Page 2: The Trouble Of Movies That Have No Ending In Sight

Page 2 is a compilation of stories and news tidbits, which for whatever reason, didn't make the front page of /Film. After the jump we've included 36 different items, fun images, videos, casting tidbits, articles of interest and more. It's like a mystery grab bag of movie web related goodness.

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The Trouble of Movies With No Ending in Sight

Here is something I've been thinking about lately, and I have to warn you that its not a fully fleshed out idea:

I feel like the films I loved from my childhood had a simpler plot structure, and the plot of some of today's films are getting overcomplicated, leaving audiences with no clear goal or ending in sight.

Thirty minutes into Back to the Future you know that the end of the movie will need to involve Marty's struggle to get "Back to the Future." In Jaws you know very early on that the end will involve a hunt for the deadly shark terrorizing Amity Island.

The ending struggles in these films are very obviously mapped out to the audience very early on, usually before the end of the first act. Sure, we don't know how Marty will accomplish his task, and we can't anticipate the challenges that pop up, but we know the end will involve him having to somehow ensure his birth/existence and a return trip to 1985. Knowing that goal early on gives us the audience something long-term to root for.

Now, I'm seeing more movies structured with the context of a mystery plot, which results in us not knowing the end game until sometimes moments before the climax. Not having the road map is like leading us through a forrest without telling us our goal destination. We might be more invested in the momentary challenges but finding out the villain's evil plan minutes before he's defeated limits the stakes. And I feel films like Star Trek Into Darkness, Avengers: Age of Ultron and other films I've watched recently suffer from this issue. I've also found that films relying heavily on the surprise of a twisting plot usually don't have the replay value of classics I mention that have a more designated end roadmap.

And yes, there are many exceptions that disprove my theory.  There are amazing films with great stories which don't have an end point that is easily pinpointed following the first act. But I have found that discovering the end goal early on is important for most stories.

This is even in the case of a mystery story with big twists, like David Fincher's Gone Girl, which has an ending which we could never possibly predict. The movie still has a goal we always see on the horizon. Yes, that end goal morphs along the way, but thirty minutes in we know the ending will have to be the public reveal of what happened to Amy, and the answer to the question of Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) being complicit in her disappearance.

It seems to me that modern Hollywood is distancing itself from one of the golden rules laid out by Syd Field in his classic book Screenplay on Hollywood three-act screenwriting, but why? Is it the Bad Robot's mystery box effect on cinematic storytelling? Or does it go deeper? Do serialized television binge-watching audiences crave movies with a more complex story, with an end point which isn't as easily telegraphed? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this half baked theory I'm currently developing.

Okay, lets get to today's edition of Page 2.

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