Hollywood long has been known for—ahem—taking liberties with the truth (just ask any composite character). In this video gallery, longtime HPAC Engineering Editorial Advisory Board member Ron Wilkinson, a professional engineer who moonlights as a film critic, takes a look at 13 movies and three TV series whose makers were not about to let HVAC fundamentals get in the way of a good story.


Jurassic Park (1993)

In this Steven Spielberg-directed adaptation of Michael Crichton’s bestselling science-fiction novel, billionaire John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) secretly builds a theme park featuring cloned dinosaurs on a remote island off the coast of Costa Rica. Following the death of an employee, he brings in three unsuspecting specialists—paleontologist Alan Grant (Sam Neill), paleobotanist Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), and chaos theorist Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum)—to endorse the park and calm nervous investors. Thanks to some corporate espionage, the park’s security fences are deactivated, and the scientists, along with Hammond’s grandchildren, "Lex" and "Tim" (Ariana Richards and Joseph Mazzello), find themselves on the menu of the park’s main attractions in the middle of a tropical storm. Near the end of the film, our heroes make their way back to the park’s visitor center, where they think they are safe, but come under attack from two Velociraptors. In this sequence, Lex, Tim, and Drs. Grant and Sattler take to the nether regions of the visitor center to escape the peckish raptors. Lucky for them, the suspended ceiling is supported by a framework strong enough to support a herd of Dilophosaurus. Apparently constructed from 2-in. tool steel angle, the ceiling does not so much as flex under the weight of the thrashing refugees. The only obstacle that slows them down is the bane of all HVAC engineers: flex duct! There is yards of it, duct-taped together in a vain attempt to get makeup air to the T. rex omelette bar. It would not have been long before Hammond learned his lesson: The pressure drop of long lengths of flex duct makes air balancing harder than a Parasaurolophus pedicure.