What do get when you mix a healthy dose of intelligence with a little arrogance and limitless resources?
If you're in Hollywood you get death, destruction, a shattering of time/space sensibilities and occasionally just plain overall badness for most of mankind! A glance through Hollywood history shows a steady stream of well-intentioned (and ill-intentioned) inventors whose ideas have a tendency to (literally) blow up in their faces. What on-screen inventors are in sore need of government regulation? What Hollywood inventions won't be showing up anytime soon on QVC? Here's a look at some of the dumbest movie inventions ever to grace the silver screen.
Movie: The Fly (1986)
Be very afraid...of bad science
Inventor: Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum)
Invention: Teleportation Pod
The Good: Teleports objects from one place to another
The Bad: Also works as a genetic food processor
The Story: Eccentric scientist Seth Brundle has invented a device that can deconstruct an object in one place and reconstruct it in another. The device turns a monkey inside out, but Brundle is able to teach the computer to appreciate the beauty of organic life, and successfully teleports another monkey (where does he get all these monkeys?). Going for the gold, he attempts to teleport himself, but when a fly decides to join him on his trip, their DNA is spliced together, and Brundle begins to turn into a fly.
Didn't Make The Instruction Manual: The teleportation pods can only interpret one species of life at a time, which means the pod has to be totally clear of even the most microscopic of living things…never mind all those dust mites floating around or the thousands of bacteria living in or around our bodies. Some scientist!
Lessons Not Learned: They made The Fly II
Movie: Star Wars (1977)
That's no moon...that's a bad design
Inventor: Some Imperial guys and some Geonosians
Invention: The Death Star
The Good: Inspire fear and chaos by flying around the galaxy blowing up planets
The Bad: Can be taken down with one good shot up the tailpipe
The Story: OK, so it’s tough to include anything as an “invention” in a sci-fi movie, but witness the “that’s no moon, that’s a space station” discussion and you’ll know that even the Star Wars world, the Death Star is a novel idea. Billed as the most destructive force in the galaxy, the Death Star makes quick work of the planet Alderaan, only to be undone by a single shot down an apparently poorly placed exhaust port. Whoever designed THAT is in line for a force choke, I tell you.
Didn't Make the Instruction Manual: Whenever building a space station the size of a small planet, never, ever, EVER have a direct accessway from the outside world to the main reactor.
Lessons Not Learned: When building a second, more powerful Death Star, the Empire forgets their lessons learned and leaves holes big enough for entire ships to fly down.
Movie: Honey, I Shrunk the Kids! (1989)
Comedy on a microscopic scaleInventor: Wayne Szalinski (Rick Moranis)
Invention: Shrinking Ray
The Good: Making things smaller for the purpose of….?
The Bad: Inventor’s bumbling antics make everyone else assume his inventions never work.
The Story: Wayne Szalinski is working on a device that will shrink any object to ridiculously small sizes. When only an accident can get it to work properly, it shrinks his kids (and some of the neighbors’ kids too) and he throws them out with the trash. Fortunately, they meet a friendly ant who defends them against a backyard scorpion, and…oh, never mind.
Didn't Make the Instruction Manual: Never leave anything that looks like a raygun sitting around where kids can play with it, especially in a Disney movie.
Lessons Not Learned: Wayne’s up to his old tricks in the sequel, enlarging their toddler to Japanese movie-monster size (hmmm….Godzilla vs the Kid from the Honey, I…Movies). The march continues with a straight to video shrinking of themselves (what a wacky idea!). The series is redeemed with a pretty cool Epcot show.
Movie: Back to the Future (1985)
When Huey Lewis Ruled the World
Inventor: Dr. Emmett Brown (Christopher Lloyd)
Invention: Time-travelling DeLorean
The Good: Goes back in time; also, looks cool
The Bad: Only works at 88 mph and with 1.21 jigawatts of power
The Story: When Doc Brown introduces Marty McFly to his time-traveling DeLorean, Marty doesn’t believe it will work. But when the Libyans show up (always the Libyans!) Marty takes off, sending him and the car 30 years into the past, where he manages to muck up his parents’ relationship and jeopardize his own existence. The flux capacitor is broken, so Marty and 30-year-younger Doc must rig a wire that will transmit a lightning strike across a town square street (that seems safe!)
Didn't Make the Instruction Manual: Oops…there’s no way of knowing exactly what will be in the exact location where you appear in the past! Oops…there’s no way to fix the car if it breaks down in the past! Oh wait, there’s no way to get a DeLorean fixed now.
Lessons Not Learned: Doc and Marty continue to mess with time as it relates to their own lives, never mind that any little thing they do may have disastrous consequences for anyone else.
Movie: Frankenstein (various films in various years)
It's alive...IT'S ALIVE!!!!
Inventor: Victor Frankenstein
Invention: No name, but we just call it Frankenstein
The Good: Create life from the body parts of dead people (try to enter THAT in Staples Invention Quest)
The Bad: Ugly; slight anger problem
The Story: Budding scientist Victor Frankenstein believes he can create life out of various assembled body parts and a little jolt of electricity. What a surprise when his living, yet partially decomposed, creation is horribly misunderstood by society! Clearly he never read US Weekly to see what we really care about. Depending on which version you watch, the monster is either incredibly strong and downright Forrest Gump-ian, or incredibly strong, incredibly intelligent and incredibly vindictive (as was originally written in the book). Regardless of the flavor, Frankenstein's obsession turns from creating the monster to destroying. Madness and death ensue.
Didn't Make the Instruction Manual: Living people don't like things made out of dead people
Lessons Not Learned: Frankenstein sells out to General Mills, who revive the monster as Franken Berry, one of the best cereals of the 1970s, but with limited distribution today.
Movie: Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
Hasta la vista...sensibility
Inventor: Dr. Miles Dyson (Joe Morton)
The Good: Kick-ass defense supercomputer
The Bad: Not too keen on people
The Story: In a mind-bending twist of time-travel logic, the remains of the Terminator from the original movie are being used by Miles Dyson, a programmer at Cyberdyne systems, to develop the supercomputer Skynet, which, it turns out, will eventually become self aware, determine that humans suck, and launch an all-out war on mankind. Unlike Back to The Future logic, where changes in the past immediately affect the present, the death of Dyson does not cause the Terminators in the present to disappear (in family Polaroids or otherwise!). Poor Arnold is left to give himself the Gollum spa treatment in a vat of molten steel
Didn't Make the Instruction Manual: Any creation that realizes what humans are really like will not have any inclination to be nice to us.
Lessons Not Learned: The Air Force takes over the Skynet project in Terminator 3 and succeeds in bringing about the apocalypse. In a nice character arc, John Connor is able to fulfill his destiny as savior of mankind while the rest of us get royally screwed.
Lessons Still Not Learned: We build more intelligent machines that decide that we would make good batteries, and they keep us blissfully unaware with this little thing called the Matrix.
What do you think? Anything I missed? Any other horrifically ill-conceived idea that should make Round 2 of this list? Let me know and I'll check it out.