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8 things film makers should stop doing

2008.02.02 — Entertainment | Movies | Movie Analysis | by Andrew Cole


Film. [source]

In the last 10 years, Hollywood has gotten very good at making big franchise pictures. We've gotten fun and high-quality fantasies like The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, good superhero treatments like Spider-Man and Batman Begins. Even bad action movies are better than most good action movies of 10 or 20 years ago, like Sahara, National Treasure, and Live Free or Die Hard. At some point, most filmmakers seem to have woken up one morning and said, "Hey, the story is really the important thing...." and "I guess we could have actual comedy writers write the jokes instead of just using the first bad pun that comes to mind...."

Just... don't put any more of these things in motion pictures, please.

8. Ridiculous stunts

With modern precision stunt work and CGI, there is literally nothing you can't capture for a motion picture. But that doesn't mean there aren't some things that you shouldn't do. Honestly, if my hero realizes there's a bomb on the underside of his car like in The Transporter 2, I don't want him to rev up the engine, hit a ramp, do a barrel roll that takes the car past a loading crane, knock the bomb off with the crane's hook, then land the car flat and drive off. I want him to stop the car and run away from it while it explodes behind him, blowing him into a convenient pile of empty cardboard boxes, like they did in the '70s. That's the smart thing to do, because knocking the bomb off with the crane hook is just so impossible it's stupid.

7. eLeet hackerz

If I see one more computer hacker who can breach the security of a national intelligence network in two minutes, I'm going to throw up. And if there is some guy hunched over his shoulder, shouting "Hurry up! We're eight seconds behind schedule!" I'm going to throw up on him.

In National Treasure: Book of Secrets, Nick Cage runs a red light in London holding a vital clue up to be photographed by the red light camera, then heaves it into a river and turns to his computer guy pal and screams, "Break into the traffic camera system and get that photo!" I can't get a reliable wi-fi signal in an major airport, and this guy gets connected in a car, in a foreign country, during a high-speed chase, and then somehow finds and breaks into the computer system of the traffic cameras and then finds the exact photo of them with the clue.

6. Scaredy cats

The hero/heroine is sneaking down a dark alley/corridor. A cat jumps out with a screech. Come on. That was stupid in 1943 when it happened to Bob Hope, and it's 65 years stupider now and suffering from Alzheimer's, and eating mashed bananas for dinner.

5. Shaky cameras

Cloverfield reportedly has been making some film goers sick—literally nauseating them with shaky camera work beloved by film makers of late for its authentic feel (altho the warnings sound a lot like 1950s monster movie hype). After all, news camera men don't use Steadicam rigs and neither does Dad when he's shooting video of the kids. That's fine, if you're simulating news team footage or home movies, but even then, you need to find a balance between real and annoying.

After all, Hollywood is not very good at doing "real" in other ways. Hollywood submarines are always much bigger inside than real submarines. Hollywood cop cars put their sirens on for routine traffic stops. Hollywood protesters always have professional-looking protest signs. Hollywood guns shoot twice as many bullets as their real-world counterparts.

If you spent millions of dollars shooting a scene, I should be able to watch it and figure out which objects on screen are human. I don't care if The Gladiator's opening battles capture the "fog of war;" the cameraman isn't in there wielding a sword. He should stand back twenty feet and get some perspective.

4. Women who do nothing but look pretty

You've come a long way, baby. Don't just sit there. Do something. In the old days, the dame would get kidnapped, and the hero would rescue her and say, "Stay here," and then run off to capture the bad guys, and she would actually stay put. For the last 20 years or so, the dame refuses to stay put, and the hero says, "I thought I told you to stay out of the way!?" So far so good. I like women as much as—and quite possibly more than—the next guy. But then the eye candy pretty much does nothing. Nothing. She has no clues; she has no skills; she has no wits; she has no weapons. Except for banging a bad guy on the head with a frying pan at the end of the fight, she is of no help at all. She should have stayed put. What the hell was she thinking?

Give me Princess Leia in Star Wars. Give me Cherry in Planet Terror. Give me the women of Serenity. Give me Kate Beckinsale in Underworld. Give me Milla Jovovich in anything. Not only do I not want to cross paths with Milla Jovovich in a dark alley, I don't think a dark alley would want to cross paths with Milla Jovovich.

3. Good monsters

Vampires are evil. Fire-breathing dragons are evil. That's the point of them. I don't care about their feelings of loneliness and isolation. They are lonely and isolated because they are evil. And I want to kill them in spectacular ways.

And stop making "half" things. Blade is a half-vampire? What the hell does that mean? It's just nonsense. I'll tell you what a half-vampire is: a vampire that I have cut in half and buried at a crossroads at midnight with holy wafers in its mouth.

Now, misunderstood monsters I can deal with. This all started with Frankenstein, after all. But the thing to remember is that Frankenstein's monster was a monster first and misunderstood second. He was chased by villagers with torches and pitchforks because he drowned a little girl. It was more or less an accident, but it was exactly how I want my monsters to act when they try to be nice: with criminal negligence.

2. Dark lords

We've had Vader. We've had Sauron. We've had Voldemort. And we've had probably a half dozen or more forgotten dark lords. Enough with the distant, evil, superpowerful beings that can't even manage to kill a child.

Speaking of which...

1. Prophesied children of greatness

Ooh, maybe he's THE ONE. Yes, maybe this child is the one prophesied to return balance to the Force or defeat the evil wizard or draw the sword from the stone. I don't care. Stop writing prophesies and especially stop writing prophesies that don't make any sense in the first place. Seriously: Neo? What the hell would a computer make prophesies for? How does that make any sense? If Harry Potter is supposed to be a hero, then make him heroic. Until then, I'm with Dudley.


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