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The Factors that Determine if a Movie is Good, Bad, Amazing, or Horrible

Updated on December 9, 2012

Movies are among our favorite type of media because they give us the chance to get out with friends and escape reality to indulge in a truly fantastical realm with unique stories, themes, compelling characters and development, and tons of action and emotional moments. Movies truly give us a lot to think about and nothing can quite be so thrilling as watching a movie that just seems to get everything right. On the other hand of that equation however, nothing can quite be as disappointing as watching a movie that seems to get nothing right or was so close to being amazing only to fall short at the finish line. What are the factors in movies that can determine just how good or bad they are? I will explain my opinion on what they are and how they truly effect the movie's outcome.

Before I go on, I would like to point out that I'm not going to be focusing on aspects such a having a good director, producer, or actors. While, those of course are crucial to making a good film, they are fairly obvious. The factors I will be focusing on deal with the nature of the stories and all the portions and aspects that are contained within them, so I hope everyone enjoys this and may understand some of my points.

First, every great movie should have an amazing or thought provoking opening; something to draw us in immediately and entice us to know more about what is happening. Now, every movie has different ways of constructing a great opening, but as long as it is relevant with the theme and mood of the film and gets audience members involved, that is more than enough. Great openings do not necessarily have to have tons of action and explosions, even if it's an action movie, but the first scene should really catch our eyes and minds.

For me, I love movies that open up by dropping the audience members right in the middle of a story or a conflict because we question everything that is occurring on the screen; "Whoa, what's happening?", "Who's this person?", and, "How did it lead up to this?". I love those openings because every single aspect about them is thought provoking and gets us to truly speculate on what is happening as well as hooks us because we want to know more of what is happening.

Of course, all openings do not have to happen like this as some are better suited to alternative opening sequences. As stated before, action movies do not need an action packed sequence, but if down right, such a sequence would definitely get the viewers involved in the movie. Other movies such as emotional ones should have openings that capitalize on that theme. Have an opening that really shows genuine emotion and involved moments that truly speak to the audience that the movie was made for. The theme has to be appropriate for the movie; no one is going to see an action movie and get excited when the first scene is a marriage sequence or an intimate moment. The opening needs to be thought provoking, relevant to the themes and mood the movie is going to create, and sets up the story nicely.

After the opening, comes the meat, for lack of a better word, of the picture; the middle. This is where you really start to become familiar with the characters in the plot and the circumstances surrounding their lives. Daring plot twists and character development also happen very often in this section of the movie. For many, this isn't just a section of the movie, but a journey through the eyes of the characters. In a way, we grow with these characters and become attached to them, truly identifying with some of them and hoping for the best for them.

This part of the movie should indeed be seen as a journey; the characters have to grow, develop, and be compelling. We as audience members want to see these characters grow, go through rough situations, and ultimately make choices that change the course of the story. This is what truly makes entertainment for us and makes going to the movies worthwhile. A movie should be brave enough to make compelling and daring twists and turns in the story to shock and entice the audience members and allow the characters to mature and grow.

This brings up another important point and factor though in what can truly make a movie great or horrible; character development. As I stated above, audience members love to see their characters get developed throughout the course of the film, but nothing can be quite as bad for a character as him or her changing for no good or apparent reason.

For instance, lets say to have character who is very upbeat in the movie and is always trying to find the good in situations no matter how dire. What if that character just suddenly starts acting depressed and devoid of any hope without the movie given a concrete reason or explanation? My thoughts are that most of the audience members would be downright annoyed at this since the character's development is almost nonexistent and yet, that character has changed drastically and altered the nature and fabric of the story dramatically.

My main point here is that character development is one of the most crucial and integral parts of any movie, just like the opening and middle portions of it. If a character starts acting differently or goes through a major change, there are a few things that should be addressed for it to truly work in a satisfying fashion.

First, whatever change the character has made, does it make sense for it to happen? The movie should do a good or great job at explaining why exactly this character has changed and have a scene or two that capitalizes on it so that the other characters within the film are aware of the change as well. That is to say, the change should be addressed within the fabric of the story to really have a good pay off.

Second and last point for this factor; does it make sense for a particular character to make a particular change. Even if movies do give a reason for why a character has developed in a certain direction, some characters are simply not fit to go through certain changes and, therefore, should not at all. Audience members only know the characters through what has been established in the movie, so if a character changes suddenly, the movie should have done a good job at establishing that such a change would be appropriate for this type of character based off the previous moments with that character. Character development can be pulled of beautifully if these factors have been worked on, but if not, then it can be implemented horribly and at the expense of the overall product.

Next, the movie's story has to remain compelling throughout the entirety of the film's run. Ever seen a movie where small or even large portions of it seem to do nothing to expand upon the plot or the character stories and seems to be nothing more than filler? Don't you just hate that, I sure do. The major reason I personally find that many movie plots become boring is because the producers reveal too much content or plot points at once. The stories of movies should be segmented in appropriate chunks and revealed at appropriate moments.

A good film should never have a straight hour of heavy content being revealed to the viewers and the next hour being nothing but filler until the ending. This also runs the risk that the audience will become lost in the story because so much is being thrown at their faces at once. A story can stay very compelling and interesting if plot points are revealed gradually and at various moments, keeping the story continuously fresh and expanding it and will also do a better job at keeping the audience interested, entertained, and understanding of the plot.

The last major factor in my opinion that can make a movie great or horrible is the nature of the ending. The ending can be seen as arguably the most crucial portion of any film and, for that same reason, is also very hard to make amazing. An ending by nature should be the culmination of everything that has occurred or been forshadowed in the opening and middle and go a step further to go beyond the expectations of the audience. It is a truly horrible experience to see a movie that was absolutely amazing and flawless in it's execution, story, and character development through the opening and middle only to trip at the finish line; the ending.

The ending needs to have a grand pay off for everything that has occurred prior in the film for not only the story, but the characters as well. The audience members want an ending that makes the whole journey through the eyes of their characters in this fantastical or even realistic story to have been worthwhile. Similar to the opening, the movie's ending should be in line with the theme and mood. If it's an emotional movie, then the ending should really have the audience member's emotions at their peak and, if it's an action film, the ending should have action that is unrivaled by the opening and middle. Regardless of what type of movie viewers are watching, the characters should have grown and changed drastically, making the journey seem like a very fulfilling and enlightening experience.

In our continuously stressful world, there are few ways for people to truly sit back and escape from their daily routine, but movies are one of those of ways I believe. They truly take take us away from reality and put us in a different setting for a story that will hopefully be worth it. All the factors I have discussed are truly integral to the final outcome of the movie and how satisfying or disappointing it can be.


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