Advertisement
If you have a new account but are having problems posting or verifying your account, please email us on [email protected] for help. Thanks :)
Private profiles - please note that profiles marked as private will soon be public. This will facilitate moderation so mods can view users' warning histories. All of your posts across the site will appear on your profile page (including PI, RI). Groups posts will remain private except to users who have access to the same Groups as you. Thread here
Some important site news, please read here. Thanks!

Movies starting with "X amount of time earlier"

  • 11-04-2019 8:13am
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 1,584 ✭✭✭ Frank O. Pinion


    I wanted to make a thread about something that's been bothering me for a while with modern movies.

    You go to play a movie, production logos, credits, then the first scene, that starts in the middle of something exciting/loud/confusing/weird/etc. You don't know what the hell is going on or who the characters are, but it is "exciting". Then, the scene ends. Fade to back. Text comes up... "X hours/days/weeks/months earlier..."

    Ugh, I find it so annoying and lame. It's like the writers have ADHD, and are bored by their own story, so have to show something interesting that happens later. It's like a trailer or a sneak peek for a movie, shown at the start of the same movie. I've already decided to watch the movie, I don't need to be shown something that happens chronologically later, to make me interested in the film. If anything, because I find this so widespread in modern films, I'll more than likely just stop watching the film altogether if a film begins like this.

    TV series also do this, but that's not as bad, because it's with already established characters.

    For examples, two films I tried to watch this week used this plot device.

    Escape Room, starts with a guy getting crushed to death within the first five minutes, then THREE DAYS EARLIER...

    The Upside, starts with Kevin Hart driving a car, with Bryan Cranston as his passenger, and the cops are chasing them. They try to arrest Hart, but he gives them some sassiness, and says Cranston's character is having a seizure and needs to go to the hospital, which the cops escort them to, all within the first five minutes. Then, SIX MONTHS EARLIER...

    I don't remember my favourite writers and directors doing this. Unless you have a really intriguing reason, just show the damn events chronologically. Is it just me, or does anyone else absolutely hate movies starting like this?


Comments

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 7,070 ✭✭✭ Franz Von Peppercorn


    I don’t mind it and it has been done by decent directors.

    Carlitos’s way for instance.

    That said I missed the first few minutes of Carlitos Way and the ending was therefore a surprise.


  • Administrators, Computer Games Moderators, Entertainment Moderators, Social & Fun Moderators Posts: 54,646 Admin ✭✭✭✭✭ Mr E


    Ah it's just a story-telling device. The recent Pet Sematary used it very well too.


  • Registered Users Posts: 15,704 ✭✭✭✭ RayCun


    starting with an intriguing scene and then rewinding to see how the characters ended up there?







  • Closed Accounts Posts: 29,933 ✭✭✭✭ TerrorFirmer


    It can be used effectively at times but more often than not....it's not, and it's just lazy and uninspired.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,085 ✭✭✭ saintsaltynuts


    The start of Mission Impossible 3 was savage.Totally set the film up.


  • Advertisement
  • Registered Users Posts: 826 ✭✭✭ El Duda


    Birdbox did this and it was a fundemental storytelling flaw that eleviated all tension and suspense.


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Entertainment Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 22,525 CMod ✭✭✭✭ Sad Professor


    I see it mostly on tv these days, where it's way overused. I can't think of many good films that used it recently, at least in a non-ironic way.


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 25,535 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Dades


    Maybe it's a scriptwriting thing.

    You've got about 10 pages to hook your reader or they may not bother reading the rest. Though with a movie it often serves no purpose as people are along for the ride usually.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,221 Jurgen The German


    If it suits the narrative then I've no issue with it.


  • Registered Users Posts: 15,704 ✭✭✭✭ RayCun


    It's a common thing in all narrative.

    Open a sports biography and it will start with the FA Cup/Wimbledon/Olympic final - "this was the biggest moment of my sporting life... but it all started when I was just a kid ...."

    Like anything else it can be overdone, or done badly.

    As well as giving you an excuse to start with something exciting, it allows you to establish immediately what the story is about.


  • Advertisement
  • Registered Users Posts: 9,254 ✭✭✭ S.M.B.


    If I remember correctly Widows executed it very well recently.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,241 ✭✭✭ jasonb


    I don’t mind it and it has been done by decent directors.

    Carlitos’s way for instance.

    That said I missed the first few minutes of Carlitos Way and the ending was therefore a surprise.

    I saw Carlitos Way and A Perfect World in the cinema, one week after the other, back in 1993 (ah man, I'm getting old). They both use this same technique. I think it works as long as it doesn't give too much away.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,584 ✭✭✭ Frank O. Pinion


    Carlitos’s way for instance.

    That said I missed the first few minutes of Carlitos Way and the ending was therefore a surprise.
    Doesn't that prove my point that it's a bad plot device? You missed the start, with the film using it, so the ending was a surprise. That sounds like a good thing.
    RayCun wrote: »
    As well as giving you an excuse to start with something exciting, it allows you to establish immediately what the story is about.
    But surely if you've decided to watch the film, you already know what it is about, somewhat. You've already watched a trailer, or read a synopsis, or know what genre it is, etc.


  • Registered Users Posts: 15,704 ✭✭✭✭ RayCun


    But surely if you've decided to watch the film, you already know what it is about, somewhat. You've already watched a trailer, or read a synopsis, or know what genre it is, etc.

    No, a movie should be complete in itself.

    Apart from anything else, you could be at a blind screening, or watching it in ten years time as something random on TV.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,584 ✭✭✭ Frank O. Pinion


    RayCun wrote: »
    No, a movie should be complete in itself.

    Apart from anything else, you could be at a blind screening, or watching it in ten years time as something random on TV.
    For some writers it seems their story is only "complete", by telling it in a nonchronological order, by putting something "exciting" at the start.

    A "blind screening" is a niche thing. If watching it on TV, you can press the info button to see what it's about.


  • Registered Users Posts: 13,420 ✭✭✭✭ Arghus




  • Registered Users Posts: 15,704 ✭✭✭✭ RayCun


    For some writers it seems their story is only "complete", by telling it in a nonchronological order, by putting something "exciting" at the start.

    A "blind screening" is a niche thing. If watching it on TV, you can press the info button to see what it's about.

    The order in which the story is told has nothing to do with completeness.

    Memento is complete in itself.

    A story can be told in strict chronological order but be incomplete.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,584 ✭✭✭ Frank O. Pinion


    Arghus wrote: »
    Yes, there's a history for it, and many instances of it used well, with good reasons for using it.

    But I'm more talking about its widespread use in very recent times. Last five years or so, I've noticed it used more and more, mostly unnecessarily. You add in its use for TV series, and there's an overabundance of use.


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Entertainment Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 22,525 CMod ✭✭✭✭ Sad Professor


    While it is definitely a form of in medias res, I think I would distinguish between films that actually start in the middle of things and ones that have a flashforward to the middle of things that serves as a prologue before going back to the beginning and starting for real, which is more what Frank is describing. While the latter can be done effectively, it can also be a lazy way of making up for a boring first act without having to re-write it.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 7,070 ✭✭✭ Franz Von Peppercorn


    Doesn't that prove my point that it's a bad plot device? You missed the start, with the film using it, so the ending was a surprise. That sounds like a good thing.

    You might be right on that particular movie.

    The link just above about In Media Res reminded me of No Way Out which I haven’t seen for years but it absolutely needs to start the way it did.


  • Advertisement
  • Registered Users Posts: 1,885 ✭✭✭ Optimalprimerib


    I hate it in everything, as for me, it feels like the movie/episode/game/book does not start until everything is caught up. That's my personal grievance though.


Advertisement