Thursday, July 8, 2010

This Post is so Cliché


I'll admit, most of the time I'm willing to buy into the many clichés Hollywood enjoys falling back on. In fact, I'd go as far as saying I enjoy the odd cliché. A bit of nod to the history of cinema, while at the same time constantly looking forward towards new horizons. Still, no matter what there's some that no matter how many times I see it, always bother me.

5. You Cracked My Firewall? Perhaps it's because I majored in Computer Science, but let me say this to Hollywood writers: STOP IT ALREADY! I get you need a go to word to make your tech guy seem really, in the know, but would a quick wikipedia search be too much to ask for? Let me break it down for you: Firewall prevents unauthorized remote access. Keyword: remote. If I'm on your computer I'm hacking into your security/password, not getting past your Firewall. What's worse is that writers will throw out the most random words just to make it seem techish (the movie Firewall is the worst example of this - 50% of the tech talk made 0 sense). Trust me computer people would love to correct you, hit up a forum, they'll tell you how to say what you really mean. Oh, and just for the record, can you crack tech wizard at least be 18? The whole wonder geek kid, really isn't as funny as you expect it to be.

4. Doctor, It's All Our Fault! I get there's a solid narrative to be had from the classic scientists going to far angle, but to be honest I no longer care. The angle's become so played out, so dragged on, so analyzed it's become a playground for anti-science rambling. Filled with character analysis in which all scientists are wackos, or soon will be, and it's up to those who reject science to fight back (or in most cases escape from whatever creature they've created). Sure, there's an argument to be made for science to be kept in check, but where's the argument for writer's to be kept in check? How many times can you tell the same story, even with the minor demented twists thrown in, before people start to ignore the message?

3. Wait Just One Moment, I Wrote Down My Speech Somewhere! Sure, villain monologues have given us some of the most memorable scenes in history. But there's no quicker way to get my eyes rolling, and interest flailing than having our villain take a 5 minute detour just to ramble on about their cause, or lack there of. I get it, he's the villain. You've sold me on this for 2+ hours, I don't need a dragged out scene to bring it all together. What's worse is when they suddenly, after such a long time, try to throw a moral spin on the villain. Give him a subtle, hey, maybe there's more too him than meets the eye. No thanks, he killed a group of people, he's just a bad guy. Not secretly a protector of the social cause, or deep psychotherapist out to prove a point. I don't buy it.

2. I Killed You Once, Twice, Three Times Cause You're a Bad Guy! Ok Horror fans I'm sorry but these final two are for you. First off, what's with this love for having the main slasher be killed at the end, but not really killed. Killed as in, maybe dead, but could be brought back for another film if need be. At some point the slasher is simply going to run out of body parts. And the twists sometimes used to bring it all together for the next film... worse than need be described. Sometimes a villain that is destroyable is a good thing. Adds a sense of emotional connection to our prey, if you will. Especially when all this leads to is the same film over and over again (let's be honest most of us could predict each Friday the 13th movie by heart).

1. Wow, My Reflection in this Mirror Sucks! If I had to pick one thing movies do more often that consistently hits my annoyance button, it's the mirror sight gag. You know how it goes. Main character looks at mirror, all fine. Look away, camera follows. Come back to mirror, OMG something's behind the character! Perhaps what annoys me most about this is so few films use it to their advantage. Almost as if there's an unspoken obligation to use the cliché once a mirror is introduced, and that any effort to play off audience's expectations of it is somehow a grave cinematic sin. Play off it! Have, *gasp*, nothing be there! Dun Dun Dunnnnnnn. Sure, you may not gain as much scare, but it sets up the scene for later. If you do it everytime, especially multiple times in the same film, there's no impact. It's not scary, and you've failed your own mission.

Now, are all of these really that bad? No, probably not. But they're the ones that most often get under my skin. Not so much for their incredible overuse, but for the fact that everytime they're used they offer less and less. Where now most of these are at the point that unless it's your first time dealing with it, you gain nothing out of it. There's other clichés prime for the picking that do exactly what you want, so why not try them? Trust me, we'll all be better off for it!

12 better thoughts:

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

Oh my GOD! #3 just annoys me. "Oh, I'm the bad guy but I MUST reveal my plan to the hero because there's no way he shall escape and he must not die before I reveal how I stole the chip from his bedroom cabinet and went to Cuba and got a face transplant...."

and on and on and on

The Mad Hatter said...

The one that's always got me is when one character has another character trapped. They go to make their kill move but delay just long enough for someone to come in and save the day...either by monologuing, holding that 'You're screwed' look just a little too long, or plain out taking too long to pull the trigger.

Never fails...they'll have the sword raised, or the gun cocked and right when we expect the killing blow...BAM!...tables are turned and the killer becomes the killed.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You could've selected a dozen cliches from horror films alone. The "Let's split up - we'll die faster that way" one drives me nuts.

And I believe if the villian's speech was in a book, it would be called the backstory dump.

SugaryCynic said...

I love Hollywood's total misunderstanding of how computers work. "He's hacked the car!!!"

Mike Lippert said...

Love number three. Makes me think of that famous line for The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: When you have to shoot, shoot, don't talk."

Univarn said...

@Andrew But without that bit of information how else are we to know all the things they've forgotten to explain up until now! It's not like they can stop shooting guns for a minute or two and explain it all.

@Mad On a quasi-related topic, I've noticed that the 3rd character is often a character up until then generally unassociated with violence and shooting. Yet 90% of the time they nail the between the eyes head shot.

@Alex Or the ever popular "hello, is anyone there?" into the dark room knowing full well a mass murderer is on the loose.

@Sugary It's even better when they can do it in a matter of seconds using some "recursive" algorithm they created (#2 on the list of overused, and misused, terms is recursive).

@Mike Oh, great great line.

Simon said...

What bugs me is when, in cop shows and movies, you have characters who are supposed to be these grizzled, jaded detectives or whatever, but still get all pissy and act all shocked when they see someone decapitated or something. Like that show SVU.

Castor said...

Totally agree with you about the mirror. Every single time a character comes in front of a mirror, the second type a few seconds later ALWAYS has the creepy apparition. It never fails to appear and it is so incredibly predictable it's annoying.

Others that annoy me:
- Gender behavior stereotypes
- repetitive firearm cocking
- Women always have to be rescued
- happy endings!

Dan said...

The cliche thing in horror movies is what makes the Scream films so appealing.

But I must admit to hating the bad guy not killing the good guy when he/she has the chance. I think it comes from James Bond. The issue is - it works in Bond because we know Bond is never going to get killed. In one-off films, stop wasting time and kill the good guy! Now that would be intersting.

Univarn said...

@Simon I'm squeamish so by consequence not a good one to relate too on that one :).

@Castor Happy Endings annoy you? Does someone need a hug?

@Dan Of course now-a-days we have the logical consequence of them. Bad guys who stop from killing the good guy to explain how they're not a "movie/comic book villain" and therefore not of stereotypes.... by acting out one of the biggies.

Sasha (The Final Girl Project) said...

#2 is called the Mikhail Syndrome.

(This joke is only funny if you're a LOST nerd.)

Castor said...

Bittersweet endings are better and once in a while, an unexpected unhappy ending should be given to the audience ;)

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