3 main criteria that makes a bad movie

25 Sep


When someone asks me ,”What is the worst movie you’ve ever seen?” it may seem like an easy answer at first. I could just churn out some random Michael Bay’s crap or happily points out some local Indonesian movies, add some clever comments to boot and pat my self on the back for being a film warrior.

Too easy.

First of all how do you define a bad movie?

Lets start with the obvious:

1. Bad story- Yes, the mother of all load

There is nothing more frustrating than watching a movie with bad story. A movie story that doesn’t make sense is like one of the most frustrating things in life and I take no pleasure in criticizing a bad movie (well, maybe a bit) but the point we can all agree upon is this; Story matters.

This is a something that is embedded in our DNA, we respond to good story telling, no matter what the format is.

Bad movies have bad stories, because it fails at the basic level to capture our attention and break our suspension of disbelief. Bad movies tend to have this habit of talking down at the audience instead communicating on even ground.

Maybe your version of a bad movie is different than mine. Maybe you don’t mind watching action movies with dudes breaking each other’s balls for 95 minutes, hey I enjoyed it too sometimes. It’s liberating when our primordial senses are being spoilt but eventually we want something with substance to nourish our soul or at the very least says something about the human experience.

Yes that sounds pretentious and wanky, I admit. But my point is you can’t keep watching action/gore movies all the time, can you? I can’t. For every 5 novelty “So bad, its good” movies. Eventually I crave for something with more substance to bring back the balance.

Can’t help it, this is how I roll.

2. Not caring for the characters

What is the point of watching a movie? To me, watching movie is about being taken to a different world and experiencing it from someone else’s point of view. I want to be taken to a world different than my own experience and yet I can still relate to the humanistic experiences that the characters bring.

The characters don’t have to be likeable or even good but I want to be emotionally invested in them and their journey because I want to know what happens in the end. It’s that simple. But too many filmmakers have ignored this basic rule and ended up creating half baked characters with no clear purpose or too simplistic/predictable approach and by the end you don’t give a shit if they die or survive.

And I’m not just only taking pot shots at Hollywood movies. Festival/indie/art films also have accumulated this bad habit of making shitty characters that are too self absorbed without any additional layers to make them whole. So you want to make selfish/miserable characters as your lead? Cool but show us why we want to follow these characters journey. What makes them so compelling that we can’t look away, what makes them unique? What can we learn from them that we don’t already learned from other miserable selfish characters from other movies?

I don’t care about film budgets. I can appreciate watching movies being shot on shoe string budgets with unknown actors/directors from different corners of the world but the movie has to grab me by the balls because it made me care enough about the characters.

3. Unclear theme

This may sound fairly vague but theme is also paramount to make a strong movie. The trick is you want to tell the audience what you’re trying to say without telling the audience upright. Yes, this may sound confusing but necessary. You want the audience to work out the theme themselves but in order to do that you have to give strong and clear clues on what you are trying to convey with your movie. Is it about friendship? Redemption? Unrequited love? Obsession? Greed? Whatever it is, it has to be clear. Once the clues are set, you point them to the right direction. Let the audience work it out instead of you holding their hands.

So yeah, those three main points are my criteria of what makes a bad movie. It’s pretty broad and common but many times we take those simple things for granted and ends up biting our asses in the end. For the record I can’t answer straight away what the worst movie I’ve seen (that’s a whole other topic) but I remember the last movie I walked out from the theatre. Transformers: Dark of the Moon.


One Response to “3 main criteria that makes a bad movie”

  1. kutukamus at 3:44 pm #

    Seems like many would fall into these categories. But then again, I guess this is what todays cinema is all about (no offense, please). And I imagine these would make even the most vicious vampires vomit: “The Secret” (2006, Drew Heriot et.al.), “A Idade da Terra” (1980, Glauber Rocha), “Destricted” (2006, a bunch of srewedups).. Not some public recommendation, surely. Just for ‘fun’ sake. 🙂 Cheers!

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