“Technology killed the great movie plot” is a great adage, isn’t it? It might sound corny but it has been the case since the world became, ugh, high-tech. In the past few years, some movie producers, writers, and directors are doing all their best to make every one of us believe that these commonly used plots could still work. For instance, horror movie directors always make sure to destroy all cellphones (as well as cut off any means to connect to the Internet) to give the killer more time to scare the audience, or just lazily set the movie in a place where a certain #technology is not fully developed (or existent) yet, say in a faraway county or a desert.
Anyhow, these are the once commonly used plots made seemingly outdated by gadgets, Internet, and everything high-tech.
Perhaps looking for the real parents or fighting for custody has been the most utilised—or rather bruised—plot in the movies. Luckily, a lot of these movies have been wiped out of mainstream cinema for explainable reasons: we have DNA testing now, and the simple question of “Are you really my biological dad?” could be easily solved by getting a DNA sample at the nearest testing centre. The plot is still prevalent in many Latin American movies and telenovelas (TV movies) today, and how they able to make their viewers believe that such a plot is still riveting is something only producers could answer.
- Other movies that fall into this category: Immediate Family (1989), Made in America (1993), Losing Isaiah (1995), Delivery Man (2013)
Mysterious Phone Calls
The Caller (2011) seamlessly gets away with the deus ex machina-esque explanation that caller IDs could determine who the mysterious caller on the other line is. The telephone that Mary (played by Rachelle Lefevre) develops a liking for is an old one, and installing a call identification system is nothing close to plausible. This is where When a Stranger Calls (2006) and One Missed Call (2008) err—they should have gone old school, too, to justify the lazy, overused storyline.
- Other movies that fall into this category: Unknown Caller (2014), Lost Highway (1997)
Long Distance Love Affair
What makes Sleepless in Seattle (1993) a heart rending romantic movie is the exchanges of letters between Sam (Tom Hanks) and Annie (Meg Ryan). The same thing with Atonement (2007) or The Notebook (2004), wherein Noah (Ryan Gosling) sent handwritten letters to Allie (Rachel McAdams) that she never got because of her mother's interference. The absence of long distance love affair plots nowadays is pretty explainable: there’s Internet and plenty of online messaging apps now. Perhaps what producers need to do is to reinvent the genre. Well, how about talking about ruined love affairs because of weak Internet connection? Surely, the likes of Vodafone, 5BARz International and AT&T would be willing to help (in exchange of a product placement, of course!)
- Other movies that fall into this category: Before Sunrise (1995), Going the Distance (2010)
Lost, Stranded and Survival
If Stranded: I've Come From a Plane That Crashed on the Mountains (2008) was set in our time, the Uruguayan football team will not even have to spend a week in the Andes since we now have a thing called GPS. Even Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks) in Cast Away (2000) wouldn’t have to wait four years, growing a caveman beard and losing lots of pounds, just to get rescued. The technology would have been able to locate him earlier.
- Other movies that fall into this category: Pitch Black (2000), The Mist (2007), The Blair Witch Project (1999)
We all know that the great Alfred Hitchcock was the one who pioneered—and even mastered—the mistaken identity theme. He has set a high bar for the genre that a lot of filmmakers that followed his footsteps failed miserably. And now, things would be a lot more difficult for those who are planning to make a realist mistaken identity movie set in a contemporary world. DNA, fingerprint identification system, face recognition technology, and even social media sites are so ubiquitous today that a simple cosmetic surgery or a nose implant won’t make one get away of a, well, crime.
- Other movies that fall into this category: Lucky Number Slevin (2006), Switched at Birth (1999)
Do you have more plots that have been made difficult to pull off by technology? Or more movies to add to the list? Share below!