Another movies technicality thread: Amazing things they got RIGHT.

The first time I saw Contact, I thought, “Holy freakin’ cow! They actually filmed in the VLA control room!?!” This betrays my own ignorance of how movies work, since of course they could never fit in all the cameras and stuff. But I was shocked to find out afterwards it was a reproduction of the control room on a soundstage. I still can’t quite understand why they did it; how many moviegoers have been inside the control room of the VLA? Why go to the effort of reconstructing it in such loving detail, right down to the “Astronomy is looking up!” bumpersticker?

But they did it, and it knocked my socks off. I guess maybe the thinking is that only a few people who saw Contact have seen the control room—but I’ll betcha that almost everybody who has seen the control room of the VLA probably saw Contact. :slight_smile:
What movies have warmed the cockles of your heart with loving, nitpicky, technical details?

Well, Heat got gun-handling techniques down pretty well, particularly in the bank-shootout scene. The detail that sticks in my mind is that, when Kilmer and DeNiro changed magazines on their M16 carbines, they loaded a fresh round in the chamber via the bolt release button rather than pulling back on the charging handle.
Proof of Life got small-unit tactics in the final rescue, as well as the actual blast-effectiveness of hand grenades.
Blackhawk Down actually dealt with the fact that machine guns firing near your head will make you temporarily deaf.

Speed is the only movie I’ve seen that appeared to know that elevators have brakes, so that if the cable breaks, they’ll brake.

Not that I’m an expert on the field or anything, but I was soo gratified in Training Day, a movie with an otherwise execrable third act, when as I recall a car chase sort of begins - they’re both in cars, and the guy in the rear one rams the front one - it dosen’t look all spectacular, which it shouldn’t, but the guy in the front car is knocked out for a minute. Wow, you mean it hurts to be in a wreck even if your car dosen’t blow up?!

In Pretty Woman, after Richard Gere punched out his lawyer, he had to soak his hand in ice for a couple hours. Very few movies bother to show that it actually HURTS when you sock someone in the jaw!

Not exactly technical, but the movie Lost Angels was amazingly accurate when it came to location details. You can even see the appropriate freeway exits as they drive from point A to point B, if you look closely enough.

Wargames got some things wrong and got some things right.

The one that stands out, though, is when the kid uses a piece of metal to ground the mouthpiece of a phone and get a free call. That used to work.

I liked the fact that Neo used real hacker tools in The Matrix - I get so tired of seeing the 3D graphical crap they usually use in the movies!

In Pirates of the Caribbean, they actually got the size of the prop cannonshot correct - little things about the size of a softball, treated like they were very, very heavy (two-handed passing from one crewman to another).

Of course, the special effects guys didn’t do the same research as the props department, so as soon as the shot left the cannon it enlarged to beachball proportions… (in fact, I have a screenshot that clearly illustrates that the drawn-in cannonballs were larger than the guns they were shot from). But still! The ones the actors used were right!

The only real hacker tool used in the entire trilogy is when Trinity probescans using nmap in the second movie.

I was very impressed by the look of the record shop in High Fidelity, as well as the apartments and clothes of the record collector/geek characters. I used to hang around at record shows and vinyl shops in the Chicago area (the movie even mentions Vintage Vinyl, a real place), and they captured the look to an almost unsettling degree. I sweat there was a real Midwestern record dealer who wore the same coat as Jack Black’s character.

One that impressed me, because it was the only attention to detail in the whole movie, was the hologram-guy in The Time Machine. He’s not projected out into thin air, like you so often see with science-fiction holograms. His image appears to be behind the glass, and can only be seen when you’re looking through the glass.

I’ve heard that all of the math shown in the background in Good Will Hunting is correct, though I’ve never had the chance to freeze-frame, and probably don’t have enough training to understand all of it. But it’s still heartwarming.

In Thief with James Caan, the scenes where they are breaking into buildings and safes are incredibly realistic, right down to them calling out the correct voltages for phone lines when they are tapping wire bundles looking for alarm sensors. And in the scenes where they are drilling into safes and such, they were using actual safecracking tools that they borrowed from some ex-con safecrackers they hired as technical consultants. It was a real safe, real equipment, and the actors actually broke into it just like the safecrackers would.

And the gunplay in the movie was very good. Caan hired Jeff Cooper to teach him how to use a pistol, clear a room, etc. It all shows in the final product.

Great movie, too.

I know this isn’t a movie, but in one episode of the X-Files, Dana Scully isolates DNA from her own blood and uses it do a Southern Blot. She got the results a little fast, but other than that, the stuff she was doing on camera was pretty close to exactly right. I don’t think I’ve ever seen molecular biology techniques performed on screen even remotely accurately, except for that one episode of X-Files where they pretty well nailed it.

In The Fast and the Furious, Vin Diesel’s character was driving an RX-7. There was an eye-candy scene where the camera went into the RX’s intake, through the engine, and out the exhaust. What floored me is that they correctly depicted a rotary engine.

In Dreamcatcher, at the beginning (and the movie is pretty good in its first half, before it turns to crap), one of the main characters is extremely close to suicide. He’s got a revolver to his head, and has cocked it. Just then he gets a phone call that makes him change his mind. He releases the hammer, but his thumb slips and the gun goes off – fortunately, not into his head.

Many movies have characters cocking guns just for the effect, often as a means of intimidation. I’ve shot pistols enough to know that if you cock a revolver, you’d damn well better have it aimed at the target, because only a little trigger pressure is needed at that point to fire the shot. If you want to “de-cock” the piece, it would be very easy to slip and fire a round, but this is the only movie I’ve seen that in. Mostly, characters seem to get away with treating guns like toys.

The beginning of Collateral Damage where Max and the lawyer are arguing over what would be the best route to take from LAX to downtown. They were rattling off freeway numbers and street names and it was right, from the directions to the attitude…I know it doesn’t sound like a big deal, but I was impressed. Most movies set in LA don’t actually deal with the reality of living/driving in LA.

Actually I was impressed with the entire movie and how LA became the third character, in an accurate, believable way. They filmed the real LA, not the wacky Hollywood version of it.

Agree with you about the attitude, but her suggested directions were really stupid: go up la cienega and then take 3rd street down town. His directions take the 105 to the 110 north, would take about half the amount of time to get downtown, especially at that time of night.

I also agree with you about the settings in LA. I’m not real into the club scene, etc., but I agree that the movie really captured the feel of driving around LA at night. It’s kind of funny that, even though most people involved in the movie business actually live in LA, most of the times they portray LA they give a stupid, hollywood version of what it’s actually like to be in LA.

Agree with you about the attitude, but her suggested directions were really stupid: go up la cienega and then take 3rd street down town. His directions take the 105 to the 110 north, would take about half the amount of time to get downtown, especially at that time of night.QUOTE]

I hasten to add that the fact remains that–as you noted–the route she is proposing will in fact get you downtown from the airport. She’s not just spouting gibberish.

Furthermore, the route is not so bad as to be implausible: it’s not like she’s suggesting they go by way of Malibu or Long Beach or something. In fact, for those in the know, the fact that she is proposing kind of a lengthy route is actually in service of the character development. She may be smart, but she doesn’t know everything, and the taxi driver is good at his job. (FWIW he’s also acting in his self interest: there is a flat rate for trips from LAX to downtown, so he wants to get her there as quickly as possible).

In the adult anime “Slave Market” we see a sailing ship approaching a city. A domed structure with a bunch of spires around it appear.

“Damn,” I think, “Another idiot video/movie/TV show using the Dome of the Rock mosque to stand in for everything Middle Eastern/Asian.”

Then the narrator informs us that the year is 1800-something and they are sailing into Constatinople.

Damn! They got it right! (The Dome of the Rock is in Constantinople.)

No, it isn’t. It’s in Jerusalem. The big shiny thing in Istanbul is the Hagia Sophia.