Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Great (film) Debates vol. 27

Wait a minute, wasn't that guy wearing a red shirt a moment ago? And where did the bullet hole go? Oh, there it is. Wait! It's gone again! Ahhhh!

What one error (continuity, out-of-character moment, etc.) just kills you every time you see it?

Panelist: T-Rav

Maybe I have dinosaurs on the brain, since I answered with its sequel to another question, but the ending of Jurassic Park always bothered me. The survivors are in the visitor center and cornered by the Velociraptors; they look doomed, until the T. Rex appears from nowhere to fight the raptors and thus they can escape. Now, the movie established early on that you can hear the rex coming from a long way off, so how could they not have noticed it until then? This has always baffled me, and I get the impression Spielberg or whoever it was wrote themselves into a corner and couldn't find a way out. Either way, it's a weak finale to an otherwise good movie.

Panelist: ScottDS

I wouldn't say this one "kills" me but the preceding 42 minutes are so perfect that, to see a continuity error in the last 20 seconds is just a heartbreaker! In the popular Star Trek: TNG episode "Yesterday's Enterprise", a ship from the past comes forward through time, thus altering the timeline. The Federation is now at war with the Klingons and the older ship has to go back in order to restore the timeline to normal, even though it will mean certain death for everyone on board. In addition to the geopolitical situation, there are all sorts of aesthetic differences that Trek fans love to talk about: darker lighting, more widgets and panels on the bridge, stylized Sam Browne belts for the crew, as well as higher collars and black cuffs. Well, guess what. At the end of the episode - literally the last live-action shot before the final ship flyby - we see Geordi LaForge and Guinan in Ten-Forward (the ship's bar) and LaForge's uniform still has black cuffs, even though this is supposed to be the normal timeline. Anal-retentive? Yes. [smile] Maybe they'll fix it for the HD remaster that they're working on.

Panelist: AndrewPrice

There is no better known continuity error than Felix Leiter's pants in Thunderball going from shorts to long pants and back to shorts while he's flying the helicopter. But the one that always bothered me comes from a movie which is itself a walking continuity error: The Big Sleep... reappearance of gun, unexplained murder, Bogart gets a free trench coat, etc. The most glaring though occurs when Lauren Bacall unties Bogart, who has been captured. In the middle of this scene, her shoes suddenly vanish and she's barefoot. Then the angle changes and they come back. I can understand how continuity errors can happen because things get shot on different days or out of order, but how do you forget you were wearing shoes?

Panelist: BevfromNYC

It’s not in any particular movie, but I see it a lot in films and television. You know, the eating/drinking scenes where the liquid in a glass keeps changing from empty to full to empty to full. Or the sandwich is half eaten then will be untouched in the next shot. I think it happens more in television than in film, but it makes me nuts.

Comments? Thoughts?

54 comments:

ScottDS said...

T-Rav - I actually never thought of that! From what I understand, you're pretty much in the ballpark about Spielberg and Co. finding themselves in a corner. I think they decided to add the T-Rex at the end because they knew he'd be popular.

Andrew - I haven't seen Thunderball or The Big Sleep in years so I can't comment. Your comment about shoes reminds me of the classic error in Terminator 2 where Sarah escapes from her cell and runs down the hallway - you hear shoe sound effects but she's barefoot.

If you want another example of the filmmakers simply forgetting about something, Brad Pitt in Ocean's 11 eats shrimp from two different vessels: in close-ups, it's a plate but in the two-shots, it's a bowl (or vice versa).

Bev - Having been in charge of just this sort of thing at film school, I can safely say it's a bitch to keep track of food and drink consumption during a shoot! :-) Another thing you often find mismatched between shots: candles.

T-Rav said...

I can't say I noticed those others, although the shoe sound in Terminator 2 does ring a bell. (Like Scott, I can't add anything about Thunderball or The Big Sleep.)

Another one I thought of was Con Air, which is a thoroughly ridiculous movie in every respect but one I still enjoy watching. One very jarring glitch, though: The premise is that Nicolas Cage and company are being flown from California to Alabama, and his wife and daughter are waiting for him there. Yet immediately after the U.S. Marshals learn about the plane being taken over, the two of them are at the CA office. And keep in mind, the movie takes place over the course of a half-day. Unless there are secret teleporters in this movie I don't know about, I'm going to call bull@#$% on this one.

ScottDS said...

The worst location-based error I've seen is in Transformers 2 where the characters are at a museum in Virginia (doubling for the Smithsonian, I think), they open the back door, and all of a sudden, they're in the big aircraft "bone yard" in Arizona! I even had to rewind it just to be sure.

Of course, that's the least offensive thing about that stupid movie. :-)

And if you want the worst example of visible crewmembers, check out the top left corner in this clip from Bad Boys (the Sean Penn film).

Kit said...

I've always wondered how the t-rex got in there but I enjoyed the movie so much I didn't much care.

It was my favorite movie as a kid and the book was the first "grown-up" novel I read.
It holds a special place in my heart.

Con-Air. I never noticed that.


Now, the biggest continuity error I have ever seen was in the MST3K pick "The Girl in the Golden Boots".
A girl and a man are sitting at a booth talking when, out of the blue, a second man is sitting at the table.
One frame he is not there, the next he's there.

Now I know editors have to make lots of decisions regarding continuity errors. Let it fly because the performance is good or what have you.
But what excuse is there for THAT?!

Outlaw13 said...

The only one that immediately jumps to my mind, in The Green Berets as they are infiltrating a NVA stronghold one of John Wayne's Soldiers is jumped by a group of enemies, he fights them off and kills them all before he dies himself. We are told this is so because John Wayne picks up the fallen Soldier's M-16, and says if he didn't they wouldn't have left this (the M-16 rifle) behind, which after a cutaway, morphs into an obvious toy which John Wayne smashes against a tree...sad.

tryanmax said...

Scott, that is so AWESOME! I actually missed it the first time because I was looking at the far corner. It's almost too obvious.

I'm not a goof hunter by any stretch of the imagination. If an error catches my attention, I almost immediately forget it. So I have to go with the movie I watched last night, Margin Call. In the closing scene, Kevin Spacey is digging a hole to bury his dog. He's digging into a finely manicured lawn with smooth dark soil. But the audio is of a shovel scraping through sandy/gravely dirt.

I'd have to say, when sound doesn't match the visual, that is what distracts me most. I think what sound guys do is amazing, but when they screw-up, it drives me crazy. I can't name any specific movies, but dialogue out-of-sync with actors' mouths is far more common than it should be.

AndrewPrice said...

Interesting choices everyone! Also interesting that no one mentioned out of character moments. I see those a lot. In fact, too many writers seem to use those as ways to move a plot when they can't think of any way out of it.

One that always bothered me was Ron Weasley. As I kept reading the series it became clear to me that he became nothing more than a plot device. He would show up, do whatever was needed to push Harry to the next scene and then leave.

Interestingly, Rowlings recently said that she so tired of the character that she almost killed him. That's why.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I would imagine that candles are a nightmare to keep at the same level? I would think food would be easier though as long as the meal is short. Nevertheless, I agree with Bev that you see that all too often.

I never noticed that about Terminator 2, I'll have to look for it. LOL!

The clothing problems often stand out to me because Hollywood is so obsessive of trying to make the costumes stand out. Thus, all the main characters always look distinctive and are always perfect. That's actually what tipped me off to The Sixth Sense right away because Willi's belt is crooked (which doesn't happen in Hollywood) and it stays that way in each post-death scene, which means in Hollywood-speak that his character is "fixed at some moment" and this probably a dream or he's a ghost. Still, it didn't ruin the film for me because I didn't KNOW.

In The Big Sleep the BIG mistake is that they leave a murder unsolved yet act like it was solved. There's also a re-appearing gun and a guy hands Bogart a coat he never brought to the place. But the shoes really stand out to me because I can't imagine how you could forget that you were wearing shoes in every other shot in the scene?

I could understand if you were wearing different shoes -- I've seen that before a lot -- but not completely forgetting that you were wearing shoes?

LawHawkRFD said...

The scene at Jim Malone's (Sean Connery's)apartment in The Untouchables, when he and Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner)are discussing tactics. The camera panned back and forth between them as each of them spoke. Connery is wearing a very white shirt. First, with the collar open. Then, with the collar closed. Then, with it open again. The open-closed collar occurred at least four times in that one brief scene. I wanted to yell "make up your mind, Connery!"

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, The Thunderball mistake is probably the most famous. It's almost always mentioned in the discussion of continuity errors. It's also been debated endlessly whether it is just a mistake or if it means they went out more than once, etc. In the end, people basically see it as a mistake.

Good point on Jurassic Park, by the way, I never really though much about it except that it seemed kind of out the blue that this thing could sneak up on everyone. It's one of those, how was that thing in the room and nobody noticed?

The Con-Air thing is funny too. But if you want to see a really butchered timeline, check out Smoking Aces. That involves a race to a penthouse suite and one set of people star in the lobby of the hotel, while others are flying to Tahoe from LA, while others are speeding across town in Tahoe.... and yet they all get off the elevator at the top floor at the same time. LOL!

Floyd R. Turbo said...

Darth Vader: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

'nuff said

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, That's hilarious! How in the world did they let that shot through?!

Good point on the location mistake. I find that a lot in places like DC, but that one was extreme because that one isn't even possible! I can forgive something like adding a hotel that doesn't exist (True Lies) or a fake metro station that lets you go from the Georgetown Mall to the Georgetown Mall (No Way Out), but it's just not believable that there is a desert somewhere in the middle of DC.

Tennessee Jed said...

This is one of the questions I failed to answer. At first, I thought maybe I just missed it, but upon further review (so NFL of me) I believe I honestly couldn't think of them. It really wasn't until the advent of VHS that more than a few films got watched that many times to begin with. Unless, someone specifically tells me to b.o.l.o. a goof, I just don't pick up on them enough to remember.

It's a fun question, but one to which I have virtually nothing of interest to add. Typically films shot in the past or future tend to be prone to things like touch tone phones before they were invented, etc. That is kind of a sub-heading of the gaffe category.

And admittedly off topic since I have little else to constructively add, I did watch "The Help" last night. It is a wonderful film, and one that should have been made, and certainly shoul win in the 2 acress categories. My only criticism is it is a film, being honored in an election year for you know who, which is probably planned to whip up a certain segment of the electorate that appears to be a bit less enamored with p,o.t.u.s. this time around. While it is good to know the truth about how racial issues have evolved, particularly for the younger generation, I cannot honestly say the film helps promote coming together. It all seems just a tad orchestrated (see recent posts about Jackson and Freeman)

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, That's hilarious! That reminds of movies (can't name the current, but I know I've seen a couple) where dead people are suddenly alive and walking next to the heroes before they vanish again. Although, at least that makes sense because they probably just did the group shot out of order.

I'm not sure how you add someone to a table and then take them away?

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, No "failure." :) Almost every question I sent out wasn't answered by somebody.

It's interesting that you mention VHS. I think you're correct that with the advent of viewers being able to stop the film and go frame by frame, we see a lot more of the mistakes than we used to, and many of these went right over our heads before.

That's another reason why the Big Sleep mistake stands out to me. I saw it the first time through because her shoes are very black in a scene that is mostly more gray, i.e. they stand out compared to everything else in the scene (the film is B&W). When they suddenly vanish, it's a visually jarring moment and it's hard to miss unlike something like, say, a gun changing hands.

ScottDS said...

Andrew -

Re: food, William Shatner tells a story in the Star Trek VI DVD making-of where he mentions that actors often don't eat at all during meal scenes, simply because of continuity and the fact that actors don't want to have to eat the same thing for every single take and angle. I never noticed this but how many times have we seen people sit down to eat, only to leave a minute later, their food untouched?

AndrewPrice said...

Outlaw, I remember that scene and you're right, it is an obvious toy! LOL!

Speaking of guns...

I've notice a couple recently. In Paul, Simon Pegg gets this huge chest wound from being shot. He gets healed and his skin goes back to normal, but the shirt is still ripped wipe open. Then the hole vanishes.

And in Battle LA there's a moment where a soldier is using a rifle, then a handgun, then the rifle again and then runs out of ammo with the rifle and makes a big deal of switching to the handgun.

Eric P said...

The magic car in Bullitt.

"That Duster had six hubcaps, know what I mean."
Drive-By Truckers, "Steve McQueen"

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, That raises two points to me.

The first is cars.... I HATE it when people are racing on the highway at high speeds and you hear the car shifting gears constantly. WTF? I know it sounds great, but it's nonsense. It's the same thing with guys who cock automatic pistols every time they plan to use them, even when they've been in the middle of a firefight. All they are doing is ejecting a perfectly good bullet. Why?

On nitpicking....

I've noticed that a lot of people assume things are errors when they really aren't. In fact, I've seen that a LOT. Often the people simply failed to understand the scene, e.g. they missed the point where the actor set down their bag and walked across the room so they assume it's a mistake that the actor had a bag going in, isn't carrying it during the scene, and then has it again when they leave. Or sometimes, they just misunderstand the plot and they start saying things like "why did this guy do that?" when the answer is there but they just misunderstood what happened.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, That's funny! I had forgotten about that one.

AndrewPrice said...

Floyd, Barf!! Except that one got added INTENTIONALLY!!!!! That is probably the biggest proof that Lucas is intentionally messing with people.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Restaurant scenes fascinate me. For one thing, I've noticed that they don't eat or drink, even when they appear to be doing so. The one except tends to be mobster movies where they plow into spaghetti dishes -- often because they get shot with food in their mouths.

But even beyond that, I'm fascinate that (1) they always dress the main characters differently from everyone else in the room so they stand out, and (2) I like watching the actors in the back because I know that none of them are actually speaking. It gets kind of comical when you realize that they are all just faking conversations.

AndrewPrice said...

Eric, That's true. That is my favorite chase scene of all time and is easily the most realistic ever filmed... except for the hubcaps. LOL!

DUQ said...

T-Rav, You are so right about that. They made a huge point of setting that up early on, showing you the vibrations in the water so that you knew the T-Rex couldn't sneak up on anything. Then it does. That's like showing a gun in the first scene and then having them run out to get a different gun to use in the final scene.

DUQ said...

Jed, I liked The Help a lot, but I see your point. They keep saying this is going to be the most race-baiting election of all time and that would play into it.

Floyd R. Turbo said...

Superman IV took me out of the entire series. It was so out of character.

Biggest continuity error of all time? Highlander II -- the whole damn thing.

AndrewPrice said...

Floyd, Isn't that the truth! I try to blank Highland II from my memory. :(

Yeah, Superman really chanegd his whole personality in Superman IV.

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ and Jed, I haven't seen The Help yet.

T-Rav said...

Everyone I know who's seen The Help says it's a good movie, so that's something; and I think Emma Stone and Bryce Dallas Howard are both good actresses, so I guess if there's any movie I'm rooting for tonight, that would be it. The only quibble I've heard is that the trailers, at least, present it as something of a feel-good movie, and in the book, it's kinda....not. But artistic license and all that, I guess.

Kelly said...

I just noticed the same thing on Paul. I wondered if it was intentional, but I don't think so.

The biggest "treasure trove" of errors is Crystal Skull. That things is nothing but a continuity error.

tryanmax said...

I can tell you from experience that stage actors almost never eat their food props, so I wonder how much of that is a holdover? There's a host of reasons for it, foremost being that you don't want a mouthful when your line comes up. The exception, of course, is when the script or direction calls for it.

Stage food is only real when it has to be, and when it is, it's usually cold, unseasoned, and all-around cheap. Not something one is eager to dive into. I wouldn't be shocked if budget conscious filmmakers take the same approach. Plus, fake food photographs better than real food, so I wonder how much in movies isn't even edible?

An amusing anecdote: I once performed in a production of The Odd Couple. In one scene, Oscar flings a plate of fettuccine against a wall. Nothing flings quite like real fettuccine, so... Pasta is cheap, but the theater was cheaper, so this fettuccine got reused. The show ran four nights a week plus weekend matinees, so by Sunday night, the same noodles had been flung against the wall six times! (Fortunately, we had new noodles every week. Don't bother asking about the BLT.)

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I've heard good things and my mother liked the book a lot, but I haven't seen it. As for hoping for awards, that's not really my style. I don't really care what wins or not because the awards are too political to be taken seriously -- both politics-political and Hollywood-politics-political.

AndrewPrice said...

Kelly, Crystal Skull is a mess. There are whole websites dedicated to pointing out the problems with that film.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I would assume a lot of the food is fake because (1) fake food does look better and (2) the stuff often needs to last for several days or even weeks while they film, so I suspect the more plastic they can use, the better.

T-Rav said...

Back to the Future is on right now, which put me in mind of another error. Before the first time trip, Doc Brown talks about his purpose in visiting the future, and adds as an aside, "Besides, I can make bets on the next 25 World Series!" Yet, in Part II, he chews Marty out for daring to do such a thing, warning about the dangers of changing the past and so on. Maybe it's not quite the same thing, since they're not the same movie, but it is a character inconsistency.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, True. I can forgive that on the basis that maybe he's learned something between the two films, but it is an inconsistency.

ScottDS said...

Speaking of Crystal Skull, I just perused a lengthy article which peer reviews the idea of "nuking the fridge": in short, Indy shouldn't have survived it.

Read it here.

As for Superman IV, I never found Superman to be out of character (except for the part where he magically repairs the Great Wall of China with beams from his eyes!). The film was more or less gutted during post-production and it's a miracle the filmmakers managed to get a usable frame.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Just from a logical perspective, if refrigerators could survive a nuclear blast then it would be easy to build buildings that could survive. But you can't.

That was just stupid. But it wasn't even the worst part of the film. Ug.

Ed said...

In all honesty, I'm surprised movies are as good as they are with continuity, especially when they do a dozen different takes of the same scene. How they get people in the same places in the same poses is astounding.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, That's why they hire people to handle continuity, they take photos to show people how things looked, and they place markings on things to let everyone know where things were.

tryanmax said...

Actually, I just remembered another thing I saw just yesterday. It was the Star Trek episode "This Side of Paradise." When the away team beams to the surface, it was in front of a white split-rail fence and, as the cross-fade occurred the fence shifted quite noticeably.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Ironically, I'm halfway through my analysis of that episode. Cool conservative theme going there! :)

tryanmax said...

Actually, the whole time I was watching, I was wondering, "what would Andrew have to say about this one?" I look forward to finding out.

AndrewPrice said...

Two weeks and you will know. :)

Koshcat said...

I often don't pick up errors when watching movies, except sound errors. What drives me crazy the most is squealing tires on dirt roads. Why? Why do they do that? They are there filming the care on the dirt road. Do you hear any squealing? Then why put it in the movie?

Location errors often distract me if I know the area as well. "A river runs through it" is suppose to take place near Missoula, MT but was filmed south of Livingston, about 200 miles away. Most people didn't notice. In The Untouchables, the scene at the MT/ Canadian boarder was filmed 100 miles south on the Missouri river. There is no river separating Montana and Canada. Then you get a film like "Legends of the Fall" which the story takes place in Montana but was filmed in Canada. These are the questions that keep me up late. :)

AndrewPrice said...

Koshcat, That's what keeps you up at night?! LOL! Sorry to hear that!

Don't ever move to DC, because almost nothing you will ever see about DC on film is real. Outside of the monuments, which they always put in strange places, most of what you see on film as DC is actually Los Angeles or Vancouver. I actually find it very hard to enjoy most films shot in DC for this very reason -- that add so many things to the city that just don't exist.

Commander Max said...

There is one that gets me. I've seen it in a couple of films.

Mad Max and My Science Project.
Both films depict muscle cars going at high speeds. Then they start the supercharger/blower. Then comes the acceleration to even higher speeds.

Only one problem, it's physically impossible for a motor to run without the supercharger running, since it's forcing air into the engine.

This is what I get for being a bit of a motorhead.

AndrewPrice said...

Max, Yep. That's another one.

In my experience, Hollywood gets the technical aspects of almost everything wrong. So whenever you have any knowledge of a subject, it becomes glaring obvious just how messed up films can be.

It's gotten to the point that I can barely watch anything having to do with law because it's all so incredibly fake.

Paul S said...

The Bacall shoes issue may have arisen because they were only supposed to film close-ups that day and her feet hurt. Cushing spent most of his time on the Death Star sets in his stocking feet because his super awesome boots were painful to wear.

My favorite continuity errors are (with apologies to Lovecraft) the Mountains of Manhattan. See: Rumble in the Bronx, Sky Captain.

AndrewPrice said...

Paul, That could well be. They are on the floor at that point and maybe no one expected to see more than faces and maybe a couple shoulders?

I really enjoy Rumble in the Bronx, but that film has the least convincing NYC ever! Nothing in that film looks the slightest bit like NYC.

mycrofth4 said...

You're discussing continuity errors and no one mentions The Princess Bride?
After Fezzik dunks Inigo to sober him up, Inigo's hair changes drastically from scene to scene.
God, I Love that movie!

AndrewPrice said...

That's one of my favorite films too. Good point about the hair. Water is often a problem in films where people are soaked one moment and then completely dry the next. If you've ever been soaked while fully dressed (as most of us probably have) you know things don't dry off very quickly.

PikeBishop said...

Not a continuity error, but an interesting camera technique that really doesn't pass the reality test. Look at married couples in bed together on any television show and you will observe that almost every single one of them are in "standard" size" double beds, not Queens, let alone kings. From the blue collar couple in "The Middle" all the way through the luxurious uber-suburbs of "Desperate Housewives" and "Modern Family." Now can you imagine those houses, in real life, having such small beds.

My best guess is that its easier to keep a tight focus, without a lot of excess bedding in the shot and it foreces the actors to be closer to each other.

Check this one out sometime.

AndrewPrice said...

Interesting observation and I think you're right. I would guess they want the actors closer together.

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