But is it Good?

Recently, while discussing the new Wachowski film Jupiter Ascending, my friend Gregory said “I sometimes don't know what people expect from movies anymore.” This got me thinking about what I expect from movies. The answer is more complicated than I thought.

My first reaction, being a writer, was I wanted a coherant story. Except that's not enough. There are all sorts of films I don't like which have coherant stories. Titanic, Twilight and Theory of Everything all tell complete stories and are fairly easy to follow. And yet I didn't particularly like any of them. Is it that I want a story I can relate to? A story with depth and character development? Maybe.

I know with Theory of Everything, my complaint was with the shallowness of the development of the characters as well as the poor sense of time passage. So maybe I want quality characters? But then we have Jupiter Ascending. The characters are flat, the story is a mess and yet I enjoyed myself. So now I'm wondering why?

Why can I like a film like Jupiter and not like the slate of recent Best Picture nominees? Is it, as I've said before, intent? I know the Wachowskis are looking to deliver a roller-coaster ride of fast action, held together by a story which can be dropped in favor of a battle scene and picked up again with no degradation later on. And in that, they deliver. Now, sure, I'm predisposed to like space opera. That's my thing. But I don't like all space opera.

So here goes – my list of what I expect from a movie:

  • Story which mostly makes sense
  • Characters who behave consistently within the world created
  • Direction which has a grasp on visual story-telling
  • Fight scenes where I can figure out who's fighting who
  • Writing which shows a basic understanding of story structure and character development

and, in the case of bad films

  • filmmakers and cast with a sense of absurdity and understanding of what they're doing

So there's my list. What's yours?


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