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How studying writing ruined Riddick for me

Discussion in 'Film & Television' started by deilaitha, Sep 30, 2013.

  1. deilaitha

    deilaitha Sage

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    Sigh. I have studied and dabbled in writing for about 10 years now. I have read multiple books on the topic of writing, and specifically, writing fantasy. I have very high standards. It has ruined my ability to enjoy most movies.

    I went to see Riddick with my hubby and a couple of our friends. Our friends had seen the original Riddick movies, but hubby and I had not. Anyway, I went with an open mind, assuming that anything that didn't make a ton of sense would be because I had not seen the first movies.

    So here I am, in the theater. I can accept the monsters and the special Riddick eyes, space travel and aliens, the whole nine yards. I am willingly suspending the proverbial disbelief and enjoying it.

    Then, not 30 minutes into the movie, they totally lost me.

    Riddick is being attacked in the desert by a vicious wild dog. It's starving and trying to eat him. Suddenly, he gets the brilliant idea to throw a frisbee-like piece of his armor, and the dog chases it. Miraculously, Riddick is now safe, at least until the rest of the plot happens.

    WHAT THE HECK, MAN???

    Seriously, I was so mad about that. Why include it? Perhaps it was meant for comic effect? However, I feel that in all my studies of writing, this type of thing is discouraged. It doesn't matter how funny or neat something is if it contradicts the "rules" of the world. I will suspend disbelief until the cows come home (pardon the cliche), but alternate realities still need to follow their own rules. I'm sorry; a vicious starving dog who just wants to play? Not believable, considering that this is like the 5th hostile dog or creature he has fended off.

    Another thing? Stringing the f-word together with a few articles, verbs, and nouns (though sometimes the f-word is used as a verb or a noun) does not make for very compelling dialogue. I have nothing against the f-word as such, but when it's the only one being used, it gets quite tedious.

    All in all, it wasn't a bad flick. I enjoyed all the hacking and killing, I was being so picky that my friends rolled their eyes at me. Ignorance is bliss, eh?
     
  2. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    Yes, it's the same for me. I cringe at some of the films people around me want to see. Sometimes I feel snobbish but I can't help but see fault in weak characters, plot holes, and silly scenes like you described. Further, most movies are too easy to figure out once you start thinking like a writer. I have difficulty shutting that off unless the writing is very good and immerses my mind. As a result, I'm probably overly critical.
     
  3. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

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    From my understanding, this is pretty common for writers. it takes a wile before you can learn to shut off the critical writer and just enjoy the movie. But on the flip-side being a writer can help you appreciate the subtleties in writing in movies that you might not otherwise like.

    BTW don't feel bad because you saw through the BS in Riddick. I loved the first Pitch Black movie with Riddick but IMHO this new Riddick movie is a very mediocre, where LOTS of silly things happen that kick you out of the story if you're playing too close attention. To me this is they type of movie that you should roll your eyes at. It had potential but it was wasted on Poser-Riddick and his ridiculous super-human feats. Any way, I could go on and on...
     
  4. deilaitha

    deilaitha Sage

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    SPOILER ALERT: Discussion of later parts of the movie
    (I Don't know how to do the hidden thing yet...)





    My friend flipped out when that whole scene with the cabinet happened. She's like--"YOU'RE LEAVING IT OPEN????" There were definitely a lot of things that didn't add up. Like I said, it was entertaining to watch Riddick hack up all the monsters and such, but the story was lacking a lot.

    One of my rules of thumb for determining the quality of a movie is this: if you are more invested in a pet animal's (normal, no powers or anything) life than any of the humans, the writing in the movie is sub-par. My go-to example is Alien. I don't care about Sigourney much except that without her, who will save Jonesy??? (By the way, I really do enjoy Alien and Aliens, but I do have that love/hate relationship with them.) For Riddick, I liked the dog waaay better than the humans.

    I don't say any of this to smear Hollywood writers or blast anybody--but I think that movies like Riddick can provide a cautionary tale for the aspiring writer. No matter how rockin' and thrilling the action is, there is no substitute for convincing characters.
     
  5. deilaitha

    deilaitha Sage

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    I knew a guy who had perfect pitch--and he had the same problem with music. He said he loved and hated his ability to hear quarter-tone differences. The guy even had a fluorescent light in his office that buzzed just slightly flat of B flat. It drove him batty. At least as writers, we don't have to be exposed to our sensitivity constantly, but that writer's mind does tend to infiltrate all of your thought processes--especially when it has to do anything with something containing a plot.

    As much as I LOVE Tim Curry, Legend is probably one of the most painful-to-watch movies in existence. My sister borrowed it from the library when I was a freshman in high school and we stayed up late to watch it one night. We were blown away by the inconsistencies of the movie. I was no expert on writing or anything like that, but already had years of being an MST3K fan under my belt. We tore that poor movie to shreds. Thus began my illustrious career of being highly critical of movies. Of course, the fact that our dad always gave us an in-depth evaluation of every movie we ever watched together didn't help.

    SPOILER for Legend







    At the end, when the big red guy (I still love you, Tim Curry!) falls into the void, my sister goes, "What was that?" And my younger self, in one of the proudest moments of my adolescence, quipped, "He fell into a hole in the plot." We nearly wet ourselves. Of course, the whole thing was fueled by late-night giddiness, soda, and candy--and the thrill of trying to be quiet enough to not alert our parents to the fact that we were up at 1 am on a school night. Such good times.

    It's fun to think back on some of the formative moments in my writer's mind. Legend was totally one of those. Some movies are great inspirations, others...cautionary tales. Still, Riddick was WAAAY better than Legend.
     
  6. Reaver

    Reaver Kwisatz Haderach Moderator

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    Speaking of terribly written movies, remember the STAR WARS prequels?
     
  7. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

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    Those are prime examples of someone without an editor or anyone around them who has the guts to say NO.
     
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  8. Guy

    Guy Inkling

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    Shoddy writing is a huge reason why I generally don't like horror movies. It results in unstoppable monsters (rendering conflict resolution impossible and resulting in a pointless story), idiot characters that I want the monster to kill (preferably before they reproduce - anyone too dumb to run or shoot doesn't need to contaminate the gene pool... I could go on and on), and vague endings that leave me going WTF just happened.
     
  9. deilaitha

    deilaitha Sage

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    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 10, 2017
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  10. deilaitha

    deilaitha Sage

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    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 10, 2017
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  11. Sanctified

    Sanctified Minstrel

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    I haven't seen the new Riddick (I want to), but I'm a fan of the original Pitch Black and Chronicles of Riddick. Both movies require suspension of disbelief, but also it's probably next to remember the series was heavily retconned.

    In the first movie, Riddick was basically a tough guy ex-con: "Ghost me, mother$&@%-er, that's what I would do to you."

    In the second movie, suddenly he's not just an American ex-con with a shine job on his eyes, he's a "Furian" whose race was eradicated by the stupid Necromongers.

    Well, the new movie has Katee Sackhoff, so I'll end up watching it at some point,
     
  12. Kn'Trac

    Kn'Trac Minstrel

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    IMO Riddick was a rehash of Pitch Black. Abandoned on a hostile planet, a hostile creature (the mudcrawling scorpion things, not the cute dog pup), the fall of darkness has been replaced with rain. Other terrain, other background, very .... very light on story elements and same non-descript or overly stereotyped antagonists. All in all a disappointment as the novelty of Pitch Black has worn off a decade ago. Luckily I didn't have to pay for the visit to the cinema, as we had acquired free tickets, otherwise I've would have cursed myself for spending money on that waste of celluloid.
     
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