How Hollywood lost all the plots


“the entirety of the J.J. Abrams canon”

This makes me look at Felicity in a whole new light.

While I’m sure that not everything has to be in a three act structure, I’m not sure relying on such a structure is what is really wrong with Hollywood. If anything, the problem with modern Hollywood movies is that what structure there is is very thin and just an excuse for action sequences.


I think the cult of script-writing to magical formula/schematic really has severely affected screen-writing. It’s not so much the sticking to a structure which is the problem - but that when the script-writers are thinking so much in terms of plot beats (which would have been largely internalized and intuitive to older generations) the plot machinery REALLY starts to overwhelm the picture, and any kind of naturalistic characterization or sense of natural flow to the action dies a death. Modern script-writers have a real difficulty with naturalistic characterization - compare ALIEN to PROMETHEUS in this regard. Back around the time of the original ALIEN, script-writers could do simple, solid, believable character interaction in their sleep. I think that is a dying art-form now - you see the same thing in the Nolan Batman films - virtually none of the character interaction and dialogue feels authentic or believable. I don’t bother with blockbusters so much any more because all you hear are the grinding wheels of commerce and formulaic plot machinery. It’s become like that hilarious scene in Barton Fink where the guy explains the formula of the wrestling picture - “The hero develops a love interest - or befriends an idiot man-child.”

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I can’t help but wonder how much of this is not directly the screenwriter’s fault. Unfilmed scripts are so common they are a stale joke. If nobody will even consider a script that doesn’t follow the beats, then the screenwriters who write innovative and novel scripts won’t get paid work.

This will continue until the whole thing collapses on itself. Television dramas, especially crime dramas, follow the same script more or less.

It’s absolutely true, and soul-destroying. I have a document in front of me (disclosure: no I don’t) stating that Snyder was a plant from the videogames industry.

On the bright side, incredible acting talents like Heath Ledger shine through these scripts like bright sun through water. Heath Ledger, ummm, eeer, someone else, umm, errr …

I’m not playing fair. But the movie industry is going down the pan. Down, down, down. Don’t contribute any more cash, folks. That’ll learn 'em.

The base problem is more that the people in Hollywood who make most of the big decisions seem to have no idea what in hell they’re doing. It’s as though there’s no analytical ability at all, and are simply running around in circles because they can’t understand how anything works.

A movie is a success? Make more just like it - preferably sequels. Actor/director/writer made hit movie? Use them for everything. A genre movie did well? Grab the first thing you can find in the same genre. The “hollywood formula” is an example of the same. That popular movie was gritty? Now everything’s gritty! That other one was 3D? Everything’s 3D!

It would be interesting to read the book, but the author of that Slate article doesn’t put much weight behind his thesis that Hollywood scriptwriters are actually using this book as a template, rather than the book simply describing a number of well-worn tropes that already existed and would have been recombined and rerun regardless.

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