We here at The Richest are massive movie fans. Like so many other people, we look forward to the release of many of Hollywood’s attempts at creating hugely lucrative and entertaining blockbusters every year. Just like you, however, we’ve noticed a few trends that are resulting in more and more movies missing the mark. We’re not here to claim the sky is falling. There are still several awesome movies that get released every year, but if only a few things could change, we’re confident the results would massively improve.
When we put together this list, we sat back and thought about all of the recurring problems that have taken away from our enjoyment of far too many movies. We’re not here to tar and feather the entire industry; we realize that every generation has their fair share of movie mistakes that spread across the cinema like a virus. Instead, we’re just hoping that taking an in-depth look at modern movies and what many fans want to see changed will eventually make someone listen.
16. Following Trends Until the Bloody End
When a business manages to attach itself to a popular trend, it is a sure-fire catalyst to immense success. Instead, when business jumps on a little bit late and attempts to ride the wave far too long after it has already come ashore it makes them look out of touch, which can easily be the kiss of death. With that said, although we realize the business side of Hollywood has a huge impact on the movies that get made, this list is focused on the creative end and trends can be just as damaging there.
We love our fair share of comic book movies but that doesn’t mean that even we can’t see that their popularity has caused a glut of sorts. The latest, horrible adaptation of The Fantastic Four could have easily not had so many cooks in the kitchen or not been made at all if the studios didn’t need to have their comic book franchises. In fact, there may just be more comic book movies that are in the planning stages than those that have already been made, while an ever increasing fraction of the audience has already had enough. This latest fad is far from the first time this has happened too. Sequels, prequels, and remakes ruled the roost before and things like meta horror films, teen sex comedies, and many, many others have been awfully over-exposed in the past.
15. Michael Bay
Team America: World Police said it best in the song “Pearl Harbor Sucked”: why does Michael Bay get to keep on making movies? The obvious answer, of course, is that his films continue to rake in tons of moolah at the box office. Fair enough, we suppose, but the reason the question still needs to be asked is that the man’s style has had a horrible effect on the craft of filmmaking.
Preferring style to substance, his movies are nothing short of masturbatory. Featuring far too many cuts that seem to mostly serve the purpose of tricking the audience into shutting off their brains and swallowing his clap-trap, he seems to have forgotten the point of scenes. Yes, we love a great action sequence as much as the next guy but they sure are a lot more appealing if a story has been set up that makes us care about the outcome. Additionally, his movie’s horrifically juvenile humor serves to illicit groans far more than laughs and most of his flicks could really use a good few laugh-eliciting moments. We defy you to be able to tell the different Decepticons in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen’s pyramid sequence apart. We certainly hope directors don’t continue to follow in his footsteps. We’re looking at you, Zack Snyder.
14. Movie Makers on Social Media
Twitter, Facebook & Snapchat: these social media platforms have served to connect people in ways the world has never seen before. Prior to this latest age, if you wanted to connect with a movie star, director or even producer you had to get lucky, stake out red carpets or become a stalker of sorts. The access we have these days, to the people who appear on our screens has allowed us to feel more invested and learn more about the intended vision for the media we love. The direction only seems to be pointing towards more access, too.
So, why are we calling it out as a bad thing? Sometimes those involved need to shut up. When Josh Trank torpedoed his version of Fantastic Four, just as it was being released (hey, there’s that movie again), it not only was a horrific career decision but it also forced audiences to think about the behind the scenes drama. That movie was clearly going to suck either way but his decision to skirt responsibility only assured that every potential fan on some level had to think twice. The Ghostbusters reboot hasn’t even hit theaters yet but already director Paul Feig has had a few bouts of antagonism with people who hate it without seeing it. The cast and crew don’t deserve to be harassed online because you don’t like their film but Paul Feig calling out people online doesn’t paint the picture of an in-control auteur.
Now in Technicolor 3D! Sure, we converted a film that we made without a 3D presentation in mind and the process has made every frame far too dark, rendering the action difficult to decipher but hey it kinda looks like it is coming towards you. That’s cool, right? Shaky cam, the filmmaking marvel that delves your audience into a world of chaos! Sure, some movies have way overused the effect and god help you if you find yourself sitting in the first few rows of the theater because those poor bastards may just be queasy by the time the credits roll.
Over the years, there have been movies that tried to include smell-o-vision, that type of 3D that turns everything red and blue and so many other effects that didn’t actually improve the watching experience. How about instead of focusing on a gimmick which allows you to charge a little bit more and hopefully looks like you are ground breaking, you just make a good movie. Who amongst us would prefer to see a good movie in 3D instead of a great one in plain old 2D? We know we wouldn’t.
12. Poorly Lit
Since you are reading these words, we can only assume that you live in a modern world that is full of technology, which includes basic lighting, wherever you go. So we’re guessing that you, like us, spend nearly every waking moment of your life in a world that is lit by either the sun, lights or at the very least moonlight. Yet so many modern movies seem to think that covering the screen in darkness somehow creates a mood that improves the telling of their story. In some cases, that can be true. In a horror movie, for instance, when a protagonist is attempting to survive and they can’t quite make out the path, the lack of light can make us empathize with their fear.
With an exception like that aside, however, can they please just start making movies where we can actually see the world they have created without having to adjust the picture on our TVs again? Pacific Rim, 2014’s Godzilla and many, many other movies have had people complain about major sequences being lit so low that they had to intensely focus to make the action out. If even a fraction of your audience, through no fault of their own, finds your movie inscrutable then maybe it’s time to invest in a few lighting rigs.
11. Whisper Quiet and then Super Loud
Soundtracks can make a mediocre movie good and a great movie an all-time classic. The volumes at which they get played in contrast to how loud an actor speaks, unfortunately, can have the opposite outcome. Interstellar, for instance, a massively budgeted sci-fi movie with a rabid audience awaiting its release managed, at times, to render dialogue utterly unintelligible because of the overpowering music that trumped it.
As annoying as that is, it isn’t the only way in which this phenomenon can play out. It seems like nearly every major movie these days goes from incredibly loud to barely audible at a moment’s notice again and again and again. In theaters, this can be jarring but is a far more workable scenario but for a home viewer, it can ruin an experience. When you have to hold on to your remote and adjust the volume over and over to hear everything that is happening but not disturb those around you, it takes you out of the story you’re trying to be enthralled in.
10. Movies that are Too Long
One of the greatest assets filmmakers have is that the runtime of their movies, in a lot of cases, are left up to them to decide. Sometimes studios step in and exert their will so they can get a few extra screenings in but in a lot of cases the director, producers and editors have a great deal more control. Wow, do we ever wish they kept their grandiose vision more under control at times. When Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King came out, we, like almost everyone, couldn’t wait, yet somehow we were very restless in our seats by the end. Sometimes losing a scene or two can really aide an audience’s patience.
We’re all for releasing another cut later with as many scenes you like added back in, which devotees can seek out and enjoy at their leisure but let’s consider pacing a lot more for the definitive cuts. Especially, in a world with movies like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, where so much time goes into setting up sequels instead of serving the actual plot.
9. Story Elements that Aren’t Earned
Speaking of Batman v Superman, in a pivotal scene of that movie, a character suddenly changes his mind, one hundred eighty degrees on a dime, in a moment that is completely unearned. When you set up a motivation for an entire movie and tell us, your audience, to expect an outcome and then turn it on its head, you need to leave breadcrumbs that make the switch understandable in some way. Conversely, if you don’t want to include any foreshadowing then, at least, give us a plausible explanation and/ or discussion during the moment in question.
We’ve come to know the character you’ve created in the way you set them up. To suddenly, without warning, a clear motivation or explanation have them defy our expectations, frankly sucks. Additionally, if you suddenly force more edgy content like sex, violence or vulgarity into a movie just to shock without it serving any purpose, it is pretty obvious. All we ask is that the scenes that are featured in a film make some sort of sense within the confines of the story that the movie is trying to tell. It really doesn’t seem to be an unreasonable request.
8. Too Many Writers
In the studio system that has worked at the core of the filmmaking industry for decades, movies are seen as a business. A strange dichotomy as they are, in fact, an actual art, the ever increasing amounts of cash that are required to make the ever larger flicks have caused those in charge to comb over every detail more and more. For the most part, these days, a concept for a film is decided upon, a budget is created and then the creative people that are supposed to make it happen are hired.
A script, the building block of a movie, is put together by a writer, a position that is filled at the whims of studio heads. When the script they hand doesn’t quite fit the picture someone had in mind, another writer is brought in who reworks the script. Copy and paste again and again until the final product is akin to a Frankenstein monster. Taking a collection of scenes that served different arcs and stringing them together ensures that the final product becomes a disjointed mess. Is it any wonder that so many of the blockbusters that we’re served up have become so incredibly muddied?
7. Trailers that Tell the Entire Story
Every once in a while, we see a perfect trailer. It whets our appetite to perfection while leaving the story of the film a mystery. If you want to see a perfect example, search YouTube for the original teaser that was put for The Shining. Featuring nothing but the unforgettable scene where an elevator opens up and a river of blood flows at the camera, audiences had to be taken aback and fascinated by how the movie made the scene make sense.
Contrast that with far, far, far too many of the teasers and trailers that are put out to promote the movies of today. Featuring the key few seconds from almost every scene of a movie can make for an interesting trailer but once you actually enter the cinema you may start crying foul. We absolutely hate it when we see a comedy and every single one of the biggest laughs isn’t new to us. We absolutely hate it when we see an action movie and all of the biggest moments are familiar. In short, we absolutely hate it when we see a movie for the first time and we’ve seen a bit of everything it has to offer. Even worse, is when you walk out of a movie and begin to realize the trailer featured parts the movie lacked.
6. Lack of Female Storytellers Getting Opportunities
For the majority of Hollywood history, the people who got to decide which stories got told were men. An unsurprising but disgusting fact, since for a very long time most industries had men at their helm. Over the last few decades, as more and more women got jobs of higher stature in the industry a few female filmmakers have managed to break through at a far too slow pace. Kathryn Bigelow, the patron saint of commercially and financially prosperous female directors deserves a hell of a lot of respect but her career shouldn’t stand out so much.
Why hasn’t someone like Lexi Alexander, a director who fiercely fights for more females at the helm of major movies, gotten bigger and better opportunities for herself and her friends? Why hasn’t a female director been announced by Disney to be taking control of a Marvel movie? With the new Star Wars movies focusing heavily on female characters, it is especially strange that there hasn’t been a single woman who has been tapped to direct. We find it deeply disturbing that so few women have gotten the chance to lead sets where the biggest of films were being shot.
5. Lack of Diversity
Movies these days have a huge representation problem. Lacking female directors is a big problem but even bigger one may just be the fact that the majority of films are directed by white people and star white people in the majority of their roles. It has become such an accepted fact that movies are mostly white, that the token friend of a different ethnicity has become a widespread mocked trope.
It seems to us that the best way to solve this gigantic issue involves hiring people of diverse ethnicities in every level of the industry. Considering how it must feel to be a young Indian girl, for example, growing up in North America where there are only a handful of people who fit the same demographic as you that appear in the media you consume is disturbing. We need to live in a world where the movies we watch feature casts and crews that reflect the world we live in.
4. Too Many Sequels, Prequels, and Spin-Offs
Taking your project and connecting it to a franchise that is already beloved by millions of people is a no-brainer, in a world where film projects are seen as business ventures. The problem is, that for every Star Wars: The Force Awakens we can expect a bevy of Terminator sequels, A Good Die to Die Hard or Hangover retreads that get released. If we thought for an instant that most of the bean counters saw these movies as anything but a cash grab we may feel different, but alas this entry is all too necessary.
Slapping a title on a film may initially help its box office can also add an incredible burden to the weight it needs to carry. In order for a film that is playing on a pre-existing tale to be embraced, it needs to work, not only as a film but also in a way that pays homage and respect to the film that it gained notoriety from. Additionally, with each bad sequel, remake or prequel the level of love fans have for the franchise diminishes. There was a time, where we would look forward to a new Die Hard movie but after that last cinematic abomination, we just want them to leave it alone.
3. Too Much CGI
Computers have forever altered nearly every facet of our lives and the way films are made is far from immune. The fact that the software that makes filmmaking possible are now within the grasps of the everyday person has given some talented storytellers an opportunity they wouldn’t have had otherwise. As great as that is, we also have the computer age to blame for way too many awful effects that are a blight on the face of modern cinema.
There are a lot of scenes that were made better or even possible at all, by the always expanding repertoire of CGI but there are even more instances where CGI has been used out of laziness. If a scene can be shot naturally, in many cases it makes everything much, much better. We’re sick and tired of scenes that look like an actor standing in the middle of a cartoon world where literally everything around him looks fake. As great as the 2009 Star Trek reboot was, the scene where Kirk runs from a CGI monster was never believable for a second and served as nothing but a distraction. Who thought for a second the main character would be killed by a random CGI monster in the middle of the film and what purpose did that distraction serve?
2. Stretching Out Stories
The Deathly Hallows Part 1, and Mockingjay Part 1 are both examples of movies where a single book was drawn out into multiple movies. With each of these adaptations, one of the most common complaints was that too small of a story was spread way too thin so that the studios could make as much money as possible. Although, from a simple bookkeeping standpoint, we understand the impulse, we’re confident that over time the words part 1 on a poster will come to mean crappy quality.
The Hobbit being stretched from a single book into three movies, two of whom exceeded two hours and forty minutes in length, is the most egregious example to date. Whether you loved or hated those movies, the fact that they turned roughly 72 pages at the end of The Hobbit into a 144-minute movie, tells you everything you need to know. This needs to stop!
1. The Studio System
If there is one thing that reading this article should make clear, it is that nearly every issue that plagues modern cinema can be blamed on the studios that hold the key to the castle in their hands. During the seventies, when they seemed to be on the brink of disaster, they handed the power over to the artists and the results speak for themselves. Movies like Apocalypse Now, Raging Bull, Star Wars, and so many other classics owe their very existence to a far more hands-off approach.
The executives that seem to be the driving force behind so many of the things we see on screen today need to have their focus dramatically shifted. They should be in charge of ensuring projects are completed under a reasonable budget while cultivating any talent, no matter their genetic makeup that shows any sign of success. If a director makes a movie that costs forty million and turns a healthy profit, put them charge of a film that costs sixty million and trust them. If you worked as an executive at Pizza Hut for example before this, you have no idea what goes into making a good movie, stop trying to pretend you do.