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6 Common Movie Arguments That Are Always Wrong

When you're criticizing any movie with sci-fi or fantasy elements for not following its own rules, you always run into this roadblock where a defender of the movie calls you a nitpicking idiot with no imagination and can't believe you're complaining about rules in a movie about superheroes, of all things. Or vampires.

I don't care if a movie is about space unicorns with rocket feet. If the space unicorns spend most of the movie zooming around in space with no helmets, then you can't have the climax involve shooting the space unicorn villain out of an airlock where he suffocates to death. When did they suddenly lose the ability to breathe in space? Were they not supposed to be able to breathe in space and the director just forgot about this until now? Is he like 5?

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I guess that would explain why the movie is about space unicorns.

There's only two places where the laws of the universe randomly change for no reason in the middle of a story, and that is a dream or a David Lynch movie, neither of which anyone really wants to watch.

It's not just nitpicking for the sake of nitpicking, either. As far as shooting a unicorn out of an airlock, if you didn't know he couldn't breathe in space, there would be no suspense leading up to that moment. The filmmakers want you to think "Ha! He's about to die!" but you don't think that, because you don't know that it can kill him.

This is the worst criticism when it comes to zombie movies, because as far as I can tell, the biggest draw of zombie fiction is participation. People love figuring out what they would do in that situation, or how it would affect society, or (with less realistic zombie fiction) what kind of outrageous badass weapons they would cobble together from household items to blow up zombies in new and creative ways.

Either way, zombie fans are all about participation and using their own reasoning or imagination to come up with rules and scenarios and ramifications of zombies, and to really enjoy that kind of meaningless exercise, there need to be ground rules. How can zombies be "killed"? How could you become a zombie? How fast can they move? If anyone wants to come up with ideas for the best weapon or the smartest place to fortify, they need to agree on all these things first.

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Nobody ever suggests a sandcastle.

If some idiot walks into the discussion and says, "Oh come on, zombies aren't even real. I say they can fly and shoot laser beams," it ruins the fun time you've been having coming up with elaborate zombie-mowing vehicles. There's nothing wrong with flying, laser-shooting zombies because, sure, zombies in fact don't exist, and anyone can imagine zombies that do anything, but if they suddenly appear in a story that previously had slow, shambling zombies, it destroys all the tension and meaning of anything that happened before.

It's painful to watch trailers for some awful turd like Epic Movie or Fantastic Four, but at least you have the hope that after a few weeks, it will fade into oblivion, a hope shattered by the dreaded four words: "They've greenlit a sequel!"

"Dear God, why?" millions of people on the Internet will ask. Some people are just expressing disappointment at more terrible movies entering theaters, but some people go on these rants about how stupid movie studios are to keep making these abominations when "everybody" hated the last one. Sure, stupid like a fox.

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He's going "Durrrrrr."

One of the biggest franchises people expressed this kind of disgust at was the Shrek series, which is often used to contrast DreamWorks with Pixar, as in "DreamWorks isn't doing as well as Pixar because they make soulless throwaway movies like Shrek, whereas Pixar makes heartfelt, genuine movies like Monsters, Inc. Why did they make FOUR Shrek movies? Why wouldn't they listen to audiences and make the movies people overwhelmingly preferred?"

That's actually exactly what they did. Shrek 2 is not only the the top grossing animated movie of all time, but No. 6 in domestic box office among all movies, nestled between Star Wars and E.T. If you didn't try to make a sequel to that, your investors would murder you.


I think part of it was that they put subliminal messages in this shot.

People usually respond by saying, "Sure, it made a lot of money, but ..." But nothing. That's the sole reason major studios make movies. You and all your friends hated it? Nobody cares. All the critics hated it? Nobody cares. Some people liked it enough to put down close to a billion dollars worldwide. I'm not saying it's a good movie, or that the sequel has any artistic merit. I'm saying the studio would be stupid to not make one. They don't make movies to get street cred with you, or so they can sleep at night with a clear artistic conscience.

Being disappointed that people are making sequels to bad movies, that's fair. The studios are going to do it, but you don't have to like it. Being mind-boggled? There's no reason you should be, if you're checking Box Office Mojo and not Rotten Tomatoes. You can call the studios cynical, soulless and greedy for making these things, but don't call them stupid.

Every so often you get someone who is convinced that The Incredibles is really about Ayn Rand's objectivism or something, and is by turns frustrated with and condescending to the rest of you who are too blind to see it.

Apparently about half of the critics who saw 300, a movie whose message was mainly "manly man good, fancy man bad," decided it was clearly and obviously about the Iraq War and/or relations with Iran.

Some people were convinced it was pro-war propaganda. "Clearly," one blogger says, "300 is a brazen allegory for the war the U.S. is fighting in Iraq and preparing to fight in Iran." A conservative blogger agrees, dismissing naive people who "argue the film was never intended to have any modern-day applications, much less offend Iran," just because the graphic novel was "published by Frank Miller in 1998 long before the war in Iraq had started."

Other people insisted that it was actually the bad guy who symbolized George W. Bush, because he was a greedy warmonger.


This symbolizes ... Karl Rove?

Others claimed that it was actually Hollywood acting on the military's orders to dehumanize Iranians (Iran is modern-day Persia) in the public eye, because we are getting ready to attack Iran.

Sure, you think that's ridiculous, until you see Shahs of Sunset on Bravo.

BravoTV
The most fabulous propaganda.

Probably one of the best examples is this guy, who thinks The Dark Knight is a defense of George W. Bush. "There seems to me no question that ... The Dark Knight ... is at some level a paean of praise to the fortitude and moral courage that has been shown by George W. Bush in this time of terror and war." Of course!

He bemoans how liberals feel free to express their political views directly in their anti-war movies, but conservatives have to hide their messages "behind a mask" of allegory (and Batman), hidden so well in the movie that no sane person can see it.

You can't really get through to these people because the more you argue that their message is clearly not in the movie, the more convinced they are that the message must have been really well hidden and only the smartest, rightest people can see it.

The only thing to do is to divert them to another movie discussion. "That's a very interesting point, which reminds me of that scene in Shrek where Donkey says, 'They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.' What do you suppose he was trying to say?" That should do the trick. Sorry, Shrek fans.

Check out more from Christina in The 11 Most Common (And Sad) Internet Argument Techniques and How to Tell When Criticism Is Constructive.

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Christina H

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