Tag Archives: Transformers

Battleship- A lesson in poor storytelling and great story telling at the same time

Hubbs just came home with “Battleship”. Yeah, he’s always good at picking out a nice romantic move for me. Bring on the explosions! Oh Yeah!

Anyway… I did not have high hopes for this movie because it was not in the theaters long… so let’s dissect why.

This movie is about aliens coming down to Earth and trying to blow everything up. For that part … well done. Excellent special effects and awesome aliens and ship designs.

But a story needs more than that, right? Characters and plot and people to root for.

Well, this movie had all that, so I was wondering half way through why I wasn’t enjoying it. Then Hubbs said, “I’m not really worried about any of these characters. I just don’t care.”

You know what? He was right.

However, at the end of the movie, a bunch of characters came in that were beautifully introduced at the very beginning of the movie, and all of the sudden you had someone to root for.

This is a horrible movie, with a great ending.

So what’d they do wrong? Let’s discuss.

Main character: We didn’t like him. Not in any shape or form. They tried to give him a “nice side” by having him break the law to get a girl a burrito so she will talk to him (don’t ask) but it just didn’t work.

The next problem is: right after this happens, the story swishes ahead years later, and he and that girl are going to get married. Huh? How’d that happen? We missed out on all that part of the story, so we were never engaged in their relationship. We didn’t feel any emotion or worry about either of them when they were in trouble because we never felt emotion between them. Make sense?

Next problem: I have no problem with a tramp troupe beautiful woman when it works. Transformers, for instance. (The first one… I try to forget the others were ever made) The troupe pretty girl worked there. In Battleship, they force-fed the beautiful girl in there that just didn’t need to be there for the story…and then they out of the blue made her a psychiatrist or something so she could be one of the secondary hero’s doctors to give her a place in the story, where the secondary hero could have done it himself. Sorry, didn’t work for me.

Poor choice of main character.

You will understand this if you’ve seen the end. The guys at the end would have been much better main characters. The end was awesome. What a testimony to retired armed forces, and good old fashioned building materials. Right?

We were on our feet, we were cheering. Oh wait, sit down, cutting back to the dumb bimbo again. Okay, back up on our feet! We’re back with the other guys!

The people at the end, to me, were the heroes… Good old fashioned heroes. These were the guys I wanted to see.

Get rid of the troupe hunky main character – especially one as unlikable as him

Get rid of the senseless bimbo factor, unless she really has a role other than driving a car and running in a poorly fit bra.

Keep the secondary hero that has a REASON for having a bad attitude. Yeah, I like the soldier without any legs. I understood why he was a jerk in the beginning. I wanted him to win. I was rooting for him.

Keep the guys at the end. (I can’t tell you who or it will be a spoiler)

Yeah, the movie would have been shorter if they’d done this, but the first half before the aliens got there was boring and pointless anyway.

I want to see a movie with the unexpected heroes at the end. People up against incredible odds, that you really and truly WANT to root for. They totally rocked!

Would I recommend this movie? Yes, totally. Awesome action… but with the exception of the end (which was great)… look at it as a learning experience about how to NOT write a story.

And yes… I’m going back to take a quick peek at a character that my betas have been saying is a little unlikable. I understand what they mean, now.

Oh!–Don’t forget that J Taylor Publishing is giving away five copies of the Make Believe anthology. Hop on over if you’d like a chance at a copy! http://www.jtaylorpublishing.com/blog/?p=1125

Brilliance in Storytelling – A writer’s Review of “Super 8”

I mentioned before that I watch movies very differently now.  If I realize half way through that I am really enjoying it (or not enjoying it), I start to analyze why and I try to wiggle the plot into “rules” of storytelling.  Wow, did Super 8 hit the mark!

Now, mild disclaimer… I am easily entertained.  I love explosions and chase scenes.  Put them in your movie and it’s pretty hard to put me off.  I’ll even ignore bad acting.  But recently I HAVE BEEN bored while watching big blockbuster movies.

Let’s talk for just a minute about the second and third Transformers movies, just to make my point.  Giant battling robots… what’s not fun about that?  Well, what was “not fun” was the poor storytelling, poor characterization, and really poor attention to plot.  These movies were about the explosions.  Period.  I really didn’t care if any of the characters got killed, because I was not emotionally engaged with them.  Also, the plots were not solid and easy to follow.  There was no “meat” behind them to back up the explosions and action.  Even with everything that was going on, I was bored and watching the clock… hoping it would be over soon.

Now, are there explosions and chase scenes in Super 8?  Yes of course, and the special effects are great… but it was more than that.

The writers sat down and thought this movie over.  They followed all the rules.  Sometimes maybe unbelievably so, but for some reason it still worked for me.

General Plot:  (No spoilers)  This kid (not the MC) really wants to make a movie to enter a contest.  He gets his friends to help him.  While they are filming the movie, a train de-rails right in front of them.   Something HUGE breaks out of one of the de-railed cars.  The army comes and takes over their town while they try to clean up.  Something nasty starts attacking people.  The original kid pulls everyone together, and uses the chaos happening around as a backdrop to his film.

Okay, I can’t tell you much more without spoiling it.

(Forgive me, I’m not good with names)

MC lost his mother recently.  His father, the deputy, is not really coping well with being a single father

MC meets a girl while making the movie. They like each other.

The girl’s father (a drunk) and the boy’s father (deputy) don’t like each other

The girl and her father don’t get along at all.

Secondary Characters:

One of the friends likes to blow up things

One throws up a lot

One is a wimp and always gives in

The kid making the movie never gives up

The teacher who causes the train accident (the mentor, who inadvertently lets us all know what is really going on)

The General (might have title wrong) who is heading the crash investigation (bad guy)

The “Big Nasty” Attacking people

Now this is what I was mulling over after this movie…  EVERYTHING gets tied up.  Again, some I might not completely believe as a long-reaching emotional fix…  But for the sake of this story, it worked… and I was left thinking “Wow”.

Also, almost every character has a concrete reason for being there, and being “the way they are”.  The only thing that was unnecessary was the kid throwing up all the time.  That served no purpose and could have been removed… but the others all dragged the story forward.

There were separate “real life” plots going on while this big event was ripping up their tiny little town.  Every “Real Life” plot was sewn up, as well as the main “creature” plot.  (Even the kid making the movie gets sewn up, if you stay for the closing credits)

Most of the main characters experience that “change” that is necessary in storytelling.  This is one thing that struck me very hard.

The MC’s Father has a change (two, actually)

The Girl’s father has a change

The Girl has a change

The MC has a change

Someone else on the list has a change because of MC intervention.  (Don’t want to give a spoiler)

Every stinking thing that was presented was resolved, and in a very satisfactory way.  Everything that happens (except for the puking) has a reason for happening.  Even the wimpy kid that “gives in” had a role in getting one of the main characters to where he needed to go… just by being how he is.

From a writer’s perspective, this movie is brilliant.  Even if there were not any explosions or chase scenes, I think I would feel the same way.  For the first time in a long time, I was left thinking, “Wow, I wish I wrote that.”

Now, to give it one negative, if the kids were not cursing all the time this would have been a great movie for my kids… great action, and a theme of overcoming your fear to do the right thing. (Among a family friendly theme that would be a spoiler if I told you)    Unfortunately, my kids will have to wait until they are teenagers because of these kids’ mouths (Except for the MC, who didn’t curse at all.  Kudos.)

If you’ve seen this movie, think it over.  Every little thing was well planned.  Everything used, everything sewn up.

If you have not seen this movie, jump up and rent it.  It is not “all action” and it is not “really scary” and there is no gore.  I think it is enjoyable across genres, because this is really NOT A MONSTER MOVIE.  It is about interpersonal dynamics in a time of intense struggle.

I think everyone should give this one a watch, and pay very close attention to the storytelling.  Personally, I was floored.

Jennifer Eaton