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6 Movies That Put Insane Work Into Stuff You Never Noticed

#3. Die Another Day References Every James Bond Movie That Came Before It

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/20th Century Fox/United Artists

James Bond fans remember Die Another Day as "the one with that goddamn surfing scene" or "the one with the invisible fucking car." But the people who made that movie remember it differently. Die Another Day is the 20th Bond film in the franchise, and it had two goals: to remind everyone of the franchise's incredible legacy by referencing every single Bond film that came before it, and to reinvigorate the brand by appealing to a younger generation. They did exactly one of these things.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/20th Century Fox
"Surfing's the hip new fad, right?" -a movie studio executive, in 2000-fucking-2.

But even though DAD has the outdated VFX and explosive stupidity of Dr. Kanaga's death evenly spread throughout the entire plot, its dedication to self-reference is actually sorta admirable. For example, Jinx's swimsuit is identical to the one Honey Rider wore in Dr. No -- as is her "I'm a sexy lady walking out of the water" introduction.

United Artists Metro-Goldwyn-Mater/20th Century Fox
Over the years, Bond has matured from scaring the shit out of women to creepily watching them from the bar with binoculars.

Then he asks if the jet pack from Thunderball still works:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/20th Century Fox
The original draft had the corpse of Desmond Llewelyn hanging there.

Later, Bond catches a ride on the HMS Tenby (the same ship he was "buried at sea" from at the beginning of You Only Live Twice), and the main antagonist tells Bond that "Diamonds are for everyone," because fuck subtlety at this point. There's also a Chinese character named Chang, just like in Tomorrow Never Dies, but that may be because the producers didn't know any other Chinese names.

In the end, I can't help but feel like all this self-reference only succeeded in reminding viewers how outdated James Bond had really become, and I guess the studio execs agreed: Four years later, they rebooted the entire franchise and stuck it full of timeless things that will always be cool, like parkour and Chris Cornell.

#2. The Creator of Veep Broke into the U.S. State Department

Getty

Veep is basically House of Cards, except Elaine from Seinfeld is vice president and kicks low-level staffers off her plane as it's taxiing on the runway. Creator Armando Iannucci had previously created the comedy The Thick of It and a movie spinoff, In the Loop, the latter of which even starred Doctor Who's new Doctor. And since it was the kind of movie where people shout "What is this, Tinker Tailor Soldier Cunt?" we can have all kinds of fun pretending that they're going to be the same character.

BBC
The new Doctor, about to take on "hordes of fucking robots" in an objectively awesomer version of Doctor Who
than what we're actually going to get.

Since a part of In the Loop takes place in the U.S. capital, Iannucci decided to do some research, so he flew to Washington, D.C., threw together a forged press pass, and talked his way into the State Department. Actually, "Talked his way in" may be giving him too much credit -- he basically just said "I'm here for the 12:30" and walked right into one of the most sensitive and heavily guarded buildings in the country.

Via US State Department
You can tell it's important because it's shaped like a throne.

Iannucci wandered around snapping pictures, and nobody was any wiser until he mentioned his break-in a year later at the Tribeca Film Festival, at which point the building overhauled their security. So if Iannucci wants to see the inside of any more important buildings, he'll have to wait until he gets an actual invitation from the Obama administration. Again.

#1. The Dumbest Scene in Pacific Rim Was Done With Carefully Crafted Miniatures

Warner Bros.

Say what you will about Pacific Rim's script, acting, and realism (a smart person with tattoos? Come on, movie), the extended action sequence in Hong Kong is probably one of the most incredible ever put into a live-action movie -- which is ironic, considering that every detail of the entire bit was created on a computer. While most movies would've taken real background footage and projected CGI robots and monsters on top of it, Pacific Rim planned on destroying way too much of the city for any real footage to be useful, so every frame of every shot had to be rendered entirely from scratch. The only other option would've been to actually blow up Hong Kong, and even Pan's Labyrinth director Guillermo del Toro isn't crazy enough to do that.

Via Forbes.com
Probably.

Yep, the whole thing was CGI -- except for one lonely, super dumb part. In this scene, Gipsy Danger (the heroic if somewhat racistly named robot) punches through a skyscraper and blasts through a whole line of cubicles before coming to a stop riiiight at the edge of a desk, just barely tapping it and setting a Newton's Cradle tapping away.

Instead of using their working-class dark wizard powers to create a digital office to punch apart, they built an entire miniature office, complete with papers, computers, and desk chairs. Because ... wait, I actually have no idea. Are desks and paper that much harder to render than cars, bricks, and broken glass? Did the roto artists threaten to revolt if they didn't get a week off? Did Del Toro owe his practical effects friends a favor? Whatever the reason, they put a lot of effort into making sure those tiny desks looked correct for the fraction of a split second they were on screen: Each piece of that office was carefully crafted so that it would break apart in a realistic way when the giant robot fist crashed through the window.

Warner Bros. Warner Bros.
"Hey, jackass, why aren't Stenson's 1040 forms filled out in triplicate?"

Now that I've thought about it, I don't think this is the dumbest scene anymore -- it might actually be the symbolic core of the entire story. The set designers took the most humdrum details of modern life and carefully arranged them, by hand, only to punch them all apart with a giant robot fist. All, that is, except one -- your desk barely notices. Your desk gets tapped with just enough force to set your little toy going. Because that's what this movie is: a big, dramatic gesture that seems like it's going to completely reshape your world, but once all is said and done, it amounts to nothing more than passive entertainment. A brief distraction, no more or less significant than the soothing click of a metallic toy on the work desk of your life.

Yeah, this seems like a good place to stop.


JF Sargent has quite a few tattoos, so just relax. He also has a Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and sci-fi adventure novel that you can read for free.

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