So you are watching some cheesy pseudo-medieval fantasy flick, the hero impales, beheads, or otherwise causes the villain to die with poetic justice in his/her/its massive stone castle. Suddenly the whole place begins to fall apart. The hero and his companions must make a mad dash for the exit and not two seconds after their miraculous and heroic escape the castle explodes. Huh?
How in the hell does a castle explode? It’s made of stone. The simple answer is: Well, that’s Hollywood for ya. I say, pshaw. They are morons. Now, I love to watch things explode in movies. There is nothing more satisfying that watching the Death Star explode or the numerous things the Mythbusters blow up. What I don’t love is Hollywood expects me to drink their exploding castle kool-aid and enjoy their reality defying crap. Why is it that it’s always the death of the villain triggers a self-destruct that gives the heroes enough time to escape?
Let me start with the movie Krull. I wrote this as a comment on IMDB.
When I saw it in the theater with friends, the row behind us enjoyed our Mystery Science Theater 3000-style running commentary whilst the row in front of us did not.
I apologize for giving spoilers but I know of no other way to convey how bad this movie is. The only notable thing about this movie is the first use of Clydesdale horses for riding in a film. Other than that it has plot holes big enough to drive a Mack truck through. The movie couldn’t decide if it was fantasy or sci-fi. We have this castle that descends from outer space, but it can also teleport all over the surface of the planet. Then to catch up with the castle our heroes somehow manage to catch these flying horses in a box canyon. And when our heroes defeat the bad guys they all escape before the castle explodes.
We have a flying castle-spaceship. That teleports itself around the surface of the planet. It can only be caught up with if you use flying horses that can travel a thousand leagues in a day or some other such nonsense. First you have to catch the flying horses. Plot hole #1. They trap the horses in a box canyon. The horses are apparently too stupid to fly out of said box canyon. Plot hole #2. They ride these horses in scenes reminiscent of watching Santa Claus riding his sleigh through the sky and catch up with this castle-spaceship that can teleport. Apparently, the castle is too stupid to teleport away when the horses arrive. Maybe, they think Santa Claus is early.
You may think I’m reserving my ire for a bad movie, but I’ll go after the Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. After Gollum bites off Frodo’s finger with the ring and falls into the lava, the rest of Frodo and Sam escape from the castle/volcano as it begins to erupt. Now, this is slightly more believable. I’m not sure why evil sorcerous villains have this thing about building castles on active volcanoes, but they do. However, what is not believable is that they can survive on a rocky outcrop in a lava flood without being vaporized from the intense heat.
I used to repair and install two-way radios. One time I did an on-site install at a steel mill. They had this huge electric vat with a telephone pole sized carbon rod to melt down the scrap steel. I had to pass by a spot where they had just extruded glowing hot steel bars about the size of railroad rails. I was standing about thirty feet away and the heat was intense. This metal was solid, but still glowing red. It was not a place you wanted to stand for very long. In the film, Sam and Frodo were much closer to the much hotter CGI lava. I have an appreciation of how hot big things can be and from how far away you can still feel the heat.
I use the term Exploding Castle Syndrome not just for fantasy flicks but sci-fi and thrillers as well. James Bond movies are notorious for ECS: You Only Live Twice, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, to name a few.
I’ve ranted enough on the topic. I may add more to this post or I may do a part 2 or I may not do anything at all.