Ten Movie Plot Holes

…that you probably never noticed before.

I have a few issues with Ground Hog Day. And I say that understanding how tough it had to be to tie that whole thing together, and overall they did a great job. But at the holiday party, when he’s playing piano with the band, the piano teacher beams proudly and tells Rita, “He’s my student!”

But it seems to me that if he’s playing that well, probably from a lot of practice, he’s well past the need for her, and if he had showed up for his lesson, she probably would have told him that he didn’t seem to need any lessons. He had a busy day that day, helping folks out, and probably wouldn’t have bothered to go get the lesson. So how would she know that he was her student?

30 thoughts on “Ten Movie Plot Holes”

  1. Really, though, what choice does Yoda have? He either trains Luke or… what?

    He trains Luke’s more responsible and even-tempered sister.

  2. Also, re Groundhog Day, IIRC, they show him simply renting piano time as he ignores the teacher. But yes, the “my student” comment wouldn’t make sense — how could she possibly take credit for his skill?

  3. how would she know…

    …because on that particular iteration he decided to take some of his do-gooding day off an visit his old teacher (for the first time again) and thanked her profusely for the one tid-bit of knowledge she added to his talent which she is obviously proud of providing.

  4. So how would she know that he was her student?

    He told her she had been a one-day instructor from his childhood and “it’s ok, i’m sure you don’t remember me but your influence led me to become the dedicated and skilled player i am today”.

    Best I’ve got.

  5. Eh, I wouldn’t consider most of those plot holes. The Matrix one is definitely a plot hole. Let’s say seven billion humans, each generating 75 W of heat… that’s roughly 105 1 GW fusion plants. And no offense, but it looked like the machines were playing around with a lot more power than that.

    Jurrassic park wasn’t a plot hole. Sure, blood cells probably only have a portion of a particular dino’s DNA, but that’s all that was needed. There’s a lot of redundancy in DNA and chromosomes.

    Doctor Octopus wasn’t trying to find Spiderman by asking Peter Parker for help. He was trying to find Spiderman by endangering/killing a friend. It’s a classic comic book villain move when the superhero has a secret identity.

    As to the Superman surprise powers, it’s not that big a deal. He has knowledge from his Kryptonian parents squirreled away in the Fortress of Solitude (the very similar fantasy excuse is “It’s magic”). And he doesn’t routinely reverse the flow of time or mindwipe people because it’s unethical with a huge amount of blowback.

    Star Trek III came up with some oogie boogie science to rationalize why things were so freaky (and to blow up this planet). But why wouldn’t a device that can terraform the surface of a world in seconds be able to handle other conditions (ie, when it fires, it realizes, oh hey, I don’t have the preconditions of star and planet, so I’ll make those first, you know, like Make does when compiling software)?

    The real bogusness was the speed of creation of the star system. Creating a star by collapsing in seconds a diffuse nebula is going to generate a lot of heat, perhaps even supernova levels of energy release (as all that matter slams down hard on the center of the star). So rather than another tech the teching moment where they blame the eventual CGI’d destruction of the star system on mumble protomatter mumble, it would have raised the cool level a bit, if the genesis device were still active and futilely trying to dissipate the energy release of a supernova harmlessly.

    The Batman and Star Trek plot holes are genuine. Nothing more to add to what’s already pretty lame.

    In the Princess Bride, I’d have to disagree. Fezzik apparently has traveled with Inigo for years. And Inigo has probably been going on for years about the six fingered man. So it’s no surprise to me that Fezzik saw the Count (or just heard the gossip from other Brute Squad guys about the noble with a freaky hand) and put two and two together to get six.

    The Harry Potter one sounds like a plothole to me too.

    And I have to say “no” on the Yoda one. Yoda had to worry about making the problem worse. If he trained up Luke and Luke became another Sith lord, that would be a big boost for the Dark Side as well as letting the cat out of the bag that there’s a powerful Jedi master still training Jedi out there. A quick visit from the local Deathstar (probably with Darth Luke ecstatically pushing the button to prove his loyalty to the Emperor) and the good guys would be missing their top guy.

  6. Preaditor:

    “Don’t pick it up! He wont attack you if you are unarmed”

    So, why didnt the two that were left ditch their weapons?

  7. Not a plot hole exactly, but the progression of cellphones and the other small-and-ubiquitous communication devices rip major gaps into a very long list of pre-cellphone (and mostly-pre-cellphone) action movies.

    Die Hard in particular recently had my fifteen year old daughter stuck in “Can’t suspend disbelief that they can’t call for help” mode. “But dad, if they took down the building’s internet there’d basically be an immediate riot. And additionally, when we add up the phones, pagers, 3G & 4G phone networks – we’re talking a ridiculous number of cell towers that need to be taken down.”

    But you can march through a list of movies and realize just how much this particular plot relies on the hero physically traveling somewhere to convey information.

  8. I agree the Jurassic Park “plot hole” isn’t. Yes, red blood cells have no nuclei, but of course white cells do. Furthermore, I don’t understand the bit about not being able to tell the difference between the mosquito’s DNA and that in the dinosaur blood. Why would the mosquito have its own blood in its stomach being digested?

  9. >So how would she know that he was her student?

    She couldn’t have known it, and that’s precisely why her saying it is so funny (I used to laugh out loud at that point the first few times I saw the film; now I just smile). She’s unjustifiedly bragging, but she’s right too!

  10. Ah, the Star Wars one brings up my favorite Lucas-gobbledygook complaint.

    “Do or do not; there is no try”?

    Well, Yoda… does that mean you were “do not” on the whole “Save the Republic” thing? Or do you get to “try”, but Luke doesn’t?

    The more people let Lucas think about this Force crap, the worse he made it.

  11. Re: Jurassic Park, both reptilian and avian red blood cells have nuclei; I think only mammalian ones lack them.

    The Princess Bride: perhaps Fezzik has met Count Rugen’s glover? 😛 Or his having six fingers could be common knowledge in Florin, shall we say, law enforcement circles.

  12. The major plot hole in Groundhog Day is that the entire universe was replaying itself every 24 hours and only Phil had any memory of the previous replays.

    No attempt at any explanation for this phenomenon.

  13. Al,

    It’s not a movie, but I laugh everytime I watch “Storm Chasers” on Discovery Channel and they have problems reaching people on their cellphones as a tornado is tearing up the countryside. Or they lost internet connectivity.

  14. As for Yoda training Luke, it’s quite possible Yoda had already decided to do it, but didn’t want Luke to know that. Or he just wanted to be sure Luke really wanted it. There are so many other, much larger plot holes in that series, why bother with that one?


    But how much are the machines using per human to keep the humans alive? More than 75 watts I would bet (just consider the food production costs). So each human is a net loss of energy, which it turns out you can’t make up in volume.


    The mosquitoes are perfectly preserver, there will be some decay at the cellular / molecular level, leading to the mixing of the blood.

  15. Oh even so, AOG, you should be able to tell the difference between a mosquito leukocyte and a dinosaur.

    On the other hand, your simple application of the Second Law to the machines putative “battery” is ingenious. Of course a human body is a net energy consumer — that’s why we have to eat and breathe O2 every day. My vague recolllection is that the machines were using humans as transducers, who could convert glucose and O2 into electricity. I guess they’d never heard of fuel cells. Or solar panels. I dunno. Personally I think it would’ve been more plausible to say they kept the humans as interesting opponents within the Matrix video-game world.

    I did not know that, Marzo. That is fascinating.

  16. “Apollo 13.” The moon landing program was a hoax, so how could we have had a mission that almost didn’t make it?

    I’m amazed everyone missed *that.*

  17. Keith Laumer had a book with kind of a Groundhog Day plot–the main character notices that one day keeps repeating itself, over and over. Everyone else resets at midnight, he doesn’t. He keeps his memories and his injuries and whatnot acquired the days before. That much of it, at least, made more sense than Groundhog Day.

    Hmm. Playing most instruments requires physical changes–different muscles, different reflexes, calluses. How can you learn to play these if you’re never able to acquire the muscles or the calluses?

  18. Back To The Future Part III

    Marty goes back to 1885, gets attacked by Indians, pulls an arrow from a fuel line and doesn’t patch it up.. hilarity ensues as the Doc is forced to concoct a plan to get the Delorian up to 88 miles per hour.

    I ask you: what happened to the fuel in the Delorian that the Doc safely stored in the abandoned mine just a few days before Marty arrived?

    The Doc clearly wouldn’t have thrown it out as he recognizes the intrinsic value of it in that time period. Most likely, it’s still in the Delorian. They could quite easily just go crack open the mine, siphon the fuel from the tank, reseal everything back up and go home.

  19. Actually, for The Matrix, there is a good explanation, which was apparently in an early version of the script but cut because they thought it would be too confusing to follow…

    The AIs weren’t actually using dreaming humans for power, per se, but were using the spare capacity of their brains as a massive distributed computer on which the Matrix itself, and most of the AIs, were running. It’s entirely plausible that this could be the easiest way for them to build a computer on this scale… this also explains how some humans were able to ‘hack’ the matrix – some of the simulation was actually running in parts of their own brains that they were able at some level to access.

  20. It is difficult for technical folk to effect the proper suspension of disbelief to enjoy some fictional stories. If a movie shows a gargantuan, armor plated satellite that would have required a launch vehicle the size of the Empire State Building to reach orbit, it’s over for me. Space Cowboys and Goldeneye come to mind.

    As for Star Trek, though I really enjoyed the last one, it always bothered me that it took only a drop of “red matter” (no doubt based on red mercury) to consume Vulcan, yet the release of a huge ball of the stuff did no more than create a localized wormhole which the rather-less-than-planet-sized Enterprise managed to escape.

  21. Re Spiderman 2, the one bit that annoys me is when they show Doc Oc unpacking the equipement to build his second fusion reactor in an abandoned warehouse. Wouldn’t the delivery guy have thought that suspicous? Plus lab suppliers won’t sell that sort of kit to anyone, esp if they offer to pay in gold!

  22. @Bart:

    I have my moments, but I can suspend disbelief fairly easily and willingly, if the plot seems worthy of it and I’m otherwise entertained.

    It’s more difficult for me to watch movies with people who not only cannot suspend their disbelief for 90-120 minutes, but also cannot suspend their oratory functions for the same amount of time.

    It’s one thing for me to notice, for example, that the gaffers used the sound of a Zippo lighter in a scene involving a Colibri torch; it’s another for that mistake to be the 19th time something is pointed out to me so far in the movie.

    Which is a big part of the reason I prefer to watch movies alone anymore, unless I’m specifically aiming for a MST3K-esque viewing experience with my friends.

  23. Actually, for The Matrix, there is a good explanation, which was apparently in an early version of the script but cut because they thought it would be too confusing to follow…

    Really? See, I that was my idea for “how this movie could be better(tm)” after seeing it the first time. Except in my version nobody knew exactly why the machines were preserving people — at least not until Neo figures it all out in the sequel: the “machine AI” is really just a parasitic consciousness re-purposing networked human brains to create itself.

  24. I had a similar thought–that the AIs could only have free will when linked to humans. From there it’s not too difficult to hand wave a justification for raising the humans in the illusion of a technical rather than an agrarian civilization. That still leaves major plot holes, but not that ludicrous one.

  25. As for Jurassic Park, reptiles and birds red blood cells have a nucleus. So one might assume dinosaurs did too. Never did understand why they didn’t go for temperature dependent sexing. One little human error with the incubators and you have both sexes.

  26. I believe Marty and Doc can’t get the fuel out of the mine, because then there wouldn’t be fuel in the Delorian to go from 1955 to 1885, so Marty wouldn’t be there to get shot by the Indian arrow. They had to find a different way to get from 1885 to 1985, otherwise they’d create a paradox. I think the gasoline that came out of the tank is the gasoline that leaked out from the arrow shot. Why can’t Marty in 1955 go to the local gas station? I have no idea; maybe the Delorean runs on unleaded and they didn’t have that in 1955? Or course, if that were possible and they’d thought of that, Doc wouldn’t have stockpiled the gasoline and it wouldn’t have been available for anyone.

    Or something. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen the movie.

  27. I still like the Nomad episode where the Enterprise gets hit with something more powerful than a photon missile and “we can’t take too many more of those.” Then they get a direct hit on Nomad with a single photon torpedo and “Nothing could survive that!”

  28. Jonathan, nope, in drive-in movie scene, in 1955, the Doc says that along with fitting new wheels and fixing the time circuits, he drained the old fuel and refueled the car. He specifically mentions putting new fuel in the car, and how it should be enough to get back to 1985 if he hides the car in the cave and walks into town – that way we’re thinking about fuel logistics when Marty pulls the arrow from the fuel line. We’re supposed to be yelling at the screen “no you fool, you need that fuel! didn’t you listen to the Doc?!”

  29. I’ve only seen bits and pieces of 3–I didn’t see the bit where the fuel line got punctured. Was the puncture in a position that would really drain the tank?

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