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"Based On A True Story" and other generic plot devices

Today we're talking about the stagnation of film.
Today we're talking about the stagnation of film.

The last few years have seen an influx of movies that are "based on a true story" or at least derive their plots from actual events obscured and fictionalized to fit the dramatic and theatrical nature of the big screen. Other popular leaping points have been in the rising popularity of comic book movies, remakes of classics, film adaptations of popular novels both new and old, and to a slightly lesser extent, independent films.

"Based On A True Story," in this writers opinion, has become an escape tunnel for bypassing creativity. Why sit down and actually construct an amazing film when you could just look to the news to dramatize the amazing things that happen in our world every day. You get to "celebrate" the heroes, add in some shaky cam, and a little political agenda bias, you've got yourself a good recipe for destroying the actual events and constructing your own vision of a film you put very little thought into creating.

That may not seem fair, and I'll admit, I truly enjoyed Captain Philips and Lone Survivor, absolutely did, but come on, it didn't take much to construct the plot. As far as writing went, the screenplay artists didn't have to think too much in the way of creating dynamic three-dimensional characters and settings that were exciting and incorporating that "wow factor."

When it comes to novel films and remakes, I have an issue there too. As a writer and a movie lover, seeing a novel come to life on the big screen is one thing I can say without a doubt, is a gift to the entire fanbase, and to the world at large. Getting to see your favorite characters portrayed as real people, acting out your favorite scene- it's fantastic, but lazy. It seems like movie makers are turning to famous books that make the best-sellers list simply because the fans will go to see it. (Case and point: Fifty Shades of Grey)

It doesn't matter if the plot doesn't make a lot of sense, or the movie version won't be as good as the book, as long as its being made from something millions of people loved, it'll turn a profit. The Fault In Our Stars, and less recently Cloud Atlas are two examples of books I'm totally okay with film portrayals because the stories there are fantastic, but then you have lesser citations like The Great Gatsby with Leonardo DiCaprio which, for me, was a huge disappointment even with Leo as the front runner.

Finally, we have the remakes. (Ah, the remakes...) Why, is the question that pops into my head all the time. Why remake a movie that's already been made? In some cases, like True Grit with Jeff Bridges as Rooster and Matt Damon as LaBouef, this works out incredibly well, and gives the older version a run for its money. Carrie, however, was a colossal failure for me (it might have been the choice of actor), and now they're redoing Poltergeist?
Instead of going to the drawing board and coming up with new and interesting stories, the trend seems to be: "Look everywhere but your own imagination for ideas, because that's less risky."

Or at least, that's the way it's coming off. Personally, I'd love to see some new and interesting titles, and that's not to say that there haven't been a lot of really good original films out there the past few years. Unfortunately, a lot of them are either rehashes of old works almost forgotten or unknown by younger audiences, comic book films that keep getting an inevitable reboot every few years to replace the beloved characters with newer faces and revised scripts (as well as the awful use of CGI in place of actual stunts and costumes), or they come off really really pretentious and overbearing.

Who wants to sit through three hours of incredibly morose hipster-esque whining and dry to the bone attempts and humor? That's right, nobody.

This is a problem either for producers, or for writers just not taking a chance on themselves anymore. Who really knows what the deal is behind the scenes, but for the moment, we have to enjoy what Hollywood throws at us, and hope that at some point in the future we'll get a real, incredible, original story told by the voice of a writer who's aim was to bring it nowhere else but the big screen.

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