How to Determine a Bad Movie from a Good One, Beforehand

watching a movie

Watching movies is a hobby for most people. Not only do they relish the merits of the film, watching one is also a good way too kill time. A good movie, after all, leaves viewers with favorable impressions, even if it has a sad ending. The problem is, some films are marketed to be blockbusters, but in reality, they are nothing but dull and hurried pieces of work. As a movie lover, you should know what to avoid, otherwise you’ll end up wasting money in viewing or buying bad movies.

A bad movie is hard to distinguish from the get go, especially if its preview is well edited. A plethora of scenes nicely put together, along with appropriate music, can give good impressions, regardless if the movie is bad. However, if you’re pretty observant, you will notice a number of telltale signs that a movie is bound to flop. With some sleuthing and much knowledge about those signs, you can determine a bad movie from a good one, beforehand. Here are the strategies.

1. Spot the Preview Voice-Over

If you watch films frequently, you will notice different sets of voice-overs for the movie previews. The deep-toned ones usually present movies made by major Hollywood productions, some of them happen to be big-screen gems. As for the previews with slightly high-pitched narrators, they often point to poorly-made low-budget flicks.

The previews that have deep-toned voice-overs, of course, do not automatically reflect good movies. Though, the chances are much better than those with high-pitched ones. If you’re not convinced, watch several movie previews. You will notice that the deep-toned voice-overs are in the previews done by Miramax, 20th Century Fox and other well-known movie outfits. The high-pitched ones, on the other hand, are from previews made by obscure studios.

2. The Dreaded Movie Reference

feeling like a movie starSome movie posters, instead of having the movie’s tag line, contain direct references to other movies, often critically-acclaimed or hundred-million-dollar hits. Sometimes these references are placed because the movie being promoted lacks the story or the quality to stand alone. The viewers, in turn, remember the referenced blockbusters. So they flock to movie theaters, in anticipation of a film having the same caliber as those referenced. In most cases, the viewers leave the movie theater perplexed and hugely disappointed.

Not all movies that make references, however, are lousy. Some of them refer to other movies for added marketing value. In the case of Hellboy 2, Guillermo del Toro was introduced as “From the Director’s of Pan’s Labyrinth.” The viewers then expected Hellboy 2 to have stunning visual effects just like Pan’s Labyrinth, which happened to be true.

So how do you determine the movie posters that point to bad movies? It’s simple. If the references are printed as big or even bigger than the names of the movie’s lead stars, that movie is most likely a dud.

3. Movie Reviews

Movie reviews are available everywhere. You can find them in the Entertainment sections of newspapers. You can also check out the movie review websites on the internet. Just so you know, movie critics get copies of movies right before or during the airing date. Once they see a particular film, they will write comprehensive reviews, which are either submitted to a publication or posted online. just keep yourself posted on these reviews and you’ll have a clear idea on what you should watch and what you should avoid.

There are times when a movie review is not accurate, especially if the critic is biased against a particular actor or director. Make it a point to read more than one review, so you’re sure you are getting your money’s worth for an upcoming film. Depending on a single critic is just too risky.

4. Movies Based on Video Games are Usually Lame

Not many flicks based from video games are considered “watchable.” In most cases, they get unfavorable reviews from critics and with good reason. These movies tend to have shallow storylines and cheesy dialogue, since the filmmakers deviate the screenplays directly from the game. Here are some of the factors why video games-turned movies are often lame:

  • Limited Material - Many video games provide more focus on the gameplay rather than the storyline, giving filmmakers and writers limited material to work with.
  • video game

  • A Game Brings too Many Expectations - Video games also leave little room for experimentation, as compared to novels, with the movie already previewed by the game.
  • Too Many Elements to Fulfill - Writers and directors even face the dilemma of angering the game’s fans if they change some of the elements, which loses them thousands of probable viewers.
  • Some Games Need to be Played to Get the Right Feel - Making a movie based on a role-playing game is pretty time consuming. The writer and director must play the game to get the right feel for every town and setting presented. Not getting them right, especially the ones that hold many important scenes, will leave the fans screaming “injustice!,” once they see the film.

Filmmakers are obviously constricted when working with video games. As a viewer, you’re better off watching a film that is much easier to create or recreate.

5. Many Movies Based on Graphic Novels are Decent

Unlike video games, graphic novels give the right amount of information for filmmakers to work with. The movie can center on a popular character or stay true to the original story. With everything drawn, many readers are curious on how the characters, settings and the story will look like in full-motion. The movie versions may pale in comparison to the graphic novels, but as motion pictures, they’re not bad. You may even find a more refreshing perspective to the story by seeing the movie.

6. No Scoop, Little Reason to Watch

Poorly marketed films have a great chance of being duds. moviesThese movies are snubbed by the media and for good reason. Here are some of those reasons:

  • Low Budget - Marketing is an essential factor in almost every endeavor, including the world of making movies. Given the importance of marketing, the lack of funds is a big reason why a film does not get many or even any promotions. Of course, a film lacking finances might also be made and portrayed by fellows whose talent levels are as low as their talent fees.
  • The Scoop on Disastrous Flicks - Media outfits, trying to get ahead of one another, have tons of spies who check the sets of possibly noteworthy movies. If they don’t see much potential in a flick, there is no reason for them to report it, especially if they are starred by actors with sliding careers.
  • The Release Date - Some movies, which weren’t aired, are repackaged then shown in movie theaters. These films failed to make it to the big screen on time because of the lack of funds or they were released together with a handful of blockbusters. Whichever the case, these motion pictures weren’t good enough to be released on schedule, so watching them now is pretty useless.

There are cases when unheard-of movies become sleeper-hits, but these films get much media attention after a few days of airing. If you think a low budget flick has potential, just wait for the media or the movie critics to pass judgment. You’ll eventually get the answers anyway.

7. Ask a Bookworm or a Film Buff

Bookworms and film buffs have a great nose for good films. Bookworms, being knowledgeable in literature, can spot a good book just by reading the summary. Naturally, they can somehow adjudge a film just by analyzing the preview. As for film buffs, they can ascertain a film’s visuals through the preview and from there, predict the story.

Both individuals may generate different predictions, given the varied sources of their opinions. You can consult them both, weigh each answer, then adjudge if you should head to the movie theater or not.

A Midas’ Touch for Golden Movies

Movies, when finely made, makes viewers want to applaud during the credits. They even change the lives of people who can relate to the theme and characters. A bad movie, on the other hand, makes you wish you were doing something else, instead of watching. If you apply the right strategies, you will surely land on every good film, as if you had Midas’ golden touch for instant movie classics (Learn how to make movies). Happy viewing! Those were the key ingredients why movies become blockbusters, just look at the list of the Top ten blockbuster movies of all time.

5 Comments so far

  1. rojan bibbo on February 17th, 2009

    good tips thanks

  2. P.F. Bruns on February 17th, 2009

    I have to disagree with much of this piece. The quality of the voiceover work in trailers is far more uniform and far less indicative today than just a few years ago, largely because most small-market films don’t have their trailers run before most large-market films.

    Additionally, while video game movies have routinely proven unworthy of view, so have quite a few comic-book and graphic-novel based films. (There actually is a difference between a comic book and a graphic novel: “The Uncanny X-Men” is a comic book, since it runs monthly and presents an ongoing serialized story, while “X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills” is a graphic novel, featuring as it does a single encapsulated story. Note that trade paperbacks, which collect several issues of an ongoing comic, muddy the waters a little, but are generally considered part of the comic, rather than graphic novels, except by parents. ;) ) Your point here was a bit vague, and lacked specific examples to support it.

    Also, not all small-market films are bad. Look at documentaries. Most documentaries (Michael Moore and Al Gore notwithstanding–and even they didn’t spend much compared to, say, Michael Bay) don’t cost much to make and aren’t well marketed. When it comes to fiction, “Slumdog Millionaire,” for example, had a shoestring budget, but has garnered major critical acclaim.

    You also mention film reviews. It is absolutely vital to listen to reviewers who a) tend to match your taste in film (which I realize is a bit circular, since you need to pay attention to reviews as part of developing such a taste); and b) who does not suck. I think here about Leonard Maltin, who used to give such turkeys as “Laserblast” (look it up–it got the MST3K treatment with good reason) 2 1/2 stars.

    In general, your how-to is slanted far too much toward big-budget films, and contains vague and unsupported points. The mechanics could use work too; you often split independent clauses with commas where you need a semicolon or a comma plus conjunction. Sometimes just breaking them up into sentences is a better idea.

    Please consider revising this hack with a more solid structure and grammar–and pay attention to smaller films! They’re not all bad.

  3. [...] wasted two or three hours (counting the drive) and $30! The Life Hackery has some tips on how to tell the difference between a good movie and a bad one without paying for [...]

  4. Sapro on February 22nd, 2009

    The author of this article should have mentioned that this advice is only good for big, high production value, Hollywood films. There are many low budget films that are great and that actually make you think, as opposed to most big Hollywood films that do all the thinking for you.

  5. DownloadPokerGames on March 2nd, 2009

    I tend to avoid the movies where the trailer begins with “in a world…”

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