Writing movies is hard. Especially when audiences stubbornly demand you entertain them for at least 90 minutes. This is why, in movie-land, characters are so often forced to drag problems out for an hour when, in reality, the situation could have been solved during the opening credits.
#6. Raiders of the Lost Ark
Archaeologist Indiana Jones is briefed by Army intelligence that the Nazis are looking for the fabled Ark of the Covenant because, through some ass-backward logic, they think that the best way to kill the Jews is by invoking the God of the Jews. Sure enough, Indy agrees to "get a hold of the Ark before the Nazis do," and kick as much Nazi ass as he can along the way.
The Nazi's logic seems airtight. In the Bible, the Ark tends to make the armies that carry it invincible. Sure those armies tended to be made up mostly of Jews, God's chosen people and the Nazi's chosen extinction target, but the God of the Old Testament wasn't one to get bent out of shape over a minor technicality. Of course, as we find out in the climactic scene, Indy knows a secret about the Ark the Nazis don't: It has a habit of melting faces right the hell off their skull.
What Would Have Made More Sense:
The most sensible response for the Army to this whole Ark business is coincidentally the easiest: Do absolutely nothing.
The Fuhrer's army, lacking Indy's superior archaeology skills, misunderstood the location of the Ark to begin with. Without Indy's meddling, the Nazis would have blown millions of dollars from their 1936 budget digging in the wrong place.
But lets say the Army doesn't know the Nazis are geographically challenged. All the more reason not to do shit. Instead of stealing and re-stealing the Ark from the Nazis, Indiana Jones and the U.S. Army should have been rooting for them to find it. Their best case scenario is that the Nazis mission goes exactly according to plan: find it, ship it off to Germany and open it in a lavish pageant in Berlin with the whole Nazi high command in attendance. That was what they had planned to do all along. All the top Nazis in Berlin, including Hitler, front and center at the grand opening of a device that has a reputation for melting the faces of anyone in its vicinity.
"OK, now open it!"
It'd not only be the end of the movie, but of the whole damned war.
#5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
For the fourth consecutive year at Hogwarts, Harry finds himself caught in the middle of a massive conspiracy that the entire wizarding community is powerless to fight against.
"I'm thinking about transferring to another school."
In this case, Harry's name is drawn to become the fourth competitor in the TriWizard Tournament. This seems highly suspect, considering that Harry is too young to enter, too dumb in the ways of magic to possibly survive it and most importantly, it is called the TriWizard Tournament. In the Harry Potter universe, the New York Yankees would be forced to bring a wheelchair-bound cripple on field as their 10th man, if a typo landed his name on the team list.
Even though the wizarding community is willing for some reason to bite the bullet and let Harry compete, there is one important factor afoot: he doesn't want to. Harry confides in Ron Weasley: "I didn't put my name in that cup! I don't want eternal glory!"
Predictably, the obviously-rigged competitor selection fiasco was orchestrated by Voldemort, who needed Harry in the game in order to bring himself back from the dead. And there was absolutely nothing that Harry could do about it, unless...
What would have made more sense:
He could have, you know, just not competed.
If Harry decided to do nothing, nothing, after his name was picked from the Goblet of Fire, there's really no way anyone could have forced him to compete. Even if the judges insisted upon obeying a magic cup and entering Harry into every event, he could have stayed home and watched the whole thing on Pay-Per-View, scoring a solid zero points at each tally. Seriously, what was the cup going to do to him if he didn't participate? Kill him? Apparently not, since he shows up late for one event and the cup wasn't coming after him with a dagger or anything.
Hell, Hogwarts wouldn't even have had to lose their chance at the title, since they would still have had Edward Cullen competing in the game. Who, incidentally, would also not have been killed if Harry had backed out of the tournament.
He's a vampire because of Harry Potter.
We can also probably assume that any reprimand that Harry might have received for brazenly defying the orders of magical kitchenware would likely have been revoked after it was revealed that his competing would have led inevitably to the release of a powerful supervillain, and to Snape killing Dumbled-
Spoilers, you asshole!!
#4. The Da Vinci Code / I, Robot
The Da Vinci Code and I, Robot both revolve around a very complicated suicide note that the main character must decipher before it's too late.
In the former, a gut-shot Frenchman named Jacques Sauniere apparently spends his last moments going on a tour de force through the Louvre hiding a series of complicated clues and ciphers that can only be decrypted by a world-renowned expert in language, religion and history. Luckily, Tom Hanks is that man, by proxy of Dan Brown.
Eventually he solves the puzzles which lead him to a safety deposit box, in which Jacques has stored a map to the location of the holy grail. Just kidding, it actually just contains more puzzles.
Will Smith's 2004 vehicle I, Robot turns out to be basically the same exact movie with more robots and product placement.
Exactly as Isaac Asimov wrote it!
The dead scientist in that film uses a holographic projector to issue a series of cryptic clues to Will Smith.
What Would Have Made More Sense:
Both The Da Vinci Code and I, Robot share a common thread in which the most convoluted story-knots could have easily been undone with one gentle pull. Instead of sending the people who you want to reach on a scavenger hunt that could last days if not years, how about using those fancy black-light pens/ digital recorders to leave a message that might actually be useful in the short-term?
"Hey. I was shot in the stomach at 10:46 P.M. by a giant albino monk who I am sure you guys won't have any trouble finding. He wasn't wearing gloves and was actually bleeding a bit at the leg, so I am confident your lab boys will have some DNA and possibly even fingerprints to work with on the shell-casing I circled. Tell my granddaughter I love her, and that I'm sorry about that whole sex-party thing. Take care. Hope you find the guy. P.S. Jesus had kids."
Image by FrogC4
We understand that the idea behind the Europe-wide scavenger hunt is to protect a secret that Jacques supposes could bring down Christianity and create worldwide despair and violence. But the fear is probably groundless when you consider that a bunch of guys already "revealed" this secret to the world a couple of decades earlier, and they're now remembered only as the guys who sued Dan Brown for ripping off their conspiracy theory.
They wrote a book and everything!