In honor of our recently released Puzzle Box Gift Card, we decided to look back at some of our favorite movie puzzles and riddles. During our brainstorming, we quickly realized most movie puzzles are actually easier to solve than our deceptive little gift card box. So if you want to make him feel like a code-cracking Indiana Jones, the Puzzle Box is the way to go.
Now, in no particular order, a look back at our favorite puzzling moments in cinematic history, including one film that’s preserved in the Library of Congress. (Unfortunately we are not talking about Nicholas Cage’s National Treasure.)
The Riddler’s Riddles
Batman Forever (1995)
At the height of his mid-90s fame, Jim Carrey tortured the Caped Crusader as the Riddler in Batman Forever. Throughout the movie, Riddler taunts Batman with several elaborate brain-teasers, possibly created using standard third-grade arts and crafts supplies. Batman’s greatest intangible assets are his guile and wit (his most important physical assets being billions of dollars, of course), so it only took about a minute for Bruce Wayne and his butler, Alfred, to put the pieces together and uncover Riddler’s true identity. We suspect it will take much, much longer to crack the code to our Puzzle Box.
The Three Trials
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
By this point in the Indiana Jones franchise, Lucasfilm seemed to insert plot devices that would translate well to video games. Nothing wrong with that! Indy’s trembling, sweaty journey through these three booby traps made his acquisition of the Holy Grail that much more satisfying.
It’s safe to say yours truly would have bitten the dust well before the spelling challenge.
The Element Stones
The Fifth Element (1997)
With the fate of humanity hanging in the balance, Korben Dallas (Bruce Willis in the sunset of his action movie prime) and his motley crew of heroes must quickly figure out how to activate four ancient stone columns before something called “the great evil” obliterates planet Earth. Accessing the gift card in our Puzzle Box is much more difficult than the solution to their problem, but thankfully the stakes aren’t quite as high.
The Zodiac’s Encrypted Letters
The only puzzle on this list that (spoiler alert) remains unsolved to this day. Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, and Robert Downey Jr. star in this gripping dramatization of the real-life manhunt for the Zodiac serial killer in 1970s San Francisco. FYI: The word puzzles in the newspaper may feel a little haunting for a few days after watching Zodiac.
Leonard’s Short-Term Amnesia
One of our favorite movie puzzles is the tattooed body of Leonard, the main character in Memento. Leonard suffers from short-term memory loss, so he must constantly piece together clues about the murder of his wife. The movie weaves together two timelines—one chronological and one presented in reverse—to create a murder mystery unlike any other. Memento is infinitely re-watchable, and worthy of preservation in the National Film Registry.
Angier’s and Borden’s Illusions
The Prestige (2006)
Two magicians in 1890s London—Robert “The Great Danton” Angier and Alfred “The Professor” Borden—are caught in a bitter rivalry of professional one-upsmanship, to the tragic detriment of their personal lives. Each tries desperately to uncover the secrets of the other’s illusions, from Borden’s bullet catch to Angier’s “Real Transported Man.” But the real puzzle must be solved by the viewer, if you know what I’m saying. Some wild twists and turns in there, folks. Try to keep up.
Just About Everything In National Treasure
National Treasure (2004)
Not long after the opening scene of Nicholas Cage’s 2004 blockbuster, the audience begins to drown in complicated riddles and maps and cryptographs and all sorts of stuff. But even when faced with vague clues about the location of the world’s most valuable treasure, our hero—the aptly named Benjamin Franklin Gates—remains unfazed. For Gates, the journey won’t be easy, and there will be many setbacks along the way. But the spoils are more than worth the effort.
In fact, the same can be said for our Puzzle Box Gift Card.