Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

Week Three: #49 – Armageddon

October 10, 2008
The Nitpicker Guide to the Movies

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

So I hadn’t seen this movie since 1998, when I saw it in the theater.  Which surprised me, when I thought about it.  Deep Impact, the other asteroid-destroying-the-Earth movie that came out that year, has long been in my collection.  I like action movies–why had I skipped owning Armageddon?

Now I remember–because this movie is so stupid we need a word that goes beyond ridiculous!  I’m not just talking about the horribly broken science-geek stuff like shuttles turning in space.  How about the fully-functional machine gun mounted on the lunar roving Armadillos?  The Dukes of Hazzard style jump over the asteroid canyon?  The fact that somehow this roughneck drilling crew can handle themselves in the most adverse, dangerous space conditions after two weeks of training?  (Did I mention the fershlugginer machine guns??)

Strap in if you dare.  It’s a dangerously stupefying journey we’re on…


            -0:02:43 This is one of those nits that crosses a wide range of movies.  The only film I can think of that has space elements and doesn’t screw this up is Serenity.  The meteorites that destroy the shuttle make a lot of noise.  Space is a vacuum.  Sound cannot travel in a vacuum!!! 

            -0:06:37 Okay, you’ve gotta put in your DVD and check this one out–it made me laugh out loud.  Eddie Griffin’s dog attacks an eight-inch Godzilla toy.  The shot cuts to a closeup of the seller for a second, then back to the fight–and in that split second the eight-inch toy has mutated into a six-foot inflatable Godzilla!  Enormous continuity error!!

            -0:11:53 Wormy science guy runs down the hall, panting, breaks into the conference room and exclaims, “We have eighteen days before it hits earth!”  Wouldn’t a telephone have been faster than the sprint down the hall?  (Not that he doesn’t need the exercise…)

            -0:24:56 So the very hour the comet was discovered, they say we have eighteen days to brace ourselves or figure out a way to save Earth.  Cut to the oil rig, and the government asking Harry Stamper to save the day.  Let’s say it took six whole hours to remember this man and get to him.  When Harry reaches NASA, he refers to eighteen hours of travel time.  So we’ve lost one day.  But as Harry learns of the problem and looks at the countdown clock, it’s at 15 days 3 hours.  What has been going on for the past two days??? 

            -0:27:16    “I’m only the best because I work with the best.”  This scene, where Stamper rejects the astronaut team and demands his own guys go into space, is inserted to establish why it makes sense to take the two weeks we have left to save the Earth and prep a bunch of oil drillers to go into space.  I’m not buying.  In fact…this premise wins the coveted Will Award for outstanding ridiculousness!

-1:02:50    The heroic walk to the shuttles.  The driller “astronauts” are in their orange suits.  All the NASA techs have clean-room type plasticwear on.  Why is Gracie standing there in a dress and heels?  (I’m not saying I want her to be in a clean-room type suit, mind you…)

-1:07:55    Interior shuts of the shuttles show this incredibly bright light glaring into the cockpit through the front windscreen.  What is the purpose of this light?  I’m not saying it isn’t dramatic, but I am saying it’s useless and ridiculous–and it continues throughout the movie.

-1:11:04    I can’t believe I’m watching this.  Both shuttles turn in space, lining up their approach to the space station.  You can’t turn in a vacuum, there’s no air pressure to turn against.  (Am I getting too technical here?)

-1:27:30 The Freedom landing and the Independence crash are awfully loud, considering there is no atmosphere for sound to travel through.

-1:36:05   I had completely forgotten about the moment when A.J. decides to get the Armadillo out of the crashed shuttle bay by firing the forward mounted machine gun.  The forward.  Mounted.  Machine gun.  (Which they brought along in case of…um…velociraptors)

-1:42:30    I guess if it makes sense that the Armadillo has an enormous machine gun, it also makes sense that there is a handgun on-board the NASA space shuttle Freedom.  There’s probably a lot of mutiny in space.  It just doesn’t make the papers.

-1:46:28   Misspellings always make me happy.  On the official government nuclear briefcase screen, the word override appears as overrride.  With three Rs.  Yay!

-1:47:53    At 1:47:23 the bomb countdown read 1:11.  Chick hasn’t struck me as the smartest guy in the world, but I think he can still read a clock.  He’s looking at the bomb and says “one minute” right here, although if the clock has been counting properly, they’ve only got thirty seconds left.

-1:48:00 “I’ve been drilling holes for thirty years and I have never missed a depth that I have aimed for!”  And a lot of those holes were in deep-space asteroids with only an hour or so to go six hundred feet before the entire Earth is destroyed!

-1:49:16 The blue wire is cut, and the bomb stops at 2 seconds.  That clock took one minute and fifty-five seconds to count off 1:11!

-1:52:58   Question: which is stupider, the bus jump in Speed or the Armadillo jumping the ravine?  (Answer: well, they both have problems, but with Speed, I at least cared whether or not they landed successfully)

            -2:16:35 The Armadillo has a machine gun.  Of course the Crazy Cosmonaut fixes the shuttle’s thruster problem by bashing a wrench against the panel.

-2:16:59 Oh good, they have that unexplained light shining through the shuttle windscreen again.  Plus the takeoff is loud (sound in space) and the shuttle turns as it leaves the asteroid.  (“Screw the laws of physics!  Just get us out of here!”)

-2:19:19 Shots from around the world make it look like the asteroid’s detonation is visible everywhere.  That’s not possible.  (Line of sight, baby)

-2:20:30 More round-the-world shots…it appears to be 3 p.m. everywhere!

-2:21:13 Those whiz-bang shuttle designers!  When the shuttle landed on the asteroid, we clearly saw skids coming out to land on.  Now the shuttle is coming down at Kennedy Space Center, and there’s wheels down there!  Whaddya know!

Thank the good Lord–the credits.  I could probably find something to nitpick in the A.J./Gracie wedding, but I just don’t care anymore.

So very tired.

I’m going to try and recuperate over the weekend, as we move from Ben Affleck to Ben Stiller for #48, Night at the Museum.  See you in seven…


Week One: Why Am I Reading This, Again?

September 30, 2008

The Nitpicker Guide to the Movies
“See the films you love in a whole new way!”
Week One: Why Am I Reading This, Again?
I can still remember the very first movie I ever saw in a theater.  It was one of the Benji films (Benji Does Backflips, I think) and I was three or four years old.  I distinctly remember having to fold the seat up and sit on the raised edge just to see the screen.  I also remember being absolutely enthralled.  Twenty-something years later, I’m still enthralled, even though I can now sit like a normal person.
            I’m telling you this because in a second, you’re going to question whether or not I like movies at all.  Because I have a confession.  My name is Will, and I’m a nitpicker.
            I know, I know.  After having a lot of popcorn thrown at me, I keep it to myself while at the theater–but I can’t help it!  It’s fun to find things wrong.  I blame my dad, who to this day rewinds VHS movies.  “The car’s headlight was broken a moment ago, but now it’s magically fixed!  Didja see that?” 
            If you’re still reading, either you’re a member of my family (hi, Ma!) or you are, like me, an unashamed Nitpicker.  And you know how finding those little things in your favorite movies doesn’t take away from their wonderfulness.  You also know how putting on your nitpicking hat can make even the worst movie…well, not as bad.  (Did anybody else see Ghost Rider?  Being a nitpicker saved my life that day…)
            Some movie nits are so famous most people have heard about them, even seen them firsthand.  And a number of books on the subject of nitpicking already exist.  So why bother with a weekly blog?  Two reasons.  One, the books out there list every nit the authors could find, and seeing the microphone blooper in the first thirty seconds of Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy would require watching the first thirty seconds of Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy.  I doubt Bud Abbott and Lou Costello’s direct descendants even want to do that.  So this particular weekly blog will focus on the best nits to be found in (cue stentorian announcer’s voice): “The Top 50 Grossing Movies of All Time!!”  Movies like Spider-Man, The Lord of the Rings, and The Dark Knight.  In case it matters, I’m taking that list from IMDB’s world-wide box-office gross.  (Because let’s face it, France matters too.)
            Reason the second: currently existing nitpicky reference books are as dry as unbuttered whole wheat toast.  If you really want to know how many continuity errors there are in Star Wars (answer: a whole bunch), there is a book by T.A. Chafin and Polly Luttrull that thoroughly, I mean somebody-needs-to-send-these-two-outside-to-play exhaustively lists every last one, complete with timecode for the original VHS, Special Edition VHS and Special Edition DVD versions.  Which is well and good if you’re that much of a ner–um, fan.  But how much fun are reference books, really?  When I get around to nitpicking Star Wars, I’m going to bring up things those two never thought of.
            Did I hear a request for an example?  Sure!  Remember the scene where Obi-Wan gives Luke his father’s lightsaber?  Forget about the disappearing, reappearing shawl in the background, or the items on the coffeetable switching around.  Wise, knowing Jedi Master Kenobi casually hands over an extremely dangerous weapon, an energy sword that can slice through anything, to a hot-headed, easily excitable teenager who’s probably never even seen one of these things before.  Does that make any sense?  (“Careful with that, Luke, I should have mentioned it can cut through–AAAACKK!!”)
We’ll cover some fun regular nits, too.  In Spider-Man, Mary Jane falls off a balcony and it takes her eight seconds to almost hit the ground.  How high up does that make the balcony?  (Tune in and find out…)  Too boring?  Think about this, then.  For whatever silly reason (don’t get me started) the Spider-Man creators decided that Peter turns so spider-like, webs actually come out of his wrists.  Setting aside what a travesty it is not to have Peter create his own web-shooters, why does the webbing come out of his wrists?  Shouldn’t it come out where it does on an actual spider?  (That would make for some interesting shots!)
More?  All right, one more.  In Finding Nemo, Marlin says to his son, “Forget to brush?”  Nemo darts away and we hear brushing sounds.  What, exactly, do fish have to brush?  (And how do they brush it?)
I will see you back here next week.  What?  A whole week of waiting?  Yeah, we’ll do a new movie every Friday, just like they do at the theaters.  If you can’t handle going that long without finding some of your favorite movie goofs, surf on over to for a nit fix.
Join me on the journey of movie rediscovery.  Please silence your cell phones, deposit all trash in the appropriate receptacles, and refrain from talking during the blog. 


            Coming Next Friday: uh…aw man, do I have to watch this again?  Okay, fine, #50, King Kong.  Don’t think I won’t have comments about the ridiculous thirty-seven minute long bug-killing scene!