Captive State – Why Movies Should Rely on Narrative and Not Become a Soap Opera

I really like watching movies and TV shows but I often observe how these films become full-on relationship dramas which makes me lose all of the excitement I had in the beginning. The premise seems unique, the world has so much potential and the narrative starts at such a great point …. only to then focus on who sleeps with whom rather then the transformations the characters are forced to undergo.
 
 
Some TV shows balance romance and narrative well and do not go overboard, e.g. “The Expanse”, but others are entirely unwatchable because their whole plot revolves around the romantic interactions between characters, e.g. “Salvation”.
 
I am not opposed to romance and relationships in movies at all but if I had to choose a great narrative over a relationship-heavy movie then I would always go with the well-written narrative.
 
But not everybody thinks so. We all love it when the main male character has to randomly team up with the attractive woman to save the world. Maybe he needs the help of a reporter, a professor or an assassin …… who coincidentally is a young and attractive woman. 
 
The same goes for movies where women are persistently confronted with an unlikeable but attractive male character, just to fall in love with him at the end of the movie.
 
 
You never see Bruce Willis or James Bond having to spend the whole movie with a beautiful 16/17-year-old girl because that would be …. awkward for polite society. Do we want them to hook up? Is this appropriate? Awkward… Better make her 25 years old so that we can indulge in their romantic chemistry.
 
He also never has to save a 65-year-old woman because she is not the young and attractive asset which movie studios need to fill the cinema seats.
 
Do you see where I am going? We are limiting the narratives of our stories by relying on sexual tension.
 
Male and female characters are always deliberately joined as if it was the glue to hold a story together. As if romance and sex must always be in the foreground when characters undergo transformations but romance can never just be treated as an insignificant activity like eating, exercising and having dinner with friends.
 
 
We treat relationships as the center of transformations instead of letting the characters values, desires and goals stand on their own. Do you think Gandhi’s story cannot be told without any romance? How about Hitler, King, Lincoln, Khan, the Buddha, Mandela or any other human who has transformed themselves to shape the world as we know it today?
 
Don’t you think that basing all storytelling on romantic involvements will take away from the lessons we can learn and the excitement we can feel? The story of the Buddha can stand without romance because it is an amazing story. Have we given up our own potential to such a degree that we need relationship dramas to keep us engaged?
 
 
I recently heard about the movie “Captive State” and due to its low IMDB rating of only 6.7, I had decided not to watch it. If the rating is so bad then the acting usually is horrible or the storytelling and the ending in participial are dissatisfying.
 
Yesterday, I have read some positive reviews on the movie and decided to give it a try. To my surprise, the movie was GREAT! I would have given it at least a 7.8/10 on IMDB. I could not understand why the rating turned out to be so low.
 
 
First, let me start to explain why I like this movie:
 
  • World Building: The premise of the movie is extremely engaging. Aliens have invaded the earth and colonized humanity. Similar to a Nazi occupation, the state has become a collaborator and police, military and public institutions now follow the aliens’ orders.
  • Acting and Visuals: The aliens look amazing, are extremely scary and seem unpredictable because they are not explored in depth at all. The acting is top level (hello John Goodman) and the visuals are also of the highest level.
  • Characters: Most characters are not explored in detail but the central protagonists have enough depth for the audience to root for them.
  • Ending: I think the ending was great and it was well built up throughout the movie to have a significant impact on the audience.
 
So, if the movie is so great then why is the rating so low? Well, there were almost no love interests, relationships or soap opera-level issues in this movie. No unrequited love, no “we have to stay together” and no “I have to make him/her like me”.
 
In fact, at the beginning of the movie, one of the protagonists ditches his girlfriend after she decides to stay when he has to leave. This happens even though they professed their love in the opening scene of the movie.
 
People do not like that. In reality, we break up with and cheat on our partners all the time but we want to protect the idea of true romance…..in movies. This preference is not a virtue or an acquired taste but a character flaw.
 
 
“Spectral” was another Sci-Fi movie which I have truly enjoyed despite its low IMDB rating. No romance, no love and no relationships. Just a great story with superb film making.
 
There is an epidemic of movies that are made to feed on our immaturities. To feed on our need for love, weakness towards loneliness and hormonal desires. 
 
From now on, I will be less distracted by the ratings of movies and give them the benefit of the doubt. If the story sounds great then I will give it a go and I hope you will do so as well.

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