6 High-Tech Movie Facilities That Make No Sense

Have you ever noticed that in every movie wherein the hero has to raid some futuristic stronghold of villainy to rescue prisoners, destroy a super weapon, or dismantle an evil robotic brain trust, all of those things tend to be located in the same room? This is probably related to the fact that most Hollywood science-fiction writing is done by young men living in studio apartments who have no idea how to change their own oil, let alone how a complicated orbiting moon base should function.

Once you strip away plot conveniences and forget about how cool everything looks for a second, it becomes immediately obvious that virtually no futuristic facility in the history of cinema could possibly serve its intended purpose in real life. For example, unless there's a nuclear reactor hiding behind Sylvester Stallone's naked ass, the cryo-prison in Demolition Man would incur a million-dollar electric bill every month just keeping all of those people frozen in giant blocks of ice, not to mention the mountain of paperwork the warden would have to fill out if there was ever a blackout.

#6. Star Wars -- The Death Star


Star Wars is a movie about a magical terrorist who destroys the galactic equivalent of the Pentagon after being safely guided through a suicide bombing mission by the ghost of the man who mutilated his father. Earlier in the movie, our heroes infiltrated Space Pentagon (here known as the Death Star) to free the princess of a dead planet, which carries the same level of esteem as being the assistant manager of a Bennigan's that is no longer open.

The Problem:

The Death Star is at least the size of a moon -- we know this because the heroes literally mistake it for one. In actuality, it's probably the size of several moons, because we have to assume that it's layered like an onion, with multiple levels all the way down to its core. What are the odds that the one space garage Luke and Han get pulled into is within walking distance of where Princess Leia, an incredibly valuable political prisoner, is being held? That would be like looking for a single person in the entirety of Asia, landing at a random airport, and finding her in the baggage claim.

Vader doesn't like to have a long walk ahead of him when he parks his Jetta in the shuttle bay.

Think about it -- the hangar they land in, the detention bay, the tractor beam controls, and the garbage chute are all within an elevator ride and a heroic chasm swing of each other. Luke and Han are in and out of the Death Star in maybe an hour. The odds on that are like a million to one (not to be confused with A Million to Juan, which utilizes an entirely different numerical system).

The Samuel Goldwyn Company
Pictured: that joke.

Sure, the Death Star has turbo lifts, and we do see Luke and Han riding one, but those things aren't moving at the speed of light. The circumference of Earth's moon is 6,783 miles. Assuming the Death Star is around the same size, even if the turbo lifts were moving as fast as a commercial jet (about 500 miles per hour), it would still take 13 hours to get from one side of the facility to the other.

And at hour six, Chewie informs the others that he has to take a wicked shit.

And yet they reach Leia almost immediately. Obi-Wan, on foot, reaches the tractor beam controls, which are standing out in the open without any kind of lock or covering. They aren't even behind a door, they're just in the middle of a catwalk. Fire alarms in a public high school have more security than that. The Death Star has a surface area of over 14 million square miles, and yet every critical area of the station is located within roller-skating distance of the hangar that the heroes of the Rebel Alliance land in.

"Wow, this was so easy I have time to run a completely different errand before meeting the others back at the ship."

It would be a nightmare to work in a place that size. What if Vader needed you to take some documents down to Accounting, which is 12 hours away from your department by turbo lift? And why is the trash compacter full of water and a bog monster?

Maybe it's picking cans and bottles.

This isn't a recycling center in South Carolina, it's a fucking state-of-the-art space station. It's not like a cyclopean space octopus wandered in through an open window, so that means it's either supposed to be there, performing some crucial trash-related function, or it's a pet that someone flushed. Apparently the Emperor decreed that every Imperial facility should have a dedicated medieval torture chamber to drown all of their garbage.

#5. Face/Off -- The Prison

Paramount Pictures

In Face/Off, John Travolta has several pounds of fat and skeleton lasered off his body to wear Nicolas Cage's surgically removed face and assume his identity in order to infiltrate a prison to learn the location of a hidden bomb, because the 1990s were a decade in which we allowed things like this to occur. The prison, located on an oil rig out in the middle of the ocean, is the most sophisticated correctional facility in the world.

Paramount Pictures
It's a secret prison, which is how the filmmakers explain the fact that it in no way looks like a prison.

Its remote location makes it virtually inescapable, and all of the inmates are required to wear giant magnetic thunder boots, which can be activated to root them to the floor at a moment's notice. I suspect a majority of this movie's plot was conceived by someone who was playing with action figures.

The Problem:

In order for this ridiculous magnetic prison to work, every single one of the inmates has to be wearing giant metal Super Mario shoes all of the time.

Paramount Pictures
Seen here being wedged into the groin of another human being.

Now, if you go to prison in real life, they give you tissue paper shoes for the explicit purpose of preventing you from using your shoes to murder yourself or those around you. But the island prison in Face/Off, built to house the most dangerous criminals on the planet, dresses its inmates in hulking steel robot boots that can easily be used to stomp a person's head into pie filling and/or kick an escape-sized hole through stone and mortar. Not that Thomas Jane would ever wear them, though, because Thomas Jane doesn't wear shoes.

Paramount Pictures
Don't you even think of talking your "shoe" nonsense around Thomas Jane.

Also, when a riot finally does break out, the guards don't bother to activate the boots. The entire purpose of giving your prisoners magnetic boots is to be able to immediately crush any violent outburst at the flick of a switch, but apparently there is only one magnet-boot switch in the entire facility, and nobody was covering the switch that day.

Paramount Pictures
This is the exact situation those boots were meant to prevent.

And as for the whole "inescapable island prison" thing? After murdering his way through the riot, Cage's character just kind of leaps right off the edge of the oil rig, which is, like, a 100-foot drop directly into the ocean, and swims to freedom. We see him hot-wiring a station wagon in the very next scene. They could have built that prison in the middle of Disneyland and it wouldn't have made a difference.

Paramount Pictures

#4. Alien -- The Nostromo

20th Century Fox

Alien tells the story of a bunch of intergalactic truckers employed by an impossibly evil corporation that tricks them into picking up a flesh-eating-moonbeast stowaway because of some vague plan to turn it into a weapon that, five sequels later, has yet to be adequately explained. The truckers' ship, the Nostromo, is a state-of-the-art tugboat hauling a giant refinery through space, because in the future the best way to get around environmental regulations is to have your mercury-belching textile mills floating out in the middle of the goddamned universe.

The Problem:

Why is there water leaking everywhere? Literally every section of the ship is perpetually moist, if not collecting several pools of freestanding water as it pours out of the ceiling like Old Yeller tears. That's a fucking emergency on a pontoon boat, so shouldn't it be a Class 12 Panic Jubilee on a billion-dollar star freighter?

20th Century Fox
Why ...

20th Century Fox
... is everything ...

20th Century Fox
... wet?

We're talking about a handful of minimum wage workers screaming through the galaxy in a flying medieval castle -- water is an incredibly precious resource in this scenario. And the fact that it's sweating everywhere has to be some kind of problem, right? Some kind of system failure? Modern spaceships are full of delicate electrical systems -- you could probably kill every astronaut on the International Space Station just by spilling a juice box in the wrong place. Meanwhile, someone has apparently left a garden hose running somewhere on the Nostromo.

20th Century Fox
"Whoops. Our giant space boiler is leaking again."

Their warp drive is going to rust a million miles from Saturn, and then they'll be stuck listening to the same Clive Cussler audiobook they bought from a gas station convenience store until the oxygen scrubbers burn out and everyone suffocates. It's not like they can use their escape pod, because for some insane reason the only escape pod on the Nostromo wasn't designed to carry the entire crew.

20th Century Fox
Ripley makes sure to find room for the cat, though.

What the hell is going on in that room that Harry Dean Stanton gets ambushed in? The amount of water that falls on his head in that sequence is easily one or two gallons. Leaking that much water in the middle of freaking space should trigger some kind of alarm, but he just stares dopily up at it as if a leaky skylight in the center of the galaxy is a typical Wednesday.

20th Century Fox
"Yep. Everything seems to be in order here."

And why are there chains? It looks like he wandered into a Tool video.

20th Century Fox
There is nothing for you in this room, Harry Dean Stanton.

Also, and this is neither here nor there, but Alien is the loudest movie about deep space that I have ever seen. When they touch down on the alien planet to investigate the beacon, it sounds like a bunch of banshees having a laser-tag match in a house of mirrors. But all the dialogue sounds like it was recorded on a tape deck in an old coffee can. Ridley Scott clearly did this so that we'd turn our televisions way up to hear what everyone is saying, and then wind up shitting our pants inside-out when the Alien explodes onscreen like a body-horror-rape torpedo and detonates the speakers.

20th Century Fox

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