3 Examples of Terrible Design in Movies
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Aug 30, 2012

3 Examples of Terrible Design in Movies

Design is all about the magical intersection between aesthetics and function, art and science. A great piece of design doesn’t just look good- when you see it you immediately realize it could have been any other shape. Of course, sometimes this works better than other times. If you’re a fan of movies you’ve probably see a number of iconic pieces of design that, if you thought about it for a split second, you would realize are deeply flawed on a number of levels. For instance:
The Peruvian Temple at the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark works perfectly (Once)

For those kids among us who are too young to know, Indiana Jones was a sort of male version of Lara Croft. Like Lara Croft, Indiana Jones was allegedly an archaeologist, but with less painstakingly using a series of differently sized brushes to dust sand off half buried vases, and more just flat out trashing ancient sites of historical interest.
During the opening of the first movie to star the character, Indie sneaks into a centuries old Peruvian temple, filled with intricate, still working mechanisms, and brings the whole lot down around his ears to steal a single gold statue.
More interesting than the fact that a grave robber and demolitions expert can pass as an archaeologist is that once you get past a certain point in the temple’s Crystal Maze style obstacle course, all the traps have a lifespan of exactly one use. The darts guns? They can’t reload. The massive rocks tumbling from the ceiling? They’re not going to jump back up there once they’ve killed a would-be defiler. That huge rolling boulder? It doesn’t roll back. Even that boulder worked and did manage to kill the temple pillagers, it would probably also crush the ancient and sacred gold idol they were trying to steal, which I’m pretty sure would be sacrilegious.
The Terminators in Terminator 2 wouldn’t be very good for terminating

In the movie The Terminator we learn that a military computer is going to become self aware, nuke the hell out of all human life, and then systematically wipe us out before doing whatever it is robots do after they have destroyed all life on Earth.
A resistance movement forms among the humans, and in order to infiltrate this resistance the robots build robots that look like Austrian bodybuilders to infiltrate our camps and kill everybody. These robots have metal skeletons, and then fleshy outer bits to fool us.
So far, so relentlessly computer logical.
Where it all goes wrong is during the opening of Terminator 2 (Seen here). During the opening sequence we see the robot war in 2029, and the Terminators are walking around, sans meaty bits, gunning down humans.
The problem is, literally the only advantage of the Terminators was their meaty skin making them look less roboty. From a design perspective, if you’re making a robotic killing machine a metal skeleton is about the cruddiest design you could pick. Current scientists already have a hard enough time making a robot that can walk like a human. They’re easy to trip up, have trouble with uneven surfaces, and as anyone who’s ever ended up in A&E will attest, our skeletons of full of tiny moving parts that are easily broken. What’s more, the Terminator has to carry a gun in its fake skeletal hand. There’s literally no good reason for this when its arm could literally be a gun.
Since in present day, none robot apocalyptic times we’ve built flying robots with guns built into them that could literally take you out right now with no problem at all, the metal skeleton idea just seems a bit unnecessary...
Jurassic Park fails at the job every zoo in history succeeded at
Jurassic Park is a book and film about the perils of scientists meddling in things they don’t understand, a lesson that tragically Michael Crichton didn’t learn from before he wrote State of Fear. Of course, the trouble with Jurassic Park is it doesn’t really get across the “If you have flawed scientific ethics it will have terrible consequences” moral, because the real moral of Jurassic Park is “Health and safety precautions are a thing you should do”.
Jurassic Park is terribly design, both from a health and safety perspective, and from a “this is supposed to be a zoo” perspective. This is one of those design jobs London public transport planners would look at and say “This isn’t right”.
Take the raptor pen, the home of the most dangerous creatures on the entire island. The raptors are kept in a fortress like structure that’s easy to escape if the electric fences go down, but when it’s working, doesn’t actually allow you to see the raptors, which I thought was a prerequisite for a park like this. And if you inspect the map below, you’ll see the raptor pen is right next to the visitor centre while the port and helipad, or “the only ways off the island” are, well, on the other side of the island to where you keep the people.

That, and hiring exactly one computer technician to run the park, having a security system that just flat out fails to work, all mean that people probably would have died here if Isla Nubla had been designed as a petting zoo.

Guest Author: Chris Farnell is a freelance writer who works with Marketing Recruitment. He watches too many movies.