Every bad movie starts out with a good idea. The problem is that the story often fails to follow through on that good idea and degenerates into a series of mindless action that’s meant to titillate an audience without actually telling a compelling story.
Here are some bad movies to study:
- The 355
- Mortal Engines
- The 5th Wave
“The 355″‘s good idea is having a group of women spies team together to fight against the bad guys. Essentially, “The 355” takes the idea of James Bond but replaces a single male super agent with a team of female super agents from multiple countries who all must cooperate with each other.
That by itself is an intriguing idea. Where “The 355” falls apart is that the story never lets us get to know any of the women spies beyond a superficial level. As a result, all the action in the world means nothing because we don’t know why the female super agents are behaving the way they do.
Replace all the women with a bunch of men and the end result would still be disappointing. “The 355” takes its premise of female super agents and essentially fails to tell a compelling story whether the agents are male or female. Because we don’t know much about any of these agents, we don’t care about the actions they take.
“The 355” also suffers from jumping us from one acton scene to another without giving us time to care about any of the agents. Because “The 355” focuses solely on action, it’s a mindless movie that’s completely forgettable.
“Mortal Engines” is both a book and a movie, and it’s fatally flawed in both versions. In every story, we need to know who the hero is and what’s their motivation. More importantly, the hero must drive the action through the decisions he or she makes.
Yet in “Mortal Engines,” the hero has no clear goal and instead of driving the action, he’s passive and reacts to the world around him. With no clear goal, the hero is totally forgettable in both the book and the movie.
Finally, watch “The 5th Wave” to see a perfect example of a movie that followed the book too well. The book is amazingly compelling because the story branches off into following the hero (an older sister) and her younger brother as they experience an alien invasion from two different perspectives.
Yet that’s exactly why the movie is flawed. In a movie, we must stick with the hero from start to finish. Switching from the hero to the hero’s brother creates a disjointed movie that just doesn’t work.
By studying failures, you can see what not to do. Then you can realize that if experienced screenwriters and directors overlooked these glaringly obvious mistakes, you know you can do better so you immediately increase your chances of success as well