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Top 10 Glaringly Obvious Movie Mistakes
It is always fun catching movie mistakes. There’s just so much satisfaction when you get to turn to your friend with an impish, self-satisfied grin and a rhetorical, “Did you catch that?” And there are a gosh darn lot of mistakes to find. Movie productions are massive undertakings that require thousands of moving parts to coordinate, and unfortunately for error correction, most of those pieces are human.
Objects and people are left in shots, sets are rearranged and break continuity, shots are edited in awkward orders, and sometimes extras just hit their heads on doors. The ways in which movies can mess up are endless. Whether they’re tiny fumbles hidden in corners or major plot points overlooked, it’s fun to put on those metaphorical Spock ears, become overly analytical and pedantic, and mock them relentlessly.
With that goal in mind, here are ten of the most glaring movie mistakes ever put on film.
10 Stormtrooper Head-Bonk
It’s the absolute height of tension. Luke and Han have infiltrated the Death Star, freed Leia from her cell, and escaped—straight into the trash compactor. The walls are closing in, the dianoga is out for Skywalker blood, and the trio’s only possible savior, C3PO, isn’t answering his comm. Audiences hold their breath as a shot of ‘3PO’s abandoned mic pans over to a squad of stormtroopers finally breaching the droids’ hiding place… and one of the idiots smacks his head on the blast door.
It is wildly noticeable in the shot and is even accompanied by an attention-grabbing sound effect. The story goes that George Lucas didn’t notice the gaffe until after the film’s release, and so decided to poke fun at the moment (and himself) by highlighting it with an audible thunk in the 2004 DVD rerelease. The wackiness of the moment really undercuts the ‘Supreme Ordeal’ (as Lucas’s favorite Joseph Campbell would put it) of our heroes’ peril.
9 Holes Before Bullets
Quentin Tarantino’s 1994 masterpiece “Pulp Fiction” (which somehow lost Best Picture to “Forrest Gump”) is a complicated story. The narrative consists of three separate but interweaving storylines told in seven distinct segments presented in a nonlinear order. The fact that there aren’t 50 continuity mistakes we can point to is already impressive. There is one, however, that is both noticeable and vexing: the magic bullet holes.
In the penultimate segment, The Bonnie Situation, Jules and Vincent kill Brett in his apartment. One of Brett’s friends busts out of his bathroom hiding place and fires six shots at the two hitmen, and every bullet misses. The wall bears the six holes which, to Jules, prove that a miracle occurred. And indeed it did, as—if you rewind the scene and look closely—the bullet holes were already in the wall by the time Jules and Vincent got to the apartment.
8 Spider-Man’s Lamp
In Sam Raimi’s 2002 “Spider-Man” movie, Tobey Maguire plays the titular wall-crawler and, naturally, has to act out the obligatory superpower-discovery sequence. Peter discovers that he no longer needs glasses, he has a new, jacked physique, can stick to anything, and can shoot webs. He shoots them all over his bedroom (is the puberty metaphor becoming obvious yet?), including at a lamp on his dresser, which he yanks backward and smashes. The noise causes Aunt May to check on Pete, and one shot later…
The lamp is back together and sitting atop the dresser again. Normally, ‘lamp status’ is not a criterion for mockery, but this particular lamp was the main object focus of the scene. The whole point is that the lamp is smashed. That’s how we see Peter’s lack of webbing control, which causes May to check on him at all.
7 Two Ant-Men
Speaking of Marvel’s leading insect-men, Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man is one of the twenty-million superheroes to appear in the final battle of “Avengers: Endgame.” Emerging from the wreckage of Avengers Headquarters, Ant-Man giant-ifies himself and joins the line of heroes as they pose and flex. In the brawl, he uses his size to squash enemies before shrinking back to regular size in order to fix his van/time machine…
Except that he’s shown just a few moments later still on the battlefield and still stories tall. Within just a minute of shots, we’re shown two different Ant-Men fighting at the same time—one giant Ant-Man wrestling with space-eels and one regular-sized Ant-Man hot-wiring an old van. All-in-all, it’s understandable, given the sheer number of CGI combatants the filmmakers had to manage.
6 Old Scottish Battle-Car
There are a number of visible mistakes in 1995’s “Braveheart,” like the random crew member in a baseball cap that can be seen amongst the more period-appropriate, costumed extras. One goof is a bit bigger. Like the size of a car.
In the middle of the pivotal scene where Mel Gibson’s William Wallace leads his ragtag band of Scots into battle with the English, a white car sits in the frame just when the English cavalry is charging. It’s parked a few meters behind the charging cavalry and happens to sit directly in the negative space left by the galloping horses. Noticing it definitely dampens the historicity of the moment.
5 To Help a Raptor
1993 saw the release of “Jurassic Park,” and with it, the transformation of a mediocre book into a stellar movie. Though 28 years old at the time of this writing, the practical effects in the movie still hold up today. They even surpass much of the CGI content of the past few years. But to work properly, practical effects require a helping hand—in this case, literally.
As the two raptors “figure out how to open doors” (way to jinx it, Ellie) and enter the kitchen hiding place of the two children, a hand enters the shot, clearly pushing a raptor forward and holding it up. You can see the hand reach up and tenderly support the raptor’s bottom, which would be sweet if not for the broken immersion and seemingly impending child death.
4 “Your Mother’s Eyes”
The “Harry Potter” movies are as full of mistakes as they are magic, which is understandable given that there are eight of them and each was a giant, on location, tentpole production. And for every production goof, there are just as many continuity and cosmology mistakes written into the books themselves (looking at you, time-turner). But the most glaring in the films is the repeated plot point of Harry having ‘his mother’s eyes,’ despite that being demonstrably untrue.
Throughout the films, a half-dozen major characters tell Harry that he has his mother’s eyes. The implication is that they grew so fond and protective of him so quickly because his eyes reminded them of Lily. Except when we see young Lily in a flashback, she has dark brown eyes—as far removed from Harry’s light blue eyes as possible. Strangely, this came after another actress had already played Lily, and actually had the correct, blue eyes.
3 What Octopus?
The Goonies is a wonderful bit of 80s nostalgia, a fun action-adventure romp, and a complete mess of a screenplay. That’s why it’s no surprise that it contains one of the most glaring movie mistakes in history. At the end of the film, when the Goonies tell reporters about their adventure, Data begins it all by saying, “The octopus was very scary. It was very dangerous.” The only problem is that there was no octopus in the movie.
Of course, there was an octopus, but only in a scene that was cut before the film’s theatrical release. Wading through the water in the grotto where One-Eyed Willy’s ship is moored, the young Goonies encounter a giant octopus. After a lot of screaming, the kids manage to defeat the creature by—I can’t believe a human really wrote this—forcing it to eat a tape player, the music of which drives it mad. I guess. Cutting the scene was the right choice, but leaving in Data’s line was not.
2 The Missing HedgeMaze
“The Shining” is a masterful horror film that culminates in Jack Torrance—wounded, crazy, possessed, ax-wielding Jack Torrance—chasing his son Danny through the Overlook Hotel’s famous hedge-maze. The whole scene is one giant set piece; it’s as much about the maze itself as it is about the characters. Although the maze was shown and mentioned earlier in the film, it was left out at a key moment.
Specifically the first shots of the film, all wide aerial shots of the hotel and its surrounding landscape. The helicopter shots clearly show the hotel with no hedge-maze to be seen. It’s funny that director Stanley Kubrick, who made Shelley Duvall film the infamous staircase seen 127 times until she got it right, chose to show the hedge-maze’s location and forgot to include the hedge-maze.
1 The Turtle with Two Mouths
1990’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” is outstanding and criminally overlooked when it comes to comic book movies. It is, however, chock full of mistakes. Attentive viewers can spot stunt performers in shots, stray cameras, visible wire rigs, rubber weapons, clearly missed karate strikes, and about a hundred cameos by Splinter’s puppeteer(s). But the biggest mistake of all is the now-infamous mouth in a mouth.
There are actually a few examples of this, but the most visible is when Donatello calls Raph and Leo’s hug a “Kodak moment” and cracks himself up, rearing back in laughter. As his turtle mouth opens, we see the human mouth behind it. The teeth-in-teeth image is beyond horrifying. You have to pity any kid who happened to catch that in theaters, as they might have legitimately been forced to wonder if the turtles were actually Xenomorphs.