Well, some of them aren't absolute, but some of 'em are.
This one's just about unbreakable: If there's an expensive, exotic sports car in an action movie, that car is going to get trashed. A painful truth for us car lovers, but there it is. That Ferrari, Lotus, Lamborghini, Aston Martin? Gonna be a heap of shredded tin by the end of the flick. I don't think it applies to your Porsche, Mercedes, or BMW. Has to have a more exotic pedigree. If it does, it's as doomed as The Kid.
Speaking of which... In a war movie, The Kid is gonna get it. Usually a minor character but not always. The Lad With His Whole Life Ahead of Him. He's deader than a Maserati in a Kung Fu flick. Even surer if we see him early on getting a letter from his young wife or girlfriend. Deader 'n shit. Sorry pal, it's what you're there for.
This one's somewhere around 98%: The law of the interrupted kiss. The first kiss between the romantic leads is always interrupted, usually somwhere just after pucker-up but before contact is made. Phone rings, kid sister busts in, house blows up, whatever. But they're not going to get to connect lips until Act 3--everyone knows it. They might as well not bother trying.
23. A rule observed quite strictly by the first Star Trek
A black man beaming down to the planet with Spock and Kirk and McCoy? He's a goner already. And even he knows it. You can see it in his eyes. "Oh, shit, they need another decoy! I was going to be a captain someday."
41. You know what? I just imagined a variation of the Revenge Action Movie.
A ghastly hate-murder of a gay man happens. Similar to Matthew Shepard's. The culprits belong to a nutty Phelps-like "church" that's militia-like, i.e., they're many, have loads of guns, and know how to use them. But the victim's lover was...
And the Attorney General, a straight republican Christian, ends up getting into the act to bring down the "church" led by the bad guy because, as he says, "That just ain't right for a church, and ain't right for an American."
76. And after they pop a cap through "Phelp"'s head, the AG
begins to realize that the stain of hatred has moved all the way up into the White House and is able to convince the republican house majority leader, and that's how the movie ends. Either leaving it to the imagination of the viewer, or prime for the sequel - "Steven Segal in 'Unelected'".
7. The bad guy never just puts a bullet in the head of the good guy
Especially in a Bond flick, but it happens in a lot of others, the bad guy will talk and talk and give the bad guy his whole plan, then walk away and either let a machine or some incompetent idiot handle the killing of the good guy.
This one gets satirized a lot nowadays--maybe I should have put in a qualifier for the era in which the movie was made. But man, from 1940-1980 or more, in any horror or sci fi movie, when The Guy has rescued her and he's trying to lead her escaping from The Creature, the girl is going to trip. Even when she's not wearing high heels.
Has a corollary, too, I think: If The Girl gets the gun, she's going to drop it, forget to switch off the safety, chicken out, whatever. But she's not going to get to shoot it. Same era of course.
12. An army officer in a war flick will issue some kind of directive like
Edited on Sat Jan-22-05 06:16 PM by Aristus
"Have my jeep ready at oh-seven-hundred, and that is a DIRECT order."
In the real Army, no one who doesn't want to get laughed at says oh-anything. O is in the alphabet. the time is 'zero-seven-hundred', or 'zero-eight-thirty'.
And although the orders issued by officers are classified as 'direct' orders, no officer worth his butter-bar would ever point that out. Come to think of it, no good officer would append 'that is an order' to ANYTHING he would say. If you have to remind soldiers of your authority.........
While we're on the subject, tired dogfaces in movie combat always talk like cadets in an inspection: (bellowing)"What do we do now, !SIR!?"
In reality, it would be more like a tired, resigned "What now, Cap'n?"
Gotta have the montage, where we watch the utterly incompetent unlovely third-rate bozos that the world has written suddenly and miraculously turn into nobel prize winning cheerleaders/chess champs/race drivers/baseball team/dancers/whatever. Somehow, all their teeth are straightened through the montage, as well as hair changes, and an apparent 5000% increase in their warddrobe budget.
Gotta be older than Tonto, this one, but that's the first one I can think of. Works for black-white cop/buddy movies. The Black Guy stands for soul, rootedness, hipness, streetsmarts--all the stuff the White Guy needs to have validated in himself by having a Black Soulmate.
Mr Spock is one of my favorite instances. He's the Native of Outer Space, who has deep knowledge of its folkways and weirdnesses, all unavailable to the White Hero. White Hero needs to have this lore (logic, science, but also deep cultural weirdness) supplied to him, but his own Wonderfulness is validated by the fact that he has a friend steeped in non-WhiteGuy lore.
26. Genuine spiritual values are the province of minorities
Kind of a corrolary to Hero's Sidekick Is a Native: if genuine, non-hypocritical spiritual/religious values are to be represented, the character HAS to be an indigenous person or ethnic minority. This is what black people are for. They are there to validate the Destiny of the White Guy, through their contact with Deep Mysterious Wells of Spiritual Wisdom. We white guys don't know what it is, but them black folk just have DMW of SW oozing out of 'em. Our own religious professionals are all hypocrites, so we're kinda caught off from this otherwise.
The Matrix films are an exceptionally egregious example. Morpheus, The Oracle. Couple of superb black actors compelled to play--let's face it--this same damn role.
Always amazes me how oblivious rich hollywood stars are to how utterly condescending this plot is. They LOOOOOOVE to play this role--the White Guy Saves The Poor Oppressed Black People Of Genuine Spiritual Values. I really liked Shawshank, but damn, it's a pretty egregious offender in this regard. "Mississippi Burning" is another classic case, but there are lots of others. The job of the oppressed black folks (or Native Americans) is to hum spirituals and Suffer In Noble Dignitude. For their suffering ennobles them. And the White Guy will save them, thereby rescuing White Folks from having to identify with all them Kluxers or whatever that are doing the oppressing. The White Guy Who Takes Pity On the Oppressed Natives and rescues them from the other white guys.
Funny how rarely the Oppressed Natives get to rescue themselves.
27. If the bad guy is captured alive at the end of the movie
He'll produce a gun an try to shoot the hero or one of his friends, thereby giving the hero an excuse to shoot him dead (usually with a shot in the exact middle of the forehead at a ludicrously high distance).
Starts with Cowboy flicks, moves into Detective Flicks, and from there into Spy Flicks, yup. But it starts with the Gunslinger Who Has Hung Up His Guns, and has to be coaxed back into action. Always a reliable kick off for a revenge plot, as you imply. The egregious act that brings him out of retirement. Ah'm Gonna Git The Bastids What Shot Billy's Dawg!
In a Sci Fi horror movie particularly, the REAL bad guy is not The Creature, it's The Guy Who Just Doesn't Get It. Frequently the first person to be killed by The Creature. Igor in the old Whale Frankenstein--he's the one who causes The Creature to turn away from good, by tormenting him with the flame and whatnot.
Better example is Paul Reiser's character in Aliens, though. Classic instance of The Guy Who Just Doesn't Get It. The corporate slimeball who wants to bring The Creature back to Earth so they can profit from it. Major payoff in the flick is when he Gets It (in the other sense).
I think the only movie not to do this was 2001. You hear the sounds of the guys breathing in their helmets--just what they would hear. But in general, space is (correctly) SILENT.
I once got on NPR Science Friday when they had a panel of hollywood FX guys and physicists talking about genuine space science vs the stuff they make up for SF movies. I FINALLY got to point out that THERE IS NO SOUND IN A VACUUM goddamit. As of course they all were perfectly aware. "Yeah, well, but ya gotta give people something so they know something's happening," was all they could say. True enough, of course.
65. In the bad guy's lair, the stairs have no handrails, the platforms
have no guardrails. And everything is black or steel colored.
And even though the lair is secret, for some reason the bad guy can't leave his plans out in the open, but has to have all the dioramas and scale models on tables that either flip over, or on platforms that rise up from the floor, and all monitors are hidden behind doors. Until the bad guy pushes the one button the remote control that brings everything out into the open.
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