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(io9)   This fascinating infographic will help you pinpoint the exact point at which a movie goes off the rails   (io9.com) divider line 71
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8605 clicks; posted to Entertainment » on 03 Feb 2014 at 1:04 AM (24 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-02-02 06:39:36 PM
The story begins too late in the script

This isn't always a bad thing. The story in "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" doesn't really start until almost an hour into the film. I agree with all the other points, though.

I was thinking more like anything written by M Night Shyamalan. "The Last Airbender" hits 15 of those 20 points in a single movie.
 
2014-02-02 06:41:59 PM
There is this other farker who always comes to my house to watch movies with me and he ALWAYS knows what's going to happen. I know it's a great movie if he doesn't know how it will end. This chart will be very useful.
 
ZAZ [TotalFark]
2014-02-02 07:51:49 PM
As I read the list I tried to apply it to 2001, and decided it was not necessary to take io9 seriously.
 
2014-02-02 07:53:22 PM
fascinating
graph


Pick one.
 
2014-02-03 12:01:55 AM
When I think of a movie going off the rails I always think of this:

www.freecodesource.com

Actually that movie pretty much goes off the rails about halfway through. Then at the end the train gets up, has a cigarette and explodes in an orgy of insanity.
 
2014-02-03 12:04:11 AM
Homer knew to start a story off in media res.
 
2014-02-03 12:30:08 AM

fusillade762: When I think of a movie going off the rails I always think of this:

[www.freecodesource.com image 354x500]

Actually that movie pretty much goes off the rails about halfway through. Then at the end the train gets up, has a cigarette and explodes in an orgy of insanity.




I disagree, I loved that film- it was a crazy film that sort of shed light on Japan's love/hate relationship with its nerd culture.
 
2014-02-03 01:17:42 AM

fusillade762: When I think of a movie going off the rails I always think of this:

[www.freecodesource.com image 354x500]

Actually that movie pretty much goes off the rails about halfway through. Then at the end the train gets up, has a cigarette and explodes in an orgy of insanity.


You mean that in a good way, I hope - because, holy crap...that ending.

Also, RE: the infographic, I wish I could read it, but someone chose the most eyestraining colour combination that the could.
 
2014-02-03 01:23:31 AM
That fascinating infographic let me understand that zooming into its tiny image meant making a comment on its tiny image, which is a load of horse shiat.
 
2014-02-03 01:31:39 AM

Barry Lyndon's Annuity Cheque: That fascinating infographic let me understand that zooming into its tiny image meant making a comment on its tiny image, which is a load of horse shiat.


There is an expand button on the top left, i missed it too and just clicked on the thing to embiggen it.

/its a perfectly cromulent word
 
2014-02-03 01:32:41 AM
So, Phantom Menace defined?

Or just misunderstood?
 
2014-02-03 01:37:20 AM
So, was the story problem in Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark intentional? Or does a script with that problem so rarely get to a point where you might ask if there is a story problem like that. It seems like it would be next to impossible to actually write a reversible script like that.

The "recurring problem" list is great, and can be applied to most fiction writing. I read Infinite Jest in December and it raised most of these issues, complete with too much complexity while being, muddy character logic (although I think that was a point being made), a supernatural element that almost wasn't there, plenty of off narrative conflict and drama. But the thing that pissed me off what that it didn't really end, it just stopped.

Oh, and the disruptive lulls, I find myself watching movies at double speed with the subtitles sometimes. Like "The Day After Tomorrow" all that expensive CGI snow scape got the FFW.
 
2014-02-03 01:44:42 AM

galactus5000: fusillade762: When I think of a movie going off the rails I always think of this:

[www.freecodesource.com image 354x500]

Actually that movie pretty much goes off the rails about halfway through. Then at the end the train gets up, has a cigarette and explodes in an orgy of insanity.

You mean that in a good way, I hope - because, holy crap...that ending.


Yes. Kinda. All I know is that by the time the credits started rolling my mind was full to the brim with f*ck.
 
2014-02-03 01:56:38 AM

ZAZ: As I read the list I tried to apply it to 2001, and decided it was not necessary to take io9 seriously.


Well, there are always exceptions to the rule. 2001 wasn't a very good movie, though, so I'm not sure that list doesn't apply to it as well.
 
2014-02-03 02:00:54 AM

Barry Lyndon's Annuity Cheque: That fascinating infographic let me understand that zooming into its tiny image meant making a comment on its tiny image, which is a load of horse shiat.


Good good! Embare the hatered, reject the corporate servitude!  Install adblock and noscript and learn what the internet is like with (almost) no ads.... the dark side is not easier... it's just quicker!
 
2014-02-03 02:08:21 AM
It doesn't start off with "Directed by Michael Bay/Uwe Boll"? The hell...?
 
2014-02-03 02:09:10 AM

Strongbeerrules: So, Phantom Menace defined?

Or just misunderstood?


Wait a few years and you'll start seeing blogs from adults about how TPM was misunderstood and underrated because it was awesome when they were kids.
 
2014-02-03 02:32:17 AM

Strongbeerrules: So, Phantom Menace defined?

Or just misunderstood?


I was going to go with The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug for a recent one.

What a high budget stinker of a movie...
 
2014-02-03 02:32:34 AM
There are many exceptions to all of those rules. Sometimes something that's terrible on paper can be great in execution. My go-to example: "The Transporter."

The script has a by-the-numbers execution
The story is too thin
The villains are cartoonish, evil-for-the-sake-of-evil
The character logic is muddy
The female part is underwritten
The narrative falls into a repetitive pattern
The protagonist is a standard issue hero
The script favors style over substance
The characters are all stereotypes
The plot unravels through has a lot of convenience/contrivance

Now, if you're looking for an example of a movie that has almost every one of those problems and it does ruin the movie, look no further than "The Transporter 2," which is ruined by this one:

The script suffers from arbitrary complexity

(Ditto "Desperado" vs. "Once Upon a Time in Mexico")
 
2014-02-03 02:35:54 AM

Weatherkiss: Wait a few years and you'll start seeing blogs from adults about how TPM was misunderstood and underrated because it was awesome when they were kids.


Kids who saw it when they were ten are twenty five now. I don't see many twenty five year olds arguing that it was misunderstood and underrated.

NutWrench: The story begins too late in the script


This is a really hard thing to get over when writing a story. Starting it In Media Res almost always makes for a better plot but it's torture for the writer, who wants to set the scene and establish characters first. I seem to remember hearing a writer (possibly Mary Robinette Kowal?) say she would write the story then cut the first chapter and it'd almost always make it better.
 
2014-02-03 02:37:34 AM
People should spend less time over analyzing movies and just enjoy them as the 90 minute escape from reality they're meant to be. If nothing else, you'll start enjoying them more.
 
2014-02-03 02:42:11 AM
What I find incredible is that there are so many writers setting their stories in "New York City", like it's a real place.

Trust me... I've been there.
 
2014-02-03 02:44:34 AM

ReapTheChaos: People should spend less time over analyzing movies and just enjoy them as the 90 minute escape from reality they're meant to be. If nothing else, you'll start enjoying them more.


So what movies have you seen in the last year or two that you specifically remember not liking?

Now that those movies are in your head, justify your reasons without running afoul of your own statement.
 
2014-02-03 02:46:51 AM

ReapTheChaos: People should spend less time over analyzing movies and just enjoy them as the 90 minute escape from reality they're meant to be. If nothing else, you'll start enjoying them more.


People should stop having no standards, and start demanding better stories and movies.
 
2014-02-03 02:57:01 AM

galactus5000: Also, RE: the infographic, I wish I could read it, but someone chose the most eyestraining colour combination that the could.


This. My eyes hurt now.

Also, the infographic didn't have a point.  Was that supposed to be ironic?
 
2014-02-03 03:02:25 AM

Iczer: It doesn't start off with "Directed by Michael Bay/Uwe Boll"? The hell...?


"Nicholas Cage cast" also mysteriously absent
 
2014-02-03 03:06:58 AM
The plot is dragged down by disruptive lulls

I saw Malick's The Tree of Life a few months ago and it's the perfect recent movie to illustrate the point. The family bits with Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain and the three kids were interesting, well made and had something to say. The 6th grade level science lesson parts stuck in between the family bits? FF button time.

The female part is underwritten

AKA "Oh shiat, people will think the two male leads are gay lovers because they only care about each other, better write in some girlfriends!!!".

The plot unravels through convenience/contrivance

I watch a lot of movies from the 30's > 50's (thank you TCM) and due to the Hayes Code, you see this all the time. Crime never pays, woman are not allowed to have pre-marital sex without being punished in some way, anything other than heterosexuality is treated either as a mental defect or a source of pure evil etc. So you get situations where the movie has had a certain tone for 90 minutes and then in the last five minutes it completely contradicts itself to satisfy the moral arbiters who oversaw movies back then.
 
2014-02-03 03:44:38 AM
The scriptreader listed 37 frequently occurring problems, here are the top 20:

The article doesn't mention it, but #26 was "the script is just the first hour of someone else's movie, because if the writers copied more than that without paying for it they'd probably get sued."
 
2014-02-03 03:47:51 AM
It's 2014.  Everything has been done before.  All you can do is do something someone's done before, but do it better, or differently.
 
2014-02-03 03:49:24 AM

ReapTheChaos: People should spend less time over analyzing movies and just enjoy them as the 90 minute escape from reality they're meant to be. If nothing else, you'll start enjoying them more.


If all you're looking to do is "escape from reality" for 90 minutes, why not just go hit yourself on the head with a brick?

Personally, I like to be entertained by a compelling narrative involving engaging characters, in interesting settings.
 
2014-02-03 04:03:26 AM

Henry Holland: I watch a lot of movies from the 30's > 50's (thank you TCM) and due to the Hayes Code, you see this all the time. Crime never pays, woman are not allowed to have pre-marital sex without being punished in some way, anything other than heterosexuality is treated either as a mental defect or a source of pure evil etc. So you get situations where the movie has had a certain tone for 90 minutes and then in the last five minutes it completely contradicts itself to satisfy the moral arbiters who oversaw movies back then.


That's awesome! Hollywood history is really interesting when you see movies through the lens of what was acceptable/censored at the time.

http://www.thestar.com/entertainment/movies/2009/12/04/how_hitchcock s_ psycho_changed_everything.html
"Hitchcock's Psycho" pushed past the Code's rules for the depiction of sex - the film opens with a post-coital scene - and even had the dubious distinction of being the first film to show a flushing toilet, another Code no-no.

"Psycho just seems to say `f--k you' to the Code," Thomson said. "I think all over the world there was a feeling that, `My God, it breaks down as easily as that.' And when censorship broke in the movies, it broke down rather quickly. You can trace it throughout the '60s. Psycho was a key step."
 
2014-02-03 04:18:04 AM
The average script is 107 pages?!  Single sided, double spacing and breaks between actors groups of lines, that's a really small amount of words.
 
2014-02-03 04:40:15 AM

deffuse: The average script is 107 pages?!  Single sided, double spacing and breaks between actors groups of lines, that's a really small amount of words.


Correctly formatted one page equals one minute of screen time. So 107 pages means a one hour forty seven minute movie, plus credits.
 
2014-02-03 04:42:29 AM

Flint Ironstag: deffuse: The average script is 107 pages?!  Single sided, double spacing and breaks between actors groups of lines, that's a really small amount of words.

Correctly formatted one page equals one minute of screen time. So 107 pages means a one hour forty seven minute movie, plus credits.


Well colour me chartreuse with surprise... really?  How very interesting.
 
2014-02-03 04:51:22 AM
I'm just going to leave this here:  http://www.fatefulfindings.biz/trailer.html
 
2014-02-03 05:03:35 AM
I get annoyed by antagonists who are impossibly well planned, and the protagonist must respond by doing something even more unbelievable to win.

It usually happens near the climax, and it cheapens so many films, some of which have good believable tension up to that point. It kills suspension of disbelief right at the crescendo of the film.
 
2014-02-03 05:13:29 AM

stiletto2: I'm just going to leave this here:  http://www.fatefulfindings.biz/trailer.html


...why do you hate us?
 
2014-02-03 06:49:57 AM

StopLurkListen: Henry Holland: I watch a lot of movies from the 30's > 50's (thank you TCM) and due to the Hayes Code, you see this all the time. Crime never pays, woman are not allowed to have pre-marital sex without being punished in some way, anything other than heterosexuality is treated either as a mental defect or a source of pure evil etc. So you get situations where the movie has had a certain tone for 90 minutes and then in the last five minutes it completely contradicts itself to satisfy the moral arbiters who oversaw movies back then.

That's awesome! Hollywood history is really interesting when you see movies through the lens of what was acceptable/censored at the time.

http://www.thestar.com/entertainment/movies/2009/12/04/how_hitchcock s_ psycho_changed_everything.html
"Hitchcock's Psycho" pushed past the Code's rules for the depiction of sex - the film opens with a post-coital scene - and even had the dubious distinction of being the first film to show a flushing toilet, another Code no-no.

"Psycho just seems to say `f--k you' to the Code," Thomson said. "I think all over the world there was a feeling that, `My God, it breaks down as easily as that.' And when censorship broke in the movies, it broke down rather quickly. You can trace it throughout the '60s. Psycho was a key step."


I think things were relaxing even before Psycho. Anatomy of a Murder in 1959 was quite explicit - not only discussing sex and rape, but it also portrays an army lieutenant in a less than flattering light. And this was at the height of the Cold War, when servicemen were generally portrayed as big damn heroes.
 
2014-02-03 07:09:53 AM
So people with no writing skills write bad movies.
Okay, got it.  Thanks for pointing that out.
 
2014-02-03 07:22:49 AM
FTFA; The script favours style over substance.

This isn't always a problem, I find. Just to take "The Fifth Element" as an example, that film was mostly just style, but I'd still watch it right now because it looks so damn good.
Usually it's a bad thing, but if it's done right the result can be just as good as Clerks*, for different reasons.

*Or whatever your thinky movie of choice is.
 
2014-02-03 08:26:13 AM
15. The script goes off the rails in the third act

THIS is about the biggest sinner of all. Thing is, anyone can come up with the idea for a story. Anyone can create a setting, characters, and a problem for those characters to be up against. It's the endings that wreck stories. And there's so many films that don't do a good ending or 3rd act. They collapse into a festival of action or some deus ex machina rather than having an ending that fits what has happened before.

One film critic reckoned it was about how movies are constructed as a project - to get funding, you need the stuff for a trailer and a big name cast, when movies should start with a good script.
 
2014-02-03 08:35:36 AM

farkeruk: THIS is about the biggest sinner of all. Thing is, anyone can come up with the idea for a story. Anyone can create a setting, characters, and a problem for those characters to be up against. It's the endings that wreck stories. And there's so many films that don't do a good ending or 3rd act. They collapse into a festival of action or some deus ex machina rather than having an ending that fits what has happened before.


Pixar's rules of storytelling puts it as "Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front. "
 
2014-02-03 08:52:31 AM

God Is My Co-Pirate: Homer knew to start a story off in media res.


:Lucas did too, once upon a time.

Also, 18: Man, I bet this writer hates Charles Dickens, literary king of coincidences/contrivances.
 
2014-02-03 08:55:02 AM

Ostman: FTFA; The script favours style over substance.

This isn't always a problem, I find. Just to take "The Fifth Element" as an example, that film was mostly just style, but I'd still watch it right now because it looks so damn good.
Usually it's a bad thing, but if it's done right the result can be just as good as Clerks*, for different reasons.

*Or whatever your thinky movie of choice is.


"Style over substance" is the kind of crap somebody that professes to love small breasts to large ones- it's easy to say about something you don't like. Mostly when you are watching stylized crap. But if I spent the rest of the day I could come up with dozens of movies that are mostly style, but tell it in a stylish way that you enjoy.

Wait a second, the box office has spoken: AVATAR.
 
2014-02-03 08:59:54 AM

Weatherkiss: Strongbeerrules: So, Phantom Menace defined?

Or just misunderstood?

Wait a few years and you'll start seeing blogs from adults about how TPM was misunderstood and underrated because it was awesome when they were kids.


The tide started to shift a year or two ago when dolts started to claim that the prequel trilogy was no less dumb than the original trilogy. That's right, they had to tear down the good ones in order to make the bad ones seem not so bad.

Best is when they say they were crap that you only remember being good because you were 8. That's neat, because ADULTS of the time thought they were great.
 
2014-02-03 09:01:42 AM

MayoSlather: I get annoyed by antagonists who are impossibly well planned, and the protagonist must respond by doing something even more unbelievable to win.

It usually happens near the climax, and it cheapens so many films, some of which have good believable tension up to that point. It kills suspension of disbelief right at the crescendo of the film.


So...Law Abiding Citizen, then?

/liked that movie
 
2014-02-03 09:15:06 AM

Gunther: Pixar's rules of storytelling puts it as "Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front. "


Exactly - there's a company I would single out for making the endings right.
 
2014-02-03 10:04:50 AM
that infograph just seems to be a collection of somewhat vague  complaints. I would even go so far as to say that some movies could tick off at least a half dozen boxes before they're really in "bad movie" territory.
 
2014-02-03 10:36:30 AM

FeedTheCollapse: that infograph just seems to be a collection of somewhat vague  complaints. I would even go so far as to say that some movies could tick off at least a half dozen boxes before they're really in "bad movie" territory.


That's because it's what it was intended to be. The headline is totally misleading. It's not a list of things that tell you a movie is bad, it's a list of things that people who have to read a lot of (bad) movie scripts complain about most often.
 
2014-02-03 11:10:14 AM
You're an asshole, namatad.
 
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