Better Than They Needed To Be

4 May

I’ve recently come across a new category of films. These are films that turn out to be great–deep and moving and philosophical–but are at their core, simply a cheap franchise. Why are they better than they need to be?

So me and my son watched the first two Hunger Games films together, after my friend introduced me to them in Tucson. At their face value, the story is rather simple. Teenage girl, dealing with teenage problems, now has to balance her love triangle in a deadly situation. Okay–since your audience is teenagers, you have to keep the rating down to PG-13, otherwise, they can’t get in the movie theatre.

You’re asking the director to make a film about a battle to the death… without showing blood. This sounds like a box office nightmare.

And yet… you watch it and… it’s unbelievably brilliant! It compares economic disparity, elaborates on the falsehood of television, deals with PTSD… all of this through something that was supposed to be a throw-away blockbuster. The story writing is amazing, there are NO bad roles or bad actors in this film, and the costume and makeup are insanely good.

Then how did they get around showing a blood bath without blood? Simple camera tricks; in the first film, they had shaky cam work. The second one was even more clever–having the camera leave the focus for a second or have something else move in front of it. Better yet, do it off screen! The scariest part of the second film had no blood in all, just the screams of the people of they loved… (shiver)

Similar thought about the Lego Movie. Lego had been making movies for years–usually 5 minute clips with no sound showing off how their playsets could be used. So they knew it could be done well. However, no one was expecting anything hilarious and brilliant. The writers realized that, “Gee, no one’s expecting to take this seriously, so why not just go all out with it!” And they did.

Once they had a great script, they could bring in a serious amount of voice talent with known names to do the roles. (Of course, you could say the same about the Emoji Movie.) However, they had access to all the franchises that Lego has ever done (DC Comics, Lord of the Rings, NBA All-Stars), which helped up the ridiculous factor. What came out was an amazing film that has great quotes, great earworm music, and a plot that made you laugh and cry with these animated characters.

In the end, way better than they needed to be. Is there another example that fits this category? Should it be it’s own subgenre? Let me know in the comments below! Speaking of better than they ought to be, check out one of my books. 🙂 However, if you’re not convinced that $1.99 is worth losing to chance, go ahead and download one of my stories for free! Then I’ll see you at the movies.

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