Wednesday, November 2, 2011

My Top 12 Favorite Movie Clichés

         Film is an art form that tends to repeat itself, the result is what people refer to as film clichés. These are the small little conventions or reoccurring moments that never seem to change no matter how many times there used. Sometimes it gets really annoying and you just say to yourself, “Come on, I’ve seen that a million times already”. But I’d like to plead, there’s far more cool clichés than there are bad ones. These are the moments or elements that you’ve seen several times before but you never get tired of them because they’re so much fun and sometimes are the most memorable parts of the film. So here’s too those moments that are always old but still stay awesome in our minds, these are my top 12 favorite movie clichés.  

12. The Montage

It's always great to have a montage in film, it allows us to see more of the characters and it builds on our high anticipation for what's to come next. There like fun little music video's within the film and it allows the audience to relax and just have fun with the characters Just about every sports movie has a montage, where the team starts off week but get stronger through there teachings and practices. The "Rocky" movies and "The Karate Kid" series are perfect examples of that. You also can't have an animated kid's film without a fun little music montage, were the characters begin to adapt and get along with each other. Also, if a film is themed around a road trip, then it usually has a fun montage showing all the fun locations the characters go to. Whether it's an animated movie, road trip film or a sports movie, the montage is a very old cliche but I still love it and it's a perfect one to start this countdown.

11. The Explosion just a Few Feet Away

Has anyone ever noticed how explosions never seem to be all that threatening in movies? Well ... who cares, it makes the villains more menacing and it makes our hero’s look tougher if they can run, walk or just stand near an explosion without flinching. Action movies ranging from "Die Hard", to "Once Upon a Time in Mexico", to "X-Men Origins Wolverine" have all taken full advantage of this gimmick, and with great tongue-in-cheek success. It may be an old and hokey cliche, but I still enjoy it. 

10. Slow Motion 
This has often been labeled as one of the greatest movie clichés of all time and for a good reason, it makes everything look massive, sweeping and awesome. Sometimes action can go by so quickly that you feel like you’ve missed something but slow motion makes you feel like you've seen everything. Shots just look so grand when they slow down for a second and show every little detail of how cool the action is. There are two movies in particular that really used this cliché the best. One is “300”, just about everything in that film was shot in slow motion and the other one is “The Matrix”. This film revolutionized filming and gave us that classic slow motion image of Neo dodging bullets. It paved the way for the action shown in films like “Watchmen”, “Dare Devil”, “Wanted” and “Spider-Man”. This cliché has actually been around since Jackie Jane’s earliest films and there’s really no telling how long it’s been around but judging from how often it’s been used, I doubt it will ever die out.  

9. Token Female's 

 Now I’ll be the first to tell you that I prefer to have female characters play an actual part in the film, rather than just being there for eye candy. Having said that, there’s still nothing wrong with having that token female in the film either. There was no reason to have a relation between Sandra Bullock’s character (Annie) and Keanu Reeves character (Jack) in “Speed” but it added more flavor to the film and it was still fun to have her there for the ride. The James Bond movies make a tradition of having that one girl character that has no purpose in the film, but add's a level of enjoyment that would be missing without them. I think my favorite is Salma Hayek’s character named Carolina from “Desperado”, this character comes completely out of nowhere and has nothing to do with the story but it’s awesome to have Salma Hayek there to join in on the action. Bottom line, it’s best that females have a purpose in a film, but it’s still nice to have them around.

8. The Motivational Speech

This always happens when a team loses all hope and a massive battle is about to begin, then one person who’s spirit hasn’t been broken get’s up and gives a motivating and inspiring speech. It’s what raises the hopes of our hero’s and gives them the strength to continue on fighting against improbable odds. This is also what get’s the audience to get up and cheer for them and to get fully invested in their cause. There are lots of memorable speeches seen in films like “Brave Heart”, “300”, “Independence Day” even comedies like “Mystery Men” and “Animal House”. The motivational speech gets us to care more for the characters, the situation at hand and it especially gets us excited for what lies ahead. Therefore, it’s a cliché that’s worth seeing a few times more.

7. The Past 

It’s said that the dreams of the past create the realities of the future, as well as one of the greatest movie clichés ever. Characters always seem to be more interesting when they have a dark and tormenting past that follows them into the future. There are several great characters to use for examples, like Batman, Wolverine, Harry Potter, Luke Skywalker, etc. It’s a touchy subject and it makes our hero’s seem more three dimensional when they either have to confess to a mistake they’ve made that their trying to make up for it. Or if a family member has been killed and the hero wants to honor them. Some of the most interesting characters are the ones that don’t know their own past and are on their own personal quest to discover what they’ve lost. But this doesn’t just apply to hero’s, villains can also be very interesting when we see what tragedies effected them and turned them into the monsters they are know. Whether it’s a hero or a villain, the past is always an awesome subject that I hope still continues in the future. 

6. Small Supporting Villains 

In movies, the villains are always a tone of fun but there even more fun when there’s that small supporting villain at their side. The henchmen hardly ever say anything, do anything but for some reason they always seem to leave an impression. It’s like they offer that little extra coolness that makes the main villains feel more complete. The “James Bond” films have given us some really memorable supporting villains and I especially love all the supporting villains from the “X-Men” movies. One of the most popular small supporting villains is Boba Fett from the “Star Wars” films. But my favorite small, supporting villains by fare are the twins from “The Matrix Reloaded”, because they were made of awesome. Overall, that small supporting evil always goes a long way. 

5. Teams Walking in a straight Line

This shows that the group is united and is ready to fight or die together. This cliché has been exploited like made in films like “Tombstone”, The Wild Bunch”, "Blade 2", “Ghost Busters” and even "Fan Boys". Just about any group of people can do this and look awesome. My favorite portrayal of this by far was in “Mystery Men”, I’ll never forget that moment when they all got suited up, there was that lightning strike and then we see the team walking out of that mist together matched to some awesome music. Sure the costumes look ridicules but it was still an awesome scene and it’s always the first thing that comes to mind when I think of a team of supper hero’s walking united. It looks tough, intimidating and it’s a solid indication that a group means business. Teams walking in a straight line still hold up as one of the all time greatest movie clichés ever. 

4. Fun End Credits 

I love sitting back and viewing the end credits. This is when you relax, let the music sink in and just think about what a great time you had. But, common film viewers just turn the film off as soon as the credits start. However, there’s a new way to get the viewers sitting through the credits by making them fun. For example, at the end of movies like 300”, “A Series of Unfortunate Events”, "Captain America The First Avenger", "The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader" and most of “The Mummy” movies we get fun little animated credits that are like animated montages at the end of the film. Animated family movies do this all the time including “Bolt”, “Wall-E”, "Tangled", "Rango", and Disney’s “The Princes and the Frog”. It’s almost like a short animated recreation of the movie, like the film doesn't end right away, and we usually get an idea of what all these wonderful characters will be doing after words. This tends to be a rather resent cliché that’s started up over the past 6 years, let’s hope it stays around for a while because it’s just fantastic. 

3. Breathtaking Flight Scenes 

One element in a film that I love more than anything is atmosphere, I love it when there’s that quiet moment with no dialogue and only calming and beautiful music is herd in the background. It’s almost like a meditation, where you can just breathe and take in the wonder and fascination of the film and its unique world that it has to offer. The favorite way for a film to convey a feeling of atmosphere is through a flight scene. There’s nothing like the simulating illusion of flight combined with great music and breathtaking cinematography. I can’t even count how many times I’ve seen this perfected in movies like “How to Train Your Dragon”, “Pearl Harbor”, “Fantasia 2000”, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”, and “Avatar”. The music, the shots, the pacing, the cinematography, it’s always a breath taking spectacle that it really allows you to take in everything that was great about the film. 

2. Awesome Title Screens 

Personally, I think every movie needs to have just the right title opening to set the tone for the film. If pooled off properly, it becomes a clear indication that you’re about to see an awesome movie. Sometime’s the opening is big, loud and grand, and it really pulls you into the film right away. The title openings to the “Star Wars”, “The Terminator”, “The Thing”, the “Harry Potter” movies and the “Star Trek” movies are perfect examples, especially with the latest “Star Trek” movie in 2009. It’s pivotal that films begin with the proper title openings to get the film started on a good note.

1. The Epic Quire
There’s no doubt about it, the quire is simply the greatest movie cliché ever and its one cliché that I’ll never get tired of. It just makes the film feel more grand and powerful if there’s a quire there to enhance the tension and the size of the situation at hand. Sometimes the Quire is so effective and engaging that it makes you want to get up out of your seat and join the hero’s in battle. We’ve heard it in “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe”, “The Matrix Revolutions”, Disney’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”, and “The Lord of the Rings” movies and it always gets me hyped.  But quires aren’t always just epic and grand, sometimes the most effective are soothing and quiet ones, like what Danny Elfman uses in his films like “Edward Scissorhands” or the “Batman” movies. Whether it’s used for dramatic scenes or to enhance the scope and size of a film is, the quire is one cliché that I hope never dies out because in some cases it makes for the most memorable, and engaging part of a film and it will always stand as my favorite movie cliché. 




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