The Components of A Movie


An Old Friend
Lets explore all the components of a modern movie. What makes up the movie that we eventually see.

-A movie should try to tell a story.
-The story cannot be too complicated or obscure
-The story doesn't need to be explained in dialog, but should be supported by it.
-It should have a beginning, a middle and an ending
It's interesting to ask the question - Is Hollywood making films too formulaic?

I read a review of Aliens versus Predator Requiem on Toms hardware guide where the reviewer criticised it for wasting time trying to get human interest characters when the reviewer really wanted to get straight to the extra terrestrials punch up.

If you look at films too critically then you do notice a trend in their storylines.

In fact, I think I remember that George Lucas was following some Japanese storytelling tradition when he penned the original Star Wars. Has anyone else heard that?

It may be that a film needs certain components to be entertaining but if it becomes too obvious then the viewing experience will be spoiled by the cliche'd feeling.

I have high hopes for Cloverfield breaking the mould. Roll on 18th Jan.
Lets explore all the components of a modern movie. What makes up the movie that we eventually see.

-A movie should try to tell a story.
-The story cannot be too complicated or obscure
-The story doesn't need to be explained in dialog, but should be supported by it.
-It should have a beginning, a middle and an ending
I've got to disagree with almost all of those points.

- A movie should tell a story, not try. To quote the Jedi Master himself, "Do or do not. There is no try!"

- A complicated or obscure story is not a negative thing. If a movie doesn't make me think about what I'm watching then it's just another 'popcorn movie' that is an entertaining way to waste some time, but that's it. That is not a bad thing nor a good thing but when I'm talking with people about genre movies what do you think will spur the most discussion, a movie like "Deep Blue Sea" or a movie like "Event Horizon" or some of Kubricks' stuff?

- No dialog... that I can agree but I personally prefer that if a movie has little, or even no dialog, that the story is then told by the actions of the characters instead of just visual props.

- A number of movies pick up the storyline mid-story and leave it up to the viewer to put the pieces together (which goes back to item #2). A lot of Japanese movies are prone to leaving the story open to let the viewer draw their own conclusions. Now that might seem to conflict with item #1 above but I'd argue that a movie like Crash told a story while not having an "ending" in the traditional sense.
{Kevin makes a mental note that he must get Multi-Quote enabled here.}

It's interesting to ask the question - Is Hollywood making films too formulaic?
I say "Yes" with no doubt. And, it seems, that when they run out of ideas to crank into their formula machine that they come up with the brilliant idea to just remake an old classic.

In fact, I think I remember that George Lucas was following some Japanese storytelling tradition when he penned the original Star Wars. Has anyone else heard that?
I don't recall seeing any quotes directly from Lucas himself about it but comparisons have been made to several of Akira Kurosawa's films, in particular The Hidden Fortress in regards to the original A New Hope (Star Wars IV).

I have high hopes for Cloverfield breaking the mould. Roll on 18th Jan.
I will watch Cloverfield, might even drag the wife to the theater to watch it. But a description of it keeps coming back to me every time I see the previews.... Godzilla + The Blair Witch Project = Cloverfield. It's as if somebody was watching some of the old Japanese monster movies one afternoon and wondered "Hey, I wonder how the typical citizen in the city is responding to this? I mean, hey... one minute they are hanging out, having a drink, not a care in the world and then BAM! Some monster is throwing buildings around. Of course in today's world they first thing they'd do is grab their cell phones & camcorders to record it all. .... Hey, I've got a great idea for a movie! :eek:"
I don't think I'd be totally put off the film due to it's hype.

They just tried to promote it in an unusual way and - let's face it - it's worked because people have all been talking about it (including us) yet they haven't spent an awful lot on promoting it.

As someone who is pushing against preconceived ideas with HUNTRESS I think that I have a certain sympathy for someone trying something different.
Different is nice, sometimes. I am reserving my views on Cloverfield until I read a couple reviews.
The only problem I have with Cloverfield is not their marketing campaign but rather how many people are proclaiming it already to be 'thee' monster movie of all time solely based upon the fact that JJ Abrams is associated with it.

Some brilliant people have made some crappy movies over the years; let a movie stand on it's own merit instead of somebody's reputation.
Is the hype part of the whole movie experience?

I remember soooo looking forward to the Tom Cruise War of the worlds version to come out purely because I'm such a fan of the story (it was listening to a recording of the Orson Welles broadcast that made me want to get into audio production in the first place).

I spent loads of time on forums, reading about what everyone thought of it (fond memories of 'The eve of the war' forum - anyone else remember that?).

Then I saw the movie.........

Whilst you obviously can't really judge a film 'til you see it, when I look back, I wouldn't of wanted to of missed the build up.
Yes, I think the build up to a movie is part of the process

If done right, it can add to the experience. But I do accept that if done wrong then it can REALLY annoy!

I don't think Cloverfield has overdone it. Not yet anyway!!!
Found an interesting article on science consulting for the movies:

symmetry magazine

Physicist Brian Cox has been watching science fiction movies since he was a small child. He always scoffed at the imprecise nature of the science in movies. But over the past year, he learned a lot about the balance between making a movie entertaining and making it scientifically correct.
Cox worked closely with Danny Boyle, director of the movie Sunshine, to ensure that the science in the movie was as respectable as possible. “I was pretty pedantic about science fiction before I worked on Sunshine,” Cox says. “I learned about the compromises that have to be made in order to make a movie an emotional journey, rather than just a documentary.”
Sunshine is set 50 years in the future. The sun is dying and is no longer providing the energy that humans need to survive. The global community pulls together to send a team of eight scientists on a mission to reignite the dying sun with a bomb the size of Manhattan. The first group of scientists sent on the mission had failed, and this second team is Earth’s only hope. On their way to the sun, the scientists find the wrecked ship from the previous mission and decide to pick up its bomb to double their chances of succeeding.
The premise of the film seems preposterous. While the sun, like other stars, will eventually burn out, scientists calculate that this will take about four to five billion years. If it did burn out, how could a bomb—even one the size of Manhattan—reignite it?
Theoretically, all this could happen, Cox says in a Q&A posted on the movie’s Web site. He helped come up with a back story, not explained in the movie, in which a hypothetical type of atomic nucleus called a Q ball hits the sun and rips its atoms apart, turning them into particles called squarks.
As for the bomb, it would use uranium to trigger dark matter, which is thought to make up a large fraction of the universe. This would create enough heat to split the Q balls apart.
This scenario assumes that a number of unverified theories are, in fact, correct, Cox says. Even if the theories were correct, Q balls might pass through the sun without stopping, or destroy it at a much slower rate than shown in the movie.
Within the movie’s science-fiction framework, the director wanted the scientists to be as authentic as possible. He contacted Cox after seeing the young Manchester University physicist on one of the BBC’s Horizon shows, and asked him to teach the actors how to act like physicists. Cox works at CERN, the European particle physics lab in Switzerland.

To meet the growing demand, Lizzie Burns co-founded Hollywood Math and Science Film Consulting in 2002. The company has worked on TV shows such as Medium and Numb3rs as well as movies such as Flatland: The Movie and Primer.
Burns says the most important thing is for a movie to be entertaining. “Our aim as science consultants is always to help produce a good and enjoyable film or television program,” she says. “But if the science is obviously wrong, it takes away from the film. Avoiding obvious mistakes is an important part of keeping the fantasy believable.”
The firm’s seven consultants review scripts and make sure plot ideas are plausible. They also flag any science mistakes and suggest ideas for story lines. “We can give advice,” Burns says, “but it’s always up to the producers to decide how much of it they incorporate into the film or program.”

More at the above link

As part of his work on Sunshine, Cox held several science mini-lectures for the actors on physics and astronomy topics, as well as a two-week “science boot camp.” He spent a lot of time in particular with actor Cillian Murphy, who played physicist Robert Capa. They spent a day together at CERN attending physics meetings and talking with physicists. “The director told Cillian to pay close attention to the way I talk and how I respond as a scientist,” Cox says. Murphy noticed that Cox uses his hands a lot when talking about science, and incorporated that into his character. Murphy also hung one of Cox’s physics papers in Capa’s quarters on the set to make the scenes there feel more real.

Cox also helped remove “scientific babble” from the script and made sure there were no obvious mistakes. Boyle made it clear from the beginning, however, that he was not making a $50 million documentary, and that some things in the movie would not be scientifically correct. Some imprecision and compromises are necessary for the drama in movies, and people need to look past the small science inaccuracies to see the broader message, Cox says. “Sunshine isn’t really a film about science,” he explains. “It’s about scientists and the way they look at the world. That’s what the director really wanted to get right.”

Cherished misconceptions
Films have been plagued with bad science from the start. The first science fiction film ever made, A Trip to the Moon, which came out in 1902, featured astronomers who fly into space in a capsule shot out of a cannon, hit the man in the moon in the eye, and are chased by moon creatures, escaping by pushing the capsule off the moon’s flat edge.

Viewers accept and even expect some science inaccuracies. For example, audiences tend to be disappointed when explosions in space don’t make noise, so producers usually leave the noise in, even though sound cannot travel through the vacuum of space. In most movies and television shows, people in spacecraft are not weightless. There are two main reasons for this, according to Cox. First, reproducing weightlessness is very expensive; second, it distracts from the plot. “In a drama, viewers should be watching the actors’ performances and listening to their dialogue,” Cox says. “But when things are upside down or floating around, it’s harder to pay attention to the plot.”

Some movies are so inaccurate, however, that they seem to create their own laws of physics.
I think you've got to cut Science Fiction some slack - If I'd listened to the websites that criticised the movie 'The Core' for its scientific innacuracies I would never have seen the film. But when I watched it with my family we all enjoyed it.

I think the story in 'Sunshine' has some similar themes and I can't wait to catch it on DVD.
I liked Sunshine. I thought it qwenched a fix for scifi I needed at the time.

I don't critisize many films for science inaccurracies. Its supposed to be a suspension of disbelief anyways. Obvious mistakes are sometimes irritating tho, especially when it causes my immersion to stumble.
Nah, I'd say the hype comes from the advertising department, and they almost never consult with the creators, though there are exceptions, like Cloverfield and Blair Witch. Of course the flip side to that is those movies didn't live up to the hyp they intentially generated. (IMHO.)

Hollywood had been almost all formula since the days that the old studios sold put the big corporations. They're in it for the green, not the art. Pity that. (Once again imho.) There are exceptions of course. [Black Mathias' First Rule: There is an exception to every rule.]

One thing that seems to be dominant in most of the major blockbusters is massive special effects, while minimizing story and plot. One could argue that this has been around since the early days (The 10 Commandments, anyone?), but I'm speaking more in the way of Independence Day and it's ilk.

On the other hand, if I'm going to see AvP, I'm there to see Predators and Aliens going at it.

I think I'll pass on making any comments on Lucas, 'cause I think ya'll all know my opinion on that one.
I suppose it's because making a movie in Hollywood is so expensive then the studios are less willing to take a gamble on something that doesn't fit the formula.

That's a shame because it reduces the variety of stories we can see.

Also, taking a chance works sometimes. Someone gambled on 'the sixth sense' and that turned out OK.