It’s not a surprise to see so many people hunting for hidden gems and underrated movies to watch on Netflix, with so many of the biggest blockbusters, most hyped cinematic releases and costly shows are suffering from a key underlying factor: bad writing. First of all, of course, good writing isn’t easy, especially on the screen. Good writing needs to get people invested in the character journeys, offer surprising-but-logical turns in the story, show rather than tell for the most part, uphold continuity, and then be tied together through good performances.
Many of the biggest-budget recent releases from massive properties fail in many or each of these regards. For example, Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness has a memory store to dump exposition and The Rings of Power has all of its main characters unhindered by the pyroclastic flow of a volcano. Those are just some of the problematic writing points of each of those massive-budget, overhyped pieces of content. Never mind Moonfall, nearly every Star Wars and Marvel series, Resident Evil, Avatar: The Way of Water, or Morbius.
To bring back some faith in high-quality storytelling, we’ve got a couple of very well-written productions from very different eras that do what a lot of studios are trying to achieve now, but in a much, much better way. The key to both is the characters’ journeys.
Perhaps the best sci-fi sequel ever put to the big screen
James Cameron has made many grand, groundbreaking, award-winning films in his decorated history; one of the most fondly remembered has to be Terminator 2: Judgement Day. Many sequels struggle to hit the heights of the original, but many would argue that Terminator 2 surpasses the surprise hit first instalment to what is now a bloated series. The key to this was the development of the protagonist, played by the legendary Linda Hamilton as well as the most expensive movie ever made (at the time) hitting new heights with the stunts, story, and CGI.
Terminator 2 is an undisputed Hollywood legend in its own right, setting the standard for sci-fi action flicks to follow and becoming so well-respected that it could easily step beyond the boundaries of the big screen and remain a huge draw. This is the case with the Terminator 2 presence in online slots. Brought to the entertainment medium in 2014, it remains one of the top-played games because it stars the main characters of the 1991 smash-hit movie. Since then, game developers have felt comfortable adapting the likes of Game of Thrones and Narcos to slots.
Importantly, even though Arnold Schwarzenegger owes a fair bit of his massive fortune to his role as the Terminator, the action star isn’t even the main character of the movie. Sarah Connor is forced into action from her mundane life in the first film, and as a result, she trains herself and becomes isolated from the rest of the world as she knows what’s to come and the threat of the Terminators. On top of this, what’s perceived as her erratic behaviour leads to her son – key to the future of humankind and who she needs to protect – being in foster care when she’s incarcerated. The development of Sarah’s character, especially as the lead in an action film, is superb.
Possibly the best TV show you’ve never seen
In 2013, TV viewers were treated to the final season of Breaking Bad, the opening season of House of Cards, the third season of Game of Thrones, and Vikings got underway, with them all taking place on different channels. So, it makes sense, but isn’t right, that a show of the quality of Banshee slipped through the cracks. The one nod that it really got was that Empire landed it third in the year’s best shows on TV. Still, the Cinemax show was epic in every sense, from the hard-hitting physical combat to the intricate story that never failed to forget its story hints.
Watching Banshee before The Boys, you can perfectly see why Anthony Starr was picked to play the smiling villain Homelander, as the enigmatic lead in Banshee perfectly toes the line of a hair-triggered anti-hero. On the surface level, the show is eccentrically over-the-top in its action and violence, but making it so captivating is its tight writing where every interaction and scene matters – which it needed to cross its four-season run. The focus is on Starr’s nameless lead, who adopts the name of a murdered sheriff, Lucas Hood.
From there, it’s all about his journey from a long-time prisoner to coming out to get what he thinks he deserves. It’s just that he doesn’t manage to do that, and quickly finds that through his stolen identity, he now has responsibilities, and he grows into the role while still keeping some of his criminal antics. It goes much further than that, though, as almost everyone’s got something to hide in the town of Banshee, such as the gangster who hails from the Amish. What clearly helps is that the show’s two writers come from novel writing themselves, and this was the duo’s first jump into TV.
If you want to experience good writing, excellent storytelling, and, coincidentally, some great action sequences, turn your attention to Terminator 2 and Banshee rather than anything being given a massive marketing budget this week.