Writing Lessons from Bad Movies

I’m months behind popular cinema.  I think by July I’ll have seen Rogue One.  My brother is kindly helping my wife and I catch up though.  I don’t know if I should thank him for our most recent viewing; Suicide Squad.

Good golly.

I see why there were so many opinions.  The movie sucked.  But, silver lining and what not, there are great take aways available.

Know when there’s too much going on.

At no time do I have fewer than 10 ‘top priorities’ at work.  My days are scattered and bizarre and I use three different calendars to keep them straight.

Suicide Squad is so busy my days feel as complicated as a cat’s.  There are backstories, flash backs, dream sequences, so, so many characters viewers don’t care about, and a Joker subplot (we watched the extended version).

There was way too much going on in this movie.  It wanted to be character driven, action packed, universe building, nerd reference making, funny, dramatic, and dark all at once.  This can be pulled off (see Civil War or… Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3? It is certainly better than ‘skwad!’), but the elements were all set to top priority.  If competing goals are all expected to be hit at the same time, success is unlikely. Suicide Squad never really found its footing for what it wanted to be.

Either use a character or don’t introduce it.

OMG! A sweet looking bad guy who can…climb anything? Okay. Sure. That’s fine. Weird, but fine. At least we have that bit of character information.  Dude looks intimidating. Dude has body armor? I guess. We’re spending a lot of screen time on this character we’re not really learning anything about….and that’s the end for this character.

If a character is put into the story just so you don’t have to kill off a main character; don’t spend time introducing the character.  It seems the movie wanted us to care about the demise of our poor climbing villain.  He had half a line, looked at some from a box and then succumb to the worst reviewed app of all time.

That’s a waste of time.  Every single person on this planet is wildly busy and time is ultimately the one true currency that matters.  If you waste the reader’s time you won’t have readers too long.

…….Thanks for sticking through this post!

Is your character dancing for unknown reasons? Probably over-writing.

In The Walking Dead zombies shamble, keep their heads bent to one side or another and generally act in the exact way zombies are expected to.  There  I know nothing about the Enchantress character from the comics.  I’m an X-Men guy.  Perhaps in the comics the Enchantress has incredible vertigo which can only be overcome by constantly swaying.  It is a detail that only took away from the character.  We know the creature was once revered as a god, has an external heart, loves her brother, watched Ghostbusters too many times; the character was full enough for what the movie needed.  Odd swaying to complete a ritual was a bit much.

Generic settings can work.
No really! The movie had a good point.  Marching through DC universe NYC stand-in with cabs and back allies all over the place was pretty well done.  The streets did not have to be any thing specific.  No time was dedicated to saying, “ah, snap, I use to work at a little sub shop around the corner from here!”  The setting was not used as a character, it was not made to be something other than a death funnel for sub-par Last of Us bad guys to get mowed down in.  The setting was cover. It created tension because of the close quarters.  It moved the story along without damaging it.  That’s what character reveals did.

Twists are good.  Stupid twists are insulting.
The rescued whoooooo??? What? No way!  I can’t believe how much I don’t care about this plot point.  No one cares. This wasn’t a fun thing to do to make the story better.  Sure, we learned that the character being saved is super evil, not only by her actions but by other characters then telling us she is super evil.  In case you missed the imagery.  She’s evil.  Will Smith said so. A lot.

Plot twists are my favorite.  That kid saw dead people and Bruce Willis had no idea.  Generally a story can be seen coming, but a good twist can make the even a jaded nearly old guy like myself feel something.  A plot twist is not opening a door and finding a known character behind it.  That’s just…opening a door and finding a known character.  Analogies are hard.


Was Suicide Squad the worst movie? No.  That honor belongs to The Do Over.  Suicide Squad is better than The Do Over.  I imagine the film hit snags due to executive interference or general market conditions that a multi million dollar investment has to obey.  The fun of writing books is that market conditions will never help authors make money! Yeah!

….yet Suicide Squad made nearly twice its budget.


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