Sunday, December 02, 2007

Spoiler alert

I'm going to spoil at least four movies in this post. So if you don't want to read about crucial plot points of these movies, do not read further.

What movies am I going to spoil and why?

"No Country For Old Men," "Fantastic Four," "Constantine" and "Erin Brockovich." (And "Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry." But nobody cares if I spoil that 1974 movie.) (Oh, and I spoil a second-season episode of "Lost.") All these have something in common.

Okay, really, you should stop reading now if you don't want to be spoiled.

We saw "No Country For Old Men" last night.

(Nitpick on a good movie: The movie never quite gets around to saying its title out loud -- but it says everything but. "Yeah, it's a tough place. But for people of a certain age, it's even tougher." Like that. If you're not going to say the title, don't paraphrase it. Just a suggestion.)

There's a plot point that seems to pop up unexpectedly (that's a big part of its popularity) and it's been in a number of recent movies.

In a scene very near the end . . .


I'm not kidding, this is a total spoiler.


Okay. In a scene near the very end of "No Country," the character, "Sugar" has fulfilled all his promises and he's driving away. The camera lingers on an approaching stoplight. It's green. Sugar looks in the rear view mirror at some possibly-threatening kids riding bikes. Is he going to have to kill those kids? He drives through the intersection and -- wham -- his car is hit by another car running the red light! Surprise! And when I see this I think, I have seen this before. Maybe too many times.

Didn't see 'em coming car accidents as plot points occur in "Erin Brockovich," "Constantine," "Fantastic Four," and way back to "Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry," (Larry says, "There ain't nothing stopping us now!" and -- wham -- they drive right into the side of a train.)

In "No Country" and "Erin Brockovich" the crashes are between cars. In "Constantine" and "Fantastic Four" the crashes are car-human. Semi-human anyway.

Reminds me of an article in the 1970s National Lampoon magazine on writing a twist ending (though in fairness, only "Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry" used it as the final scene). The article said the perfect twist ending is: "Suddenly, the main character is run over by a bus!"

(In the TV show, "Lost," a character is actually run over by a bus!)

What I really wanted to write about is, movies get spoiled for me when I read even spoiler free reviews. Reviewers want to tell me about the movie and not ruin it, but they've already seen it and can't help telling me -- in code -- major spoilers.

For example, in reviews of "No Country," Josh Brolin's character, Llewellen, is described as "ill-fated" and "not as smart as he thinks he is." The character played by Woody Harrelson is described as "cocky" and "over-confident." Even though the reviewers didn't spell it out, it's clear to me that Llewellen and Harrelson will not survive until the credit roll.

It bugs me to know I'm being spoiled, but if I read reviews I will be spoiled. There's really no way around it. I remember I used to try to see movies before reading any reviews, but it's really hard. And, I realise, I like to know what's going to happen before it happens. So I kinda want to be spoiled too.

Oh, hey -- here comes my bus. I gotta get going.


mrmonkey23 said...

I try to avoid hearing reviews, trailers and ads before I see any movies. I saw one ad before seeing No Country for Old Men, and stopped watching halfway through to avoid having anything ruined. I couldn't believe how much advertising they had before the freaking film (I sure miss the days of the silent theater and blank screen before the movie), and then they had a bunch of trailers before the movie that told so much about the movies they were trying to sell that I would never want to watch them... there was a Denzel Washington directed thing where they told the resolution of probably every plot point in the movie... it was ridiculous. I loved No Country for Old Men, but I'm really going to think twice about whether is it worth seeing movies in the theater more in the future... unless it is a special effects thing that greatly benefits from the big screen (like 3d Beowulf I saw the night before Old Men) I really don't know if it is worth it... I'll have to see what theaters in town avoid advertising before the movies at least... well, that was a rant. I thought of another movie from the last five years with a surprise car crash, but I won't spoil it for you.

David Steinlicht said...


Thanks for your thoughts.

As to seeing movies in the theater, I think seeing 'em on the big screen, with the sound nice and loud, and with an audience of fellow enthusiasts is still the way to go.

Yes, going to the movies is extravagant (expensive), and the ads annoy, and the audience can have a few bad apples, and the film can be scratched, and the sound can be too loud, and it's a drag to leave the house, and, and . . .

But that big screen in a dark room. No network logos in the corner. No distractions. Just me and the movie and Voldemort/ Bruce Willis/ Angelina Jolie. Whether it's in 3D or not, there's nothing like it.

To tell you the truth, I didn't really think to write about spoilers in movie trailers. But they bug me, too, man!