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The Top Ten Screw-Ups in Blockbuster Movie Plots

Updated on March 16, 2015

Many well-known movies are riddled with anachronisms, contradictions and similar screw-ups. These movies are beloved by their fans, but the logic and accuracy of their plots still leaves much to be desired. These are ten of the blockbuster movies most prone to this issue. It does not make them any less entertaining – just do not expect them to replace a history or science class.

Jurassic Park's dinosaur residents likely don't mirror any that ever actually walked the Earth in real life.
Jurassic Park's dinosaur residents likely don't mirror any that ever actually walked the Earth in real life. | Source

# 10: Jurassic Park

Scientists who specialize in the study of dinosaurs can find many inaccuracies in Jurassic Park. For instance, in the movie the Tyrannosaurus Rex is only able to sense a person if they move. If they stand still, the dinosaur is unable to see them. However, there is no factual basis for that theory. Scientist and historians only have skeletons left from the dinosaurs to study and thus are not sure of their behavior patterns. For this reason, Jurassic Park gets a bit of a pass simply because there is no way to make a truly historically accurate dinosaur movie.

However beautiful the artwork in the "Pocahontas" movie, its characters are only very loosely based on real people.
However beautiful the artwork in the "Pocahontas" movie, its characters are only very loosely based on real people. | Source

# 9: Pocahontas

Pocahontas is a classic animated movie made by Disney. Unfortunately, it does contain some very blatant historical inaccuracies. For one thing, John Smith and Pocahontas were never romantically involved. In fact, Pocahontas was only 10 years old when she met John Smith. Pocahontas actually abandoned her tribe after fighting with her father. She then married an Englishman named John Rolfe and died at the age of 21.

Julie Andrews' Maria Von Trapp is a timeless performance, in spite of the script's historical inaccuracies.
Julie Andrews' Maria Von Trapp is a timeless performance, in spite of the script's historical inaccuracies. | Source

# 8: The Sound of Music

The Sound of Music is one of most beloved musicals of all time. However, that does not mean it is completely accurate historically. The real Maria von Trapp admits she had not yet fallen in love with Georg von Trapp when she married him. Moreover, she married Georg von Trapp a full 11 years before the Nazi invasion of Austria.

The movie ups the drama by portraying Maria and Georg as being in love when they married (rather than gradually falling in love after the wedding) and places the invasion of the Nazis very close to their wedding.

The actual attack on Pearl Harbor progressed quite differently than its portrayal in the movie.
The actual attack on Pearl Harbor progressed quite differently than its portrayal in the movie. | Source

# 7: Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor is an action-packed movie with a strong romantic subplot. It is loosely – but only very loosely – based on an actual historical event. For example, the movie shows Danny and Rafe personally shooting down numerous planes during the attack; however, real U.S. pilots hit far fewer of the enemy planes. In addition, no fighter pilot would have been sent into Tokyo in order to serve as a bomber pilot.

W.P. Inman was far less noble in real life than in Jude Law's portrayal.
W.P. Inman was far less noble in real life than in Jude Law's portrayal. | Source

# 6: Cold Mountain

Cold Mountain tells the story of a Confederate soldier named W.P. Inman during the Civil War. The movie’s inaccuracies start with its main character. In the movie, Jude Law only deserts his unit after a horrendous battle, but the real W.P. Inman cowardly deserted his post and was arrested twice for the crime.

The portrayal of geography, direction and distance in Cold Mountain leaves a great deal to be desired as well. For example, in the movie, Inman begins his journey from a hospital in Raleigh, NC. It was located about 250 miles east of Cold Mountain. However, Inman manages to reach the Atlantic Ocean, which is 400 miles away, before he arrived home.

"Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" made several mistakes with the weaponry its characters used.
"Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" made several mistakes with the weaponry its characters used. | Source

# 5: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

A Game of Shadows is the newest Sherlock Holmes movie starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law. It is a taut and well-crafted action film, but it is not without its share of missteps. For example, the movie is set in 1891; however, Watson and Holmes are seen riding around in a four-wheeled car. That is a historical inaccuracy because the first British car was produced in 1894. Another historical inconsistency lies with some of the weaponry used in the movie. The Mauser pistol, also known as the Broomhandle, was patented in 1895, yet it is being used in the year 1891 according to the movie. The other major anachronism in this movie is use of the full-auto machine gun. The guns used in the movie resemble World War II-era British Lanchester SMGs and are far from being accurate for the period in which the movie is set.

Russell Crowe achieved international stardom in "Gladiator," but that does not mean it was an error-free film.
Russell Crowe achieved international stardom in "Gladiator," but that does not mean it was an error-free film. | Source

# 4: Gladiator

Gladiator won Best Picture at the Academy Awards after it was released in 2000. However, the movie is not without its fair share of historical inaccuracies. The first is the idea that Commodus killed Marcus Aurelius due to his father refusing him the role of emperor. This is a myth. It is a well-known fact that Marcus Aurelius did intend for his son to rule. Because Marcus Aurelius had a son, it was a given that he would pass along his position to him as his heir.

Another problem is that at the movie’s end, the Roman republic was set to be restored. This is simply not true; in real life, Augustus Caesar wiped out all the remnants of the Roman republic.

William Wallace was a far different person in real life than his character as portrayed by Mel Gibson.
William Wallace was a far different person in real life than his character as portrayed by Mel Gibson. | Source

# 3: Braveheart

Braveheart may be a timeless favorite, but that does not mean that it is not full of historical inaccuracies. For example, wardrobe incongruities abound in this movie. The Scots in the movie – who are supposed to be living in the 13th century – are shown wearing kilts, yet kilts did not becoming a popular form of men’s wear until well into the 17th century.

Another wardrobe issue is simply the fact that the English soldiers are shown wearing uniforms. If Braveheart had been historically accurate, the English soldiers would have worn anything they could find because they were very poor. Only aristocratic knights wore suits of amour during this time in history.

Another issue with this movie lies in the fact that the historical William Wallace and his men did not paint their faces for battle. However, in the movie, the painted faces are so iconic it is hard to imagine the movie without them even if they are historically inaccurate.

Perhaps the most historically inaccurate point in the movie is the portrayal of William Wallace. William Wallace was far from the man portrayed in the movie. He was actually a knight from a noble family, and the English did not kill his father.

Mel Gibson had two smash hits with "Braveheart" and "The Patriot," but both contained their share of mistakes.
Mel Gibson had two smash hits with "Braveheart" and "The Patriot," but both contained their share of mistakes. | Source

# 2: The Patriot

The Patriot is another beloved blockbuster film starring Mel Gibson that contains certain inaccuracies. For example, Benjamin Martin, Mel Gibson’s character, is based on a real person from the Revolutionary War named Francis Marion, who was also known as “the Swamp Fox.” Although Marion was an effective thorn in the side of the British army for years, he never killed an entire British infantry unit. The real Marion was not quite the action hero Benjamin Martin was.

"The Last Samurai" was a worldwide hit in spite of -- or perhaps because of -- its romanticized portrayal of samurai.
"The Last Samurai" was a worldwide hit in spite of -- or perhaps because of -- its romanticized portrayal of samurai. | Source

# 1: The Last Samurai

The Last Samurai is a movie that glorifies the Japanese samurai as great and noble men. While some did fit this description, it was often inaccurate. According to historical records, the samurai were often violent, pilfering, drunken troublemakers who spent much of their time terrorizing Japanese commoners.

Does a major mistake in a movie's plot interfere with your enjoyment of the movie?

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What other examples of glaring movie errors can you name?

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    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 2 months ago from London England

      Whilst qualifying as a blockbuster the movie Wonder Woman depicts the enemy troops using tracer ammunition, IN BROAD DAYLIGHT!

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 20 months ago from London England

      Not exactly blockbuster material but in John Wayne's the Green Berets which closed with a spectacular sunset albeit setting in the east over the South China sea !

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 21 months ago from London England

      Not so much plot, but Universal Pictures back in the 50's featured a rotating planet Earth preceding it's opening credits but spinning in the opposite direction that it actually does!

    • limpet profile image

      Ian Stuart Robertson 2 years ago from London England

      A 1970 cinerama production titled Krakatoa east of Java had a cast of well known actors but a boring plotline and in any case referring to the atlas, Krakatoa happens/happened to be situated west of Java.

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      Ian Stuart Robertson 2 years ago from London England

      Regarding 'Braveheart' everyone knew straight away that this was a Hollywood attempt to create a Scottish 'Robin Hood' so we regarded it as revisionist history. Also. there were not only English soldiers involved, there were Welshmen as well. All of the media here in London constantly refer to Mel Gibson Australian and Russell Crowe Australian. Both happen to be an American and a New Zealander respectively.