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How To: Select a Movie

Peder Aalgaard | Staff Writer | 03/30/2011

At some point in everyone’s life, a person may find themselves walking away from a movie that was less than extraordinary. Trailers are assigned the job of hyping up a movie and revealing all the good things that are sure to come.

Sitting in a theater, some of the best things can be seen in a collection of trailers shown before the feature presentation. Odds are that someone sees an advertisement for a movie that appeals to them. However, the chances of the movie being as good as advertised are not 100 percent. During a time when people are trying to save money, it can be detrimental to one’s wallet to have to pay for a movie that is disappointing.

When considering whether or not a movie is worth seeing, there are many factors to consider. After seeing a trailer, look for what the main plot is. It is a trailer’s job to give a movie’s basic story. In some cases, there is a tag line meant to stay with the audience afterward.

What some rarely keep in mind is that trailers are created to lure crowds to see the film. A plot can look adventurous and charming, but turn out to be a makeshift romantic comedy disguised by the tropical environment and an “idiot hero” who inevitably gets the girl.

Trailers are meant to be enticing, designed to get crowds to see the film (and pay). As exciting as the trailer may be, the movie may not necessarily have the same amount of pay-off. Editors in charge of making the trailers are being paid to make a movie look good. This can lead to a movie’s main plot being covered up by fast shots, well performed lines, and maybe even the best action scenes. Any movie trailer with questionable motives demands greater inspection.

Should a trailer prove to be captivating, and the plot sound interesting, the next thing to consider is the ones behind the scenes. Actors, directors, writers and producers all have some sort of effect on the movie in question. However, while the actors are the ones people see in the movie, this does not necessarily mean it is what to look at first. Usually recognizing a director or writer will help to understand the style of a movie.

Knowing the producer can also help to know what actors they may use. Some producers use the same actors regularly and are responsible for funding and for making final decisions on script, cast, and crew member choices. Not everyone is going to want to dive deep into the world of producers, however, so go ahead and stick to actors and directors.

Usually big name actors draw a crowd, but this is not a surefire way to make a successful film. Try looking past the names and more at the character that is being portrayed within the entire piece. Judging this can be difficult, but making some assumptions can be useful.

After the plot and crew is considered, I recommend looking at special effects. This step especially important when considering science fiction, and to a lesser extent, action movies. If a movie’s effects are not good enough to draw the viewer in, this can take away from the experience of the film. Seeing an alien from another planet that looks like a cardboard cutout will not make for the most threatening or awe-inspiring creatures. Try to see how well they look within the environment provided.
Finally, the thing to consider is personal bias. Knowing what genres you prefer and what level of quality you can tolerate helps when deciding whether a movie is worth the $8.

If someone wants to be fully entertained by a well-written plot and developed characters, a movie like “127 Hours” or “Gran Torino” might be their cup of tea. On the other hand, someone who prefers to see large explosions and special effects, movies such as “Avatar,” “Battle L. A.” or “Taken” would find more fun at a “popcorn” movie.

Knowing where the movie comes from and what can be expected from it can help anyone make a wise decision on what sort of film to spend money on.