Archive for November, 2008

Week Nine: #43 – Casino Royale

November 28, 2008
The Nitpicker Guide to the Movies
“See the films you love in a whole new way!”
Woo-HOO!  I will admit to being a pretty fair Bond fan.  I have every one of the previous 007 films, even the one with George Lazenby (and if you don’t know which one that was, you are not a true Bond fan).  And while I did like Pierce Brosnan, the Daniel Craig reinvention is absolutely fabulous.  Getting Bond away from spouting endless clever quips and back to the tough-as-nails, don’t-mess-with-him Ian Fleming version.  I do miss Q, though…
-0:11:17 They just don’t take chances with the star–Bond climbs the fence after Parkourman, and if you freeze here, you’ll see a nice shot of Daniel Craig’s stunt double
-0:11:39 Okay, it’s fun that Bond commandeers a bulldozer.  It’s his bulldog style, and I don’t even need anybody to explain how he managed to acquire the thing (and learn how to use it) in five seconds.  But isn’t 007 supposed to be a spy?  Isn’t part of spying remaining fairly unnoticed?
-0:13:52            Parkourman draws down on Bond and–lucky break for 007, his enemy is out of bullets!  Whew!  How often does that happen?
-0:17:56 The Nambutu embassy has some seriously deep windows.  Bond throws Parkourman right out a window, everything but his feet have disappeared–shot changes and only then does he actually break the window
-0:18:40 A quick crackshot on a convenient propane tank and boom!  Bond escapes another deathtrap.  Umm…except that the best television show in the whole wide world, Mythbusters, proved conclusively that propane tanks don’t explode when you shoot them.  Sorry, 007
-0:19:03 The impossible propane explosion was strong enough to rip the gate out of the wall thirty yards away, yet not kill the guards standing right in front of it?  Remarkable!  (Then again, maybe 007 ripped the gate off with his bare hands)
-0:28:54 Fast-forwarding through security camera footage, the monitor timecode goes from 19:05:19:15 to 19:11:28:22 in less than a second.  Six minutes in under a second.  Then we look at Bond for three seconds before he pushes pause on the DVD player.  So the timecode footage should be somewhere around 19:29:00:00–but no, it’s at 19:11:39:18!  Six minutes in one second, then eleven seconds in the next three!
Also, from the moment we see the Aston Martin come into frame and the moment when the DVD starts playing normally thirty seconds of footage (supposedly) go by.  The counter which read 19:11:39:18 now says 19:12:12:08.  I suppose it’s possible it took the valet thirty whole seconds to walk around from the back of the car to open the door…but I bet he didn’t get a very big tip!
-0:32:49            Another lucky coincidence is how all of the women Bond just has to seduce in order to do his job happen to be stunningly beautiful.  Just once I would like to see one of these movies where he has to woo somebody’s 78 year-old grandmother
-0:45:23 007 distinctly hits nine numbers to get into the security area after figuring out that ELLIPSIS is the security key.  Except that ELLIPSIS only has eight letters (although I thought it rather clever of him to figure that out)
-0:47:25 Say what you will about 007, he sure is in shape.  Here he’s been running after a police car across the airport tarmac, and when he pulls up (having kept the car in sight) he’s not even breathing hard
-0:50:15 The fuel-truck chase has been happening for at least a minute.  But as we watch the cops speed to the scene, a plane is taking off in the background.  Does that make sense?  They’ve had at least a minute to ground every plane out here!
-0:50:50 Now an airplane is coming in for a landing!  Right over where the chase is happening!
-0:53:34 The bad guy bought the Sadistic Detonator kit–he doesn’t know the thing has been clipped to his belt, but when he pushes the Go button, it doesn’t just explode.  No, it starts beeping and gets faster and louder, giving him a good nine seconds to realize what is about to happen–before it goes off
-0:57:15 M, once more: “According to Vilius, you’re the best player in the service.”  What are the odds?  The best single poker player in all of MI-6 is our man James!
-1:41:19 Bond goes all in, Le Chiffre does the same, and there’s $150,000,000 in the pot.  Now that the bets have been called, the dealer needs to have everybody show their cards–but he’s nice enough to wait fifteen seconds before doing so, just to allow everybody at the table to look at each other dramatically
-1:42:36 So Bond wins, which I suppose we knew he would do.  But he wasn’t bluffing, and neither was Le Chiffre–he just lucked into a better hand.  That incredible 007 luck continues to thrive (not to mention being able to play at all, considering just undergoing cardiac arrest!)
-1:46:26 Chasing after the fugitives, Bond comes over a rise and Vesper is lying, tied up, in the middle of the road.  The car carrying her has completely disappeared.  He left the hotel maybe a hundred yards behind these folks–did he stop off for a Slurpee?  When did they have the time to arrange this–or has he been driving really carefully?
-1:46:30 Ooh…I just…I just can’t.  I’m sure there are probably continuity errors in the Aston Martin crash, but I can’t watch that again.  It just hurts so much.  You look–I’m going to go somewhere and have a good cry…
-1:58:05 This one is a lot of fun.  And I checked carefully.  007 needs to enter his 6-digit password, retrieve the 120 million dollars he’s won.  He tells Vesper she can enter it, and then spells out her name.  Wait just one second!  Waaaaay back at 1:10:45 we watched him enter his 6-digit password.  To use “Vesper”, he would have typed 8-3-7-7-3-7.  What he actually types, in close-up no less, is 8-3-6-5-4-7!  (Which would spell TENKIS, VENJIS or UFOLIP, but not VESPER!)
-2:03:45 Bond and Vesper are in bed together, and we see their feet–both of his and one of hers, all three pointing in the same direction.  Apparently they’re spooning.  Wait, no–shot changes and she’s facing him!  (She must be very limber)
-2:12:32 Is it really possible to get or arrange for a nailgun to fire when it’s not pressed against something?  Is there really such a thing as a battery-operated nail gun?  (The bad guy certainly isn’t hooked up to a compressor!)  Can one really set up a nail gun to auto-fire, without having to press the trigger every time?  ‘Cause this particular bad guy’s nail gun does all of these things…
-2:12:46            Improbable Nail-gun hit one into Bond’s left shoulder.  The nail was still sticking out of his shoulder when he was grabbed from behind–and it disappeared.  Fine, maybe the bad guy knocked it out.  But no, in this shot–there’s the nail again!  Somebody stop and jam it back in?
-2:15:30 This happens in a lot of movies–Bond pulls Vesper out of the water and tries CPR for about thirty seconds before he gives it up as hopeless.  I understand EMT’s will try CPR for thirty minutes before quitting!
Did I miss anything?  How can you tell?  Head over to and check and see!
I suppose that’s enough of the spy stuff.  I want to watch aliens try and take over the world!  (Actually, I don’t all that much, but what are you gonna do?)  Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, and a whole lot of screaming in War of the Worlds, up next week.
See you in seven…

Week Eight: #44 – Men In Black

November 20, 2008
The Nitpicker Guide to the Movies
“See the films you love in a whole new way!”
“Fifteen hundred years ago everybody knew that the Earth was the center of the universe.  Five hundred years ago everybody knew that the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago you knew that people were alone on this planet.  Imagine what you’ll know…tomorrow.”  Hmm.  Right now everybody knows that global warming is a terrible threat to our environment.  But we couldn’t be wrong about that, could we?  (Do yourself a favor, after this blog go read Michael Crichton’s State of Fear.  Then start asking for more proof than what we’re being given!)
-0:07:01 “D, shoot him!”  Good thing for dumb border patrol guy that the alien running right for him doesn’t run very fast–K allows thirteen seconds to go by before he finally decides to take Mikey down.
-0:07:52            Continuity error.  K is explaining the Neuralyzer.  Long shot has the device by his ear, but when we cut to a closeup it’s down at his shoulder
-0:10:51 After Officer Edwards collars the fugitive, the guy pulls out a complicated yet fragile firearm.  Where was this gun when he was being chased?  What is the point of a gun that explodes and disappears if you happen to drop it?
-0:12:25 Maybe Edwards got out of the Academy too soon.  The fugitive blinks cat-like eyelids, proving himself to be somehow unique, even strange.  In this situation, it seems odd that a trained, hardened New York police officer would lower his weapon (even a couple of inches)!
-0:16:04 The bug in the Edgar suit pushes his spaceship out of the hole–later we learn this is really a giant cockroach alien.  How did he fit in that small ship?  (Or into Edgar’s skin, while I’m on the subject?)
-0:33:25 Edgar drives into town with his new exterminator truck.  The one that has his spaceship in the back.  Apparently he either had the ability to make the truck bigger or the spaceship smaller, because when we saw him loading the thing earlier, it wouldn’t fit that well.  But he’s an alien, so maybe he can do that.
-0:34:56 To emphasize the coolness and uniqueness of the MiB facility, there’s a human in the background walking on a walkway upside-down.  Is there any purpose behind him doing that, or does it just look cool?  (Hate to be the new guy–“Okay, Larry, today’s upside-down day for you…”)
-0:35:27 “Don’t touch that!”  Edwards hits the Superball-type deal and it bounces around wreaking havoc.  After containment, K explains that the device previously caused a blackout.  Why is this thing out in the open where anybody can smack into it?
-0:37:20 Is it just MiB field agents whose names are reduced to a letter?  Does that mean there are a maximum of 26?  What would they have done if there already was a J?  (Also, J’s locker is between G and D.  Why aren’t the lockers alphabetized?)
-0:43:32 J is practicing his ninja skills.  At 43:18, we look at K as he leans on the car window.  Cut to the pulled-over alien, then back to K–and J (Smith) is suddenly standing a few feet behind him in plain view!  There is enough time for him to have tiptoed daintily into position…
-0:49:58 The dead Arquellian Majesty rides into the morgue, complete with cat.  Wait–complete with cat?  If somebody walking their dog drops dead of a heart attack, does the dog really go with them to the morgue?
-0:52:00 For a third time K breezes into a situation, claiming to be someone, (first INS, then FBI, now Dept. of Public Health) without showing credentials.  I’ll buy that working with a scared farmwife, but saavy Dr. Weaver?  No way
-0:56:08 Saavy Dr. Weaver becomes blasé Dr. Weaver.  “You guys aren’t really from the department of health, are you?”  She just saw a man’s head open up to reveal a tiny alien, and this is what she’s on about?
-0:56:49 The sunglasses make a difference with the Neuralyzing, right?  Maybe not, because J does not have his on when K does the flashy-thing for a second time.  And how come the effect wore off so fast with Dr. Weaver?  Because they Neuralyze her so often?
-0:57:48 K said the bugs have “unlimited strength.”  For a being with unlimited strength, Edgar sure has a hard time getting the diamond case open
-1:02:35 Wow, they work fast in New York!  Edgar parks his bug truck on the sidewalk and smashes into the jewelry store.  Twenty seconds later a tow truck has already picked up his vehicle!
-1:06:40 We didn’t hear footsteps, and last time we saw K he was on the far side of the Ford…but suddenly he’s leaning on the countertop next to Frank!  Ninja skills!
-1:11:40 Edgar is holding Dr. Weaver hostage while J thinks she’s flirting with him.  The alien wearing his Edgar suit is only a few feet away–granted J can’t see the creature, hidden under the table, but I would expect the smell of this guy to be noticeable for miles around…
-1:17:20 K turns the corner in the tunnel and there’s traffic up ahead.  At the speed they’re traveling I would guess they have about four seconds before a serious rear-end collision.  K tells J to hit the button, he does, and the transformation begins, and fourteen seconds later they clear the traffic.  The button apparently slows down time!
-1:19:00 The Will Award: how about that?  The World’s Fair towers, which are really disguised spaceships, are still operational!  You can climb right up the tower and into the ship, and it opens without any security protocol whatsoever!  Gee–I would have expected the government to decommission those some time ago…
-1:21:28 We have maybe six minutes before the Arquellians destroy the earth.  Yet our stalwart MiB agents calmly wait while the spacecraft ramp comes down, and they don’t shoot the incredibly dangerous Edgar bug the moment it shows its hideously ugly face.  Why?  Due process of alien law?
-1:22:09 Edgar starts ripping his human suit off.  The boys just stand there.  Shoot him!!
-1:27:12 The top half of the bug comes back for revenge, and just before it chomps on J, Dr. Weaver blows the thing apart.  So she saw the bug coming, picked up a weapon which fortunately didn’t need to be cocked because there’s no sound of her doing so…she might have wanted to say “Heads up!” or “Fore!” or something…
-1:27:39            Another nice feature of the Ford the MiB agents drive is the auto-valet service!  These two were sprayed with giant cockroach not too long ago, yet by now their suits (and faces) are nice and clean!  Too bad Dr. Weaver didn’t get the same treatment.  Maybe there’s no backseat setting?
Seen the newest Bond movie?  Then you should be really excited for some 007 nitpicking…Casino Royale, up next week!  (Hungry for more nits right now?  Head over to for all the best!)
See you in seven…

Week Seven: #45 – I Am Legend

November 13, 2008
The Nitpicker Guide to the Movies
“See the films you love in a whole new way!”
To make the top 50, a movie doesn’t even have to be unique and incredible.  (Shrek 3 was neither.)  It does have to be something that people want to see over and over again–which drives up the box office gross.  Here’s my question: why did people want to see this one over and over?  Yes, Smith does an incredible job portraying a man who has been completely without human contact for three years…but I felt bad for him, not intrigued.  Plus the constant fear of Infected leaping out of the darkness wouldn’t allow me to really get into the movie, not on first viewing, and not during my review.  Maybe I just can’t handle creepy movies.  (Thank goodness The Dark Knight didn’t creep me out!)
-0:03:20            Robert’s fancy Mustang is so new the sticker is still in the window.  With wild animals running around New York, I would imagine wanting as wide a field of view as I could get.  (And did he just boost this car today?  It looks absolutely brand new–I would think after three years, the daily new car novelty would have worn off)
-0:04:03 The deer (elk, antelope, whatever) runs in front of Robert’s car and he spins the wheel–cut to an outside shot, and a second later the car starts turning.  Better get that steering checked!  Oh, wait, he’s the only human left alive in Manhattan.  My bad
-0:04:17 Where are deer coming from?  I’ll buy that the lions are escaped from the zoo.  (Though is it really possible for animals to just escape, when there’s nobody around watching them?  Or did Robert let ‘em all out?)  But this is the island of Manhattan–these deer swim over from Jersey?
-0:09:05 I understand why the filmmakers would show Robert cruising the city without any music–to emphasize just how alone he is.  But considering how alone he is, if it were me, I would have music playing constantly.  Anything with the sound of a human voice.
-0:11:54 When did Robert have the metal doors on every entrance put in?  After everybody died?  How did he accomplish that all by himself, and how did the Infected not break in before he got these doors put in place?
-0:17:10 The close-up shows a rat cracking the glass on his cage, but the wide shot show no cracks in any cage.  In fact, the wide shot makes it look as if the cages are plastic, which would make a heck of a lot more sense.  (Glass breaks, and Infected rats are apparently quite capable of breaking it.)
-0:17:11 Doc’s getting sloppy.  He lists off the rats that are still Infected, mentioning “eight, nine, ten, eleven…”  Right in front of us are cages 2-5 and 8-11.  The rat in cage 9 looks dead.  He’s not moving.  Yet Robert doesn’t list that rat as dead, but rather Infected.  The shot at 0:17:23 still has that rat unmoving.
-0:19:32 As Robert talks to the mannequins he unlocks the video store.  He unlocks the video store.  Why does he keep it locked?  The roaming Infected maybe planning a video slumber party?
-0:25:40 After three years Robert had better be as much of a warrior as he possibly can.  There are beings lurking in the darkness who would rip him apart if they got a chance, not to mention loose lions.  So when Sam perks up, it surprises me that Robert doesn’t notice for about three seconds.
-0:31:27 Robert breaks through the second story window, Infected on his neck, and it takes him three seconds to hit the ground.  Which puts the window roughly eight stories up. 
-0:33:42 When Robert smashes the vial of blood, there’s sunlight on the scene enough that we see him do it.  Once he steps out to wait, suddenly it’s totally black inside the doorway.
-0:36:09 As Dr. Robert treats the captured Infected, she leaps at him–then the shot changes and she leaps at him again.  Then the shot changes and she leaps at him a third time.
-0:38:00 “Blood tests confirm I remain immune to both the airborne and contact strains (of the virus.)  Canine remains immune to airborne strain only.”  That only bugs me.  Yes, Sam is still alive, therefore still immune to airborne strain.  But did she get a good contact which Robert cured when we weren’t looking?  If not, then Sam has only proven immune to airborne–and contact remains unknown.
-0:46:04 Am I missing something?  Did the Infected set this trap?  Last night?  Figuring Robert would see the mannequin and come arunning?  That just leaves one question: how did the Infected figure out how to do this?  Robert told us their brains don’t work right anymore!  (Wait, wait–maybe the lions rigged it!)
-0:48:29 This must be magic wire.  Robert trips the trap, and the taxi starts moving–and there’s no wire attached to it.  (Some poor stuntman really had to hit his head on the ground for this one!  Ooch!)
-0:52:00 The tiny barrier of sunlight totally stops the demon dogs?  Really?  They don’t just yelp through it and keep going?  (How lucky for Robert)
-0:52:37            Apparently it does, because they wait until it’s absolutely gone before running for their prey.
-1:02:40 It’s time for the Will Award, and it’s also time for a huge what the hell?  The filmmakers have gone to great lengths to establish that Dr. Robert is the only human being left alive.  Not just in New York, but anywhere.  We’ve heard his desperate radio messages, we can imagine all the fruitless Internet messaging, attempt to get a cel signal, anything!  He has been alone for three years.  The last man on earth.
Except that–whoops!–he’s not!  Suddenly out of nowhere here are a hot gal and her adorable son!  And a whole colony in Virginia!  Whaaaa?!?
-1:08:07 Bit of a strain of credibility.  Anna says there is a whole colony of people that didn’t get sick because the virus couldn’t stand the cold.  If that’s true, across the face of the earth there should be hundreds of thousands of people who survived, simply because they live in temperatures too cold for the virus.  Where have those people been for the last three years?  How come Robert couldn’t find any of them?
-1:11:19            “You’re not so good with people anymore, are you?”  Great, just what Robert needs.  Hasn’t seen another human being in three years, this is (maybe) the only woman left on earth–and she’s snarky. 
-1:26:30 The Infected break into the basement lab.  How did they get through the upper door so fast?  Robert locked and bolted it, and these guys don’t exactly have power tools…
-1:29:08 I suppose it makes sense that there’s a grenade in the medical supply cabinet.
-1:29:35 Sure is really incredibly lucky that the grenade’s explosion didn’t send metal fragments through the relatively thin coal chute door–killing Anna and her son!  Somehow the room-clearing explosion doesn’t harm them in any way!
I think that about does it for Will Smith.  How about…Will Smith?  Come back for giant cockroaches and Noisy Crickets in Men In Black!
See you in seven…

Week Six: #46 – Star Wars, Return of the Jedi

November 7, 2008
The Nitpicker Guide to the Movies


“See the films you love in a whole new way!”

If you read my Week One blog (and why wouldn’t you?) you know that there are other official Nitpickers out there.  One pair, who focus exclusively on the Star Wars movies, are T.A. Chafin and Polly Luttrull.  Their book, The Unauthorized Nitpicker’s Guide to the SW Saga, is chock-full of bloopers and errors.  They reportedly have seen the movies over 800 times.  (Like I say, they need to get outside more.)  So as I went into this review I kept their book handy, curious to see if I could possibly find anything they didn’t.  Now their book reports dozens of continuity errors and glitches that I missed–but I’ve only watched this movie with my nitpicking hat on one time. 

“Did you find anything they missed?”  Ha!  How about thirty-five separate continuity or production errors that didn’t make the Star Wars nitpicking book?  I’m not even counting plot holes like the robots walking all the way to Jabba’s palace.  I’m talking disappearing fighters, undisturbed sand, and a planet seen through Han Solo’s head!

“Why aren’t all of those here?”  Because you only see about a fifth of my full review in each week’s blog.  “Where are the other four-fifths going?”  Good question.  Stay tuned for the answer…


-0:04:08 One my fellow SW nerds missed: as the shot cuts from the Commander to Vader, suddenly the two are walking past rows of stormtroopers that weren’t there a moment ago!

-0:05:04 Is it that nice a day on Tatooine, with the desert and the double sun?  Why are the robots walking all the way to Jabba’s palace?  We now know Artoo has those nifty jets in his legs (oy, Lucas, hire a real writer!) but how is Threepio supposed to deal with the terrain when he can only step about five inches?  (I suppose the Rebellion is on a bit of a shoestring, and nobody could rent a landspeeder)

-0:11:11 Here a droid is turned upside-down while hot brands are applied to its feet.  It screams in a horrible robotic way.  So…for some reason, the designers of this metal object gave it a pain module?  Why is this thing screaming?  It’s a robot!  (Also, for some reason the designers made steam come out of the robot’s feet–in case it was ever captured and tortured, I suppose)

-0:14:42 The bounty hunter says “Yatay, yatay, yoto.”  Which according to the subtitles translates to “I have come for the bounty on this Wookiee.”  A minute later “Yoto, yoto” now means “I want 50,000.  No less.”  This language makes do with very few words!

-0:15:58 Boba Fett must be into accessorizing–and constantly changing his look.  At this moment, right after the bounty hunter pulls out the thermal detonator, Fett’s all anxious, raising his gun–and his helmet antenna is on the left side.  Twenty seconds ago he was flirting with a couple of Jabba hotties–and the antenna was on the right side!

-0:19:14 Han unfreezes from the carbonite and falls forward.  This has made me laugh every time I’ve seen this movie since the very first time.  The bounty hunter is Leia, who deeply and truly loves Han.  So why does she allow her loved one to fall smack to the floor?  She doesn’t even try to catch him!

-0:21:00 Long shot has Boba Fett’s antenna on the right side again.  Guy can’t make up his mind…

-0:27:40 This never bothered me before, but…with all his amazing Jedi power, Luke escapes the Rancor by throwing a skull at a button.  Kind of a letdown

-0:32:40 Famous one–Luke turns as he falls into the Sarlacc pit, grabbing the plank with one hand.  No, wait, the shot changes and he’s holding on with both hands!

-0:48:03 “Leia.  Leia is my sister!”  Indeed, and that makes the passionate kiss back on Hoth kinda nasty now, doesn’t it?  (Cue deep south banjo music)

-0:50:13 The Will Award: sure is inconvenient for the Imperials that the generator creating the shield around the Death Star is not located on the Death Star, but rather on the nearby moon of Endor.  (Seems like putting the shield generator inside the shield would be a good move–but these are the people that left a two-meter wide vent shaft leading straight to the heart of the original Death Star, aren’t they?)

-0:56:34 The shuttle tilts down towards the planet, as we look past our heroes through the front windscreen.  Strangely, the curve of the planet runs right through Solo’s head, as if his head were partially transparent.  (Couldn’t believe the SW nerds missed this one!)

-0:58:33 Leia apparently picks the speeder that was already raring to go–she hasn’t touched a switch and the bike is already moving!

-0:59:48 “Keep on that one, I’ll take these two!”  Luke flips on the brakes, but throws himself forward a second before the bike shoots backwards.  Jumped the gun just a bit, Mark Hamill did.

-1:14:14 Earlier in the forest, Threepio says, and I quote: “It’s against my programming to impersonate a deity.”  Now, when Luke tells Threepio to threaten the Ewoks with magic, the droid splutters for awhile but eventually complies.  Was he lying in the forest?  If it’s against his programming then it’s impossible, not just something he would prefer not to do.

-1:20:30 Leia, on being Luke’s sister: “I know.  Somehow…I’ve always known.”  Really?  Even when you two were making out on Hoth?

-1:41:49 What’s the worst possible job in the Empire?  The one they give to guys who refuse to quit boot camp, but are absolutely useless?  This one right here–standing inside the tunnel where the main cannon beam is fired!  What are those two doing besides absorbing a ton of radiation?

-1:53:20 Luke chops off Vader’s right hand, and Vader screams as if in pain.  Whuh?  There’s no blood, it looks like nothing but robotics were hurt, and if I remember stupid Star Wars III correctly, Anakin lost that whole arm long ago.  So what’s with the shout of pain?

-1:58:55 These Imperials don’t know a thing about warfare, as I keep discovering.  It turns out that the forward deflector shield on the Super Star Destroyer is located in a huge water-tower like device that is not protected by the field and is relatively easy to destroy!  This is the same problem the Death Star has!

-2:07:28 Oh, this makes me so mad.  And I’ll bet at least one other person joins me in my ire.  Luke looks out into the forest, and the ghosts of Yoda and Ben Kenobi look back, joined by…wait a minute!  That’s not the guy in the Darth Vader mask, that’s…Hayden Christiansen!  What a slap in the face to Sebastian Shaw, who Lucas unceremoniously removed from the film!  (And this raises a nit, too: Ben Kenobi’s ghost’s age is that of when he died, as is Yoda’s, wrinkles and all.  So why does Anakin’s ghost get to be twenty one?)

Enough with outer space–how about checking in with the last guy on Earth?  Join me for Will Smith and the creepy crawlers in I Am Legend, next week!

See you in seven…

Week Five: #47 – Iron Man

November 2, 2008
The Nitpicker Guide to the Movies

“See the films you love in a whole new way!”


All hail the Golden Age of comic book movies!  (Hail!)  I am a self-professed comic-book geek, and it was about doggoned time the emerging digital technology allowed some of my favorite characters the movies they deserved.  I will admit that I’ve never been a huge fan of Tony Stark and the Hot-Rod Red Suit That Could…but Favreau and company put together a great little film here.  Kudos to them!

I won’t get into movie-versus-original-comics too much here–I’m saving up that rant for Spider-Man


-0:02:32 The Hummer ten feet in front of Stark’s explodes.  Cut to a wide shot, and while the lead Hummer is still in front of the exploding one, Stark’s has disappeared.

-0:18:45 Pretty early on, but it’s time for the Will Award!  “What is this?”  “That is an electromagnet hooked up to a car battery.  And it is keeping the shrapnel from entering your heart.”  So the magnet is keeping enough tension on the metal fragments so that they don’t kill Stark?  Wildly inventive, and ever so slightly ridiculously implausible. 

-0:20:13 They’re in an Afghanistan cave.  Yet the terrorist leader wants Stark to build his state-of-the-art, top-of-the-line Jericho missile.  Using what, a steam engine?  Some duct tape?

-0:32:28 It’s a very cool effect that the iron suit has a window right in the chest so that the miniature arc reactor’s light shines through.  Very cool but absolutely ridiculous!  How much extra work did it take to install that window, and what possible purpose does it serve–besides making a great target?

-0:32:46 Stark and the Doctor are working in such a way that the camera the Big Bad Terrorist is looking at can’t see them.  Except there’s four cameras in this very small room.  How are they out of all the shots?

-0:34:19 Doctor looks at the computer screen–the Loading bar is just past halfway.  He and Stark have a moment where the Doctor realizes he needs to buy more time, Doc runs out with a machine gun, and Stark looks at the Loading bar.  Now it’s just under halfway full.  (No wonder this is taking so long!)

-0:38:14 Just because it happens in every movie doesn’t make it un-pickable.  Stark is in the middle of a firefight, but he stops for a long moment with the dying Doctor…and nobody fires at them, shouts, sets off an explosion, or does anything whatsoever to interrupt the moment.

-0:39:03 Stark is so confident in his armor that he just stands at the mouth of the cave, letting the bad guys shoot at him for fifteen seconds.  There are rockets attached to this suit, hydraulics, gas tanks for the flamethrowers…what possible sense does this make?  (Is he institutionalized?  Afraid to leave the cave he now loves?)

-0:40:20 Sand or no sand, it’s amazing that Stark survives a two-hundred foot fall, in this very heavy metal suit, without breaking every bone in his body.

-0:49:19 Stark is replacing his cave-made chest reactor with a Tony Stark home special.  Why does he need this appliance at all?  Is there no hospital in the country, no doctor qualified to remove the shrapnel that’s threatening him?  Why walk around the rest of his life with such a disability if he doesn’t have to?

-0:56:37 Hilarity as 10% Thrust Capacity throws Stark into the wall.  Was there no computer simulation to try first, make sure this was safe?  Run the simulation using a mannequin, maybe?  If Stark is hurt doing this, one of the most important men in the world is out of the picture.  Can you imagine Steve Jobs running a simulation this way?

Sure lucky Stark doesn’t break all his ribs, the way he hits that stone wall…

-1:02:36 Okay, I’m going to get this off my chest now, as Stark performs his very first true flight test.  This didn’t win the Will Award only because I’m not 100% certain of my science.  But I’m pretty sure, and I have my friend Steven Rhodes (an actual rocket scientist) backing me up.  Flight is possible because of something called the Bernoulli principle.  A very quick-and-dirty explanation is that when there are more molecules flowing underneath a wing than there are on top, the pressure of those molecules forces the wing up. 

Notice how I use the word wing.  Every aircraft from a helicopter to a 747 to one of those human flight suits seen in the second Tomb Raider movie have some sort of winglike control surface.  One thing the Iron Man suit does not have in any way, shape or form.

I suppose I can buy that the amazing miniature arc reactor keeping Stark alive also powers the suit, and that said power negates the need for fuel to burn.  Which makes me wonder what the flames are coming out his boots, but anyway–what I do not buy for a moment is that without wings it is possible for Stark to have any control over his trajectory.  Thank you, and goodnight.

-1:02:48 Stark holds out his arms then folds them to his body–and when he does, his speed increases.  Why?  Aren’t the boots providing the thrust?  Does he have to flap his arms when he wants to go faster?  Or did he just know how cool he’d look?

-1:15:58 Iron Man “flies” from California halfway around the world to bring justice to this village in the desert.  Can you imagine how long and boring a flight that was?  Did the Heads-Up Display come with free in-flight movies?  Even if this suit can manage 1,000 miles an hour (and I seriously doubt it can) that’s still a thirteen, fourteen hour flight!!

-1:18:33 After Iron Man saves the villagers he takes off again in search of his errant Jericho missiles.  Then a tank round blindsides him.  Maybe a little less time spent deciding what color the suit should be and a little more time including some radar would have been a good idea!  (I’m just saying–my robotic suit doesn’t look nearly as good, but it totally has radar)

-1:21:40 This suit can “fly” in any direction.  Why does Iron Man keep going straight forward as the jets fire missiles and bullets at him?  Does the term ‘evasive maneuvers’ mean anything?

-1:36:20            Obadiah sneaks in and uses his ultrasonic device to paralyze Stark.  He paralyzes Stark.  Obie even describes the device as causing “short-term paralysis.”  That’s why it’s very interesting, even amusing, that between the shot wide shot of Tony against the couch and the close-up, his supposedly paralyzed head has moved significantly.  Same thing at 1:36:33.

-1:42:08 Both Obie’s big silver suit and Iron Man’s suit continue with the design element of a big, bright light right in the middle of the chestplate.  You know, like a convenient target type light.  Right where, arguably, the suits are most vulnerable!  (Hey, if the miniature power supply goes, these suits are just extremely heavy paperweights)

-1:44:04 Obie in the Big Suit waits for Pepper to turn and look in his direction, then turns the suit’s eyelights on and starts raising to his full height.  What a flair for the dramatic this guy has, standing hunched over in the dark like that, just to make a good first impression!

Enough for one movie.  Next week we finally get to one of the classics: Star Wars, Return of the Jedi!  No pesky midi-chlorians or teenage angst–just space explosions and lightsabers!  Hurrah!