If there is one thing that throws me right out of a movie or a book, it's BAD RESEARCH. That's because I'm really smart. Us smart people hate that shit.
Steven King, God love him, is so very very guilty of this; and while I'll keep reading, because after all it's Steven King, his description of an asthma inhaler in "IT" was a speed-bump that put me off the book for a week. In fact, his whole explanation why that kid had asthma sucked dick. I have asthma. He got it so wrong it was just pitiful.
He did it again after crowing about how he'd 'done his research' for the story Dolan's Cadillac. Sure, he got the 'angle of attack' part right. The part about being able to hotwire road equipment? Not so much. The part about being able to continue doing anything whatsoever after you've just herniated a disk? Nope. Plus Dolan's Cadillac was a rip-off of The Cask Of Amontillado. So ha.
As long as I'm on my high horse:
Big-screen, Ray Bradbury wall sized television is a fact these days, film makers. Run your stuff through a shitty old Visio or a Samsung to experience what the majority of your audience sees, and then bear these things in mind:
Not everybody needs fuschia lipstick. Really. Honest. They don't.
Makeup needs to extend past the margins of the jawline. Honest. It does.
Never let interviewees do their own makeup. This always results in heavy blue eye shadow. I don't know why it is, it just is.
People need their tone matched. Poor "Man Boosting Formula - And Trust Me, She'll Like It Too" dude looks like a roll-on deodorant standing out there on the baseball diamond in the sun.
People with large pores should not use liquid makeup. Do not do this, people with large pores. You will look like The Sweat Planet Of One Thousand Craters under those hot lights. Beat a little clear powder into that shit if you must and use a lens filter. If I wanted to see "Damn, Granny' face, I'll watch Danny Trejo because he works that look. If you are not Danny Trejo, listen up.
Ladies, check those diamond cutters before you go on and make sure they're level. Everybody is going to be looking at them, and if they're pointing in different directions it'll just be sad. This goes for you too, Brian Johnson of ACDC. You're excitable. It's weird. Plus you got me kicked off Facebook so fuck you.
If you have a really large, unusually large, frighteningly large nasty thing on your face, just because you're ignoring it doesn't mean that the audience is. It's the only thing we'll remember about you too. Get over yourself and pop the fucker. Please.
Men get boob sweat too. Believe.
Now lets work on our visual language arts, children.
Our hero gets kung fu'd all to shit by seven dudes, shot, stabbed, hit by a car, kicked by guys riding past on motorcycles, (this is an actual scene from a Run Run Shaw movie I'm describing) runs up the stairs to the top floor of a skyscraper, has another fight, gets lectured by an old guy, stabbed, falls off a balcony, hits the street and then gets shot with a freakin' spear gun - and still gets up, staggers around, delivers a long soliloquy, and then dies by slow, painful degrees as the music goes all legendary. Stop it. By that point you want the guy to shut up and croak already.
Our hero gets kung fu'd all to shit by seven dudes, etc. to 'hits the street' - and then staggers into a room and has epic, athletic, mind-bending porn sex with a woman who is by no means off put by this sweaty, bloody, stinky, battered guy and his raging boner that cannot be denied.
This one just, forget it. Next. I'm done. Seriously? Really?
Antonio Banderas got away with this once, because it was Antonio Banderas and he was boning Salma Hayak = bisexual Heaven. But nobody else. I am done with this stupid trope. Even a sixteen year old guy is going to be put off his feed after being kung fu'd by just one dude, let alone seven.
Sword and Sorcery characters speaking in weird sentence constructions. For lo, it is undeniable that you, yes you, Reith'kla vStaaj Eyghanor son of Fungar the Puissant, though puissant you are not; nay, none of your blood dare claim puissance - would speak thus! Before all Creation I stand and I do refute thee, I condemn thee, I wish to fuck you'd just spit it out already. C'mon man.
Creepy music played on a toy piano. OO, child ghost? Where? Where dat child ghost? I know it's here somewhere! Is that you Damian? You rascal. Quit stabbing that kitten.
Knowing exactly who on the elite forces unit is going to get it, and how. Dude with tiny eyes is going to die. Short Dudes die. Woman You Only See Briefly is going to die and the camera is going to skim over that. Somewhat Shorter Than The Rest Unfunny Smartass is gonna die. Red Head Guy is a super sadist and he dies really, really horribly. Best Buddy-dead. Skinny Science Embed Guy lives and saves the day with Last Stand Grizzled Veteran Called Out of Retirement. Wisecracking Cuban girl lives. Plain Karen the electronics whiz lives and plays a small but crucial role in the success of the mission. Enormous Hot Dude with Bigorexia lives, but is wounded. Enormous Plain Dude with Bigorexia dies. Enormous Straight up Ugly Dude With Bigorexia dies. Guy That Puts His Hand On The Front Of His Helmet As He Runs, dies, and he has the only radio, which gets blasted to bits. Guy Standing Behind a Railing dies. Large Almost Hot Funny Wisecracking Guy gets wounded by shrapnel and left. Greatest Generation Brass Dude dies and you cheer it because he's a dick. Guy Who Never Wears A Helmet dies, as he should, dumbass. First Up dies when the alien jams a chitonous appendage through his chest or open mouth. Hot Science Lady becomes the plaything of the Gods, but she lives, and usually has to be rescued. 'Predator' and 'Starship Troopers' are prime examples of this kind of booshwah. Although "Predator" is awesome.
Soldiers moving through an occupied city, testing the doorknobs, opening cabinets and flipping over books, stacks of paper and deaders. This is how you get dead quick in real life. Can you say 'rigged with a mine/grenade?' I knew that you could.
Good is plain, Evil is hot. This goes particularly for an all female cast. The Hot Baddie has the best clothes, lines and a loyal entourage. The Plain Heroine is earnest and restrained in her fashion focus, has constant buddy conflicts, and one Saucy Mob Member with small tits and a smart mouth.
Are we really hanging onto this, ladies? Is this real? Because in my experience, the Heroine is usually Any Woman. Evil is usually miss 'rode hard and put up wet' Butt-Ignorant Hippo with cheap mascara and a flat ass (or a freakishly extreme shelf ass), or the 'rode hard and put up wet' ninety pound Butt-Ignorant Skank with a flat ass (or a freakishly extreme shelf ass), or the Human Bollard, a woman who is shaped like a lingam. Look it up. You're sitting in front of a computer.
Arguably, The Human Bollard is the most evil of the three because she has no frontal lobes, just a hindbrain. The Human Bollard is the one who blurts out "All folks who don't believe in Jesus are going to hell. That means cavemen too," in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner for no reason. She does not shut the door when she uses the bathroom and does not flush, either. She will tell your children that your whole family is going to hell because Daddy isn't a (place religion or political belief here) and asks everyone how much money they make. She is an empty vessel filled with Satan.
Pseudo-science gobbledegook is one thing. Actual scientific principles can and will be checked. Either make it up our of whole cloth and make up laws that hold the concept in place, or go by the book, people. You want to cite actual science, you better follow through on every single detail or the nerds will pee on you. I'm a nerd.
Mumbling is not a plot device. Yeah, I'm talking V E R Y C L E A R L Y to you, Johnny Dep. If you can't speak up, don't expect me to sit through that shit. The only reason I put up with Cloverfield is that I was able to watch it years after it came out and pause it and go back over the mumbled dialogue with the sound up. I don't regret the time spent because Cloverfield was cool, but it's not 'worth watching again' cool.
If you think you're going to overcome a weak plot and weak dialogue with sets and effects, they better be pretty damn super-spectacular. Metropolis got away with this like a motherfucker. It still gets away with it. George Lucas got away with it twice - Star Wars, A New Hope, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Alien I is basically an excuse to let H.R. Giger get loose (forever and always, I love you H.R. Giger.) Pirates of the Carribean, Dead Mans' Chest gets away with it only because of Davy Jones, his ship and crew; the rest of the movie and the franchise can be flushed. They all got away with this. There's the yardstick. Use it.
Shall we visit Parts Foreign? Well then let's just film the Gritty Urban Poor. Hell, let's just visit the poor, period, OK? I know that when I visit another country, the only thing I want to do is hang around and watch people be poor. Poor is relevant, man. It's real. Those suburbs and that huge city there? And all those supermarkets with roofs? Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!
OO Egypt! Let's grab Zahi Hawass and let his frenetic annoying ass hold forth at length, without subtitles! No. Let's not do that. Tell ya whats lets do: lets lock Zawi Hawass in a sarcophagus with a recording of his own voice as he berates everyone around him like a crackhead and make him listen to that shit for a few weeks.
President Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, Diana Princess of Wales, Amelia Earhart, Jimmy Hoffa. All dead. Next.
Oh, I got a bunch of them. Tune in next time for my brilliant throwdown "Let Dracula Be Dracula" and until then, happy trails to you, and keep your stick on the ice!