping, we see nothing on the sidewalk grass field in front of their house. But when he returns home to drop the kids off, we now see that there is actually a pedestal displaying the address of the house, we can also see this pedestal when the earthquake hits.
Factual error: The coat of arms behind the German chancellor in the briefing scene is wrong. First of all the actual German coat of arms is not oval and secondly this is not the coat of arms used by the German chancellor. The one used by the German chancellor is hexagonal and could also be found on the old German currency.