These days, big-budget action movies are some of the most popular, but you're bound to see plenty of tropes and tired techniques.
"Who cares! I love the sequels, CGI, and evil villains!" Well, this wouldn't be a big deal if it didn't affect the quality of the storytelling. Screen Rant lists 10 of the most common problems found in Hollywood's biggest tentpole franchises, like Transformers, The Avengers, and The Hunger Games, and explains how each of them fails to romance audiences.
Video is no longer available: www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0-SLs4j3OY
Here are the 10 issues listed in the video:
- Fake-out deaths
- Trailers spoiling movies
- Final installments broken up
- Money-grabbing sequels
- Over-reliance on CGI
- Generic villains
- Lack of diversity
- Women as eye candy
- Dark, realistic blockbusters
- Subplots that set up sequels
I admit it—I'm not a fan of these tentpole action flicks (I haven't seen a superhero movie in a theater since Man of Steel), and the reason is because good storytelling is so hard to come by within this subgenre. It's not a secret that these franchises are basically designed to be money machines.
Audiences don't get the opportunity to empathize with certain characters or become interested in an original plot. They don't get to be genuinely surprised when so-and-so rises from the ashes after being presumed dead of a laser beam through the heart. This means audiences tend to either lose interest completely or require non-stop explosions, city decimation, and Megan Fox mounting a motorcycle in "ass shorts" in order to stay invested throughout the entire 90 minutes.
But recently, we seem to have wizened up. Everyone wants a story they can really engage in, characters they can root for—to walk out of a theater feeling like they experienced a movie rather than just paid for one. Go into the Story's Scott Myers put it perfectly:
As far as I’m concerned, here is the biggest issue confronting these movies: Stakes. How many times can the earth’s fate be at stake? After seeing so many movies where this is what lies at the heart of the plot, aren’t the studios risking audiences eventually giving a collective shrug?
Big blockbusters like The Dark Knight, Lord of the Rings, and Mad Max: Fury Road have shown us that it can be done: you can make a big-budget tentpole that has a great story, but, as a screenwriter, you have to focus more on the internal conflict rather than the external one. In other words, the battle the protagonist is waging against his or herself is more important than the one they're waging against the antagonist. No amount of highly choreographed action, car chases, or brilliant CGI is going to save a boring story.
What are some blockbuster clichés you dislike? Share your thoughts in the comments.