The Roswell Crash Wreckage was taken to Wright Patterson Airforce Base, not Area 51, however, as any military historian and possibly almost all the UFO people know, the debris' trail is lost after Wright Patterson. This is, in fact, the very reason Area 51 became a hotbed of UFO conspiracies, many conspiracy theorists stating that, since it was so secluded, it was the most likely place where it ended up.
In the first "RAF" F-16 scene, the tail number on the airframe in the background, WS690, was actually assigned to a Gloster Meteor NF.12 Night Fighter built by Armstrong Whithworth in the late 40s/early 50s.(Page 311 of British Military Aircraft Serials 1912-1966 by Bruce Robertson). Current UK Military serials begin with the letter "Z". Current tail numbers are painted in 12" high white characters on the rear fuselage, not the tail fin. The national markings are also incorrect, if the RAF had operated the F-16 the aircraft would have carried low visibility (pink and light blue) tactical roundels and tail cockades together with squadron markings on the fin and either side of the fuselage roundels.
At the beginning of the battle over Area 51, President Whitmore fires his first missile, which is destroyed by the alien ships shield. As he begins to fire the second, his instrument panel shows he has fired one, and has three left. But when it cuts to the outside his fighter jet, all 4 missiles are still intact. Also the missile fired the second time, is in the spot where the first missile was fired from.
When David shows up at his father's house before they leave NYC his father answers the door holding a shotgun. But when he points the shotgun at David it makes the sound of a pump action shotgun, while he is clearly holding a double-barreled non pumping shotgun.
When President Whitmore is being updated on the situation with
the alien craft, which has broken off into "three dozen other pieces". After the Secretary of Defense asks "Where are they heading?" the man responds "They should be entering our atmosphere within the next 25 minutes," but his mouth is out of sync.
When David and Connie are talking in the room at Area 51,
she states "Haven't you ever wanted to be part of something special?". At that point David slams the bottle down on the window sill which is supposed to be made from concrete (bearing in mind that is attached to a massive metal window frame), yet it sounds as if he slammed the bottle down on hollow wood.
When David and Marty are discussing David's discovery that the signal is a countdown to attack, a news reporter in the background states that ships "have just arrived over the capitals of India, England, and Germany." A few seconds later, the TV graphic David points out shows a ship over Bombay, erroneously referred to as India's capital (which is really New Delhi). Germany's capital is listed as Germany rather than Berlin.
Farmer Lucas complains to Miguel Casse that his crop is failing because Russell Casse has not dusted his crop. He has a handful of wilted vegetation to prove his case. Dusting is typically for pests, wilting vegetation is typically from lack of water so that would not be Russell Casse's fault for not dusting but rather Lucas' fault for not watering.
The address on the letter Steve receives from NASA reads "El Toro, CA 50055" The 50055 ZIP code is actually for Collins, Iowa. The appropriate ZIP Code for El Toro Base (prior to its closing in 1999) is 92609.
The map of Russia shown in "Sky News" (in Russian), shows the city of St. Petersburg as Petrograd, a name used only from 1914 until 1924 (it was called St. Petersburg 1703-1914, Leningrad 1924-1991, and St. Petersburg again ever since.) Other misspellings: Novosibirsk spelled "Novosyoyrsk" (and erroneously described as mountainous), "Fenomen" (phenomenon) spelled "Fznamenon". Inexplicably, the station is called Soviet News, even though the movie takes place some years after the abolition of the Soviet Union.
Air Force personnel do not refer to "Area 51" by that name but rather its official military designation. The code name Area 51 was assigned by the CIA in now declassified documents and used mainly by civilians and in fiction.
As the plan for the counter offensive is being sent around the world, right before the line "It's from the Americans. They want to organize a counter offensive." is said, an Israeli soldier can be seen holding a pistol with his right hand on the grip and index finger holding the trigger, and his left hand firmly grasping the frame and slide at the front of the pistol. No one with any firearms training would ever hold a pistol like this, as firing the pistol would severely injure his left hand.
David claims he can triangulate Connie's position, but he only sets one antenna. A triangle has 3 points: the target (Connie's phone) and 2 directional antennae which must be aimed at the target to determine its position. The antenna David sets is omnidirectional, and couldn't be used for triangulation, even if he had a dozen of them.
When the President is being briefed for the first time about the arriving vessels the Secretary of Defence suggests targeting some ICBMs at them. The 'B' in ICBM stands for ballistic, the warheads essentially fall to the ground under the action of gravity which also forms part of the arming sequence. ICBMs cannot be used like cruise missiles, as Secretary of Defence he should have known this.
When Russell Casse ( Randy Quaid ) volunteers, he tells Air Force personnel had had previously been abducted by aliens. They roll their eyes in disbelief, as if they didn't believe in the existence of aliens, which by this point in the movie, alien existence would have been accepted as fact.
When Julius Levinson is praying in a group, he is sitting on the floor. He recites "Sh'ma kolenu." This is a benediction from the daily Jewish prayer, the Amidah (the standing prayer), and would be recited standing.
During the news report of Russell's arrest the reporter states that he was arrested as he papered town hall from the air. Assuming he was doing this using his crop duster, he was most likely arrested after he had landed.
The President assures Julius Levinson "there is no Area 51." This is untrue, as Nellis Air Force Base is divided into sections and one of these is "Area 51." That this is just a piece of desert, with no facilities, does not mean the location does not exist.
Hiller says to the unconscious alien he's dragging through the desert on July 3 "This was supposed to be my weekend off." With Independence Day: Resurgence stating that the original movie occurred in 1996, that puts July 2, July 3 and July 4 on a Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday respectively.
During the first alien attack, Marty (Harvey Fierstein) in New York and another driver in Los Angeles (the one who grabs his steering wheel) are shown stuck in traffic, facing the oncoming firestorm from the alien's primary weapon. All the cars on both streets are shown facing the alien attack and ship head-on. Why would any drivers be heading TOWARD the Empire State Building, trying to move closer to where the ship is hovering and preparing to attack?
On earth, when Hiller tries to fly the alien fighter the first time, he pushes the stick forward and the ship flies backward into the back stop. This teaches him that pulling back on the stick moves the ship forward and pushing it forward moves the ship back. When the fighter is docked on the alien mother ship, Hiller pulls the stick back to back away from the dock. As he should have learned by now, he needed to move the stick forward to move the fighter backwards.
When Connie and David argue, David opens the refrigerator door, and we see several items (a milk carton and a few bottles) on the shelves inside the door. When Connie opens the refrigerator a moment later, those shelves are empty.
During the scene before the US counter-attack, the planes on the ground are F-14's, with the wings swept all the way back. However, the planes taking off and in the air are F-18s, which do not utilize a swept wing design.
The interior of Russell's F-18 cockpit is depicted in two separate fashions when seen from his point of view. At times, his HUD is decorated with a photo of his three children. At others, the HUD is seen accompanied by a matchbook.
When the first plane fires the first nuclear bomb, you see the pilot is steering his plane away to the left after firing. But, on the radar at the headquarters where the president is looking at, you see the plane making a turn to the right.
In the special edition, David uses a CD-ROM with all the phone numbers in America to look up Connie's phone number. When he types in "Levinson, Constance", the computer goes searching through the numbers. The computer says her number begins with 556 when it is going through the numbers, but when it comes up with the search results it now starts with 555.
During the LA counter-attack, the Marine aviators are supposed
to be firing AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missiles from the under wing pylon . In external shots of the aircraft, Harpoon anti-ship missiles are shown on inboard pylons instead.
When Jasmine sees the approaching fireball she grabs Dylan from the car and begins to run. In the shot from behind, there are double-yellow lines on the road at her feet reaching into the distance, but in the shot facing her the lines have vanished, though she did not change lanes.
During the original attack on the ships by the F-18s, they shoot missiles at it and are surprised by the fact that it has a forcefield, a technology which obviously surpasses ours. However, in the shot back at NORAD, where the President is watching on the computer, there is a line shown for the forcefield shown neutralizing the missiles. Something like that would not have been programmed in that system and it shouldn't have recognized the forcefield at all because of it.
When Major Mitchell is asked to shoot the Coke can from the alien aircraft, he asks the Sgt for his side arm (gun) but in the earlier scene where they shoot the alien through the glass Major Mitchell is wearing his own gun on his right hip.
The alien destroyer that hovers over New York City positions itself so that its center (which holds the city-destroying weapon) is fixed above the Empire State Building. However, in some wider shots of the city and the ship, you can clearly see that the center of the ship is not above the Empire State Building, as it's supposed to be.
When the "Black Knights" are being briefed about their first battle during the counter-defensive, on the map, the briefing officer points out that three different attack groups: one from the North, one from the South, and the last from the West. When the battle actually takes place, you only see one group attack.
In the second sequence of the film, a man is sitting on a counter and continues a conversation on the phone. He is then off-screen for a second or two, and when he returns to view, he is suddenly off the phone and in a chair.
When Julius and David pull up beside the White House gate, David places the device on the Plymouth's hood to triangulate Connie's position inside. The device's position on the car's hood differs between the close-up and wide shot - note the car door.
When David shows up at his father's house, Julius opens the door pointing a gun at him. David grabs hold of the barrel, and in the shots facing Julius, David lets go, but in the shots facing David, the barrel is still pointing up and which David is still holding firmly.
Just after Hiller parachutes to safety, we can see he's landed not far from the edge of a crevice. But when walking towards the downed alien ship, in the background the crevice is gone. (Widescreen version)
When Levinson opens his laptop to watch the last few second count down, it can clearly be seen that clock goes down to about 1 second and 30 milliseconds, but during a close-up in the next shot, the time time has jumped up to over 2 seconds.
During the first strike against the alien ship with the F-18 fighter jets, when they start "falling down like flies". Near the end of the attack the monitor shows two jets left, indicating Hiller's and his friend's plane are the only ones. The next scene shows two jets immediately being shot down.
As the Alien Destroyer is approaching Area 51, the entire attack wing launch their missiles. There are multiple impacts in the area of the 'sail' at the front of the Destroyer. The scene then cuts to Area 51 staff getting people underground for safety. In the background the Destroyer can be seen in the distance. It is completely undamaged, despite the dogfight going on in front of it.
When Tiffany alerts the other alien believers of the ship opening up, there is an African-American woman standing right next to her. The woman, hearing Tiffany, looks up and points. But in the shot of the camera zooming down towards Tiffany as she looks up, the woman is gone.
Right before Hiller and Levinson take the alien ship to the mother ship, hugs are exchanged between Hiller and Jasmine. Her right arm is above Hiller's shoulder and alternates to around his waist in subsequent shots.
Initially while at Area 51, the President is initially wearing a white shirt with blue stripes, spaced widely apart. As the Area 51 scenes unfold, he is subsequently in a gray shirt with closely-spaced stripes.
When the President holds his frightened daughter, in the shot after the alien craft creates a shadow over the White House, there are photographs and a bust of Lincoln on the table beside the President - the view of the photos is not blocked by anything. In the very next close-up of the photos, things differ, such as a large framed photo of the President with the Dalai Lama that appears out of nowhere, between the photo of the First Lady and the photo of the Pope.
In the Area 51 hangar, when Steven and David are trying to take off in the alien attacker, we are clearly shown how the ship flies: Pull back on the controls, you go forward, push forward on the controls, you go in reverse. Later, in the mothership, after they have launched the nuke and are released, Steven pulls back on the controls, which should send them flying forward, but the external shot shows them flying backwards.
When Jasmine grabs Dylan out of the car, his sneakers are white/black with black laces, but when she is kicking the maintenance door, his sneakers are white with white laces, then it switches again in following shots.
When General Grey tells the President not to engage until they have visual, in the President's close-up the exterior of this F/A-18 Hornet is quite different than what was shown in the earlier shot, as the canopy closed over him. All the rivets around the canopy have disappeared and the 'danger' triangle is much closer to the name Patrick, the seat differs, etc. Plus the fact that the canopy and hull are actually one unit in the second shot.
When Russell boards the F/A-18, he places the photo of his kids beside the left DDI on the instrument panel, which is to the left of the number key pad, below the HUD. When he says, "Payback's a bitch..." there is an upside-down matchbook cover (with the words, "Amraam armed....is off" scribbled on it) exactly where the photo was - beside the left DDI, but then later the photo reappears. Also note that the yellow/black zebra marker behind the photo becomes a blue marker as well.
When President Whitmore boards the chopper and then Air Force One, he wears a white shirt with both thin and thick stripes. The stripes on his shirt collar constantly change, and nowhere is it more noticeable than when they arrive at Area 51. It varies between only one thick stripe, which changes from the top of the collar to the bottom, or two or more thick stripes, all surrounded by thin stripes. Wardrobe Dept bought identical shirts for the actor to wear, but the collar stripes just don't match up between scenes.
Julius and David are driving in the Plymouth and when they reach DC, the car's rearview mirror is visible from the back, but in the next close-up as they pull up in front of the White House gate, the rearview mirror has vanished.
At Compact Cable, when David takes the bowl out of the microwave in the close-up, he only wears the black bracelet. Next shot, when Marty comes into David's office the chunky silver link bracelet just appears out of the blue. (Special Edition)
When Major Mitchell gives the crash course to all the new pilots, his hair his much shorter than in previous and following shots, and Russell's beard is also much fuzzier than it was in the previous shots, etc.
At the Oval Office, when General Grey says, "They're tracking another one off the California coastline," the grandfather clock is perfectly centered between the two doorways. In the following shots the clock is much farther to the right.
When Captain Hiller is in his dress uniform in the house and then outside beside the car, before he heads back to El Toro, the epaulette on his shoulder is out above the collar, in the next shot it is under the collar (where it belongs), but in the very next shot, it is out again.
When David is getting drunk and he's talking to Connie, at one point he slams the bottle down on the counter and a little liquor sprays up out the opening. Then they talk for a second, and he picks the bottle back up to pour himself more, but he now needs to unscrew the cap which was just lying next to the bottle.
The scene after Jasmine's club pole dance, she is with her girlfriend in the dressing room. She is warning her girlfriend not to go to the alien rooftop site. Jasmine walks away undressed, but comes out a moment later with her shirt and pants on, and though she put her clothes on over her dance outfit it is still too quick to accomplish in that brief moment.
In the briefing scene at El Toro prior to the first counter-offensive, Lt. Colonel Watson, the briefing officer, has silver oak leaves on his collar (Marine Lieutenant Colonel). A few scenes later, when El Toro is under attack, Lt. Colonel Watson is shown again, but has been demoted two grades and has two silver bars on his collars (Marine Captain).
When Russell boards the F/A-18 and when he is airborne - such as when he salutes Major Mitchell (who is back at command center), he wears his Hawaiian style short-sleeve shirt and is gloveless. After he says, "Eagle 20, Fox 2," in the close-up as he presses the launch button (resulting in launch failure), the arm shown wears both a green jumpsuit and gloves, neither of which Russell actually wears.
When David is explaining to the President about the aliens' intentions with Earth's satellites, he draws two lines that start at the destroyer and go off straight both edging off Earth. But when he places the paper back on the desk to draw in the satellites, the left lines have risen away from the Earth.
When David walks into his office, with Marty, he sits down at his desk, and the water bottle is in front of the computer monitor, to the left of the keyboard. In the next shot, when he picks up the bottle it has moved to the right side of the keyboard.
David calls Connie at the White House and she walks toward the divided pane windows, then pulls the curtain to the side. In the exterior shots facing her the pane's white grille is between her hand and face, but in the next interior shot looking out, there is only clear glass, though we should see the grille just as we see both sides of the curtain with her hand holding the right side.
Close to the beginning of the film, when we see the President in the White House, someone turns on the TV. In this shot, there is a chair beside the TV, but when it cuts to an overhead shot, the chair has moved itself to a few feet away.
The airplanes they are flying have 4 missiles, yet at the final air combat the President fires 5 missiles: the first missile hits ship with the shield on, the second and third hit the ship directly, the fourth kills a fighter alien craft, and the fifth shoots at the green light from the main ship.
When Steven walks across the lawn to get the newspaper, a few feet away from the window there is a tall rosebush behind a white bench seat with a high back. Later, when Steven packs up to head back to the base, Jasmine pulls open the curtains and right outside the window is a tall flowerless bush.
At the White House, after the President says good morning to Connie and walks past her, she stands up then places the two folded sections of USA Today in her left hand - with the headline section covered, as she holds her briefcase in her right hand. Next shot from behind, she is now holding a section in her right hand with the briefcase, as she reads from the headline section held in her left hand.
At the SETI institute, there is a black guy on the phone in many shots, yet in one particular shot he is on the phone, but two seconds later he has jumped into a seat next to the woman and is typing. That's some pretty fast moving.
In the scene at the end of the movie where David and the President are making amends, as you view the President from David's POV (face on) his head is tilted to his right shoulder, however, as you view the President (from behind) as he is looking at David his head is tilted to his left shoulder. This is noticed each time the perspectives change.
In the scene with Steven and David in the cockpit of the alien ship, as Steven hands David the cigar his fingers are close together in the shots facing him, but are spread apart in the shots facing David.
Although the 'line of sight' scene has been mentioned, in one particular shot from behind Jeff Goldblum, he has his right hand out with the piece of paper in it, but when the shot switches to in front, he has his hands on his hips.
Just before President Whitmore gives his rousing speech, when Major Mitchell is talking into the mic, asking for all flight crews to report to their designated areas, the camouflage pattern on his uniform is entirely different from the uniform he wears in the previous and following scenes that he appears in.
In the Oval Office, when David says, "They're using our own satellites against us," the grandfather clock is about a foot away from the doorway behind him. In the previous wideshot, when Alex appears at the doorway, the grandfather clock is farther to the right, nearer to the other curtained doorway.
When David and Steven are on their way to the mothership, in shots facing David's right side the black safety harness and metal clasp are upside down, but in other shots the harness and clasp are on properly.
In the old Plymouth on the way to DC, when David comments, "Can't this thing go any faster?" the lock on his door is down as the shot fades in on him, but when it cuts to his close-ups the lock is up, unlocked.
After their daughter leaves the room, when the President tries to lie to the First Lady about her condition, her hand is touching his face in the shot facing her. In the next shot facing him, her hand is down holding his hand, but when it cuts away her hand is back up touching her husband's face.
At the start, when the SETI Chief arrives at the lab (after being awakened), a SETI tech sits on the desk in front of the window blinds, which are pulled up (shoulder height). Next shot facing him, those blinds are pulled all the way down.
When the alien aircraft at the beginning of the film first breach the skies over New York, when the camera cuts to peoples reactions, in all shots behind them the sky is filled with clouds, and when it cuts to the alien aircraft, the sky is blue.
In the middle of the film just before Steven Hiller crashes his fighter jet into the canyon, he looks at his fuel reserve, and if you watch closely the fuel reserve numbers just keep repeating themselves.
Close to the beginning when David is outside the White House and puts the device on top of his car, in one shot you can see him put the device on the top and put his hand down, and in the following shot he's putting his hand down again.
Close to the middle of the film when Steven Hiller and his wingman Jimmy are running from the smaller alien aircrafts, Jimmy says, "I think I'll try something", and in this shot we can see Jimmy's fighter jet go up, and in the following shot, we see it go up again.
After the President fights the Aliens in the fighter plane he lands to see a lot of people cheering and happy. If you look at his hair when he is walking through the long white hallway, it is messed up and not perfect. A second later, when he walks into the "Command Centre", Connie and Jasmine ask to see if their husbands are okay, if you look at the President's hair, it is now slicked back and perfect.
In the kitchen, when Steven is packing up before leaving for El Toro, the blue dolphin figurine faces the TV and is about six inches away. In the following shots it faces the opposite way and is about three feet away.
When the White House is being evacuated, in the shot from behind as Connie rushes to the chopper, at her side she carries a briefcase in her left hand, but in the next shot facing her nothing is in her left hand (viewer's right).
After Major Mitchell is asked get a gun to shoot the Coke can, in shots facing David, the Major's body faces toward the alien attacker, but in shots facing the alien attacker Major Mitchell's body is turned the opposite way.
In the interior shot, when Jasmine tries to explain why she doesn't want Steven to leave she pulls open the white curtains, to view the alien ship through the window (the window closest to the door), and as Steven walks out the front door she stands by that open window. Then when it cuts to the exterior shot, in an instant that window's brown venetian blinds are now down and the white curtains are drawn closed, as Steven walks down the lawn.
When Steven is about to head back to El Toro, he tells Jasmine that she and Dylan can come stay with him at the base. Then when they kiss, Steve's head leans to his right - in shadow, then left - with lots of sunlight, and back to right - in shadow again, between shots.
Aboard the AWAC, after the pilot sees the fireball emerging from the clouds, there is a wideshot of the interior with the cockpit in the background. The pilot is not wearing the dome-shaped helmet, note the distinct outline of his hair, whereas in the close-ups he is wearing it.
In the Oval Office, when General Grey says, "They're tracking another one off the California coastline," as Connie rushes in, the lamp on the table beside the couch is gone. Then in the overhead shot of the Oval Office the lamp is back on the table.
On the AWAC, in the close-up of the pilots' hands at the console, they are wearing gloves that reach up to their wrists. When the fireball shatters the windshield, their gloves are much longer now - closer to their elbows.
After going to the bathroom, when Steven turns on the TV in the kitchen, in the TV's close-up before the program comes on, the kitchen's reflection is visible. In the reflection something is lying on the stove (beside the fridge) and a chair is in front of the corner door, but when it cuts to Steven opening the fridge door, they're gone.
When David shows up at his father's house, Julius opens the door pointing a gun at his son. David grabs hold of the barrel and in the shots facing Julius, David lets go, but in the shots facing David the barrel is still pointing up which David is still holding firmly.
At the decimated MCAS El Toro, when the First Lady asks Jasmine what she does for a living, the First Lady holds the bowl out with her left hand in the shot facing Jasmine, but in her right hand in the shots facing facing her. The direction of the bowl's handle also changes.
Air Force One's cabin window shades move up/down when President Whitmore and Connie are talking, beside the President's sleeping daughter, and when the President asks General Grey for an update about his wife's whereabouts.
As we hear the biplane's engine closing in on Miguel Casse, as he rides the motorbike down the road, in the overhead descending shot his shadow is to his right, but next shot as his crop-dusting father passes over him the shadow is to his left.
At the beginning of the film, when the President is being briefed by his members of staff, there is a General wearing a blue uniform sitting by the left armrest of the couch, with his back all the way back touching the backrest. In the next shot, still by the left armrest, he is now sitting farther forward at the edge of the couch.
When the spaceships begin arriving, it is obviously morning in Los Angeles. Will Smith and his girlfriend are still in bed, and later on Will goes out to get the morning paper, etc. Jeff Goldblum has just said that the countdown will be over in roughly 7 hours, so how is it night in LA when the spaceship finally attacks?
Given the direction that the spaceship is traveling as it passes over the Mall in Washington, D.C., the White House should be completely in shadow by the time the Capitol is covered. This is not the case. Also, the shadow should spread over the White House from the left to the right, but instead it goes from the front to the back.
When the alien aircraft settles over New York, there is a taxi cab driver that stops to look, and the truck behind actually hits it twice. Also, there is a parked yellow school bus which the front half of the taxi passes in the wideshot, but in the close-up, when the driver gets out, the taxi is actually much farther back, the bus is gone, just take note of the gate in the background.
Near the end of the film as the shields come down, the jets start firing missiles at the ship. There is a shot of Randy Quaid's son walking through the control room at Area 51. Notice in the background, the lights are blinking on and off. The alien ship hasn't fired it's main weapon yet. Once it does they show the lights flickering off and on in the control room. These scenes are several minutes apart.
When the aliens arrive in New York City and start to come over the city we see a man selling candy who turns around to see the spacecraft overhead. When the scene changes we see the another man turning around and colliding with a women, and the background sky has no spacecraft in it.
After the shields of the motherships have been taken out and the fighters fire their missiles, we can see that the inflict a lot of damage to the mothership's front, but when Russell Casse blows the ship up that damage is gone.
After President Whitmore comments to General Grey that the pilots look young and nervous, when Major Mitchell speaks into the mic and asks for all flight crews to report to their designated areas, the President climbs up onto the truck behind Mitchell. Next shot though, he is only just now walking toward the truck and then climbs up.
In the diner, when the alien destroyer is about to pass overhead, things begin to shake as Russell sits at the counter and the three guys are at the table. In the close-up of the table, the salt and pepper shakers appear near the coffee cup, the Diet Coke disappears and everything changes position - having nothing to due with the table shaking.
At the MCAS El Toro ruins, when Steven's chopper is heard overhead, the First Lady sits up and leans on her right arm with her left arm over the blanket. In Jasmine's close-up, the First Lady is lying down fully covered by the blanket, but when it cuts back to the First Lady her position is back as the first shot.
When Julius and David pull up beside the White House gate, David places the device on the Plymouth's hood to triangulate Connie's position inside. The device's position on the car's hood differs between the close-up and wideshot - note the car door.
Just after Steven and Jimmy board the Hornets, aboard Air Force One, General Grey receives a call from Norad and when the crewman hands the General the phone he sits down, but next close-up he is still standing.
When Steven returns to the base, some of the other guys are watching the news on TV. In the TV's close-up there is a towel right beside it and newspapers lying on top, but in the next shot the newspapers change and the towel is about two feet away.
When David and Julius are playing chess at the park in Brooklyn, the slow decomposing styrofoam coffee cup, David's beeper, radio, removed chess pieces (not in play), etc., change position between shots, particularly in relation to the chess board.
The Commander walks into the Oval Office to tell the President that the object settled into a stationary orbit, and when the silver briefcase is placed and then opened on the table things move and a paper disappears. (More visible in fullscreen)
When Captain Hiller begins his attack with the rest of his crew from El Toro, when we see the room where the General and the President are, a man says "Missiles have been fired", it shows on their screen a countdown of "metres to target". It does a countdown of 5000 to 4000 twice, and 4000 to 3000 twice. Also, when we next see the countdown before the missiles hit the shield, the last number is 49m, then the following shot of this number it says 107m.
In the middle of the film when the President is in Area 51 looking at the alien aircraft, there is a shot from the back and you can see that the General is not standing really close to the doctor, in the following shot from the front he is standing side by side with the doctor.
In the scene close to the beginning of the film when Steven Hiller is talking to his friend in the locker room, the ring accidentally falls out the locker, and they both look behind them, yet in the following shot they are facing forwards.
Close to the beginning of the film when we see the Casse kids leaving the trailer park, and Russell Casse rushes up and says, "You read my mind," the shot of the motorhome we can see a map or something, and in the following shot it's vanished.
When David and Dr. Okun are inside the alien aircraft having a look around, it cuts to a front view of them, and if you look to the right two other scientists walk in. The scientist with the mustache and beard stops and looks, and the other walks a bit further and peaks over, then in the following shot you can see this action again. (Special Edition.)
Near the end of the film, when all the main characters pull up in a jeep to meet David and Steven who have just returned to earth, Jasmine leaps out first and is shown running alone toward them, yet Connie gets to the men first. This cannot be explained by Connie being faster than Jasmine as the distance is too short(the rest of the group stroll to the men in only seconds). Connie would have to run like the wind.
When the President is evacuating the White House close to the beginning, in the first shot you can see him and his daughter just in the doorframe, in the following shot they are about 5 feet away from the door.
When Connie starts to give her speech at the White House press conference, the shots of her on TV show General Grey standing right next to her, but when they show the conference in the press room, he is a couple of steps behind her.
When they all board Air Force One, David and his dad are led to a rear section of the plane. The corridor they walk down is on the left of the plane and when they emerge it's on the right, as though they used the same section for both shots.
When Dr. Okun and David are inside of the alien ship, and Dr. Okun shows him the scrolling green lines on the console he says that they don't know what they are. David says it's the same thing as their countdown signal and they always move together. Yet when Steven is flying their ship through the mothership, the lines go horizontal, spread apart, and even turn blue in some parts.
When Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum are in the mothership, Will says that once the missile is fired they have 30 seconds to get out of the ship before it explodes. The sequence of events, portrayed in real-time, from the start of the countdown to the detonation is 93 seconds. By the time 30 seconds has elapsed; they are just barely getting to the inner-triangle opening, with 23 seconds remaining. From here, it takes an additional 40 seconds to traverse 'the triangle' and exit the ship; with another 10 seconds passing after clearing the doors. The timer now shows 10 seconds remaining. Basically (according to the countdown), the first 30 seconds were depicted as being only 7 having elapsed; and the 50 seconds after that being only 13. Everything was in real-time.
In the motorhome, when Troy bangs on the TV in the close-up his left hand is down as he leans on it, then next shot his left hand is up on the TV with his right, but when it cuts away it's back down again.
When David removes the bottle that Connie put in the fridge, in the next shot as Connie says, "Research and development," the coffee filter behind her moves from the edge to farther down the table. (Fullscreen only)
When Steve is leaving to go to El Toro, Jasmine comes outside to talk to Steve. In the background there is a couple packing up. A lady comes out from the house with a suitcase, goes toward a car and a man goes toward the house, and they pass each other. The next time they show a close up of Jasmine, the couple are passing each other again, for a split second.
In the middle of the film when we see the President inside the command station, just after they hit the alien aircraft with a nuclear weapon, he turns to his side and says, "Call the other planes back," but in the following shot he is completely facing the guy he's talking to.
When the Casse kids are in the motor home and the guy drives up to complain about Russell's cropdusting, Miguel stands at the doorway. In this shot he leaves his hand on the door frame, in the following shot it's by his side, then back on the door frame.
When Captain Hiller ejects from the F/A-18 he is clearly strapped into his seat, but when he lands the seat is nowhere to be seen - it's not on the ground and he's not sitting on it. Then shortly afterward it instantly appears near him.
At the end of the scene, when Connie tells David that she has never stopped loving him she is standing in a doorway. The close-up shot shows her arms are folded across her chest, but when it cuts to a longer shot her hands are on her hips.
When President Whitmore and the rest get to Area 51, you see David Levinson in the background. Right before they go through the doors, he has a sunglasses clip over his glasses. As they start walking down the ramp, they are still on, but right after the glass doors open, you can see for a second or two the clip is off the glasses. Then when they go for a close up of Levinson, you can see him take the clip off.
When Major Mitchell is asked to shoot the Coke can from the alien aircraft, he has a bunch of papers in his hand. He continues to hold the papers until he actually aims at the can with a gun and then the papers are gone. He might have just dropped them on the floor but it seems more likely he would put them some place safe (e.g. table).
(Widescreen Only) When Tiffany joins the other alien believers on the rooftop, she brushes by a brunette woman who is in her thirties, wearing a light brown long-sleeved shirt, a black purse, and is holding a sign. But in the next shot of Tiffany, the woman is gone.
When Julius first boards Air Force One, he walks down the left (port side) aisle and the officer directs him to turn left to sit in the center seats. In the next shot, Julius is walking down the right side (starboard) of the plane and turns right to access the center seats.
When Levinson is kicking stuff around in Area 51, one of the trash cans is marked "ART DEPT" on the bottom. Area 51 would not seem to have an art dept. Suggestions that ART is a military acronym or abbreviation are amusing, but don't stand as mitigation.
In the containment lab, when the alien awakens and begins its attack, the alien moves from right to left towards a doctor, who is backed up against a door. The crewmember who is wearing the alien costume has on a white shirt and black trousers, and the costume's straps attached to the pants are visible, as well as some wiring at the back.
At the Area 51 lab, when President Whitmore is down on the ground in pain, in the shot from inside the lab facing the lab's outer hall, the alien costume only reaches just above the crewmember's waist - the costume straps attached to his pants are visible, as well as his arm.
When Jasmine is running from the explosion and is holding Dylan in her arms there is a slow motion close up and you can see she is holding a crash test dummy, or one of those blow up CPR dolls, you can see some kind of line through the plastic on the back of the dummies head and neck.
In the opening shots, the Earth is shown in the background of the alien mother ship. The rotation of the Earth is plainly visible, at about 2 or 3 degrees per second, giving an Earth day of about 2 or 3 minutes.
When he leaves his office, David says that there are roughly 6 hours until the countdown is finished. When he arrives at his father's, the roads are already packed. It takes about 4 hours to drive from New York to DC, in perfect traffic. In reality, they never would have made it out of New York in time.
In the beginning, the ship casts its shadow on the Moon in a way that would place the sun directly above the ship. This is inconsistent with the way we see sunlight cast on the Earth. Furthermore, the Earth is seen in nearly full phase. A full Earth would not be visible from sunlit portions of the Moon.
Air Force One takes off from Dulles Airport just as the blast wave hits the airport. Air Force One is actually stationed at Andrews AFB. Dulles is also 25 miles west of Washington DC, and it is impossible anyway for the blast to have reached that far that fast after detonation over the White House.
Captain Hiller "steals" a UH-1 helicopter to go rescue Jasmine. The distance from Area 51 to El Toro is over 750 miles. The UH-1, without additional fuel tanks (which are not shown), had a range of well less than 400 miles, which is about half of what would be required to reach El Toro on just a one-way flight. Without preparations and ground support it would not be possible to make such a flight, especially given the damage caused by the alien attacks.
When Washington, D.C. is attacked, the space craft is positioned over the White House as it fires its destructive beam. During the following scenes of destruction, we see the explosion destroy the U.S. Capitol Building from the East Front. If the beam had been centered over the White House and spread outward, it would have hit the U.S. Capitol Building from the West Front first.
The President mentions to his wife that she will be evacuated by helicopter from Los Angeles to Nellis AFB. There are at least two bases closer (March Air Reserve Base and Vandenburg AFB). As time was of the essence, why fly her somewhere farther away?
When the ship floats over New York, it goes over the Empire
State building, and the needle of the building is within yards from the ship. At that time, the World Trade Center was, in reality, much higher up, yet somehow the taller buildings are not damaged from colliding with the ship. Also to note in a later scene when they show the invasion ending at dawn, one of the towers is still standing and intact.
When the ship approaches New York, the shadow hits the World Trade Center and is curved, yet the ship is still inside a cloud which is not. As the ship moves, it changes direction, crossing the river, approaching the WTC, which was in Lower Manhattan, then moving in over the Empire State Building, which is far from both.
As an alien ship approaches Washington D.C. we see its shadow first encounter the Lincoln Memorial, then travels up the National Mall directly toward the U.S. Capitol. We also see the shadow go over the Washington Monument. This shadow is moving east. A couple of scenes later we see a shadow approach the White House directly from the front in a northbound direction. Since the White House is directly north of the Washington Monument, the White House should have already been in the shadow and the shadow should have approached it from the West Wing.
The RAF do not operate F-16s and also the RAF's aircraft would not have the old style red white and blue roundel and symbols, they would instead have a smaller red and blue roundel and also appear in a desert camouflage.
The Black Knights were scrambled from El Toro, a Marine Corps facility near Irvine, CA. Yet when Capt. Hiller crashes, he would have had to be near Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada (where Area 51 is located), some 250-300 miles away. Both Nellis and Edwards Air Force Bases are closer and would have have scrambled fighters which do not appear in the fight scene.
MCAS El Toro is shown in the movie in the middle of the desert. MCAS El Toro, which has since been closed, was in Orange County, just north of two very busy freeways (I5 and the 405) and surrounded by sprawling suburban cities of Irvine and Laguna Hills. Before it closed in 1999, it was possible to see F18s landing while driving down those freeways. It is now known and occupied by the Orange County Great Park.
As the Alien Destroyers enter the Earth's atmosphere, one scene cuts to a surfaced submarine in the Persian Gulf. It identifies the submarine as an SSBN in the Persian Gulf. This is an indicator of a Ballistic Missile Submarine. 1) SSBN's do not cruise on the surface in hostile waters, they are only on the surface when entering, tied up or leaving a friendly base. They submerge and disappear. 2) SSBN's operate in the safety of the deep. The Persian Gulf is not deep enough for an SSBN to safely operate.
When David is walking around the office with Marty right before the President makes a speech about the alien invasion you can see a vending machine selling Arrowhead bottled water. That product is not available in New York, where the scene takes place. It is, however, available in Southern California, where the film was shot.
The Laser reflector seen next to Eagle's Descent stage on the Moon at the start of the movie is in the wrong place and facing the wrong direction. It was placed much further away from the craft, and pointed towards the Earth. The Earth itself is much higher in the sky from where Eagle sits, not near the horizon as the movie suggests.
Various mistakes regarding the correct time of day: The sun is rising in Washington DC after a scene in which it is shown rising in New Mexico. Then, it's said to be 2:45 a.m. in LA, which would make it 3:45 in NM, after the sun has risen there. Also, in the final celebration, it's broad daylight in Las Vegas, sunrise or sunset in Egypt, and at least partially light in Australia, all at the same time.
The shadow of the approaching ship moves up the face of the Abraham Lincoln Memorial, indicating the ship is moving from the front to the back of the Memorial and therefore away from the mall. The next shot shows the shadow moving toward the Washington Monument obelisk at the other end of the mall. In effect, the ship's direction has completely reversed.
When the ships enter Earth's atmosphere, one ship is seen entering above the Casse's trailer park in Southern California, even though the only ship in Southern California is the one headed towards Los Angeles. Furthermore, the very next shot is of the Los Angeles ship flying over its destination. There is no explanation as to what ship flew over the Casses; rather, the entire scene was likely meant for dramatic effect.
In the Israeli/Arab scene, the officer is heard talking about elements still present "in the Golan Straits". The Golan Heights is a set of hills between Israel and Lebanon, currently under Israeli control, and there are no water bodies anywhere nearby.
When the nuclear missile is launched from the B-2 bomber over Houston, the bomber is within sight of the spaceship. In reality, the missile would be fired from over the horizon, as the B-2 would not be able to escape the shock-wave caused by the detonation if it was within sight of the spaceship.
After Jasmine kicks the door down, in the tunnel, she crouches down & calls Boomer. He leaps in just as the fireball sweeps past. In actuality, they would have been roasted by the fireball going through the open door, consuming all the oxygen as it traveled past.
The United States flag placed on the moon by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin is no longer standing. It was knocked over by Armstrong's and Aldrin's take off in the Lunar Module. Furthermore, if the flag was still standing, it would be all-white and not depicting the red, white and blue colors, since there is no atmosphere on the Moon, the Sun would've easily burnt off the colors.
The decorations worn by General Grey include decorations received for valor in combat, yet the General is not wearing the Navy/Marine Corps Combat Action Ribbon. If he had received a decoration for valor, he would have certainly received this ribbon as well.
During the first battle with the alien fighters, Will Smith
destroys one by deploying his braking parachute to block the alien pilot's field of vision and causing it to crash into a cliff wall. But the F-18 which he is flying doesn't actually have a braking chute.
When Russell is sitting in the fighter jet he pushes a button and you hear "missile launch." It is impossible to launch missiles while a fighter is on the ground due to the Weight On Wheels Interlock. It is possible to disable this function in some jets, but this is a highly unusual procedure, and the Marines/Navy would almost definitely not do this.
When Capt. Hiller is wearing his Service "Alpha" uniform, he is missing collar rank insignia on his dress shirt. This is a requirement under Marine Corps uniform regulations. Additionally, his mustache is extends beyond the corners of his mouth, a violation of Marine Corps grooming standards.
The opening scenes show an alien mothership passing low over the Apollo 11 landing site. The vibration of its passing erases the famous boot print left on the soft lunar surface. The Moon's atmosphere is too thin to transmit any vibrations.
In the El Toro scene and before the final battle, F/A-18's are shown with the sword and wreath symbol of the Air Force's Air Combat Command. The Air Force does not maintain F/A-18's in their inventory, it is a Navy Plane.
While being briefed about the nuclear weapon fitted onto the repaired alien spacecraft, Captain Hiller remarks that mechanism used to launch the device is "Just like the AMRAAM launch pad on a stealth". At the time the only known stealth aircraft in operation were the F-117A 'Nighthawk' Stealth Fighter (actually a light attack aircraft) and the B-2A 'Spirit' Stealth Bomber (a large strategic bomber). AMRAAM stands for 'Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile' and would never be outfitted on either the F-117 or the B-2 as neither aircraft was designed to carry air-to-air weapons or engage in aerial combat.
When the First Lady calls the President from Los Angeles at the beginning of the movie, she tells him it's 2:45 a.m., which would make it 5:45 a.m. in Washington, DC. When their daughter wakes up and turns on the TV, The McLaughlin Group is on. This show never came on in the Washington, DC area until 11:00 a.m., and only on Sunday mornings - which also means they couldn't have seen The Late Show with David Letterman the night before (it's only on Monday-Friday nights).
The scene with the U.S.S. Georgia takes place in the Persian Gulf. The captain lifts a phone and says to "get Atlantic Command on the line." The Persian Gulf falls into the theater of Central Command, not the Atlantic.
As Levinson and his father approach Washington D.C. they are the only inbound car on a clear highway as everyone else is fleeing the city on the outbound side. Contraflow lane reversal should have been in effect for such an evacuation or mass transit for the alien emergency.
Captain Hiller is an F-18 pilot. Yet in the scene after the alien attacks have begun and Air Force One has landed in Area 51, Capt. Hiller is shown commandeering a helicopter and flying it to El Toro to search for and rescue Jasmine. While military pilots begin flight school with the same basic flight training, later in flight school they later specialize, and it is highly doubtful that Captain Hiller would have received both F-18 and helicopter flight training, especially since one is fixed wing and the other is not.
The submarine is listed as the U.S.S. Georgia, which is an Ohio class fleet ballistic nuclear missile submarine, or Boomer. The submarine shown in the movie is in fact a Los Angeles Class Attack submarine.
For the giant ships to hover above cities, they must possess anti-gravity. This technology would also enable their fighter craft to make very sharp turns without harming the pilot, making them invincible in dog-fights.
A piece of wreckage at Area 51 bears the shield of the Air Force's Tactical Air Command, which was reorganized into and renamed the Air Combat Command in 1992. Further, Area 51 is legally part of Nellis Air Force Base, which is part of the Air Force Materiel Command rather than Air Combat Command.
When the B2 launches the Nuke missile, it can be seen immediately banking left however, in the situation room where the radar is being monitored, you can see that on the screen it immediately banks right.
The alien ship blocks out all of the satellite dishes on the roof of David's office building, however when he returns to his office all monitors still show they have a signal. Just a few minutes before they were complaining of the interference caused by the alien signal. The ship blocking the satellite entirely would have caused a complete blackout of all blocked signals similar to the solar interference experienced in early March and October.
AMRAAM (Fox Three) and Sidewinder (Fox Two) missiles carry puny warheads. A better solution would be to carpet bomb the topside of the ship with B52s which can carry 50,000 pounds of bombs, or cruise missiles.
The "Air Force One" shown in the film is not the plane the President would have taken in an emergency such as shown. Instead, he would have used a differently equipped 747 known as NEACP (National Emergency Airborne Command Post). It is not laid out as the plane shown but is designed to allow the President to conduct a war even in the event of a nuclear strike.
Stephen Hiller is supposedly the same age as Will Smith is, and it is impossible for him to have the ranking of Captain at such a young age, and therefore would be unauthorized to operate an aircraft of any kind (Helicopter and Fixed Wing Fighters) since in the military you need to be an officer to operate any kind of machinery.
When Jasmine is running in the tunnel, she kicks open the door just in time to save herself, her son, and the dog. The terrible fireball then goes right by them. They are just inside the open door, with fire and debris flying right past it. While the fire and debris might not spill in, the heatwave would still fry them. It is also likely that the fire would deplete the limited oxygen of the enclosed space.
When Steven Hiller is flying through the canyon he says "Hope you got air bag" and pulls a lever to deploy the braking chute on his FA-18. The chute is then detached and lands onto the attacking alien craft. FA-18's DO NOT have a braking chute, they rely on using an arrestor hook for carrier landings and a dorsal airbrake when landing on a runway.
When the alien ship over New York blows up the Empire State Building you see the blastwave spill out in the street in front of the Empire State Building. This is in that part of the city that's built in a grid pattern. In front of the Empire State Building there's just another building, not a street where the blastwave and debris can spill into. All the people who are way down the street, looking at the building being hit by the beam just can't be there.
In any explosion the shock-wave will travel ahead of any debris thrown by the shock-wave. During the attack scenes there are numerous cases of debris, particularly vehicles, travelling and landing in still air ahead of the arrival of the shock-wave.
When the aliens attack Novosibirsk, Russia, a map of "Russia" in Russian letters is displayed on-screen from what is supposed to be a Russian news broadcast. In fact, it's a map of the Soviet Union, St. Petersburg is incorrectly labeled as "Petrograd," Moscow is too far east, and Novosibirsk is very badly misspelled.
When the Empire State Building gets blown up, look to the right of the picture. The building next to it is the Citicorp Center. That is not right because Citicorp Center is on Lex between 53rd and 54th, while the ESB is on 34th and 5th.
David and Julius are traveling south to DC from NY so David can tell the President about the alien's plans. At one point, they're inside the city and the U.S. Capitol building is directly in front of them. This shot is famous because many movies have photographed the Capitol building from here. To get to this point in their travels they would have, in all likelihood, passed right by the White House since they are heading south on Pennsylvania Avenue towards the Capitol Building.
When Air Force One is taking off, the fireball should not be that close. The heat from the fireball would keep the wings from getting any lift as hotter air is thinner. Since the fireball is hot enough to explode steel and concrete it would surely have ignited the 45,000 gallons of fuel in the wings and melted the rubber tires. Had the plane actually been able to get its tires off the ground, the 'rolling' effect of the fireball and the rapidly rising heat being below and behind the plane would have caused it to do a 'negative angle pitch-over' or forward somersault right into the runway.
The opening scene shows the Apollo 11 landing site. Aside from the previously mentioned plaque incorrectly shown being on the ground, the scene shows a pristine American flag standing upright. The Apollo 11 flag was actually knocked over when the Lunar Module ascent stage launched. Plus the American flags left on the moon are bleached white with no color, due to UV rays and massively direct sunlight - and they are probably disintegrated, due to micro meteors and solar destruction.
During the final battle over Area 51, Russell Casse appears in his F-18 and states he is armed. After he attempts to acquire radar lock on the alien's primary weapon, he states he is locked on and has tone. He then says the tactical brevity code Fox-2, which indicates the launch of an infrared-guided missile. However, the missile he is actually attempting to launch is an AIM-54 Phoenix, which is an active radar guided missile, designated by the launch code Fox-3. The master monitor display also incorrectly shows the missile mounted on the port wingtip launcher of the aircraft where the AIM-9 Sidewinder would normally be mounted, instead of on the port wing's weapon pylon where the missile actually is. Historically, the F-14 Tomcat was the only fighter capable of carrying the AIM-54, as it was such a heavy missile; the AIM-54 was never used on the F/A-18. Instead, they carry the AIM-120 AMRAAMs, not the AIM-54 Phoenix that were shown in the film.
When the President is firing his F-18's cannon he pulls the trigger. The trigger operates the radio. The same button that fires missiles fires the cannon, the pilot has to select which one first with the 'hat' switch in the top middle of the joystick.
When Russell enters his F/A-18 during the final assault, he pushes the keypad "8" button out of curiosity and it inadvertently arms a missile. In reality, the keypad buttons are merely for navigational purposes and map coordinates. They would never be tied to the weapons system.
The firewall that destroys Washington DC is all wrong. When the destroyer blows up the White House, as in NYC and LA, it would have created a ring of fire that would have spread outwards. The White House is in a North Westerly position from the Capital Building, so when the fire wall hit the Capital Building, it would have hit from the side - but, instead, it hits from the back/front.
When the alien ship arrives in Washington DC, its shadow goes over the Lincoln Memorial from the bottom of the Lincoln statue to the top. Since the saucer is heading over the National Mall and the Lincoln Memorial faces the Mall, the shadow should have gone from the top to the bottom.
In the Iraqi Desert, when the British soldiers speak of the casualties and losses, one of the British soldiers mentions the loss of the Belgian contingent and possible reinforcements, then makes a reference to the "Golan Straits"; there is no such place.
The missile launched by the B-2 is made-up. The nuclear missiles carried by the B-2 are powered by a small jet engine, not a rocket motor. The last air-launched, rocket-powered, nuclear missile was withdrawn from USAF service in 1990, before B-2s had even been delivered to the Air Force. Plus, these missiles are very accurate and have a range of hundreds of miles. Why get so close? Finally, the B-2 pilots have no flash blindness protection. No blackout panels on the windows, or special goggles that darken when exposed to bright light. The tinted visors on their helmets isn't good enough to block out the flash from a nuclear detonation.
No matter the provocation, even under an evacuation from the White House, the rotors on any and all helicopters cannot be in motion until the POTUS is either secure within the helicopter, or in the case of an arrival, safely inside the White House.
During the interior scene of the supposed AWACS, the flight
engineer panel shown is that of a 135, not an E-3. The panel of the E-3 is streamlined with push buttons; also, the pan shot from the aft of the aircraft is showing the seating inside the aircraft incorrectly.
About 5 minutes into the movie, an Air Force Master Sergeant is shown with 6 stripes all down. In 1991 the MSGT rank changed to 5 down, 1 up, and the old design had essentially been phased out by 1995.
Major Mitchell is wearing the name tag which is worn on the Air Force short sleeve or long sleeve Blues shirt on his Dress Coat. This style name tag was worn on the Air Force's previous style Dress Coat, however, in 1996, no name tag was worn on the style of Dress Coat, which Major Mitchell is seen wearing.
During the climatic events of the movie, General Grey is wearing a field uniform and Connie is wearing regular street clothes, but it is clear that none of the army people or any of the President's cabinet members brought a change of clothes due to inadequate time for them to gather anything before evacuating the White House.
When the National Security Advisor suggests a nuclear attack on the aliens while aboard Air Force One, David uses "nuclear winter" as a reason not to do this. In fact, "nuclear winter" was discredited as a viable theory during the First Gulf War (when Kuwait was liberated) as Carl Sagan tried to stop President George Bush from taking action against Iraq on the claim that if Saddam Hussein set the oil fields afire the nuclear winter equations showed there would be a "year without summer." Hussein did set the oil fields afire, but summer came anyway. The flaw is that the nuclear winter theory was based on a model with an infinite number of variables and was scientifically invalid. However, as David is extremely ecologically conscious -- to the point that some people might consider him an "eco-nut" (constantly annoyed that the people around him don't follow his strict views on recycling, smoking, and Styrofoam cups, for example) -- it is reasonable to assume that he would not know or be less inclined to believe that the Nuclear Winter theory was discredited.
Dr. Okun tells everyone that the aliens do not have vocal cords, yet the creatures seem to squeal and grunt during other parts of the film. However, these aliens are analogous to insects, which do not have vocal cords but have other noise-making organs.
When Russell Casse is flying a fighter plane as "Eagle 20", he launches his number two missile or "Fox Two" missile and then attempts to launch "Fox Two" for a second time. "Fox Two" refers to a type of missile (short-range, infrared-guided (heat-seeking) missile - "Fox One", for example, is a passive-radar-guided missile) not to a specific missile on an airplane.
There is a common misconception that USA law requires actors portraying military personnel to wear the uniform improperly ("out of uniform") so as to not be "impersonating" military personnel. This is simply not so. 10 U.S.C. 772(f) does authorize the wear of an armed forces uniform by an actor in a theatrical or motion picture production "if that portrayal does not tend to discredit that armed force." SCHACHT v. UNITED STATES was a Supreme Court case in 1970 which found the preceding quote unconstitutional. As such, actors may wear the uniform in a theatrical or motion picture production without fear that it must reflect well on the military. Short version: Any movies which depict improperly worn uniforms can't use this excuse. They simply made a mistake.
When Jasmine is coming out of the tunnel after the initial attack on Los Angeles, everything is destroyed yet there are still palm trees standing unscathed. Considering the strength and heat of the attack, logic would dictate that the palm trees did not have a chance.
When David and their father are playing chess, most of the people in the scene are wearing sweaters or jackets, even though it is July 2 in New York City and the radio says the temperature is 95 degrees.
Jasmine's older-model television is not connected to a cable and has a VHF dial turned to channel 3, yet is somehow showing the "channel 51" news. A similar goof occurs later when the marines in the locker room watch the "channel 11" news on a similar TV.
Near the beginning, when Whitmore is in bed talking to his wife on the phone, he never indicates to her that he is handing the phone to their daughter, yet Mrs. Whitmore is fully aware that this exchange has happened, even though neither of the sentences "Mommy?" and "Here's your mother." are uttered near the phone's microphone. She even knows exactly when she can start talking, without her daughter greeting her.
When the ship is first seen lumbering above the White House, we see people (probably unaware that they're being filmed) not reacting at all to the ship. (This cannot be seen on the wide-screen version)
In the crash of Hillard's F/A-18, notice that the radome, canopy and cockpit are completely intact. Nice effect, but in reality, they would have been disintegrated since these components would have impacted first. Additionally, since he ejected, the canopy would not still be attached.
When the First Lady is at the hotel and on her cell phone you can see bright sunlight pouring into the lobby through the windows. This would be impossible with the giant spaceship hovering above, blocking the sun. The scenes at the White House after the aliens' arrival show the same goof.
When the alien gliders first appear, the Air Force is taken by surprise, yet the tactical display at the base already displays them as neat iconic abstractions. It needs a qualified person to design concise 2D icons from complex 3D shapes though, and of course, knowledge of this shape to begin with.
Actors "marks" to stand on, are visible at these points through the movie:
- A Secret Service agent, when President Whitmore is on the phone telling his wife he wants her to leave LA
- Steven Hiller, about to leave for El Toro, walking up to his red car, where Dylan plays and Jasmine joins him
- Jasmine at the club, walking to the mirror in the dressing room
- Dr. Isaacs, behind Dr. Okun walking up to greet President Whitmore
- Dr. Okun when he leads President Whitmore, General Grey, David, and others to see "the big tamale"
- 3 people just before Dr. Okun unlocks the vault, and again right after he opens it and explains alien telepathy
- Nimzicki, when the President walks up to "the big tamale" Dr. Okun rushes up the ramp to explain his excitement
- General Grey, when the alien is terrorizing the President's mind
- Julius and Connie, when David is talking about viruses and Major Mitchell first shoots at the Coke can (not in other shots in the same scene)
- President Whitmore right before he angrily fires Nimzicki.
During the first alien attack, Marty in New York and another driver in Los Angeles (the one who grabs his steering wheel) are shown stuck in traffic, facing the oncoming firestorm from the alien's primary weapon. All the cars on both streets are shown facing the alien attack and ship head-on. Why would any drivers be heading TOWARD the Empire State Building, trying to move closer to where the ship is hovering and preparing to attack?
The same group of pilots surrounding Russell in a 1971 photograph are later seen as another group of pilots, having not aged a bit in 25 years, entering Area 51 with the President during the film's finale (the same extras were used in both instances).
Several of the shots of the underside of the spaceship arriving at Area 51 and about to deploy its main weapon are actually shots of the spaceship closing its main weapon and departing after destroying New York run in reverse. You can see the tops of the destroyed skyscrapers along the bottom of the screen.
When the spacecraft are approaching their first target cities they are enveloped in roiling clouds and yet a sharp shadow is shown proceeding across the ground. The enveloping clouds would cast a diffuse edged not a sharp shadow. Further, the flames seen in the clouds would emit light, which would partially negate the effect of the shadow, illuminating the ground to some degree.
Around 20 minutes into the film, when one of the alien ships fly over Los Angeles, you can see the shade of the ship is moving across the city and leaving it in darkness as the ship slowly obscures the view of sun. Apparently they only used a simple filter to create this effect. Because if you watch closely, you can see the buildings still have contrasted lighting on their different sides caused by the bright, direct and sharp sunlight. If a huge object like that ship covered the sun for real, all the lighting on the buildings would be softer and with little contrast.
On the side view of the AWACS crew, one can see part of the Flight Engineer panel with all the amber lights related to cross feed valve position, low pressure fuel pumps and fuel shutdown valves turned on. They shouldn't while in flight. Also the generators load indicators read zero, meaning along with the previous paragraph that the engines are not running.
When the large ships hover over a city, they cast a shadow of a certain darkness. However, these ships are 15 miles wide and so low that what should happen is that the shadow gets darker and darker and darker as the ship continues to move over the fixed viewpoint. The shadow in the film does not.
As Air Force One is taking off from Washington, D.C., the runway marker lights are still functional, despite the control tower (and everything else behind Air Force One) being obliterated by the aliens' weapon.
The scenes when Jasmine leaves the tunnel after the first alien attack and the one where she helps saving people with the truck - which is supposedly happening in a different part of the city - were both shot at the same location, as is obvious from the derelict building with the distinct vertical structures that can be seen in the background of both scenes.
After Miguel confronts Russel about dusting the wrong field he starts his motorcycle without moving implying he used an electric starter. He rides a '60s-era Honda Scrambler which would have a kick starter.
The goof items below may give away important plot points.
Several characters throughout the film describe the crash of the alien vessel that crashed near Roswell, NM and stored at Area 51 as having taken place in the 1950s. The infamous Roswell incident actually took place in 1947 and not in the "50s" as those characters suggested.
When the pilots return from destroying the alien ship at Area 51 General Gray salutes the President and says "They're going down all over the world Tom. We've got them beat." A general of the U.S. Armed Forces should not address the Commander-in-Chief by his given name in public. He should have used "Mr. President".
During the final assault over Area 51, after the president makes a successful hit on the alien ship, he tells other pilots to take his flanks. He gets responses of "Eagle 6 at 7" and "Eagle 5 at 3", however in the shot the other aircraft are at his 5 (behind him to the right) and 9 (directly to his left) respectively.
After successfully defeating the alien craft above Area 51, President Whitmore is greeted back to the base. In this sequence, President Whitmore's hair changes four times. When he first lands, his hair messy and in his face. In the next shot, his hair is gelled back. His hairstyle switches two more times before settling on the slicked-back look.
They only had 30 seconds to not only escape the mothership, but also to reach a minimum safe distance to clear the multi-megaton blast that was about to occur. It took 90 seconds just to get out of the mothership.
At the end of the film Jasmine, Connie, the president and others drive into the desert to welcome the returning heroes. The jeep stops a short distance away with Jasmine leaping out (with Connie still in the Jeep) and running toward Steven. Jasmine is shown running alone. Yet, Connie jumps into her man's arms before Jasmine.
When the fighter aircraft make their final assault on the alien destroyer over area 51, all of the planes shown are F/A-18s but once they have landed at least one F-5 and F-16 can be seen and a lot less F/A-18s.
Just before Jimmy's F-18 plane is shot down by the alien fighters, the air speed readout shows it traveling at speeds just over Mach 2.5. This is impossible with an F-18 fighter plane, since it only has a maximum top speed of Mach 1.8.
In the final scene, burning debris, supposedly from the destroyed mothership, are falling from the sky. The falling debris parts seem to converge as they fall, but in reality debris falling through the atmosphere would appear diverging as observed from earth.
The F-18 hornets in the last battle scene are shown to be launching sidewinder missiles against the mothership. Sidewinder missiles are designed to catch up quickly and destroy small fast moving aircraft and a large mothership the size depicted in the movie, would be impervious to the relatively small explosive force of a sidewinder missile. A more effective solution would be to use mark 84 bombs as the mothership isn't a fast moving object. However, it was stated after arriving at Area 51 that most of the US military is incapacitated by that time, and Area 51 was not specifically set up to support fighters, therefore it is likely they could not find loadouts for the fighters.
Russel Casse's airplane was destroyed by the impact with the alien ship, not the jammed missile exploding on the plane. Such a crash would detonate the warheads on air-to-air missiles. That the missile had jammed has no bearing on whether or not it exploded.
The U.S Air Force's E-3 Sentry has a very large and very powerful radar system that could track for hundreds of miles, yet the crew could not detect a spaceship several miles long until it was too late?
Whitmore attempts to nuke the aliens, but their protective force field holds. Once the force field has been deactivated, all the President has at his disposal is a squadron of FA-18 hornets with an insufficient supply of conventional missiles. Suddenly they're fresh out of nukes? Also why use planes at all, when ballistic ordnance such as cruise missiles launched at much greater range could have handled the assignment with out the risk to life.
President Whitmore's group when they get to Area 51 consists of President Whitmore, David, Connie, Julius, General Gray, Patricia, and Nimiziki. However, there are also five other White House staff members (three men and two women) with them who appear throughout the rest of the film. These five staffers were never shown getting on the President's helicopter and, given the short amount of time that President Whitmore and the other six got aboard and took off, would not have boarded in time and would have had to have taken the second helicopter, which was incinerated as it took off when the White House was destroyed. How did these five staffers make it to Air Force One?
Dr. Okun has explained that the Aliens are just as susceptible to injury and death by physical impacts and even explains that the 2 of the 3 aliens caught by the humans in the 1950's died when their ship crashed in Roswell. But at the end of the movie, Hiller and Levinson were to walk away from the "burning" ship unharmed.
After Hiller and Levinson say their "goodbyes" to each other, Levinson connects his computer to that of the alien ship to upload his virus. This assumes the two computers can interact with each other and that the alien computer can execute the virus' code.
When Hiller and Levinson are inside the mother ship, attempting to upload the virus, the command center at Area 51 confirms that the "package has been delivered." But Hiller and Levinson are deep inside a 500-mile-diameter ship. The chance of a signal penetrating the (at minimum) miles-thick walls of the mother ship to reach Earth so that Area 51 would know this is virtually impossible.
The city-size ships all over the world are all destroyed in coordinated air assaults carried out over the course of a few minutes. Immediately after, we see people celebrating them in areas as widely separated as Nevada, Africa, Egypt, and Australia... all of them in broad daylight at the same time. At least one of those locations would have been in nighttime.
In a scene at the end, Hiller and Levinson are seen walking away from the crash of their alien spacecraft. When Constance and Jasmine jump out of the military vehicle to greet them, several sets of parallel tracks are visible on the ground. These tracks are perpendicular to the path traveled by the actors and the military vehicle and could not reasonably constitute part of the scene. They were likely caused by production team vehicles.
When Levinson is briefing the higher-ups on the plan to plant the virus, he references satellite photos of the mother shop, however the photos on the board where he plants his hand are Polaroids. Even without this reference, instant pictures of the mother ship seem highly implausible.
Pilots use specialized suits to keep the G-Force from making them go unconscious. After Russell Casse destroys the primary alien weapon, in one second you see the suit on the President in his plane. In a second shot, again for a second, you can see him turn to look behind him, and you will notice he is not wearing the suit