Films and television are a huge part of each of our lives in some way. Whether you like to go the the cinema to catch the newest flick or you scroll through Netflix to see what's on, movies entertain us in some fashion. When they're good, you love to see them over and over. You think about the characters outside of the two hours you saw them live out a section of their lives and quote lines for days. But what makes a good movie? I've broken this down into 5 categories that I believe are the core of a good film.
1. Likeable/Relatable Characters
Characters are one of the most (if not the most) important part of any storytelling. They are who you are giving your life to for two hours and that is precious time in today's fast paced society. When you watch a film you need to like who you are seeing, or at least, some of the characters you're seeing. The protagonist (or hero) of the film needs to be someone who you can watch and say, "I understand them" or "that could be me" or even just someone you can look at and like. Someone you could be friends or lovers with. If we don't like the central character of the film, then it won't stand up very well. Now, you don't necessarily have to love the protagonist of the film. You might possibly love the antagonist (or villain) of the piece. As long as there is some person(s) that you like to see, they've met this point.
2. Simple Plot
I can't tell you how many times a film has lost its potential because of an over elaborated plot. Or maybe halfway through the process the director got lazy or in a rush and didn't fine tune the script. Plot can make or break you in today's cinema. You're basically telling the audience a story for two hours and that story needs to be understood. Now, simple doesn't mean slow or linear. It just means that it needs to be clear. For an example, if you had to tell someone about a movie in under 2 minutes, giving them the basic outline of the piece, would they be able to understand what the film was about for the most part? Basically, don't over crowd yourself or the characters.
3. Understandable Theme
Theme, you hear about this all the time. But what is theme? Well, the theme of the story is basically this: what are you trying to say? Each film that you watch is trying to tell you something. Whether it be that lying is bad, killing is wrong, or that you need to love yourself and others. The theme is what you want the audience to take away from your piece. Theme needs to be clear, much like the plot, without being crammed down your throat. You need to weave it into the story without them leaving the theatre or living room with a bad taste in their mouth saying, "we get it, we don't need to kill". If you do it well enough, the audience won't even know that they where seeing your message, it'll be sent to them subconsciously!
4. Attention to Detail
The Devil is in The Details. Have you ever heard that old expression ? Details are a very important piece of this puzzle as well. But which details are important? The answer is all of them. It starts from the very beginning when the script is being written. Every angle of the plot and theme (see, those did come up. Hope you notes for the quiz) needs to be lain out so you can pick apart and reassemble the story. Then during casting, details need to be taken into account for the actors portraying these characters. and finally filming the shots. Do these props belong here, does this actor need to be wearing this to show that they are cold. Details are in everything. It sets up a continuity that the audience will greatly appreciate when they get to the end...
...Which brings us to our final point.
5. Likable Ending
Much like the first few minutes of a film, the ending is crucial to the story. Like I said with plot, I've seen countless films ruined because they had a terrible ending. The film itself was probably great for the most part, but the ending fell flat or left the audience going, "wait... what?" When a story is written it is setting up much like a set of dominoes that the ending knocks down into place. If the ending reflects that of what the audience has just saw then you have a great ending. It needs to put a nice lid on the rest of the film, wrap it up nicely. Some of my favorite movies even reflect the beginning of the film in some way. But, when I say likable ending that doesn't necessarily mean good. A film is allowed to end on a bad note, if that is what reflects on the film. A great example of this is the ending to Empire Strikes Back. It ended on such a downer. Han Solo has been frozen in carbonite, Luke loses his hand AND finds out that Darth Vader is his father. There are so many unanswered questions! But it works because it matched the rest of the film, and set up a nice segway into the next film. The ending also doesn't need to drag out for very long. You'll fatigue the movie goes and they'll tune out or lose the message. And the message is the whole point of you making the film!
Well, in the words of The Stranger from The Big Lebowski, "that just about does 'er, wraps 'er all up." Those are what I believe to be the 5 most important points that makes or breaks a great film! Hope you learned something and maybe one day when you're a famous Hollywood director and writer you'll remember this article!