Sideways Writing

The world is askew

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Spoiler Alert: Of Pop FIlms and Crap Endings
Movies can’t help themselves sometimes.

There is always one thing at the start of the film – a scene, a dialogue, an object - that gives away the ending. Its literary foreboding at its clumsiest.

This affliction -- this disease -- usually affects popular films, the ones that were made to rake in huge amounts of money despite the crappy script they spew.

Most films start off with the producers wanting to create a film that has a nice twist at the end, an artistic one that people will talk about for generations to come. They can’t help it; it’s the muse inside them that is talking.

But halfway through, they begin to doubt not themselves, but their audience. They start to think that their audience is "too dumb" to get the twist, or that it is too complicated for the viewer’s taste. They start shutting out their muses, in lieu of what the majority wants (or at least what they think we want)

And once art becomes all about entirely pleasing someone else, that’s when things get bad.

The End at the Beginning
That’s when they start dropping clues at the start of the flick, that’s when they tweak the script to lead the audience to the right door, that’s when scripts become predictable, trite, annoying.  Art is lost in a mess of mediocrity.

Take Iron Man 3 for example. No doubt, it raked in millions at the opening week. You can just imagine Robert Downey channelling Tony Stark and swimming in a pool of cash and hot girls. But let’s forget about the movie’s blockbuster success and look at its content: (SPOILERS AHEAD!)

In the middle of the film, The Mandarin captures Pepper and makes her a bargaining chip, so that Tony will work for them. They pump Pepper with a drug that burns her from the inside, but also makes her superhuman. And so, after Tony overcomes his anxiety problem and is about to save Pepper, he suddenly comes face to face with a fire-breathing, ultra-fast healing Mandarin that seems impossible to kill.

Let’s pause it there before we look for the Hidden Mickey. The paragraph above has enough details for someone to know what the big twist at the end of the movie will be. How do you think it will end? Will Tony:

  1. Defeat the Mandarin using his billion-dollar suit, bad-ass goatee, and smart alec oneliners;

  2. Have Col. Rhodes do all the work and win, with the power of Bromanceship (because why not?);

  3. Let himself get defeated and die. It’s the least he can do for giving us that horrendous "Iron Man 2";

The answer of course, is letter d. have Pepper save him through a series of killer kung fu moves (even though she didn't have any prior training), killing The Mandarin in the process. Apparently, bare-knuckle fighting is much more effective than a super-powered suit.

OF COURSE. Of course that was the twist at the end. How can it not be obvious? They pump Pepper with a barrel full of immortal juice -- surely they won't leave it at that. The ultimate give-away would have to be when Tony dropped Pepper in a ball of inferno. She didn’t die. She can't, because she has to return for the very predictable twist at the end. Besides, they still need her for Iron Man 4, where she’ll probably be called “The Iron Maiden” just to get rock n’ roll fans wet.

At the Risk of Sounding Snooty...
It’s not that I hate Iron Man 3. On the contrary, I enjoyed it, especially when Robert Downey was not acting at all and just being himself.  What I do hate is how some filmmakers would churn out the same predictable formula, or would consciously give away the ending of the film by injecting all-too-obvious clues because they think if they didn’t, the audience wouldn’t get it and mistake it for a French film.

I guess I just miss watching movies that catch me off guard. I miss films that at least try to be smart, the films that try to make statements (And I believe you can do this despite whatever genre your film is in, be it a superhero film or an action film. Just look at Inception or the Dark Knight). We want the kind of films that make you stay after the credits to contemplate what you’ve just watched -- and not just because you want to see the hidden scene at the end.

Give us movies that do not compensate a lack of substance with million-dollar stunts, big explosions that rape your senses, and stupid, anorexic script delivered by famous faces. I’m looking at you, Transformers. Your movies should’ve been titled Gratuitous Girl Butts and Boobs (and Indistinguishable Robots Somersaulting over Cars for Two Hours). Fast Five is guilty of this too -- they should make a drinking game for whenever Vin Diesel delivers a cliche line. You'd be drunk, er, fast.

Give us the movies that we paid for, the ones that made movie-watching such a great experience. The movies that have story-telling at its core.

Give us movies that would stop us from saying “I'totorrent ko nalang.”



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