Do you want to avoid watching bad movies that leave you disappointed and unfulfilled? Let me let you in on a little secret: bad movies exhibit telltale signs that they won't be worth your time. The next time you turn on a flick and want to quickly figure out whether it's worth two hours of your Friday night, look for these 15 signs.
1. Long A-List Actors, With a No-Name Director
If you see a film with a ton of A-List actors and yet the director is someone you've never heard of… run! Or at least expect it to not meet your expectations.
2. Too Much Advertising
If a film has too much advertising for months and months, it sometimes indicates the movie itself is missing the mark. Especially if the advertising disappears after it hits theaters. Just saying.
3. It's a Remake of an Old Classic That No One Asked For
Have filmmakers unfamiliar with the saying, “If it ain't broke, don't fix it”? We're currently in a stunted period of cinema — an era where most motion pictures are sequels, reboots, or old rehashings of stories that have already been told a thousand times. We don't need Hollywood to remake every story that's ever been conceived, especially when it's already been done before to the audience's satisfaction.
This is a telltale sign that studios are looking for a quick cash grab rather than being passionate about the story.
4. The Trailer Spoils The Entire Movie
I love movie trailers; it's one of my favorite aspects of seeing a film. I like to get excited about what I'm going to see and get at least some idea of what I'm in for. However, a movie trailer shouldn't give away the entire film's plot, spoil central twists, or reveal the final act. The more confused you are and the less you know after watching a movie trailer, the better.
You can catch this by looking at the comments on YouTube or other forums where trailers are posted. Other users will point out if the trailer contains spoilers.
5. Your Friend With Terrible Taste in Movies Thinks It Looks Great
We all have that one friend or family member in our lives who has terrible taste in movies. If you know you have polarizing tastes between this person and they boast about how good it is, that's a good sign that it's not for you.
Don't get me wrong, some films are so faultless that all universally love them, but these are like finding a diamond in the rough. Take your friend who thinks Transformers 4 was the best movie ever's recommendations with a grain of salt.
6. “We're Pleased To Announce Our Next Live-Action Remake Will Be….”
I have a rule: any of these movies that are a 5 out of 10 is a pleasant surprise if it's a live-action remake. My expectations are on the ground, if not below it, at this point. It's not that it's impossible to make a high-quality live-action adaptation that's worthwhile; I just haven't seen one grace our screens in the past twenty years.
7. One Character Spoon Feeds All The Exposition
Sometimes there's no way around it — you need to explain the film's subtext by explaining the preceding events that led to the current setting. However, there's a proper way to do it and a wrong way to do it. If, by listening to the dialogue, I can instantly tell that a character is lazily spoon-feeding us exposition when there were other more creative and less obvious ways to inform the audience, I instantly hate your movie. It's terrible writing, plain and simple.
8. Advertising for The Film Disappears During The Opening Weekend
Films need to market films so that audiences see them, especially bigger-budget movies that need to justify the amount of money the studio just dropped on making the film. If you've seen advertisements for the film months before its release, but when it's time for the film to come out, this marketing campaign has gone radio silent, it's probably a dud movie.
The same goes for the reverse situation — where the ads come out immediately before releasing the film but not any sooner.
A great example of this is A24's desperate attempt to bury all promotion of Under the Silver Lake and dump the film on Video On Demand after they bit off more than they could chew in terms of marketing the movie to audiences. After seeing the movie, I can understand why.
9. The Final Film in a Series From a Book is In Multiple Parts
This goes for any book adaptation, not just children's books. I won't claim that there aren't exceptions to this rule, but do we need three or five-part franchises based on incredibly short source material? Unless the director and screenplay writer are creative geniuses, a rare commodity these days, it's likely just another example of Hollywood milking the cash cow until it runs dry.
10. Over-Explaining & Underestimating The Audience's Intelligence
Someone tell filmmakers to stop underestimating their audience's intelligence. Even if spoon-feeding information and over-explaining things results in fewer people understanding what's going on, you'll at least save your dignity and creative integrity while you're at it.
11. Bad Acting and Terrible CGI in The Opening Scene
Two conditions must be met for me to enjoy a movie, and that's for the acting not to be horrible and for there to be minimal or at least tasteful use of CGI. Unfortunately, the majority of movies coming out of Hollywood fail this test. Can someone explain why CGI looked better 30 years ago than today?
12. The Critic Reviews on Rotten Tomatoes Are High, but The Audience Score Is Low
This one is so reliable — look at the Rotten Tomatoes score. Are the critics score incredibly high and the audience score incredibly low? Listen to the audience. I generally prefer IMDb ratings to gauge the quality of a movie, but it doesn't separate critic and audience ratings.
When there's a stark contrast between what critics are saying and what audiences are thinking, it's usually because critics are trying to push something and shame audiences for not buying into it.
13. Cringe Dialogue in the First Ten Minutes
I get it; not every line is going to be Aaron Sorkin or Quentin Tarantino level, but if the first ten minutes have come and gone and you're feeling more cringe than entertained, it's time to turn it off. The first ten minutes should be engaging and pull the viewer in, not turn them off.
If this is the “engaging” part of the movie, then I don't even want to see the rest.
14. The Movie Is Set To Be Released in January
January is so notorious for being the time of year when studios drop their dud movies that it's been nicknamed “dump month” — a time when studios dump the movies they expect to be commercial failures. This is for a few reasons. Domestic audiences during this month are smaller than the rest of the year because consumers are cutting back on their spending following the holidays and because of the unpredictable winter weather.
It also has to do with the timing of two major film industry award ceremonies — The Golden Globes, which takes place in January, and the Academy Awards, which takes place in late February or early March. Films released during January and February miss the cutoff date to be contenders for the Oscars. If a movie performs poorly in screen tests, studios tend to drop these films during the quieter periods of the year, like January. However, there are sometimes some great hidden gems released in January!
15. Text Exposition Before the Film Starts
While this was great with the first few Star Wars movies, the scrolling text before a movie even starts can be a bit off-putting. It often feels like the film has another film's worth of content to tell us before the movie even begins. While it's helpful sometimes, other times, they drop major lore in these opening lines that can easily be missed. In general, the best rule is show, don't tell.