One of the staples in any good geek-tastic film is unusual gadgets. How many of us lust after lightsabers? You know you’d love to have a real one, so would I. But not everything that screenwriters, producers and directors come up with for films carry the same cachet. In fact, some fake gadgets are so lame that they become legendary.
This list is not complete, far from it. I encourage you, the reader, to add your own favorite lame gadgets in the comments. And feel free to disagree with me. Some of the entries in this story have a way of being both lame and not lame at the same time, but for whatever reason, they make it onto the list.
10: The Hoverboard, as seen in Back to the Future 2, Transformers: The Movie, etc.
I’m sorry. I know that this first entry is going to get me some old-fashioned Internet flames, but these suck. They’re a bad idea in so many ways. They always look bad, are always portrayed wrong, and never, ever help the plot. Technically they might be cool, but only as a novelty. Because it doesn’t come in contact with the physical surfaces it “skates” over, you lose the ability to do all the crazy tricks skaters are known for, not to mention the chance to have your own lame show on MTV2.
In addition, you just know your nuclear hydro aero fuel cell is going to run out of power when you’re blocks from your destination, meaning you’ll have to carry the hoverboard the rest of the way. We’re guessing these weigh in at about 20 pounds each. Have fun, Marty.
9: Combing the Desert Comb, as seen in Spaceballs
The Imperious Forces have giant combs to help look for things. Ha ha. Ha. The joke falls flat in the otherwise perfect “Spaceballs.” OK, I get it, it’s a pun. But the thing about puns is they’re almost always better heard, not seen. Much like children, and the opposite of Jennifer Lopez.
Now, Mel Brooks could have done something here. Maybe the comb would find the roots of, I dunno, something, to find out the planet wasn’t a real blonde. That would lead them to Yoghurt. Having a gadget just to have one is stupid, and I’m sorry to say it’s a blemish on Brooks’ career.
8: Inspector Gadget (movie version), as seen in Inspector Gadget
It pains me, as I like Matthew Broderick a lot, but man, was the walking convergence device misused in the film. Inspector Gadget has everything including charisma. Not so when up against the forces of Rupert Everett, it seems. Every use of a gadget was for a sight gag, and never part of the overall plot. Lame.
7: Standard Imperial TIE Fighters, as seen in the Star Wars trilogy (the good one)
I know I’m going to take some heat for this one, but from a pilot’s point of view, it’s a death trap. Were Ralph Nader alive in the “Star Wars” universe, many things would be different, including TIE Fighters never making it off the drawing board.
The craft have no shields, minimum armament and no hyperdrive. If a couple of X-Wings have you cornered away from your squad, you’re dead in space. The idea, of course, was to overwhelm the enemy, as the TIE Fighters were disposable. And, presumably, so were the pilots. So not cool.
Also, Ralph Nader would have stole a critical 8 percent of the Emperor’s votes.
6: The Thing Batman Uses to Call the Bats (“Back-up”) That He Kept In His Boot, as seen in Batman Begins
OK, I get how it helps the plot. He’s surrounded, and uses a swarm of bats to cover his escape. Smart move, Wayne. But you’re Batman. Batman has a utility belt, in fact, he’s quite famous for it. So why would he keep an ultrasonic transmitter in his boot?
Seriously, one wrong step off a curb and every dog for blocks is in pain here. The lesson, Bats = Gadget + Utility belt. ‘K? ‘K.
5: X-Ray Sunglasses, as seen in Goldeneye
I firmly believe that “Goldeneye” is one of the better, new Bond films, but the X-Ray sunglasses are just stupid. Yes, they allow Bond (and us) to see the hot chicks in their underwear with their guns. But, again, they do nothing for the plot. Had he used them to tell that Famke Janssen was really a man (see: “Nip/Tuck”), then I could see the point. Otherwise, it’s just gratuitous. And not in the awesome way.
4: KITT 2000, as seen in Knight Rider 2000
KITT was awesome. It was a car that could talk, had turbo boost, had grappling hooks, made lattes, cured cancer, and had that neat whooshing light at the front. The body was based on a modified Pontiac Trans-AM, but yet it was still kick-ass.
In the ill-fated update, KITT was a Pontiac Banshee, and other than the voice and the nose light, nothing was the same. I’m all for upgrading, but Knight Rider is all dark and, well, night-timey. A red super sports car doesn’t fit.
3: The Terminatrix, as seen in Terminator 3
Of all the things to loathe about this movie (and there are many), the female terminator stands head and shoulders above the rest. Yes, I liked the twist of a girl killer robot, but the idea of combining the best of both models of Terminators into an oh-so-sexy frame doesn’t work. And, in all, she wasn’t that tough.
Again, I’m blaming the writers. She has, what, two lines of dialogue? That a villain does not make, friend. There was so much this character/gadget could do, yet it was all squandered. Nice ass, though.
2: The Advanced Space Shuttles, as seen in Armageddon
No no no no no. If you think these are cool, you seriously need to think about, I don’t know, everything. Sure, they were needed for the plot, but when the plot sucks as much as this one did, it doesn’t help any at all. Not even Liv could make these things attractive.
Space Shuttles are bombarded by all sorts of badness in orbit. Why, then, was one of the drilling jeep things able to shoot through the bay doors of one as if it were aluminum siding? I know why, because Michael Bay is the worst director working today.
We almost went with the new Megatron here, but we’ll spare him until after the film comes out.
1: The Stealth Boat, as seen in Street Fighter
It’d be easy to make fun of the writers and director here, but that wouldn’t be fair. You imagine them smoking cheap cigars on the patio of some LA swank café, brainstorming plot ideas, and some idiot says, “I know! I’ve got the perfect ending! The miswritten characters make a final assault on a stealth boat!” And then you imagine the others saying things like, “That’s genius!” or “Man, perfect!”
Sadly, this never happened. The finale was filmed on-location in Thailand. The producers, however, forgot to ask the Thai government permission to use its airspace for the finale that featured stealth fighters, very cool gadgets.
When the gov said “no,” the vehicles were changed to one stealth boat. This makes the gadget lame not just for us who have to watch it, but for the people who made the crappy film, too. For them, we feel bad. But congrats for making it to the top of this list.
Honorable Mention: Most things in “Real Genius.” Really.
Anything we missed? Feel free to fill us in in the comments. We’re sure there’s something obvious we left out, but, ya know, it’s Friday.