What makes the difference between a good movie, a bad movie, and a great movie? So many things. It’s easy to rattle off a ton of good movies that all hit the same chords, but nothing that really makes them stand out and have you saying “Holy shit. That was the best movie I’ve ever seen.” To b able to do that, a good movie has to get everything perfect and have just that little something extra. To find out how to make a great movie, let’s first look at what makes a bad movie bad, and a good movie good.
First, bad movies. What’s the deal? You’ve walked into the theater after spending $14 on a movie ticket. Maybe you stop and get some popcorn, maybe you’re smart and ate before you went to the theater in the first place and you still have some of your life savings left. Either way, you sit down in the best seat you can find and the lights dim. It’s show time. You are excited because the trailer for this one actually looked pretty decent, and it’s got a couple well-known actors in it, so it’s got to be good. Then, about 10 minutes in, the feeling starts hitting you. A couple flubbed lines, a couple plot holes already starting to develop, and BAM! You realize. Shit, this movie is going to suck. Once you make that realization about 10 minutes in, you know you’re in for a ride. Is this going to suck so bad that it will actually be great (ex: The Room). Or is this going to be the perfect suck that isn’t even noteworthy in its suckiness, and will be nothing but a complete waste of time? Only time will tell.
So why does a movie suck? In my opinion, it’s a combination of the following three things: 1. Plot Holes; 2. Obvious Clichés; and 3. Bad Acting. Combine all three and you might have a bona fide dumpster fire on your hands. Most bad movies are only glaring offenders in one or two of these aspects, but some can gloriously fall flat in every department causing legendarily bad flicks.
Good movies, on the other hand, manage to take a fresh idea and make it interesting enough that you want to hang on and see where the ride is going to end. The plot might not be complex or characters might not be super compelling, but they are empathetic enough that you want them to win or lose. Either way, you are invested. Most importantly, a good movie tells a complete story. By the time the end credits roll, we completed a journey and are happy with the outcome. Sure there might be a few plot holes or lines that missed the mark, but overall, the journey was worth it. Not blowing any minds, but not a complete waste of time.
Finally, there are those movies that not only tell a unique and interesting story but are executed perfectly. Great movies. These movies tend to come from the single mind of a film auteur because they are so unique and fresh they could have possibly come from a think tank. A great movie has audiences spellbound with each scene and each actors performance within that scene. These are the movies that win awards. These are the movies that you pay to see again just so you can catch all the things you missed the first time. These are the movies that will keep the medium alive.
That and theater popcorn is the shit.