It took me a while to get this one published. It was just one of those things, I got an idea for an article but then decide to shelve it for another day. That was three months ago. But then writing that piece on how to improve local cinemas reminded me of this, as I intended to include "give more artistic license to screenwriters" as part of the list, also as a response to idiots who thought Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa  sucked because it was historically inaccurate. But then I decided that it warranted an entry of its own, so here it is.
Here's my stand on the matter, artistic license is a real thing, it is a big deal and it is totally unacceptable for you to deny it to a screenwriter. You would think that that's obvious, but you would also be surprised by how often people forget this.
|If Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa was more 'historically accurate'...|
So just to jog your memory, artistic license can be defined as taking liberties when it comes to accuracy may it be factual, historical or even grammatical (in the case of poetry). Examples include the usage of modern music in A Knight's Tale , a modernised look at the relationship between Muslims and Christians in Kingdom of Heaven , and others too numerous to mention.
But of course, you have to draw the line somewhere because there's a clear difference between a tasteful use of the artistic license, and just plain abuse of it altogether. I like to give the CSI television series as an example, which glamourised crime scene investigation to unrealistic proportions. I get that you have to really stretch your suspension of disbelief for it, otherwise CSI would be really dull to watch. But please, at least meet us half-way.
Here are some other examples of artistic license abuse that will catapult me out of the movie watching experience altogether;
#5 Flying punch
I was reminded of this when I saw Aaron Aziz delivered that punch that ended it all it in KL Gangster . Not that I would call it a flaw, but just a little something I noticed from the otherwise very well-polished fight sequences. Now, I have said before many times over that I am not an accomplished martial artist nor do I claim or pretend to be. But I know the basic physics of it, and allow me to remind you that the power of the punch has little to do with your arm, it's more about the torque.
In other words, you have to draw the power of your punch from your feet, and then channel it to your arm through the rotation of your hips. Of course, there is such a thing as a Superman punch, but still it works on the same principle. You'll know the difference when you see the guys in MMA do it, and compare it to how action heroes tend to do it.
#4 Cure-all CPR
Imagine the scenario; We're nearing the end of the movie, not too long after the climax has subsided, and the dust have yet to settle down. Our hero decided to leave it all in the fight, resulting in a very heroic sacrifice to save his love. But our heroine is not one to accept fate as it is, her demure hands wrestle with the scythe of the Grim Reaper, pressing down on our hero's chest, telling him "Don't leave me! Don't leave me!" Just as she's about to give up hope, she decides to give him one last kiss, and rests her head on his chest in defeat.
Then she feels it, she hears it. His breath faint, but unmistakable. He lives.
"Bullshit!!" is something you would hear me say if you happen to watch this movie in the same room as I. It's just something that you can't expect me to play along with. Well, at least not me. I understand why they do it, of course. CPR is the only first aid technique that calls for lips touching, it's just something so that hopeless romantics can go "Aww, look at that, he gave her the kiss of life"
Hey, I can be romantic too. But I'm not Brüno-Mars-romantic, if you know what I mean.
#3 Exploding cars
Often used by: Condescending film directors (e.g. Michael Bay)
I would have thought that this convention would have died out after it became common knowledge that cars are made to not explode at any slight provocation. I had always known that myself, but I didn't have any idea just how hard it is for a car to explode until Mythbusters aired an episode about it. They tried hitting it, hell they even tried shooting straight at the gas tank but nada.
But then it kept showing up in movies even after the '80s and '90s action movie craze, and Science fiction The Matrix Reloaded  is no exception. But the biggest offender of them all has got to be The A-Team , the movie that also happened to be my biggest disappointment of 2010 in film. If you can recall, there was this scene when Liam Neeson's character was planning a heist, telling Baracus (played by Quinton Jackson) to make sure that the bike he's gonna ride will "have a full tank of gas".
Then they showed the bike falling on its side, being ran over by a truck and exploded. I almost broke my glasses from facepalming so hard.
#2 Becoming an expert through the use of montages
Often used by: Derivative underdog stories
Pioneered by the very first The Karate Kid  movie, it became the go-to examples by parents and teachers alike that we can achieve anything that we set our minds to, but conveniently neglected to mention that it can be a lot more than just about getting straight As, resulting in an entire generation feeling world-weary at twenty-three. After all, there's nothing inspirational about that montage playing in your head, of you sitting at your desk trying your best to remember the words in textbooks while cursing at Pythagoras.
At some point you even wished that it will make sense in the end, like how Mr. Miyagi's seemingly trivial wax-on-wax-off approach will eventually turn you into a master at Karate, even if you're just skin and bones, taking on guys who have been doing it all their lives.
*sigh* I was nineteen when I realised that my childhood was filled with trivial bullshit, and seeing a training montage of any sort in movies will do nothing but remind me of that, hence why I look upon it with contempt.
#1 Dodging bullets using back-flips